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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 9

Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 9

Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 9
Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 9
TOPICS: From Valley to Victory

Romans chapter 7. It's all about the issue that has been a source of confusion among Christians for many years. The confusion is this: it's between the hypocrisy of performance and the freedom that we have in the risen Christ. This is a huge issue. So many people ended up with going with one extreme or the other, of which the Bible is innocent of both extremes. One extreme used grace as a license to sin. The other extreme is the legalism of performance. Hear me right, please. This is important, because I think both extremes not only erroneous, not only wrong, but they cause a lot of frustration in the Christian life. Most often, lack of effectiveness and lack of fruitfulness in the Christian life leads some people into going into flurry of activities. They just get busy doing things, programs, and all kinds of stuff, you know, just to cover up.

I know employers know that some of their employees cover up for their lack of effectiveness by just activities. They're just doing things, they're busy doing some stuff, hyper activities. It is no wonder that so many Christians are living in the bondage of performance and activism with very precious fruit to show for it. In fact, throughout the Scripture, we see examples of people who trusted more in their performance than in the power of God in the Word of God. You see it all the way from Cain, who trusted in what he wants to give God instead of obedience.

You see it all the way at the apostle Peter, where he trusted in his courage, instead of the words of Jesus. It has been said that a person can be totally lost even though he may sacrifice like Cain in Genesis 4. He may weep like Esau in Genesis 27. He may serve like Gehazi, the servant of the prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 5. He may leave Sodom like Lot's wife in Genesis 19. He may tremble like Felix in Acts 24, and he may have zeal for God like Israel in Romans chapter 10, or he may be a disciple like Judas in Acts 1:25, or he may take part in worship like Korah in Numbers chapter 16. He may desire to die the death of the righteous like Balaam in Numbers 23. He may even have long prayers like the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He may prophesy like Saul in 1 Samuel 10:10. He may have lamps like the foolish virgins in Matthew 25. He may be a genuine seeker like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19, and he may even be almost a believer like King Agrippa and totally lost.

The problem with reliance on performance rather than the power of the Holy Spirit leads to a life of frustration in the Christian life. Here's how it happens. You get up first thing in the morning and you say to yourself, "I've got to perform today. I've got to be good today". And then you get a little bit of success in your day, and you say, "Great. Wow! This is great". You pat yourself on the back. "Atta boy," and you feel good, and feeling good gives way to pride. "I'm really good. I've done well," and pride leads to fall and the fall leads to discouragement, guilt, and shame, and the process keeps going time after time after time after time. Romans chapter 7 gives us a more excellent way. Can you say that with me? "More..."

Here Paul tells us that surrender and a total reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit will lead not only to joy, but to victory. In fact, there are two verses here. Let me get them out of the way, because I know, particularly those of you who are great Bible scholars, you came here this morning and said, "I want to see what he's gonna say about those verses". You know the ones I'm talking about? 24 and 25. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall rescue me from this body of death"?

Now, beloved, that's the performance crying. Verse 25, "Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ"! That's the liberty in Christ. This is the source of continuous victory. Let's look at the chapter together, but before I get to the outline, which I worked out on for you, I need to tell you that Romans chapter 7 caused more division in the church of Jesus Christ probably than any other chapter. In fact, this division has been going on ever since the apostle Paul wrote this. Whole movements started over, dividing over the interpretation of Romans 7. Whole denominations even started over that division. Some say Paul was speaking about his life, before Christ came into his life. Others said, "No, no, no, no, no, this truly represents a growing, vibrant Christian life".

I'm not here to tell you what to believe. I'm gonna tell you what I believe after 52 years of studying the Scripture, trusting in the sovereign Lord. And you got understand that 7 comes after 6. Chapter 6 is all about sanctification. That's a big word. It simply means growing every day like Christ, growing more and more like Christ. That's what it means. Sanctification, as I told you last week, it's a process, and it's continuously you working together in partnership with the Holy Spirit. So, in this chapter Paul comes in, and he is talking to believers who are seeking to live a godly, holy, and righteous life, and so in this chapter, he points out that true freedom is not in our performance. That was the old time, but in our total trust and surrender to the power of the Lord Jesus Christ given to us by his Holy Spirit, who dwells in us.

