Michael Youssef - How Shall We Live Now? - Part 2
Anger and discontentment and restlessness has been from the very beginning of humanity, back all the way in Genesis, when man chose to be in the city of man instead of being in the city of God. From that time on, humanity has been either running away from something, or running to look for something, to find something. Now if you're visiting with us, we began a series on how shall we live now in these dark and getting darker days? How shall we live now? In the midst of this growing darkness and oppression, how shall we live now? Those of us who belong to the city of God, those of us who are citizens of heaven, those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, but for now we are living in the city of man here on Earth, how shall we not just survive but thrive?
I wanna begin by showing you how the separation between two distinct cities, the city of God and the city of man, began in the Bible. And so, I'll be following Genesis 3, 4, and 5. From the very beginning there has been two humanities made up of two cities, or two cultures. In fact, that distinction runs straight throughout the Scripture. These two cities have two distinct origins.
These two cities, the city of God and the city of man, they have two distinct developments. These two cities, they have two distinct characteristics. These two cities, yes, have two distinct destinations. The earthly city, or the city of man, symbolized by Babylon and Rome and even Western civilization today. The other heavenly city is symbolized by the elect of God from every nation, from every tribe, from every generation. They represent the New Jerusalem, the city of God that will be coming down from heaven for the believers. The city of man will be destroyed, make no mistake about it, but the city of God will never, never, never be destroyed. First, there are two offsprings, of two distinct humanities.
Those two humanities are found in the book of Genesis chapter 3, verse 15. You can turn to that with me so you can look at it, because that is the very... I'm gonna repeat this: is the very announcement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Genesis 3:15. God told the serpent in the Garden of Eden, "I will put enmity between you and the woman. I will put enmity between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike at his heels".
Now, of course, the ultimate descendant of the woman is the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation chapter 12, verse 1 to 6 makes it very clear. The descendant of the woman is the Lord Jesus Christ, and he tried to strike at his heel, but he failed. But on the cross Jesus crushed his head, and he rendered him ineffective for all of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin, my beloved, created that enmity. Sin created that distinction. Rebellion against God's Word created that strife. Disobedience to God, listen to me, always, whether it be among individuals or be in families or be in churches, always creates division and strife. When the serpent, or Satan, tempted Adam and Eve, he had two goals in mind, two things he wanted to do.
First of all, he wanted to stop them from fellowshipping with God. And the second thing, he wanted them to worship him. He wanted to stop them from worshipping God and worship him instead. He succeeded in the first, but he failed in the second. Do you know why? Because of God's first announcement of the gospel of Jesus Christ in chapter 3, verse 15. Satan hated Eve from the moment she was created, even though he pretended to be her friend in order to tempt her away from obeying God and tempt her to disobey God. Let me testify to you that I know many of you will stand here and testify equally. Before Christ came into my life, I liked sin. I did. I liked continuing in sin. The only thing I didn't want is to be found. Nobody to know about it. I wanted to keep it a secret.
The only thing I didn't really like is the consequences of sin, which I knew in my head. That's the only thing, but I liked sin. But the moment Christ came into my life, I hate sin. I hate sin in my life more than in anybody else's. The presence of God in my life makes sin to be a miserable experience. Why? Because God placed an enmity between me and Satan, and between you, the lover of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Satan, and that is why I wanna tell you now and throughout this series of messages: do not be surprised when you are hated by the descendants of the serpent. Do not be shocked that they want to malign you. Do not see it as a strange thing when they try to call you names, because we are two distinct humanities.
Who are these two humanities? The descendants of the serpent. Of course, Satan cannot have descendants because he's a spiritual being, couldn't have natural descendants, so the natural descendants are the ones who follow him. And the descendants of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ. You and I who love the Lord Jesus. Everyone who follows Satan in disobedience to God is a descendant of the serpent. This distinction between the two, or this enmity between the two, is carried forward in Genesis chapter 4 and in Genesis chapter 5. It just continued. The first evidence that Adam and Eve believed God, trusted God, when he said to them that the descendant of the woman is gonna come and is gonna crush the serpent, the very evidence why they believed God, took him at his Word, is the naming of their first son.
What was the name of their first son? Cain. Do you know what "Cain" means? Here he is. Here he is. They thought, "This is the one, the descendant of the woman, who's gonna crush the serpent's head". They didn't realize that they're gonna have to wait for a few thousand years until the descendant of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ, come on the scene. When Cain and Abel were fully grown, you see that distinction between them so clearly. You see it with absolute clarity. You see that enmity between the two of them. It's very clear. One followed Satan in disobedience to God, and the other one followed God. That distinction became emphatically clear because Cain rejected God, and he wanted to come to God his way.
