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Freed to Love

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2024 9:00 am

Freed to Love

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 14, 2024 9:00 am

Jesus said that the world would know we are his disciples by our love. As believers, our love for each other and for the world ought to set us apart from any other group. So what does Christian love actually look like, and how do we start to live it out? Pastor J.D. answers those questions as he continues our series called, Freedom in the In-Between.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Thanks for joining us here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host Molly Vitovich. You know, Jesus said that the world would know we're His disciples by our, can you finish the sentence? It's by our love. As believers, our love for each other and for the world around us ought to set us apart from any other group.

So then we have to ask ourselves in order to make that happen, what does Christian love actually look like and how do we start to live it out? Pastor J.D. Greer answers those questions today as he continues our series called Freedom in the In-Between. If you missed any of the previous messages, you can catch up online at But right now let's get started with the message he titled Freed to Love. Here's Pastor J.D.

We come now to Galatians chapter six, which are Paul's final thoughts that he is going to give to the Galatians. At the beginning of this series, I explained to you that every pastor has a speaking style and that usually kind of determines we open our sermons the same way and a lot of times we'll have a unique way that we try to end the sermons. I know some pastors that seem to like to end their sermons by revving up the audience and trying to get them to an applause line, kind of a drop the mic moment. When I was going to youth camp as a student, it seemed like the youth speakers there always liked to tell an emotional story at the end that got everybody crying so we'd all come forward and promise to be missionaries. There was a worship leader I worked with one time at a college conference that I did that he just loved to end every worship set by just coming to a point where he kind of lost control and he'd jump around and he goes up on his toes playing the last part of the song and he holds his guitar up and then he just falls backwards. And it was kind of like, well, not a little awkward. It was a lot awkward because all the other instrumentalists are kind of looking at him and the guy at the conference looks at me and he goes, it was after about 10 seconds, he said, bro, I don't know what to tell you. You're up next on the schedule.

So this one's on you. So I walk up and I literally have to like step over him. I can see he's fine, but you know, I have to step over him and go start the message.

And then, you know, about 10 minutes in the message, he gets up and picks up his guitar and we go on. Well, Paul has his own particular type of preaching style and when Paul gets to the end of one of his sermons, which that's the way you should read a letter is like one long sermon that Paul is preaching. Paul's habit at the end of the sermon is to rattle off a litany of really practical instructions. And at first these instructions seem like a bunch of random standalone proverbs as if you say, oh yeah, I remember this and oh yeah, you should do that.

But they're not really random at all. These things are the practical outworkings of the gospel that he's explained now for five chapters. You see, here's the thing to remember about Paul. Anytime you read anything written by Paul, you keep this in mind for Paul, imperatives always flow out of indicative and you're like imperative. What, what are you talking about?

All right. Indicative are declarative statements about what God has done. Imperatives are commands about what you should do. So for Paul, the commands of what you should do, come out of a response to what God has done, right? So that's how you always should see Paul. Paul is going to say, here's what God has done.

Here's the indicative. Now here is what you should do in response. That's why Paul often signals that transition by the word, therefore, therefore, in light of all that I just said to you about the gospel, here's how you should live in response. And that's why every good Bible teacher will tell you that whenever you see the word, therefore in Paul's letters, you should always look and see what it's there for.

Exactly right. You're looking backwards because what is the indicative that is grounding the imperative because before you undertake the imperative, you got to make sure you got a really good hold on the indicative. Otherwise you're going to turn that list of imperatives in a, to a list of moral do's and don'ts. And that will lead you to something that Paul calls legalism or we call legalism, which is just where you're trying to obey a bunch of commands. And that is the opposite of what Paul is wanting you to do. The imperatives of the Christian life grow as a natural response to the indicative, the statements about what God has done.

Paul is urging us now in chapter six to respond to the gospel that he has explained now for five chapters, we're going to start our reading of chapter six at the end of chapter five though, because, um, the last two verses of chapter five, in my opinion, or where he starts the instructions of chapter six, he starts it like this. If we live by the spirit, let us also keep in step with the spirit. In other words, the spirit has created a new reality for us in the gospel. And that reality comes with it, the power of a new creation and the power of resurrection. But in order for you to access that power, you got to walk in a way that is consistent with what the spirit is doing.

