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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 6

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 6

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 6
Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 6
TOPICS: Identity, Identity Theft, Transformation

If you don't know who you are in Christ, you will find your identity in something else. But if you find your identity in Christ alone, your life will be radically transformed. That's why I'm doing this series of messages entitled, "Identity Transformation". It will transform the way you live out your Christian faith. So, don't miss this life-changing message and don't live your life with an identity crisis. Stay tuned.

When our children were young, I would lay hands on them and bless them. My prayer for them, as it is always my prayer with anybody I pray with, very consistent, "Bless them and make them a blessing. Lord, bless them and make them a blessing". My prayer for myself when I ask the Lord to bless me, it is only that I might be a blessing to others. For this is a very thoroughly biblical prayer. For God's blessings on us not supposed to be an end in themselves; they are means to an end. The end of God's blessing us is that we may bless others, that we be a blessing to the work of God, that we may be a blessing to the kingdom of God, that we may be a blessing to our neighborhood, we'd be a blessing to our community, that we may be a blessing to our workplace, that we'd be a blessing to our nation.

In fact, you see this principle of being blessed to bless throughout the Scripture, looking through the life of Abraham. Saw the blessing that God gave to Abraham and he said, "I will bless you". And literally in the next breath, God said what? "I will make you a blessing". And you see it throughout the Scripture. God blessed Jacob and Jacob became a blessing to his tricky Uncle Laban. God blessed Joseph and Joseph blessed first the house of Potiphar, then the house of Pharaoh, then all of Egypt, the superpower of the day, then the whole world was saved from starvation by blessing Joseph. God blessed the people of Israel because of Abraham. God blessed the whole world because of Jesus.

You say, "How"? By blessing the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the believers take the gospel to the ends of the earth. They bring blessings wherever they go. And throughout history, you can see that nations and societies that identify with Jesus become blessed. The whole Western civilization, I spent 7 years of my graduate study studying this. I can prove it to you. The whole reason why we have Western civilization today is because of the Reformation. When the reformers in the 15th and 16th century brought Jesus back out of the Dark Ages, the whole Western civilization developed and became a great civilization. America as a nation has been blessed of God, has been prospered by God because of the founders' intention, because of the founders invoking of the name of Jesus. No politician, no president, no congress, no supreme court can bless America or can make America great again. Only Jesus can make America great again.

You see, we have forgotten that it was God who blessed this nation like no other nation in history, and that's because they bowed to Jesus. And that is why I'm calling this message, "The Responsibility of a Transformed Identity". We have begun this series of messages of what it means to transform your identity from whatever it is that you see yourself tied to, whether it is your job, or it's your family name, or it's your company you work for, whatever it might be, your wealth, whatever it is, to being identified with Jesus, period. And we have seeing throughout this series of messages how a transformed identity is of vital importance for growing and for living victoriously in this life. The genius of the Holy Spirit, 'cause don't you ever forget that the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the writers to write the Words of the Scripture. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible.

That is why we call it Holy Bible. That's why we call it the infallible Word of God. And the genius of the Holy Spirit, as he inspires Peter to write those words, he does not get into speak about the responsibility of a transformed life first. No, no, no, he waits after he shows us the blessings of a transformed life. He waits until we see the evidence of a transformed life. He waits until we see or recognize the privileges and the honor of a praised life. And then he says, "Now, as you appreciate the blessings of a transformed life, as you experience the blessing of a transformed life, now you can be a blessing to others".

And so, I want you to turn with me please to 1 Peter chapter 2, beginning at verse 13. As we study the Word of God on our own, or teach it, or whatever we do, it's to ask two questions. What does it mean to the original readers of this epistle? And the second thing is, how can I apply this and the principles in my life today? There are some people who read a verse and run with it for what it means for them today. You've got to understand it. What was meant, what was the intention of the original writer to the original readers? You ask yourself those two questions and you'll be blessed by the two answers.

Now, here is our responsibility, your responsibility as a person whose identity is being transformed by Christ into Christ's likeness now that we have received the seven-fold blessing. And that's why this sequence here is coming all the way through. Now that you've received the blessings of God, it is our responsibility to be a blessing to others. How? By being a blessing to the government, by being a blessing to our employer, by being a blessing to our workplace. Indeed, we can be a blessing to the world, and that is the desire of God's heart for his children to be. I'm sure someone is saying, "How can I be a blessing to the government"? In fact, most of us don't like the government. Many of us probably wish the government gets out of the way. That, of course, until we need the police, or the firefighters, and we make a call. And I was thinking about the schizophrenia, love/hate relationship with the government, and I remember a cartoon that I saw a long, long time ago, but imprinted in my head.

