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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 3

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 3

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 3
Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 3
TOPICS: Identity, Identity Theft, Transformation

Blessed Mother's Day. And talking about Mother's Day, I am gonna bring you a message in the next few minutes about being grateful and being thankful. Comes straight from the first epistle of Peter. And in gratitude that we express to God comes gratitude to mothers. May you have a blessed day, Mom.

I read not long ago about a senior law enforcement officer who happened to be a wonderful believer, and he was speaking at a retreat in Hume Lake, California. And he was speaking to these young Christians, and he said, "You know, in my years of service as a law enforcement officer, I arrested people. I have been witness in a court of law in situations. I came across many Christians in my experience. All of that has led me to always ask myself the question, if being a Christian becomes a crime, would I have enough evidence to convict me"? I must admit, I asked myself that question many times. Think long and hard about this. We have begun a series of messages entitled, "Identity Transformation," and we saw in the very first message how the Lord Jesus so graciously, so lovingly, so patiently began to transform Peter's identity from fishing, and the lake, and bravado, into identity in Christ and in Christ alone.

In fact, the Lord did this work in Peter's life that Peter in turn wanted to do this in helping other Christians all over Asia by writing his first epistle. And he wanted to do what the Lord Jesus Christ did in his life, he wants to do it in the life of others. And so, we began in 1 Peter last message to see how Peter, in the first 12 verses, telling us about the 7-fold blessings, because of these 7-fold blessings is what causes our identity transformation. And today, we're gonna look at the evidence of this identity transformation.

Turn with me to 1 Peter chapter 1, beginning at verse 13 to 21. "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed... as obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.' Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God".

The first word in verse 13 is the word "Therefore". When you see the word "Therefore," you have to find out, you have to ask the question, what is that word "Therefore" is there for? And it is there for a good reason. Peter is saying that in the light of the seven-fold blessings that we have received from the hands of Jesus, and because of that seven-fold blessings, out of gratitude to God for this seven-fold blessings, we should show evidence of our transformed identity, from whatever it is into Jesus. Out of sheer thankfulness to the Lord for his blessings, we reflect this thankfulness in our lives to others. We show it in the way we live. And Peter tells us that our sense of gratitude to God, our sense of thanksgiving to God produces evidence in our lives that manifest itself in six ways.

Today, we're only gonna look at three because of the limitation of time, and then the next message we're gonna look at the other three. I hope you are following with me in your Bibles. What are those first three evidence? In thankfulness, we are to be what? (Alert). Secondly, in thankfulness, we are to be holy. Be what? (Holy). Thirdly, in thankfulness, we are to revere the Lord. First of all, in thankfulness to the Lord for saving us, for redeeming us, for calling us, for choosing us, for giving us redemption, we are to be alert. Look at verse 13. Here's that word, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; and be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace that is to be revealed when Jesus returns".

Here, Peter gives us an image that I need to explain to you. In fact, some of the old translations talks about the loins of your minds and all that. I wanna explain to you that picture, that image that Peter has in mind. And I'm not a very good artist, so I cannot illustrate it, but I'm trying to give you a verbal picture. I know you've seen on television how in some Arab countries, these people wear the flowing kaftan, right? Now, that's the clothes that people wore at the time in the early days where Peter was writing.

Now, when you see that, whether it be civil leaders or political leaders, when you see them wearing these floating, white robes, this is an indication of leisure. It's an indication of relaxation. It's an indication of taking it easy. By the same token, you never, never, never see the soldiers of that same country dressed in that same way. Are you with me? You know why? Because they cannot go to war in these kaftans. They will never be able to fight a battle wearing these flowing things because they will fall and stumble all over the place. And when they are relaxed, it's okay. When they are care-free, that's okay. When they have nothing physical to do, that's fine.

And Peter looks at that picture, just imagine that image of that flowing kaftan that they were wearing, and he says when it comes to the spiritual life, because it is a life of constant war against the evil one, you must take these things and tuck them in a belt of some sort, that you need to pull them up and get them under control, or else in the battlefield, you'll be toast. You see, Peter turns this image into a picture of a truly disciplined, obedient child of God. Peter is saying your life has to come under the controlled belt of the Holy Spirit. It has to come under the authority of the Holy Spirit. Your thoughts must be collected together and come under the control of the Holy Spirit. Your lifestyle should reflect the attire of the soldier, not the flowing, careless kaftan of sin. A thankful believer does not allow evil thoughts to nest in his or her head and mind. A thoughtful, obedient believer is very careful of what he or she reads. And obedient believer extremely careful what he and she watch.

