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Freed to be Alive, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 13, 2024 9:00 am

Freed to be Alive, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 13, 2024 9:00 am

Next time you’re in a bookstore, go take a peek at the self-improvement section. You’ll see rows and rows of books promising to unlock the secret to a better life. But no matter how many diets you follow or how much positive thinking you do, none of those tricks are going to fill your deepest needs or fix your greatest problems! As Pastor J.D. continues our series called, “Freedom in the In-Between,” he explains the only way for us to truly change and be set free from our own sinful hearts.


Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. Some of you are pursuing the wrong strategy when it comes to growing spiritually. You're trying to limit sin in your life when what you ought to be doing is trying to grow your sense of the love and the presence of God in your life. By believing there's nothing you could do that would make God love you more, nothing you have done that makes him love you less, the first time you believed it is finished, you were released from the penalty of sin. Welcome back to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of JD Greer, lead pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich, and we are excited to be jumping into God's Word today with you. So the Bible tells us that before we place our faith in Christ, we are all dead in our sins. But when the blood of Jesus washes our sins away, thankfully, the Holy Spirit comes into us and gives us the power to live this new life. But it's not like we can just check our soul's pulse and confirm that we're spiritually alive. So how do we know if the Spirit is actually residing in us? What does a healthy and legitimate spiritual life actually look like? Pastor JD Greer answers those questions today as he continues our study of Galatians called freedom in the in-between.

So let's jump right in. Pastor JD titled today's message Freed to be Alive. Paul in Galatians chapter five is going to show us what role the Holy Spirit plays in our spiritual development. Chapter five, for freedom, Christ set us free.

Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery. Paul says, verse two, take note, I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourself circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. In other words, if you go back to trying to do something yourself to get closer to God, you're actually cutting yourself off from the power of grace. You're removing yourself from the power of the promise. In other words, he's saying you circumcisers are cutting off a lot more than you realize. Verse six, for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or uncircumcision accomplices anything. What matters, all that matters is faith working through love.

That's it. That's what God is producing in you. He wants to produce in you a new heart that loves the right things. Now you ask, well, how is it there for though that faith actually in the gospel actually does produce love?

There's really two reasons. Number one, it's because it restores God to us as father. You see, as long as you think of God mainly as a judge, you're never really going to love him. God wants you to learn to relate to him as father and the only way you can do that is for him to remove himself as judge. And the way that he did that was by judging Jesus in your place so that there's no more judgment left for you.

By the way, let me really quickly here deal with a myth that a lot of people seem to believe about God. They believe that God wants us to be scared of his judgment because then if we're scared of his judgment, then we'll be coerced to behave. It's like heaven is the carrot that God holds out in front of us and hell is the stick, but he has behind us. And this is the way that he motivates us to obey.

Martin Luther called this the damnable doctrine of doubt. He said, there is no way that you will actually learn to love God when you're scared of his judgment. Real love for God can only grow in the security of the love of God for you. That's what Paul is saying is true about the gospel.

God doesn't motivate us with the carrot of heaven or with the stick of hell. In fact, if you want to know the gospel, the gospel is that God took the stick of hell and beat Jesus with it and then gave us the carrot of heaven that he deserved and gave it to us as a gift that we can only receive. Second thing is God puts his spirit of love inside of us. And that spirit is so full of love that it just starts to exude out of you. Paul's point is you can't experience the gospel.

You just can't experience the gospel and not become a person overflowing with generosity and love. So Paul says then verse 16, I say then, walk by the spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Flesh right here is kind of a confusing word in English.

In Greek, it's the word sarx. We translate it flesh, but don't think of it as Paul saying the body is bad and the soul is good. Flesh or sarx, it simply means that part of you that is not yet brought underneath the control of the spirit.

The part that the spirit has yet to fill with resurrection power and renew. And he says that part of you was always gonna be at war with the spirit part, for the flesh desires what is against the spirit and the spirit desires what is against the flesh. These are opposed to each other. They hate each other so that you can't actually do what you wanna do.