Back in the old days, remember when the mailmen used to deliver mail on foot? And they'd always get bitten by the dogs in these houses. Well, this particular mailman decided to take his own dog with him on the round and his dog was following him. And the next frame, his dog talking to another dog across the fence in the house. He said, "It's really agonizing. How I can possibly protect my master when I have an uncontrollable desire to bite him"? You'll get that tomorrow for breakfast. You say, "How can I bless the government"? By not being a guest of the government. How can I not be a guest of the government? By obeying the laws of the land and paying taxes, by not being a burden on the government, by working hard and paying my taxes, by being a giver instead of a receiver. If every citizen would do that, the government would be blessed.

As a matter of fact, if you read the history of great awakenings that have taken place in America, you read about some towns, literally the police had to shut down, the courts had to shut down. There was no problem, no crime, no theft, no nothing because of the Spirit of God moving in these revivals. May it happen again in America, amen. Here's the logic of 1 Peter 2:13-16. You see, in the last message, I told you that the believers are mere tourists. They are travelers. They are pilgrims. They sojourners. That our real home is heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are just mere travelers along this journey of life. And the Holy Spirit anticipate that somebody may conclude, well, since we are travelers, sojourners, that we can, here in this life we become anarchists, that we do not have to obey the laws of the land, that we refuse to obey the laws of the land, and we never worry about breaking the law. And that is why Peter goes immediately after saying this and he says, a Youssef translation, okay, "Don't even think about it". Don't even think about it. That's just what it means.

Look at it this way. When a foreign diplomat representing his own country, his home country, in a host country, that diplomat, while he is loyal to his home country, he respects the laws of the host country. A diplomat abides by the laws of the host country to avoid any hint of scandal that would diminish the reputation of his home country. Otherwise, he's gonna embarrass his country. He is most anxious not to shame, or dishonor, or disgrace, or bring disrepute to his home country. So, he does everything possible to represent his home country well. How? By respecting the laws of the host country. And that's exactly what Peter's saying for the believers in Jesus Christ.

That's why the Bible calls us ambassadors. We are foreign diplomats. Our home is heaven. Our King is Jesus. But we are living in this world as travelers, as sojourners on our way home. For a believer whose identity is being transformed into Christ and by Christ, a believer whose citizenship is in heaven, real citizenship is in heaven, is an ambassador of Christ in this host country, whatever country you might be living in at the time. So, what do we do? We always thinking and doing that which brings honor to our home country. We are always thinking to bring glory to our King, the King of heaven, the Lord Jesus. Don't ever forget, again, the context is very important, that Peter was writing to believers who were living under pure dictatorship. The dictator, Caesar, dictates, and people must follow. But in the final analysis, Peter's saying, "God has to be obeyed first and foremost". Are you with me?

If and when the law of the land conflicts with biblical authority and biblical conviction, then I will have to make a decision, just like the early church did, when they refused to bow to Caesar. And like them, we must be willing to pay the price for our conviction. If the day comes and the government forbids me from preaching biblical truth, then I am willing and ready to disobey and pay the price for placing God above the government. I am not a masochist. I pray to God that day will never happen, that day will never come. But if it does come, I'm willing to pay the penalty and trust God for the outcome. In fact, that's where Peter is heading in the next message. Jesus trusted God for the outcome. It's the most injustice that had ever taken place, but Jesus trusted God for the outcome.

That'll be in the next message. But if the day comes that the preaching of the fact that Jesus and only Jesus saves from hell and that rejecting Jesus will take you straight to the place of torment, that if that preaching is considered to be hate speech as it is proclaimed in certain parts of Europe, if that day comes and becomes the law of the land, then I am willing to break the law of the land. Like my Christian forebearers, we must be willing to pay the price. Here's something I don't want you to forget it. Rome did not persecute, and kill, and burn Christians for believing in Jesus. Did you know that? That really was not it. You see, Rome as a pluralistic, polytheistic, meaning believe in many gods, the more gods the merrier, and so in the beginning they said, "Yeah, let's hear about this". And only when these frisky Christians began to say, "Jesus is the only way," and that's when they began to throw them to hungry lions.