That's the only way you'll have access to the power. So therefore he says, let us not become conceited. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envy one another.

That word conceited. There's a very important word. It is one of the few places in our Bible that we unfortunately don't have the right English word that translates the Greek word. The closest we get is if you have the old King James version of the Bible, that's what I grew up on.

And there's a lot of words in it. I did not understand, but in this place, a KJV actually gets it exactly right. But in order to do that, they had to make up an English word and the word they use is vainglory. Vainglory is what the word in Greek literally means is empty of glory. If you become a person who is empty of glory, then you are going to become a person who provokes and envies one another. Remember what Paul has explained to us. You and I were created for the glory of God. We were created to be complete in God. We were created so that God's love and acceptance was our glory.

Literally every part of you, whether you're a Christian or not, every part of you, just because of the way you're created, cries out for you to hear from God the Father, well done, good and faithful servant. Well, when you and I sinned, we were stripped of the love and the acceptance of God. And when we were stripped of that love and acceptance, that glory, we felt naked and ashamed. So we immediately turned to begin to look to replace that glory with something else. It's like we walk around with this big old glory vacuum and we're always looking for something to replace what we lost in God. And one of the main ways that we do that, where we try to replace that glory, is we do it by comparing ourselves to one another.

We try to show that we are better than other people in some way, and that becomes our glory. And that manifests itself in two different ways in this verse. The first way here is provoking one another. Provoking is when you have a superiority complex toward others, and you just feel like you are better than them for some reason. Maybe you are smarter or you are prettier or you are richer or you are more moral, or I guess that's how you would say that, moraler.

You're more talented. You've got a better family, but there's something that makes you better. And so you look down on them and you provoke them.

Enving is the opposite side of the coin. When you envy others, it's because you have an inferiority complex, because when you compare yourself to others, you don't match up. And so you resent that. What the provoking and the envying, what the superiority complex and the inferiority complex have in common is that you enter into relationships from a sense of emptiness. You need glory from other people. Well, the gospel does three things, Paul says, that transforms your relationships. The first thing it does is it humbles you. It teaches you that there really is nothing about you that makes you better than somebody else. Everything you have is a gift of grace. Secondly, it completes you.

You don't need glory or distinction from other people because you have the approval of the heavenly father. And then it redirects you rather than being a person who is focused on using others to meet your needs. You become a complete person who offers yourself to meet the needs of others.

You see, before the gospel, you approach every relationship from, let's call it a market standpoint. How can this relationship benefit me? How can this person help me fulfill my goals or the goals of my family? With every person you meet, you've got a little plus and minus chart in your head and you're asking yourself, is this person going to add more to me than they're going to take away?

What can they do for me and my family? That's how you evaluate relationships, right? Watch how those things show up in this litany of instructions. If you've been experienced the gospel, you'll be humbled, you'll be complete, and you'll be redirected. Watch them show up in these next few verses here as we go through this. Brothers and sisters, if somebody is overtaken in a wrongdoing, what we have here is somebody who's fallen into sin, right?

Really mess themselves up. You who are spiritual, now who's he talking about? Does it mean the Christians you walk around with a sanctified look on their face?

No. Spiritual just means you have the spirit. That's all he means there. So it's any Christian. You have the spirit.

Restore, that's the Greek word katartizo, which means put a broken bone back in place. Restore such a person with a gentle or humble, proud-tossed spirit. Watching out for yourselves because you're made out of the same stuff they are and you don't want to also be tempted as you get into this. How does a gospel saturated person respond to somebody in sin?

Paul's answer? They approach them with empathy and compassion, knowing that they're made out of the same stuff that that person is, and the fact that they haven't been overcome by this particular temptation is not because they're better than them. It's, if anything, it's because they've been spared the set of circumstances that that person was in.