You see, when God slay a lamb to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve with the skin, he was teaching them what the Bible later said that there can be no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood, that the only sacrifice acceptable to God is the shedding of an innocent blood. But Cain said, "I know what God said. I know what God wants. I wanna come to God my way. I'm gonna bring him some groceries. I'm gonna bring grains," and thus the disobedience began. But God does not walk away from Cain. He reasons with him. Look at it in the Scripture. He reasons with him. His desire is for Cain to repent of his sin and turn and say, "I'm sorry I killed my brother. I am sorry I sinned against you. I'm sorry I tried to come to you my way," but he didn't.
You see, there's one characteristic about our God that I don't want you to miss, and I'm gonna share it a lot more in the coming days, because in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord". God is always trying to reason, even with the nonbelievers. He's always trying to reason with those who are living in the city of man. "Come, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow". That's our God. Back to the city. There were two distinct humanities, but those two distinct humanities, they've created two distinct cultures, or two distinct cities. That's the whole idea of the city of God versus the city of man, according to Saint Augustine.
You see, after Cain killed his brother Abel and lied about it, after Cain refused to accept the reasoning of God who was trying to reason with him, Cain became afraid, and he went out, and the Bible said he went out and built a what? A city. He went out and built a city. Beloved, listen to me. This is the epitome of the city of man. It is filled with fear and anxiety and restlessness. Cain built the very first city of man. Cain built a place to escape from God. Cain built a place where people think they can hide from God. Cain built a city for people to pretend that God does not exist. He built the city in order that it'd be easy to revolt against God, a place to outlaw any vision of God. And then Genesis 4:15. I said 3:15, now it's 4:15, so keep that in your memory. In 4:15, God told Cain that his fate... not his faith. Fate, F-A-T-E. His fate is pain and torment of conscience restlessness and anxiety.
Let me ask you: do you know why? Do you know why? Do you know why even today so many anti-Christian forces, and we have so many anti-biblical leaders who are issuing edicts, anti-Christian edicts? They're issuing anti-biblical edicts. They are destroying morality in society. Do you know why? Because their conscience are burning inside of them. They might pretend to be cool and wise. They might pretend to be anti-discrimination, but in reality they are like Cain. They are building cities and cultures that defies God. They are seething inside of them with anxiety and restlessness and fear, and they're transforming that to the rest of the culture. Here me out on this one.
The city of man creates perverted pleasures. Pleasure is a gift to God. God created pleasure. God gave us pleasure, but the perverted pleasure is the creation of Satan and man in the city of man. The city of man is filled with entertainment to help relieve their burning conscience. The city of man has created some hustle and bustle in order to occupy our minds. The city of man delves deeply into all sorts of businesses to occupy our time so that we have no time to be convicted of our sin. The city of man is filled with drugs and alcohol in order to numb our guilt. But make no mistake about it. Here me out, please. There is nothing, nothing, nothing... can you say, "Nothing". Nothing will muzzle the voice of God.
And that is why when you represent the nationality of your proverbial city of God, when you represent the absolutes of the city of God, when you represent the voice of God, you bear the brunt of their anger toward God. I often tell people, hear me out on this one. You know how in sales training they tell you when somebody doesn't buy your stuff don't take it personally? They just don't like your product. This is to help prop up sales, salespeople. I'm not trying to prop you up. I'm telling you the truth, okay? Listen to me. When you're attacked for your faith in Jesus Christ, you're getting somebody else's mail. Don't take it personally. Hello? That is one time you should not take it personally, because you're getting God's mail. And when you keep on standing firm, refusing to budge, God said there is a reward for you that is indescribable.
Genesis 4:16 said that "Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod". That's N-O-D. Do you know what "nod" means? Wandering around. That's what nod means. He went in the land of wandering around, wandering around, wandering around, and wandering around. Aimlessly wandering around. Believe me when I tell you that they will never be happy. They will never be satisfied, no matter how much they try to receive acceptance and approval and even creating it to be a virtue. They will never be happy. Never. He's gonna get to the bottom, then other bottom, another bottom. They keep going deeper and deeper and deeper in the mud of sin.
And that's why I'm appealing to every member of the city of God, whether you're watching around the world, whether you're here in this beautiful sanctuary, to appeal to everyone who belong to the city of God like me, living in the city of man, to never shrink from standing firm, to never shrink from speaking the truth in love, to never shrink from being a light, not an ember. To be a salt, not a dust, at a time when we're seeing so many people giving up, and they have joined the current of culture, at a when we are seeing some professing Christians are living for self and self-indulgence and self-pleasing.