That's when they began to dip them in hot tar. That's when they began to light the Garden of Nero with their burning bodies. And the believing Christians said, "Burn us if you must. Dip us in hot tar if you must. Throw us to hungry lions if you must. But we will worship only Jesus". Amen, amen. Give him praise. Give him praise. Give him praise. Give him praise. Don't miss the levels of submission here. First, there is submission to God, who's above all. And submission to him is above submission to the law of the land. Then, submission to the law of the land is above submission to the employer, because if an employer tells you to do something illegal, you can say no, because it's not legal.

First, we are to be a blessing to our country, and society, and nation wherever we live. Secondly, we are to be a blessing at the workplace. I cannot honestly tell you how many times I heard people say statements like this, "If I have a different job, I would be happy. If I have a different boss, I would be happy. If I have a different work environment, I'll be happy. If I work for a different company, I'll be happy. If I have a different career, I'll be happy. If I have a different circumstances than the circumstances I'm in, I would be happy". The problem is you cannot go through life wishing only if, only if, only if.

Beloved, listen to me. You are where you are for a reason, and Peter is saying in verses 18 to 20 that while your identity is being transformed, you can be a blessing wherever you may be. Your life, wherever it may be, you are where you are because God wants you there. God placed you there. Even when you think you made a mistake, and trust me, if you read my books, you know that I made mistakes. But even in my mistakes, God overruled and he brought his purposes out for his glory and my good. Instead of wanting to bolt out and spend your life just steaming, and fuming, and fussing, ask the following: how can I be a blessing to my company? How can I be a blessing to my boss? How can I be a blessing to my employees? How can I be a blessing to my employer? How can I be a blessing to my neighbor? How can I be a blessing to my family?

When Peter was writing to servants and telling them to submit to their earthly masters...I want you to listen carefully. Listen very carefully. These were household servants. There are some estimates that there were upward of 60 million of them, these household servants, in the Roman empire. And those so-called household servants, they ranged from manual labor all the way to professionals, teachers, engineers, accountants, and even physicians. And while they were living comfortably, they were not free to just pick up and go. They were often paid for their services, and on rare occasions they can buy their freedom. But many of them become so close to their masters, become so close to the family, that they refused their freedom when it was offered to them and they've decided to stay on because they're almost treated like members of the family.

So, you get that in the back of your head as a background. Why didn't Paul, and Peter, and the New Testament writers did not urge the Christian slaves to revolt against their masters? 'Cause they knew that Spartacus would have bathed Rome with their blood. While the New Testament teaches that with God's power we can make the best of the worst circumstances, and yet the Bible served as a springboard to outlawing slavery later on.

When William Wilberforce, and Bible-believing Christians in Parliament and elsewhere with him, changed the laws and outlawed slavery, they appealed to people who at least had some biblical knowledge. But they couldn't do so in 1st century Rome. Wilberforce himself was short, he was unimpressive, he had a weak voice, and many people kind of really did not think much of him. But listen to what the biographers have said about this man when he stood there, based on the Scripture, and spoke truth, and God used him single-handedly. One of the biographers, Boswell, said the following. He said, "I saw what seemed to be a shrimp became a whale".

That's what the power of God can do. While slavery is abolished, there are so many believers who are living in the slavery of fear. There are so many living in the slavery of worry and anxiety. There are some who are living with dependent on chemical substance and they're addicted with chains that they seem not able to break. There are some who are addicted to spending money that they don't have. And only Jesus can set you free. Here's the rule of thumb. A person who's enslaved to anything cannot be a blessing. Cannot be a blessing. Yet the life of a transformed identity is a life that is set free that is may be a blessing to many, be a blessing to everyone they come across, be a blessing to their community, a blessing to their nation, a blessing to the world.

Here's a biblical principle: If you believe that you are working in your day job for the Lord, not for your boss or your company; if you believe that the Lord is the one who will reward you and he's the only one who can reward you, not your boss and not your company; if you believe that you are serving God on your job, then you can be absolutely sure that he will treat you justly, that he will treat you fairly, that he will reward your faithfulness, that he will bless you and make you a blessing. That, my beloved friends, will make you live up to the responsibility of a transformed identity.
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