Had you grown up like them or you've been put through the same temptations, you probably would have made the same dumb decisions that they made. You see, the gospel teaches you that any righteousness that you have is a gift. Thus, when I'm around somebody who has fallen, I approach them humbly because I too am a wretched, dark-hearted sinner just like them.

Any righteousness I have is a gift. That's what the gospel teaches me about myself, and it changes the attitude that I have to somebody whose life is messed up. A person who doesn't know the gospel assumes that their righteousness is something that they have achieved, so they feel conceited and proud. They have a glory from that, and so they back away from that other person.

They don't get involved in the life of somebody who's messed up because they think, why would I encumber myself with your mess? I mean, the reason I'm not in a mess is because I made good decisions, and so if I'm not in a mess because I made good decisions, I'm not going to bring your mess into my life because I spent my whole life trying to get out of mess, which leads me to the next verse, verse two. Paul says, carry one another's burdens and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Now, in context, the burden that he's talking about here is the burden that comes to somebody because of their own sinful, dumb choices. And Paul says, if you get the gospel, you will voluntarily enter into the burdens of others, burdens that they brought onto themselves by their own sinfulness. You see, which addresses one of the primary reasons Christians use or excuses we use for not getting involved with other people who are suffering and in need. Jonathan Edwards, the 300 years ago in a little book called the duty of Christian charity, identify the primary reasons that Christians excuse themselves from getting involved in the needs of others. The number one reason he said, the number one reason still relevant today is he says, Christians will say, nope, I don't want to help somebody in need that kind of need because they brought that on themselves. They made a dumb decision.

They brought that on themselves. So I feel no compulsion to go help them. Jonathan Edwards response was, do you not know the gospel at all? Do you realize the misery that Christ brought you out of a misery that you had brought on yourselves in entirety? I mean, you know, the golden rule, right? The golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you here. Paul is upgrading that to the platinum rule, right? If he didn't call it platinum rule, but I'm gonna call it that platinum rule is doing to others as Christ has done unto you. Do you know what Christ did when he saved you?

You know how far he reached. It was a burden that you had brought on yourself. So why wouldn't you reach out to somebody even when they brought on the burden on themselves? Because when you do that, then you're going to start, you're going to start fulfilling the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is that you do unto others as Jesus has done unto you. And that means voluntarily entering into their burdens, just like Jesus entered into yours. You were listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We hope you've been enjoying today's teaching and that it's been an encouragement in your daily walk with God. Before we continue, I wanted to remind you about a daily resource that can also help you stay connected to God's word throughout the week. Our daily email devotionals written by Pastor J.D. offer insightful reflections on the Bible and practical applications for your life.

Each day's devotional corresponds to our current teaching series so you can stay plugged into the themes and ideas that we explore here on the program each day. And best of all, it's completely free. To sign up, simply visit J.D. Greer dot com slash resources and enter your email address.

You should begin to see it in your inbox very soon. Thank you so much for your support that makes this free resource and the rest of Summit Life possible. It's because of friends like you that we are able to proclaim the gospel each day to a dying world. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. So let me just ask you a little diagnostic question right now. Okay. I want you to think about the burdens in your life that you are carrying right now. And I want you to ask yourself how many of those burdens come from carrying the burden of somebody else? How much of the burden and the weight that you feel under this morning, how much of it comes from somebody else's burden that you have voluntarily entered into and shared?

Isn't that what Paul is telling us to do? Carry each other's burdens? I mean, think about the metaphor on this table. If I were carrying this table and you were going to help me, how much does this table weigh?

Like what? 350 pounds? And so if we were going to carry it together, what I would do is I would turn it on its side so that now the weight would be distributed so that I would carry 175 and you would carry 175.