An obedient believer is very careful what he says to others or not compromise when nobody else is watching. A believer who is thankful for the seven-fold blessings that we saw is not given to self-indulgence, is not given to self-gratification, is not given to idle gossip, is not given to idleness period, is not given to unfaithfulness with time, money, and treasure. In fact, the opposite is true. In giving evidence of a transformed identity, a believer is looking for opportunities to serve, is looking for opportunities to bless others, is looking for opportunities to be self-controlled, is looking for opportunities to extend forgiveness to others, is looking for opportunity to show grace and make magnanimity, is looking for opportunity to be selfless like Jesus, amen?

Another image that Peter gives us here is the difference between a totally drunk person and a totally sober person, and he contrasts those two. Hear me right on this one. I've been around long enough to know this, that those who deliberately and self-consciously drink until they get themselves drunk, those who do that, they do that either because they do not want to face reality or because they're afraid of the future. Test me on this one, okay? But the evidence of a transformed identity of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is neither lose touch with reality nor afraid of the future. Why? Because we know that the Lord forgave us in the past when we came to him, that he forgives us every single day when we come in repentance, and that he will forgive us eternally, save us when we go to heaven with Jesus.

You see, it's past, it's present, and future, and therefore, we're not afraid. And that is why we do not regret the past, the past is the past and is covered by the blood. We do not dread the present, nor do we fear the future. One of the evidence of the transformed life is being alert all the time, being sober, spiritually-speaking, all the time, being realistic all the time. The first evidence in thankfulness, we are to be what? (Alert). Secondly, in thankfulness, we are to be holy. You better listen to what I'm gonna say, okay, because I know the word "holy" and "holiness" is out of fashion. I mean, this is a generation that may not even know what you're talking about when you talk about holy or holiness. A lot of people have their idea of some holy or holiness person is short on brain, big lungs, standing on the street corner, and just hollering. Others think, you know, to be holy, you kind of wear a halo or you put on a white robe and head for the mountains, go to monastery, and all of that. No, no, no, no. "Holy" means to be set aside.

That's what it means. "Holy" is to be consecrated, or belongs to, or set aside to Christ. And when you have been set aside for God's use, you're not gonna allow yourself to be used for godless things. That's what holy means. And that is why in the Old Testament, read about how they made the utensils in the temple to be holy. How can you make utensils in the temple to be holy? It's by setting them aside for only certain use. They cannot be used for anything else. They've been set aside. That's what being holy is. That's what being consecrated means, that these things are only to be used for God's purpose. We call the Bible the Holy Bible, why? Because it belongs exclusively to God. And when we belong to God, we show our belonging to God by obedience to his Holy Bible, to his Word, to that which belongs to him. It is not sometime obedience, it is not part-time obedience, it's not an occasional obedience, it's not a seasonal obedience. No, no, no, no. It is a total obedience, it's always obedience, it's daily obedience, it's moment-by-moment obedience.

Now, occasionally we fail because we're living in this sinful world, we're living in this sinful flesh. Every now and again, we'll fail. Of course, and the Bible said, "If we say we have no sin, we decide ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But when we confess our sins, God is faith and just to forgive us all our sins". Let me ask you a question. Do you know what is the number one enemy of holiness in our lives? I'm sure different ones among you are thinking different things. What's the number one enemy? It probably is not what you're thinking. I can tell you, after 42 years in the ordained ministry, that the number 1 enemy over us to be holy and be set aside, consecrated to the Lord Jesus, are 2 words: so what? So what? That's the number one enemy of obedience, and therefore holiness. Apathy is a lack of spiritual sobriety. Apathy is equal to spiritual drunkenness.