You've always got a war going on among you. Now he says the works of the flesh are obvious. He's gonna give us a list of 16 different things here that characterize our flesh.

They're kind of in three or four major groupings. The first three have to do with sexuality. He says sexual immorality, that's a Greek word porneia, and it just means any sex outside of a man and woman in a marriage relationship. Moral impurity, that is the word akatharsia, and it refers to things that are unnatural outside of God's original design for sex. Promiscuity, agelsia, that just means things that are out of control where you can't control your sexual desires. The next two words that he uses are about religious corruption, idolatry, when you love something else more than you love God.

Sorcery is when you do things to try to manipulate God to be on your team, whether that's good luck charms or word of faith teaching or whatever it is. Then he gives us eight words, eight words that describe our relational conflicts, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy. Then he ends off the list with three words that refer to, let's just call it substance abuse, where you feel like you need a hit of something in order to stay alive. I got to have that dopamine release, or I just feel bored and empty. So that might be drugs, might be alcohol, might be pornography. I might be likes on Facebook or impulsive shopping or you name it.

I just got to have something because without that, I don't actually feel alive. I'm warning you about these things, as I warned you before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. That word practice there means not occasional lapses where you fall back into it, but it means a life that is defined where you pursue those things, where you just got to build a life around pursuing these. If you delight in these things, and if you are pursuing those 16 things, you have no part in the kingdom of God.

So do a little self-assessment here. Now he's going to give us another list, and these are the living fruits of the spirit. This is what the spirit part of you is going to be like. The fruit of the spirit is love.

He's going to put this one first because love toward God and love toward others is the capstone of all of them and the one from which everything else flows. And then we got joy. Joy means joy or delight in God for the sheer beauty of his presence. The opposite of joy, by the way, is happiness. Happiness actually comes from the root word happening.

So you are happy when the happenings of your life are what you want them to be. Joy is not based on the circumstances. Joy is based on God.

In fact, you could almost say it like this. Happiness is based on the blessings. Joy is based on the blesser.

So I've got joy because God is more of a treasure to me than anything else I would have or not have. Peace, the ability to rest in the loving sovereignty of God's control over your life. Patience, that's the ability to endure things that are painful and things that you don't want to go through and you do it without resentment or cynicism because you just trust that God has a good plan that he's working out through you. Kindness is a disposition toward other people that just wants to meet their needs. And when you see somebody in need, you want to help them with their need, regardless of who they are, how they got there. Goodness means integrity.

It's a Greek word that means integrity. You're just the same all the time, all the way through. You're not an opportunist who's always weighing out things and being really shrewd.

You're just good. Faithfulness means the willingness to do what's right, even when it's hard. Whether that means having a difficult conversation with somebody when it's unpopular, or that just means sticking by somebody when they're a pain and they're high maintenance and they're hard to get along with. The next one here is gentleness. That's a prouthouse is a Greek word for humility. Not so much self-forgetfulness. It would be a good way of thinking about this one. In the immortal words of C.S. Lewis, a humble person and a prouthouse person is not somebody who thinks less of themselves as somebody who thinks of themselves less. You're just not that into you.

You're gentle. You're thinking about other people, not you all the time. And then self-control is the ability to bring all of your urges and desires under the control of the will of God. There are nine things there, he said, that describe the character of the Christian. Then he concludes with sort of in a cheeky way, the law is not against such things. In other words, in other words, in other words, people like that don't actually need laws.

Nobody goes to jail for being too good or too kind or too self-controlled. It's when you're not those things that's when you need a law. So what are you supposed to learn from those lists? They give you three kind of important reflections on that. Number one, healthy fruit only comes from deep roots.

This is maybe the most important one. You don't grow fruit by focusing on the fruits. Fruit happens naturally when the plant is alive and the roots are deep and healthy.

If you've got a dead rose bush, you don't fix it by going out and buying a dozen roses and stapling the roses on that dead rose bush. Well, in the same way, you won't grow spiritually by trying to add the fruits of the spirit onto your life. The way that you grow spiritually is by driving your roots deeper into Christ, because as you come alive in him, the fruits will naturally appear. You don't get the fruits by thinking about the fruits.

