Michael Youssef - It Is Never Too Late - Part 5
Some years ago, a group of people in the state of Missouri decided to found a city. That city uniquely named Liberty. They wanted their own town to be free and liberated from all biblical constraints. And so, they would not allow a church to be built in Liberty, Missouri. They were so proud of their town, they bragged about how this is the only town in America that has no priest, or pastor, or preacher, or church, or God, or Jesus, or hell and the devil. After that experiment had failed miserably, miserably, their spokesman said in effect, "Attack on biblical truth will never succeed, but a society without biblical truth will never succeed either".
I wanna say amen belongs here, because my beloved friends, that's exactly what Peter is telling us in the second half of chapter 2 of 2 Peter. False teachers like the founders of Liberty, Missouri, they are not leading you into liberty or freedom, true liberty, true freedom, but they're leading you into the slavery. Ah, but they call it liberty. Peter is telling us here that unless the true Christian liberty, true Christian freedom understood, comprehended properly, it can be very easily perverted. It can be very easily be inverted. It can become a rationale for sin, immorality, and disobedience.
Here in verse 14, he makes what must have been a very painful statement for Peter to make and for us to hear, but it's the truth and the truth sometimes hurt. He said, "They are under a curse". Sometimes some of you probably have a problem with that. Well, I have problem with it too, but how I feel is not the issue. What God thinks is the issue, amen? Pride is at the very core of all strife and tragedy. Pride, when it's not disciplined and brought under the power of the Holy Spirit, it begins to develop an unrealistic view of oneself. Pride is when you think that you are so important, no matter what you say, people are gonna follow you anyway. Pride keeps us from believing the truth and trusting the truth of the Word of God.
And that's exactly where they are. Pride steals the glory from God and place it on self. Pride stands in judgment upon the Word of God instead of allowing the Word of God to stand on judgment on us. For whatever reason, their pride got hold of them and they began to reinterpret the Word of God, rather than allowing the Word of God to fill them and empower them. In fact, Peter is warning every one of us, every one of us, not just these false teachers, because we all, every one of us including your pastor are susceptible to this false teaching, especially when it's popular. He is warning every one of us, don't allow your pride to make us claim any power to ourselves or any authority, even over Satan.
I'm not saying this, Peter's saying that. The Word of God is saying this. But rather, we cry out to God and the God of power and might, he can rebuke Satan for you. He can bind Satan for you. He can give you victory over Satan every time you come to him. Beloved, I know it's fashionable among some, and I'm very careful, among some false teachers and preachers to say that we are gods with a small G. One of them said that the only thing that's human about you is your body, but everything about you, you're a god with a small G.
But there's something else here that I have learned about the common characteristics that I hear about those false teachers when they get caught into immorality. They begin to give grace as an excuse for sin, or as Paul said, a license for sin. And my beloved friends, I'm told that even they become so blazoned that they bring that sin into the church building. And that's why Peter, in verse 14 here, he said that their eyes are full of adultery. What's that mean, their eyes full of adultery? The word that Peter uses here of having trained their heart means that they have deliberately fought with their conscience until they have silenced their conscience.
They have deliberately wrestled with God until they kept him out of their lives. They have deliberately trained themselves to focus on the forbidden. In other words, their action and their false teaching are no accident. They're not accidental. It is one thing to experience momentary lapse. It is one thing to experience occasional failure, even miserable failure. But it's a whole different ball game to be in sin, and stay in sin, and rationalize sin, and explain sin. And that is why, of all the characters in the Bible who have blown it... and make no mistake about it, I'm so grateful the Bible does not cover up for the great men and women of God. Abraham lied.
David messed up royally. Of all the people in the Scripture who have messed up greatly, Peter chooses one, Balaam. Balaam. Balaam was a prophet who went bad for the sake of money. Money blinded him to the truth, so much so that even a donkey spoke to him. Beloved, listen to me, be very careful. Be very careful when a donkey rebukes you, even if he's in a human form. You can find that whole story, it's the book of Numbers chapter 22. And read the whole story, because Balaam is a frightening example of a person who fought against the will of God, who tried to twist the arm of God, who tried to change the will of God again, and again, and again. For what? For a pile of cash. Ah, but he did it so nicely.