There are so many apathetic people in our culture today, they are apathetic about apathy. It's like the man who said, "I am neither for nor against apathy". The evidence of our transformed identity: in thankfulness we are alert; in thankfulness we are holy; thirdly, in thankfulness we revere the Lord. Look at verses 17 all the way to 21. Again, the word "reverence" or "revering" is sort of an old-fashioned word, just like "holiness". We don't use that word very often, because we've ceased to revere our parents and those in spiritual authority as the Scripture enjoins us to do. We end up not revering God. And yet Peter insists that if we are going through this identity transformation, if we are surrendering to him day-by-day, if we're living in obedience to him day-by-day, Peter insists that we cannot be holy or being exclusively belong to God alone, or live in total obedience, or be set aside for God and godly use, or be consecrated totally to God, we cannot without revering God. It just can't happen. It will not happen. It has to bring reverence to God.

What does it mean to revere the Lord? Oh, listen to me. It means to treasure him. It means to adore him. It means to worship him, even in the times when we don't understand him. It means that we are totally respecting of him. It means that we are awe-struck by him. It means that we are so overwhelmed by the seven-fold blessings, we are so overwhelmed, so much so that we bow in obedience and reverence. And Peter never misses an opportunity to remind us, as he does here, of our redemption. He tells us if we lived a million lifetimes could ever redeem ourselves. We could never do it. He had to redeem us. He's the only one who could redeem us.

You know, in the not so good old days of slavery, there used to be this motto, "No payment, no freedom; no redemption, no liberty". And Peter said what Jesus did for us on that cross is that he redeemed us, not with all the money in the world, not with all the gold and silver in the world, but he redeemed us with something far more precious than all of the wealth of the world, his sinless, righteous, and precious blood. The Old Testament insists that the sacrificial lamb must be without any blemish, no internal diseases, no outside diseases, no skin diseases. It has to be absolutely without blemish, and God many times rebuked his people for bringing him all that which is inferior to the sacrifice.

But the reason for that is because the Old Testament is looking forward and foreshadowing the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ who was not without blemish physically, he was torn, he was bleeding, he was disfigured when he hung on that cross, but he was sinless, and perfect, and holy. Beloved, Peter wants us to know that Jesus' death is no ordinary death, that Jesus' death was a sacrificial death, that Jesus' death was not an accident, that Jesus' death was planned by the Godhead before all world began. And you can see it, if you remember the first message, how deep, when the Bible said that Peter wept bitterly after he denied Jesus three times and then the cock crowed. And you can see that in everything of his writing and his preaching, that moment is in the forefront of his.

Now, let me tell you something about sin. Peter knew the Lord forgave him. He knew the Lord cleansed him. He knew that, just like Paul who was persecuting and killing Christians in the name of Yahweh. He knew God forgave him, and that is why Paul always says, "I leave what's behind and I strain forward". I forget what's behind. I forget that sin, that horrible time in the past that's covered by the blood of Jesus. Beloved, let me tell you something, sin in life, particularly sin of denial of Christ and living without Christ, that sin can either pull you back into the life of sin or can propel you forward to serve the Lord. And both Peter and Paul, for them, those events when they were in such disobedience to God, to them that's the landmark that constantly drove them to witness, to preach, to tell people about the redemption of Jesus Christ.

In fact, in all the words of the Apostle Peter, that moment he will never forget. And that is why in Acts chapter 2, verse 23, in the Day of Pentecost, he said, "This man Christ was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death, nailing him to a cross". Just think with me of this image that I'm gonna share with you, and I really believe it comes from here. Here's Jesus. Before all worlds, before eternity, he was co-existing with the Father in the Holy Trinity. He's the judge. The Bible calls him a judge and every eye is gonna see him as judge one day, and maybe even sooner than we think. But he is the judge, sitting on his bench, looking at his own son or daughter in the criminal's dock, guilty.

So, he gets out of his judicial robe, and he stands there and he takes the punishment for that son or daughter, and then he goes back on his judge's bench. That's our Jesus. He stepped down into our darkness. He took the punishment of everyone who would acknowledge that this was done for them. And then he sits back on the bench, and that is why everyone who have accepted his act of sacrifice on the cross, his stepping down from the judge's bench, everyone who accepts that to be for them, they will escape the judgment. And so, I end from where I began. If being a Christian becomes a crime, will there be enough evidence to convict you? Will there be enough evidence to convict me?
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