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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 14

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 14

Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 14
Michael Youssef - Identity Transformation - Part 14
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 these 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.

The day exactly was May 18, 1980. Some of you here will remember. Mount St. Helens in the Cascade Range in the state of Washington exploded. Let me read to you what the scientists have said about that. They said, "This is the most visible indication of the power of nature that the modern world has ever seen," end of quote. Precisely at 8:32 a.m. Pacific time on that day, May 18, 1980, the explosion ripped that mountain with a fierce 10 million TNT. That is roughly, roughly 500 Hiroshimas. Think about that. Before it took place, scientists knew that it was coming. Scientists have warned government officials that it is coming. Scientists have pleaded with government officials to evacuate the mountain, and the government did.

All government authority united together in order to get people out. And they all left except for a white-bearded fellow by the name of Harry Truman, no, not the president, and 60 others. I will never forget watching that man being interviewed on television. I vividly remember him. When Mr. Truman said in an interview, he said, "I am not leaving this mountain. I know this mountain. This mountain is my friend. This mountain will never hurt me. This mountain will never harm me. I trust this mountain, so I'm staying right here". And 60 other people followed him in that foolish decision. When the mountain finally exploded, Mr. Truman and those 60 others who refused to heed the warning were charred by 300-degree temperature moving at 200 miles an hour.

Now, this obviously stayed with me, left an indelible impression on me because I've always viewed my gift as an exhorter from the Word of God. And so, when I see something like this, it cannot leave me very easily because spiritually speaking, I am watching again and again this time those who refuse or ignore the biblical warnings. Sadly, will experience a far worse spiritual fate than Mr. Truman and the 60 others on Mount St. Helen. Here's what I perceive, at least, what is happening today. The enemy of our souls have managed to lure so many professing Christians into conformity to this present age.

Hear me right, please. Satan is happy to sing lullaby to all the spiritually sleepy Christians. Satan is more than glad to lull many Christians to sleep, spiritually speaking. Satan convinced many others that because grace of God is free, therefore grace will cover sin and disobedience when it is even deliberate. Satan delights in getting us into a busy life. I mean, we get so bogged down with the social media, with the social activities and social life, and with sports and everything else that's going on that we spend so much time getting bogged down in life's activities that we leave very little time with God and his Word. In the meantime, devastating volcanoes are around the corner.

It appears to me at least, there are very few who want to heed the warnings. There are very few who are sobered up. There are very few who are willing to examine their life's priority. There are very few who want to reassess where they are spiritually. There are very few who want to self-examine themselves as the Scripture exhorts us. There are very few who want to make the hard decisions of placing God back in our lives and our homes and our churches. It is no wonder that Peter's words in this particular epistle, he left the very last, most powerful warning to the very end of the epistle.

Turn with me to 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary," or your enemy, or your accuser, "the devil, prowls around, looking for someone to devour". Peter uses these words very, very deliberately, and I'm gonna explain to you why. Sober and vigilant, why? Because sober is different from vigilant. You can be sober without being vigilant, but you cannot be vigilant without being sober. And that is why he puts sober first, and then he puts vigilant, because lack of sobriety creates the ultimate deception, and it is self-deception. And if I'm seeing anything today, it is self-deception. I know from my own life and I know from counseling myriads of people that self-deception is tragic. It really is. And that is why the Apostle Peter pleads with the believers, "Don't let Satan deceive you. Don't fall for Satan's deception, for he ultimately wants to lead you into self-deception".

Beloved, listen, we are seeing this deception everywhere we look. It's in politics. It's in the media. It's in churches. It's among church leaders. And one of the things that Satan uses effectively is to get us so bogged down in our lives and our sports and in our activities and our social activities and in the media, on and on and on and on, we get so bogged down and we have very little time to spend with God and his Word. Because that's the only way you can remain sober and vigilant. Peter is pleading with us to be serious minded as to the devil's intention toward us, the believers. His intention is to entrap us. And don't ever forget that entrapping us may take days or weeks, but sometimes may even take years. He is constantly working, setting up the traps. And it takes time to set up the traps.

Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it happen very quickly, and then, wham, we're in the middle of a volcano. You wonder how it happened. It's like a slow leak. You're not conscious of a slow leak. You can't smell a slow leak. You can't see a slow leak, but then explosion takes place and they said, "Wow, what happened"? I have no doubt, if Peter was in Rome, no doubt, he saw with his own eyes how Christians are being thrown into hungry lions in the Coliseum. But most likely, Peter was thinking of Jesus' warning to him. You remember, in Luke 22:31, Jesus gave Peter warning: "'Simon, Simon, Satan has sought permission to sift you as wheat. But I'm praying for you.'" There are three times a lion lets a roar. He lets a roar when there is an intruder, some other lion's coming into his territory, and he is saying, "Get out of here. This is my turf, get out". So he roar.

The second time a lion roars is when he sees a thunder. He hates thunder and lightning, and he roars. But the third, and perhaps what Peter had in mind here, the third occasion in which the lion roars, he probably roars the loudest also, is when he catches his prey. Perhaps this is the roar that Peter has in mind. When a lion is setting up the traps to catch his prey, he is as quiet as a mouse, extremely quiet. This lion, when he sets his sights on his victim, he become perceptibly very quiet. He's tippy-toeing. He doesn't want his prey to know that he's nearby, so he's very, very quiet. But the moment he catches his prey, he moves with lightning speed to catch that prey, and then, once he got this prey under him and wrestles the prey to the ground, he lets the loudest roar. It is a roar of victory. It's a roar of subjugation of his prey. It is a roar of intimidation of his prey to surrender. No wonder Paul said about Satan's conniving, cunning, planning, and trapping, setting the traps, he said, "Of all this, we're not ignorant".

I wish we can say that. Is of his devices, we are not ignorant. There's a world of difference between being ambushed and staying ambushed. Probably this difference cannot be clearer than the difference between Peter and Judas. You see, they both were warned by the Lord. They were, really. The Lord warned Peter, "You're gonna deny me three times". And at the Lord's Supper, he warned Judas, "He's gonna betray me". They both were warned. They both were told about the traps of the devil. One wept bitterly and repented, and God used him mightily. And the other one wept, but he committed suicide. What's the difference? What's the difference? One got trapped, did not stay trapped. And the other one got trapped and he stayed trapped. Look at verse 10, we're still at 1 Peter chapter 5: "And the God of all grace," how many graces are this? "The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast".

You see, his grace is given to us, not so we may take it for granted, not to presume on God's goodness and live in disobedience, especially deliberate disobedience. His grace is given to us to give us victory. Hello, his grace is given to us to empower us, empower us to overcome, to recover what is lost, to recover what we spent, the time we spent away from him, to recover our loss of appetite for serving him, to recover the lost opportunities of ministering, to recover lost resources and lost money and lost blessings that we spent on other things other than his kingdom, to help us recover. He can and he will replace the year that has been eaten by the locusts because he is the God of all what? But if only we do what Peter did. I will never forget when my family and I happened to be speaking at a seminar in Hawaii, and then we got invited to go and tour the memorial of Pearl Harbor.

As we stood there with the guide and he was telling the story afresh, at how we were so oblivious to the Japanese scheming and planning and plotting of this kamikaze attack, I can tell you, it put shivers down my spine. When they came under the cloak of darkness, within 200 miles of the Hawaiian shore, they had very clear mission. They had very clear vision, total destruction of the naval fleet in Hawaii. Shortly before sunrise on December 7, 1941, the Japanese planes were sighted, but it was too late. It's too late. And yet, we did not surrender. We turned around and mobilized the nation and defeated Japan. Beloved, in spiritual warfare, that's exactly what should happen, that we must not stay ambushed. Get up, where are you? Get up.