That's the thing you're gonna notice if you read it carefully. Don't you ever pray about something the Bible said is wrong. Meanwhile, there was a king, a king of the Moabites. Moab is part of Jordan today. And the king of Moabites, his name is Balak. Don't confuse him with Balaam. Balaam and Balak, I know they sound alike, but they're the ones who dealt with each other. They were negotiating. The king of Moab hated Israel. The king of Moab, Balak, feared Israel. The king of Moab, Balak, saw Israel as a threat to him. But he heard that there was a prophet for hire. Prophet for profit. He heard about this man, Balaam.
And so, King Balak sends for Prophet Balaam and said to him, "Come and curse Israel. Curse the people of God and I will make you very, very rich". First, he resisted. "Oh, no, no, no. These are God's people. I can't do that". And then he said, "Well, I can't go against the Lord". And then he said, "Well, let me check with the Lord. I want to see if I can get God to change his mind about his people". And then he kept doing this, he kept doing this, and God kept saying, "No, don't do that. Don't curse my people. You cannot do that. I blessed my people. You can't curse them". But the king kept on upping the ante. I mean, he kept increasing that pile of cash. He kept on increasing the payout. He said, "Man, look at this pile of money".
And he said, "How can I turn this down? Lord, please, I can do some good with this money, Lord. I mean, I can support your ministry. Would you change your mind"? And he kept at, and kept at it, and God kept saying, "No, no". The mound of money kept getting bigger, and he would go back to God, and God says, "No". Beloved, you notice as you read this story, his strength to resist the temptation got weaker, and weaker, and weaker by every passing day. Beloved, listen to me. Resist, do not negotiate with the devil. Flee from temptation, don't discuss it or debate it.
In addition to his greed, it was said of Balaam that he also was motivated by sexual immorality. Finally, when he still would not listen to the voice of God, he gets on his donkey and he is heading toward Israel to curse him. And he gets into a narrow passage, and in that narrow passage, angel of the Lord was standing with a sword in his hand, trying to stop him. But Balaam was so blinded with money, he didn't see the angel. And so, he kept on beating his donkey, and the donkey couldn't move, and he kept on beating his donkey. The donkey saw the angel standing there, but Balaam didn't. You heard Scripture says that the god of this world has blinded them.
My goodness gracious, if we've never seen that in real life, we're seeing it now. I'm seeing blindness like I have never seen. And I've seen a lot of people blinded, but we're seeing it mass movement in America today. Blinded. I tell people, I said, "These people are not shooting themselves in the foot, they're shooting themselves in the head". I mean, he kept on beating the donkey. Finally, the donkey said, "Why are you beating me? Can't you see the angel"? When finally he could not curse the people of God because God blessed him, he came up with a diabolical plan which would have the same effect as cursing them. He came up with a diabolical plan for King Balak. He said, "I tell you what, get all your loose Moabite women and let them go and seduce the men of Israel". And it worked. It worked.
My beloved friend, be very careful. Be very careful of Satan's trick to deceive you. Be very careful of Satan's trick to entice you. Be very careful of Satan's trick to mislead. Be very careful of Satan's trick to get you to rationalize sin and explain sin as an inevitable progress. Be very careful of Satan's trick to numb your conscience. Are you with me? Verse 18, they use high-sounding words, fine phrases, brilliant communication skills, but they never satisfy the soul of a true believer. They'll never fill the soul of a true believer because a true believer can only be filled by the Word of God. Testimony time.
As many of you know, in the early '80s, I was at a secular university doing a PhD in sociological studies. And now, remember, I was ordained already for the ministry, but I was in my very early 30s and very impressionable. And so, I'm among all these intellectuals at the university. I mean, they were very intellectuals. Especially one, one particular, and I'm telling you, I mean, he is a Harvard grad, but it's not just Harvard, it's Harvard. Harvard. You have to kind of... Harvard. You know, I mean, man, I was so impressed with that. I wanna be like these guys. I want to be intellectual. I've never considered myself to be intellectual. I was kind of a plain-spoken man, and I thank God I went back to that now. I don't get that highfaluting stuff. It doesn't help you. It never helped me.