You and I who know God, you and I who know the Word of God, you and I who know God's character must say with Joshua, "As for me and my household, we shall worship the Lord". But we need to do more than that. We need to be like Noah, appealing to everyone who would listen, "Escape now while escaping is good. Escape now while escaping is possible". For the Bible shows us that that godless culture of Cain runs through many generations, and it gets worse and worse by generations. Each subsequent generation got worse than the previous one, until we come to Lamech. Lamech is a prototype of a self-made man, but, thankfully, the Bible also tells us about Enoch.
Mercifully, we have role models in the Scripture: Enoch. The contrast between Lamech and Enoch is a contrast between those who belong to the city of God and those who belong to the city of man. While Lamech exalted himself, Enoch was a man who walked with God. While Lamech was self-sufficient, did not need God, Enoch feared God. While Lamech killed people for the smallest offense, and then he went around bragging about it, Enoch was a preacher of righteousness. Two distinct humanities. Two distinct cities. Two distinct cultures. One depended on God, and the other one rejected God. No one the Hebrews 11, verse 5 said, "By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death".
He was commended as one who pleased who? God. May this be said of you. Oh, may this be said of me. What does it mean to walk with God? Listen carefully. It means not only to believe in God, but to believe God. Take him at his Word. It means to obey God, regardless of the consequences. It means to be close to God. It means to seek to live for God and not for the cultural mores. When it says Enoch walked with God, it means that Enoch did not fight against God. That Enoch did not resist the precepts of God. That Enoch did not try to water down or try to modify the Word of God, but rather Enoch found joy in obeying God and in his revelation.
Oh, Lord, may this be said, that we may love God more than we love acceptance by man. That we would wanna please God far above trying to please anybody else. That we would delight more in fearing God than in fearing the powerful in our culture and our society. That we will crave more to honor God than to honor ourselves. That we would consider being scorned for the sake of Christ, as a badge of honor, and not something to be ashamed of. Cain refused to obey God and God's way, and he would not offer that animal sacrifice that his parent taught him to do. He wanted to come to God his own way, and his fate was wandering around, fumbling and stumbling in the city of man. He did not know where he was going. His fate was restlessness and discontentment and wandering.
I was reading just this week about the inaugural speech by FDR. He said, "We don't know where we're going, but we are on our way". That's about right. That's about right. In the city of man there is restlessness, loneliness. There is rootlessness. Isn't it amazing when you look at the Scripture, particularly chapter 4, verse 12, you see God saying, he's warning Cain ahead of time. He's warning him ahead of time, and he said to him, he said, "You will be a restless wanderer on the earth". End of quote. Listen to what Cain said. You see, those people who modify the Word of God, they'll modify the Word of God wherever they go. He modified the Word of God. Two verses down, two verses below, Cain complained that "I will be a restless wanderer on the earth," and then he adds something. "And whoever finds me will kill me". God didn't tell him that.
See, by the time you get to chapter 6, verse 5 in the book of Genesis, you hear God to be saying, "Man's wickedness has become very great, and every inclination of the thought of his heart was only evil all the time". Thus God called Noah. He said, "Noah, you reason with them. You call the wicked to escape while the escaping is good". And, my beloved, I tell you this is the Word of God. God has placed you in neighborhoods. He placed in schools. He placed you on campuses. He placed you in your workplace. He placed you there to be a Noah. God does not call us to run away from the city of man. No, he called us to invite others before it's too late to come to the city of God, but you will not be able to do this if you're living like them, if you're anxious like them, if you're worried like them, if you're restless like them, if you're discontented like them.
Every day you read somebody lost a job. It's hard, and I'm not saying it's easy, but with God all things are possible. He will encourage you. He'll stand with you. All he needs you to say, like Noah, "Yes, Lord, give me the strength, and I'll do it. I'll stand firm regardless of the cost". People watching literally tens of countries around the world, and you might be sitting here and saying, "Well, you know, I'm still in the city of man. I've never come to Jesus Christ, received him as Savior and Lord. I'm living for self. I'm in self-indulgence. I'm self-pleasing," and yet deep down you know God is calling you. God is speaking to you. He's speaking to you through colleagues, speaking to you through friends, through neighbors, saying, "Confess. Repent. Turn to me. I'll forgive your sins, and I will assure you of heaven, but I also will give you joy and peace in this life, release you from restlessness". Would you say, "Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord"?