My beloved, Satan has two aims in his life. He has two goals. It's very simple. His aim toward the non-believer is to keep them as non-believers, keep them away from the truth of Christ. For the believers, he has one aim. He has one aim, to distort the truth of the Scripture, to distort the truth of the gospel, so much so that the truth gets mixed up with falsehood and people begin to wonder, "I don't know what truth and whatnot anymore". Not long ago, I quoted to you a prominent Baptist pastor, who said, "I don't know what the truth is, but I know what love is". Oh, give me a break. See, that's what's happening. This is what's happening all around us. And are we surprised? Yet, the Bible clearly speaks. It says that we are to, "Speak the truth in love".

Don't separate them. They go together. If you love somebody, speak the truth. Look at verse 10. God is the, "God of all grace". Call on him. Call on him. The God of all grace is ready to defend you. The God of all grace is ready to protect you. The God of all grace is ready to lift you up and fight on your behalf. All you need to do is to be sober and vigilant. That includes being truthful with yourself. Hello, being truthful with yourself. If you keep blaming somebody else for this, if you keep blaming everybody else for that and the other thing, and your parents didn't do this, and this person didn't do that, and the other person is sayin', "Oh, it's really not my fault," you're not gonna get off first base.

Question: how do you stay sober and vigilant? Look, there's no going around this. It's spelled T-I-M-E, spending time with God. Somebody's sayin', "Well, Michael, but I pray all day long". That's fine, keep doing it. But you have to take time to spend with God and his Word because that's the only way I know that you're gonna remain sober and that you're gonna remain vigilant. Verse 13, here it is Babylon again: "She who is in Babylon," who is "she who is in Babylon"? You see, here's the thing that finally convinced me that Peter was in Rome. "Babylon" was a code for "Rome". It was a code word among the persecuted Christians. They called it, "Babylon". Hear me right on this one. Because of the decadence of Rome, because of the self-indulgence of Rome, because of the persecution of Christians by Rome, the believers called it, "Babylon".

Beloved, listen to me, Babylon could be any city, USA, any city, Europe, where we're seeing with our own eyes decadence, self-indulgence, lack of self-discipline, giving in to the merchants of sin. That's Rome, and we are living in Rome. "She who's in Babylon," that's the church of Jesus in Rome, the bride of Christ in Rome, suffering persecution in Rome, "send greetings to the believers in the church of Asia Minor".

I wanna tell you this as I conclude, and I pray to God that you're listening carefully. And I plead with you not to leave. Just wait for a few minutes. I'm not gonna take too long. Many years ago, it's a true story, in the city of London, there was a famous wild animal trainer. He would train these wild beasts to literally respond at his command, or to his command. There was one particular act that always brought the crowd to their feet. It's when 35 feet boa restrictor would wrap around him.

Now, the trainer, he raised this reptile since it was only a few days old. For 25 years, he raised it. He carried it. He fed it. He would spend time with it. In this particular act, the trainer would lie on the ground, and then he would have this pet boa wrap around him, and would begin with its tail to squeeze, this massive reptile wrapped around the body. But then, at a certain point, at his command, it would uncoil and release him. One day, in London, after all those years, things did not go they intended to go. The boa wrapped around the master, as it always did. And when, suddenly, the reptile turned back to its true nature, and kept on squeezing, thousands of people were cheering, but the reptile kept on squeezing and squeezing. He would give it the signal, nothing happened. It kept on squeezing.

The trainer cried out for help, but everybody thought this is part of the act, nobody moved. And finally, the so-called "trained snake" squeezed life out of its master. The harmless pet became brutal monster. I want to ask you this, and I want you to ask yourself. Wherever you are, and those who are watching around the world, what is the one thing that is gradually wrapping itself around you? What is the thing that is gradually choking out your spiritual life? What temptation are you flirting with? What pet are you lying down with?

Beloved, only you can answer that. Whether it's a godless relationship, whether it's critical spirit that's keeping you from fellowshipping with God, whether it is money, whether it is lust, only you know what it is. It could be hundreds of different things, as many people here and around the world watching. Only you can answer that question. And today, wherever it may be, I pray to God that you drop that reptile. We'll pick them up later and throw them out one last time. If the Holy Spirit spoke to you, he's the one who authored these words. They're not my words, they're his, and say, "You get untangled. Some things are wrapped around you, need to go before it's too late, before the volcano hit".
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