You get the fruits by thinking about the roots. The more you embrace his love and promise in the gospel, the more that spiritual fruits will appear naturally in your life. You don't develop spiritual fruit by thinking about love, joy, peace, kindness. You develop those things by getting caught up in loving intimacy with Jesus Christ. And as you are lovingly intimate with Jesus Christ, and as your soul is enraptured with him, that is when all those things will grow as naturally on you as roses do on a rose bush. You see, some of you are producing or pursuing exactly the wrong strategy when it comes to spiritual growth.

Already this morning, you've done it. I've been going through this list and you're like, oh, I'm so bad. I got no love. I got no joy. I got no patience. I got no kindness. I need that.

You know what? I'm going to work. I'm going to work on patience this week. I'm going to be Mr. Pat.

I'm just thinking about nine different ways. I'm going to be patient this afternoon with my kids. And around you, all of us can hear. If we listen, we can hear, we can hear you trying to staple this thing onto your dead rose bush of a heart. What you should be doing is looking at Jesus instead of yourself.

And what you ought to be saying is not, I got no patience. What you ought to be saying is, man, thank God in Christ, I am righteous because he has said, there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Christ, I've been chosen before the foundation of the world. I've been predestined to bring forth fruit and give him glory. In Christ, I've been on the earth. In Christ, I've been appointed to be an overcomer.

I can do all things. He says through Christ, he strengthens me. In Christ, I'm precious to him. In fact, I'm so precious.

He knows when a single hair falls from my head. In Christ, he tells me I'm no longer a servant. I'm a son.

I am not a slave. I'm a friend of God. I am not an orphan anymore. I've been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. My name has been written down in the Lamb's book of life, and I've been filled with all the fullness of God. I've been blessed to be a blessing. I've been predestined for good works that I should go and walk in them.

And when you drive over into those truths, then fruit will come as naturally as roses do on a living rose bush. Amen? All right. Amen.

Look. Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. If you don't know much about us, be sure to visit for more information. We're currently in a teaching series here on the program called Freedom in the In-Between in the book of Galatians, and we'll get back to it in a minute. But first, I wanted to make sure that you knew about this month's featured resource. It's Pastor Tim Keller's Bible study through the same book of Galatians called Gospel Matters. It contains seven studies that are perfect for either your own personal Bible study or for use in a small group, and it presents the gospel in all of its glory. Do you think that you could accurately define the gospel message?

This study will challenge you to recognize the true message as opposed to the messages we create on our own, a danger Paul knew all too well. So don't miss Pastor Tim's Galatian study called Gospel Matters. It's yours when you give a gift of $35 or more to this ministry.

To donate today, call us at 866-335-5220 or visit today. Now let's return to our teaching in Galatians chapter four. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Say it this way.

Say it this way. For every one look you take it yourself, beboning your fruitlessness, take 10 looks at Christ, boasting in his faithfulness. For every one look you take your pitiful life that is not having fruits of the Spirit in it, you ought to take 10 looks at Jesus Christ and boast in his faithfulness, because that list I just went through right there didn't have anything to do with you.

All those things that God did, he did, and as you believe the promise that God will bring life out of something barren, then at that point you are becoming a child of promise and you're not turning back to Hagar. Here's a second truth. You are only as mature as your most immature fruit.

This is going to be painful, all right? If you're reading this list and you're paying attention, one of the first questions you have is, Paul uses what looks like a singular word, fruit, fruit is, and then he gives a list of nine things. And you're like, Paul, did you forget? That's not good subject verb agreement. Maybe it should be fruits are, and then list the nine things.

You follow what I'm saying? Why did Paul use a singular word to describe the nine different things? Well, it's because these are not separate virtues that you staple onto your life. These are the collective evidence of Christ in you.