And for 18 months, I ate up the stuff. I really did, until the grace of God woke me up in time. I was drinking poison water. I wanna talk like them, so I was thinking like them, I was... Slowly but surely, it was numbing my conscience. But God, in his mercy and in his grace, woke me up. Look at verse 18 again. They allure those who have already escaped from the life of sin and the life of error. They already escaped, but they allure them back. Instead of building up the believers in the truth of the Word of God, they allure them into doubting the truth, into picking and choosing the truth, in wanting to believe that but not this.
Verse 19 is a key verse, don't miss it. It's a key verse. He said these false teachers and false leaders always talk about liberty and freedom. They do, but it's not what the Bible teaches what liberty and freedom is. They use the word, but not the same meaning. Because when the Bible speaks about our liberty in Christ and our freedom in Christ, it means our freedom not to sin. Before Christ came into our lives, we were slaves to sin. But when Christ came into our lives, we became free from that slavery. We are now free to say no. Now we're free to have the victory.
Now, beloved, many of the false teachers start well. They really do. They start well, well-intentioned. As they gain popularity, and power, they cease to preach the truth and they allow their charm and not the changeless gospel of Jesus Christ and the changeless truth of the Word of God to be their secret. And Peter is saying that for that reason, the judgment will be more severe than some of those who have never heard of Jesus. They will face greater condemnation than those who have never known biblical truth. Why? I think in most cases they're not saved. But I'm gonna explain that. In most cases, they're not saved.
Hebrews chapter 6, verses 4, 5, and 6 says of them, it said they tasted. They tasted but they never ingested. They tasted, but never ingested. Wine tasters, and they keep wine in their mouth. It could be taking for hours, and what they doing all this time? Two minutes, three minutes, and then they spit it out. Verse 22, Peter quotes Proverbs chapter 26, verse 11. "Like a dog returns to its vomit," and then he adds, "or a swine after being washed returns to wallow in the mud".
As I said, these people may never have been saved to begin with. This is a big one. Don't miss it. However, if they are saved, if they belong to the remnant, if they belong to the church of Jesus Christ, if their names are written in the Book of Life, one day when they repent, they're gonna be crying blood or the Lord will take them home. As Paul said, to save their soul, he'll take their body. In Bible times, dogs and swines were contemptible animals. Question, why is Peter using such a strong language? I mean, really is. That's strong language. By 1st century standards, by our standards, it's strong language.
Beloved, listen carefully. So as to highlight the fact that the lapsed Christians will face more tragic plight than the unconverted. And Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5, read it carefully when you go home, that when a true believer, a person who's saved eternally, and you and I cannot judge that because we do not have the Book of Life with us and we don't know. Let's be careful, okay? But if that person is saved eternally, name written in the Book of Life, and they keep on disobedience, they keep on deliberately moving away from the... deliberately belittling the Word of God, deliberately, 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul said God takes the body so that he may save that person's soul.
Beloved, I told you in my last message. God is very, very, very patient, but God will not be mocked. God will not be mocked. Can you say it with me? God... This tragic ending does not have to be. Whether you are here or watching around the world, wherever you are, wherever you are in the spectrum of the Christian journey, whether you're a beginner, or in the middle, or whatever you are, that tragic end does not have to be.
Turn back to God while you can. Turn to the Lord while he may be found. Repent now before the repentance time has passed. God is waiting and longing to forgive, and to restore, and to heal. And beloved, I thought of this. I said, who knows more about the graciousness and the forgiveness of the Lord Jesus than Peter? Let me conclude by telling you not a Christian story, it's a secular story, but it has Christian implications. In fact, it happened before Christ. It was said of the great Greek philosopher Socrates that one day he was walking down the street, and he looked inside a house of ill repute, and he saw one of his disciples there, one of his students. Stepping inside, he looked over and he called out his student.
"Come out, come out". But like Adam, that disciple hid from his master. And finally, when Socrates persisted, the young man came out of hiding with face that was crimson with shame. He hung his head, expecting stern rebuke from his teacher, but Socrates spoke to him gently, saying, and I quote, "Come forth, my son. I pray you, come forth. To leave this house is not a disgrace. The only disgraceful thing is to stay in it".
Now, beloved, of course he's never known the forgiveness of Jesus. He's never known the power of the cross and the shed blood of Christ, and that is why it is even greater rebuke for us to know the truth and choose to stay in the mud. Will you come to him? Will you come to him? The people of Liberty, Missouri, they could not experience true liberty even though they thought they could, but they didn't. But you can, you can, because Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light".