That's how we would do that. And some of the weight that I was carrying would now rest upon you. In other words, in order to help me, some of that burden has to fall on you. The reason I take pains to point this out is most of us want to give to others without it really costing us. We want to give to others without feeling the burden, but that is not what people who have experienced the gospel should be like. Jonathan Edwards said the second reason, the second excuse Christians give for why they don't help others in need is they say, I don't really have any excess and I really couldn't give to that person in need without experiencing hardship myself. Edward says, isn't that exactly what Paul is telling us to do in Galatians 6, 2, is to experience hardship because of how much we give? To give to a point that some of the burden of those in need actually falls on us. Isn't that what it means to share the burden?

That's why C.S. Lewis said the only safe rule in giving, if you want a rule, the rule is not 10%. If you want a safe rule in giving, it's to give more than you feel like you can spare because only then will you be sharing the burden that somebody else is feeling and only then are you fulfilling the law of Christ. A conceited person who has forgotten the gospel thinks, oh, I've pulled myself up by my bootstraps.

You ought to do the same. In fact, I've spent my life trying to get myself to a place where I have no burdens. I've earned this position of privilege and I'm certainly not going to encumber myself with the burdens that you have brought on your stuff.

They're conceited, unaware of the great need that they had when Christ saved them. When you know Jesus, you voluntarily begin to bear the burdens of others. Now, there are, of course, other ways to apply this principle beyond the financial. You can do it with people emotionally, hurting when they hurt, making their concerns matters of personal prayer, where I know the difference when somebody has given me a perfunctory, I'll pray for you, brother. And when they actually are taking some of this burden and they're following up with me about it and they're praying for it and treating it like it's their own burden, it means trying to shoulder the load with people around you in really practical ways.

It's simple as sometimes taking the meals when they're going through a difficult time or watching over their kids when they, when they need that. Or how about this one, helping people move. I hate moving. Everybody hates moving. I don't even like helping other people move. I mean, no offense, but that is a time that we literally bear one another's burdens. If you're in a Christian community, you should expect and not resent when people ask you to help them move.

And by the way, if you have a truck, I would advise you to conceal that fact. Otherwise everybody in the church and random strangers you meet in the mall are going to ask you to help them move. The point is you just, you voluntarily begin to share burdens around you. Let me apply this principle in one other way that I think is very timely for us. If you will indulge me to speak as a white guy, to those of you in who are listening to me, who also are white, I believe this is one of the major things that we need to do in situations of racial tension. And that is to make every effort to bear the burdens that are born by some of our brothers and sisters of color burdens. We may never have had to experience personally, you know, as we've often talked about here at this church, it is easy for any of us not to think about things that don't affect us directly. But if we are gospel people, we will be aware of the pain that others are going through and aware of the privileges that we experienced that others don't have access to. And we will use any position of privilege or strength that we enjoy in order to serve and empower others. We will spend time listening and trying to see and understand things from their perspective, because then that the first part of bearing a burden is to listen. Listening is the first stage and sharing or, or bearing a burden. So we ought to realize that when it comes to things like, you know, controversial things like kneeling for the flag, for example, or, or even protesting or rioting after a shooting that others often feel like they do because of experiences that they have had.

And to be frank, had you or I grown up in their situation, we'd probably feel the same way. That is not saying that they are all right and you were all wrong. It's just saying that you should realize that your perspective on those things is largely an opinion that has been formed out of your own experiences.

And that's all that it is an opinion. We should listen to others in our community, trying as much as we can to see it from their perspective and as much as we can sharing the burdens that they live with as if they were our own. In fact, if you're writing stuff down, write this down. We are called to share the burdens our brothers and sisters live with as if they were our own. For the majority culture, this is the beginning of progress and a lot of this racial strife. I know that is not all that needs to be said on this. I get that, but I know that it is something that we can do. It is something that Galatians is telling us to do. By the way, maybe the first place this will show up is on your Facebook wall. Can I suggest a verse that you should probably put at the top of your computer? Proverbs 18, two, a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

For many of you, this, this summarizes your entire approach to Facebook right here. I'm not looking to understand. I'm just looking to show the world how smart I am because of what I feel in this particular moment. All right, spare us that and spend more time trying to understand than simply to tell everybody how smart you are.