They are one singular fruit. If he is in you, then they all start to appear, which means, listen, you are only as mature as your most immature fruit because that shows you where and how much you actually believe the gospel. You see, sometimes we confuse personality traits for spiritual fruits. For example, we see some Christian who's just more stoic by nature.

And so we look at them and we say, now that person, man, she has got patience. Yet they're not joyful or kind, or maybe there is some Christian who's really gentle and kind to others, but you know, they never really tell people about Jesus. Or maybe you got somebody who likes to argue about Jesus and they're just a debater.

And so they're always out there trying to tell people about Jesus and win them over to our point of view, but they're not really kind to people. That means that these things are all likely just personality traits, not gospel fruit. Where Jesus is, all the fruits grow as one. When Jesus is there, you will be bold and kind, gentle and compassionate, patient and joyful.

Therefore, I can confidently say that you are only as mature as your most immature fruit. And so when you observe an area where you are weak, that is an area where you have yet to really let the gospel shape that part of your life. We talk here at the Summit Church all the time about going out on missions revs, taking the gospel to unreached places. And that's awesome.

We're going to keep doing that. But I want you to also be aware that there are a bunch of unreached people groups in your heart. Parts of you that have not been brought under the control of the gospel. And those are the places where you have no spiritual fruit. And so what you've got to do is send that little gospel in the series, all into those unreached parts of your heart and say, here's what the gospel says, and this is how I should change as a result of it.

Give you two really quick action steps on this. One, that's why I tell you, you got to pray the gospel over your life every single day. I just try to get my mind saturated in the gospel because I want that root deep so that the fruits will just come alive in me. Second application I give you is that's why you need to be in a small group. I'm not saying that because we want to beef up our small group numbers. I'm saying that because that's the only way that you'll ever learn to apply the gospel to these places.

I can't do it from up here because I can't talk to everybody about your particular situation. The analogy that I use to describe, it's basically like you coming and thinking that just listening to me will produce spiritual fruit in you is like trying to clean out your room with a leaf blower. You might blow some of the big dust off and I don't know, maybe even blow some of your laundry out of the way, but you're never really going to get it clean. You need a deep clean.

You got to move stuff and wipe behind it if you really want to clean it. Well, see what I do is I come in here and I blow a lot of air at you and I yell a lot and make a lot of noise. But if you really want to see the gospel saturate you, you got to have people in your life that can help you move stuff and look behind it and say, yeah, that's an area of the gospel hasn't really conquered you. That's why we say you ought to be in a small group. Here's a third implication here.

And this is also really important. Walking in the spirit is the way to avoid the lust of the flesh, not vice versa. Did you see the verse? I say then walk by the spirit. And then you will not, certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. Notice the order of the two, because we always want to flip them, don't we? If you avoid the lust of the flesh, well, then the spirit of God will live inside you.

But Paul says, no, you got the order wrong. The only way you can ever avoid the lust of the flesh is by walking in the spirit. And in fact, the word for desire here is the Greek word epithumia. And the word is a great word. It means an inordinate craving that drives your life.

It means something that you just are so desperate for. You feel like you can't live without that. Do you remember a few weeks ago, I told about how in the garden of Eden, the first result of our sin was that we felt naked. And the reason we felt naked was prior to that moment, we felt clothed in the love and the acceptance of God. And then having been stripped of that, now our soul felt naked. And I asked, what do naked people do? Normal naked people try to find clothing.

They want to be covered because you don't want to be exposed. And this is a picture of how we go throughout our lives is that we feel spiritually naked and vulnerable. And so we're looking for something to replace what God used to be to us. Blaise Pascal famously called it a vacuum, a God-shaped vacuum in our heart that we spend our whole lives trying to figure out what goes in that vacuum. And we're like, oh, is it relationships? Is it fame? Is it money? Is it pleasure?

Is it what is it? And none of it works because that vacuum is in the shape of God. And what Paul is saying is it's only when you get God back in the right place. It's only then that you're going to be able to say no to the lust of the flesh, because until you do that, it's just too strong.

It's too much of a craving. Again, some of you are pursuing the wrong strategy when it comes to growing spiritually. You're trying to limit sin in your life when what you ought to be doing is trying to grow your sense of the love and the presence of God in your life. Well, it's like we learned throughout this book of Galatians. You grow in it by daily believing that it is finished. By believing there's nothing you could do that will make God love you more, nothing you have done that makes Him love you less. The first time you believed it is finished, you were released from the penalty of sin. Every time you believe it from here on out, you are released from the power of sin. The more you soak yourself in the love of Jesus, the more the Spirit of God begins to radiate from your life and the more fruit naturally appears. Why? Because you can't experience Jesus and not develop these things.

In fact, go back through that list and just think about it. Aren't these things the best description of Jesus you'll ever read? Jesus is love.

He's love. In fact, He so loved you that He came and He died on a cross to purchase you when you were His enemy and when you turned His back on you. Jesus is joy. And the reason we know that is because He came from heaven to earth when He had joy and He gave it all up and went to a cross so He could purchase us because He made us His joy. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross and despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of God. Jesus is peace. Jesus is the Prince of peace.

And Jesus left His Father's peace so that He could come and die for us to give us peace. Jesus is patience. How many times could Jesus have turned back? How many times could He have walked away from me? But He never gave up.

Never. He just was patient. Kindness. He never turned anybody away in the gospels who came to Him with a need. He's never turned me away.

Goodness. He is full of integrity. He's the same all the time. God is good all the time and all the time He's good. Faithfulness means that He did the hard thing even when it was difficult to save us, when it was difficult to speak the truth. He spoke it and He did it and He never gave up. Gentleness.

Was there any other better example of somebody who thought less about their needs and their wants and more about our own? Paul would say, let this mind be in you, which was in Him who considered not His home needs, but ours. Gentleness. Self-control.

Self-control. He brought all of these things under control of what God wanted in the moment. At any point, He could have called a legion of angels to deliver Him, but He controlled Himself because He was doing this to save us. You see, this is a list of what Jesus is for you, which means that if you're going to memorize that list, don't memorize it as a list of nine things that you need to go do, memorize it as a list of nine things that Jesus was for you and now this Jesus is in you. And when you focus on Jesus as the fulfillment of that, then you'll see these things begin to grow naturally like fruit does on a fruit tree or roses do on a rose bush. So see, let's return to that statement of Luther's that I started with because this is what the whole reformation was about.

Listen to this. Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace. It is so certain of God's favor in Christ because of what Christ has done.

It's so certain of that, that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in God's grace. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful, and bold in your relationship to God and with all other creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. This means fruits of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and faithfulness.

Because of faith, you freely willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it's just as impossible to separate faith and works as it would be to separate heat and light from fire. That is the truth that revolutionized the world in 1517.

And I'm telling you, it can revolutionize your life today. It is the gospel. Christian freedom isn't an excuse to do whatever we want. When we understand God's forgiveness, it changes our desires and our hearts from the inside out. We begin to choose to do right because of our love for God. An important distinction today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. There's so much to soak up in the book of Galatians, and that's why we want you to achieve as much spiritual growth as you possibly can from this book as we teach it here on Summit Life. But to really make sure it sinks in, our featured resource right now is a seven-part devotional study, also through the book of Galatians, called Gospel Matters, written by Pastor Tim Keller. To get your copy, simply give us a call at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give online at And while you're there, why not consider becoming one of our gospel partners? This generous group of monthly supporters truly make Summit Life possible.

And in return, we say thank you by sending them a copy of every featured resource you hear about on this program. Again, head over to today to join the gospel partner team. While you're on the website, don't forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor JD's latest blog post delivered straight to your inbox. It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life, and it's completely free to subscribe. Sign up when you go to I'm Molly Vitovich, inviting you to join us again Friday as we continue our series called Freedom in the In-Between. What does Christian love actually look like, and how do we start to live it out? Find out tomorrow on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-13 12:09:27 / 2024-06-13 12:20:37 / 11

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