Right? I mean, make this your screensaver or something because there's so much division that gets caused by people not understanding, but just trying to vent whatever they're feeling in a particular moment. I'm not saying you never post your opinion. I'm just saying that for every one comment you make telling yours, you're asking two questions that help you understand somebody else's.

All right. Well, Paul keeps developing this point. Look at this verse three for anybody considers himself to be something when he's nothing. He deceives himself.

No, no. What's he talking about? He's still going after this issue of being conceited. He's like, do you really feel like you're something? Do you not know the gospel at all? Do you remember who you were when God saved you? You were dead in trespasses and sin, not mostly dead or nearly dead or really, really sick. You were dead, dead. You were children of wrath.

You weren't a not so bad center or a center who had a good heart or center with a lot of potential. God did not look at you and say, Oh, there's still some good in that one. I think I can save him. That's star Wars. That's not the gospel. There's only one kind of center according to the gospel. And that is wretched, darkhearted, spiritually dead centers. In fact, you were so bad that Jesus had to die to save you.

By the way, make sure you get that. Not other people were so bad that Jesus had to die for them. He didn't come to earth and say, you know what? There are some people that are so bad. I can only save them if I die for them.

You, I just had to spray my ankle for you, but somebody else, I had to die for them. No, you were so just you by yourself was so bad that the son of God had to spill his precious blood to redeem your soul from the hell that you deserved. And if you forget that, then you'll think you're something when you're actually a big old nothing. And then you're going to be self deceived. And when you're self-deceived, you'll become conceited and then you'll become ungenerous toward others. And you'll relate to them wrongly when they go through a time of need or when they're under a burden that's brought on by their simpleness.

Verse four, he keeps going, let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone and not compare himself with somebody else for each person will have to carry his own load. You're like, what? I mean, doesn't that sound like you just contradicted everything he just said? Now, how many of you noticed, how many of you noticed that contradiction when you were reading it earlier?

I mean, be honest. How many of you just skimmed right over it? Cause you're not really reading it and paying attention. You're just reading it.

See, this is what I'm talking about. You got to see this kind of stuff and be like, I feel like he just contradicted himself. It looks like that on the surface, but not when you understand the context, the context, listen, he's still going after this idea of being conceited. And he is saying it is foolish of you to feel proud that you're not struggling with something when somebody else is, because each of us have been given a different size load to carry.

And the fact that somebody else is struggling with something that you're not struggling with is not because you are just inherently awesomer than they are. It's because the situation of their life and the circumstances that they were in were different. It was a different load. And you know what? Had you been under the same load, you probably would have struggled the same way that they did because all the righteousness that you have is a gift from God anyway.

And had you been given the same load that person was given, then you probably would struggle with it too. We should approach people with humility and compassion, eager to share each other's burdens, because that's what Jesus did for us. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. So Pastor J.D., freedom in the in-between, that's what you called this teaching series. But what does that phrase mean? What are we in between? Yeah, you know, it actually has a lot, kind of several meanings, but the primary one that we're going after is that if you're a Christian, there's a point in your past when God saves you. And there's a point in the future when you're going to be with him in heaven.

But then there's also this in-between time right now. And there's a freedom that God wants to experience now. Yes, we haven't gotten all the way to glory and all the benefits of being in the presence of God. But we are freed for the abundant life that God has. We're freed from condemnation of the law.

We're free from even the limitations of our own sinful flesh by this incredible power of the Spirit. And so we put together a seven-part Bible study from Pastor Tim Keller. It's a small short study guide with just really great, but deep meaning.

And so I think this is one of those resources you'll find yourself going back to again and again. Reserve your copy at J.D. Greer dot com. We'd love to send you a copy of Pastor Tim Keller's seven-part study through the book of Galatians called Gospel Matters. It's yours with a gift of thirty-five dollars or more to this ministry. And you can give now by calling us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at J.D. Greer dot com. Don't miss out on this devotional to give you an in-depth understanding of this incredibly rich book of the Bible. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to join us next week as we continue this teaching called Free to Love. See you next time for Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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