But here in chapter 7, he gives us, basically, four pillars or foundational stones of our freedom from performance, four pillars. First pillar: we're bound to Christ, not in bondage, verses 1 to 6. Second pillar: maturity, I'm talking about mature, spiritual maturity, builds up, spiritual immaturity tears down, verses 7 to 13. The third pillar. Third pillar is basically saying do-it-yourself religion, you know what I'm talking about? Do-it-yourself religion will always fail, and you'll be frustrated, verses 14 to 23. And then the fourth pillar: surrender will always, always keep you afloat, verses 24 and 25. Let's look at the first one.

The first foundational stone of freedom from performance is that love, which binds us. The Word of God is saying to every one of us that the law, he's specifically here talking about the Ten Commandments. Wonderful as they are, how can you not say the Ten Commandments are not wonderful? They are written by God himself. They're reflecting of God's character, but the Ten Commandments, wonderful as they are, keep us in bondage. They will keep us on trying to perform, and then we blow it every time, every time. You know what it's like, right? Maybe you not. I do. I mean, it's like swimming upstream.

You're swimming against the current. You are making great effort, but you're going nowhere, or you're doing what I do four, five times a day, a week, running on a treadmill. Man, I run hard, but I'm not even heading 1 foot in front of me. If the law is the only thing we go by, we're bound to it, and we're bound to be frustrated. We're bound to stay in bondage and the bondage of performance. We try, and we fail. We try, and we fail. We try, and we fail. Ah, but because of Christ's redemption we are set free from that bondage, amen? Hear me right. The illustration that the apostle Paul gives us here is that about the marriage vow.

Now, you gotta understand. He says this, "For example". When he says, "For example," it's an illustration. That the husband and wife are bound by the vows as long as both are living, but when one dies, the other spouse, the living spouse, is totally released from that bond, that vow. And here Paul is saying just as death of one of the spouses brings release from the covenant of agreement of marriage, in Christ, we too are released from the bondage of performance of the law. Are you with me? The result of that release, we found joy instead of despair, freedom instead of bondage, life instead of death, love instead of duty, willing service instead of begrudging effort.

Second pillar is that maturity builds up, immaturity tears down. Paul moves now from giving an illustration. This is an objective illustration using everyday common experience about marriage, marriage vows, to really giving us an autobiographical illustration. See, when Paul was a boy, like all Jewish boys, he went through his Bar Mitzvah. "Bar" means son. "Mitzvah" means law. He's a son of the law, and he wanted to live by the law, and he found himself that he could do okay, not very good, but he can do okay with the first nine commandments, but, oh, when he came to the tenth one about coveting, oh, he began to stumble. He really did. He would experience coveting, and he breaks the Ten Commandments, and he'd fall into despair.

In fact, the tenth commandment and the breaking of it and the coveting was tripping him into breaking all the other nine as well, and then all of a sudden, Paul becomes conscious of sin, and he becomes aware of sin. Poor old Saul of Tarsus. I mean, he knew what covetousness was, and once he did, all he can think of is coveting. All he can think of is coveting once he discovered what that was. Beloved, this is the kind of immaturity, the kind of childishness that some Christians live in day in and day out. Sometimes you see churches, I'm aware of some, that the believers are never matured in Christ. They're very immature in Christ and that's why they're at each other's throat all the time. They're fighting all the time. I mean, it just never ends. Beloved, the law reveals sin. The law activates sin and that is why he kept on falling in sin.

Now, I know that when we were children... I'm talking about my generation, okay? The people in their 50s and 60s. When we were young, when we were adolescent, we were perfect, we were angels. We always did what our parents told us to do, right? That's what you tell our children, right? Or some people do, anyway. I don't. Maturity tells you your performance is not working. What you need to do is grow up. How many times we say that, we go, "Grow up"? And I'm saying this to all of us. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let's grow up. Beloved, listen to me. The problem is not the law. It is sin, and this is... hear me right on this one. This is the mark of Christian maturity: not to blame the Ten Commandments, but to come to grips of the sinfulness of sin. That's really the Word, I remember as a boy hearing somebody preaching about the sinfulness of sin, and I have never forgotten it.

First pillar: freedom is love and not bondage. Second: maturity, not immaturity. And thirdly, the third pillar: the do-it-yourself religion always gonna frustrate you, always gonna disappoint you. Look at verses 14 to 23, because here we come to Paul's personal testimony. That's his personal testimony. Through the years, I had the privilege and the honor of sitting at the feet of some great and godly men. I really have. I'm so thankful to the Lord that they were not one of those people who only tell you about their victories. I remember when I was a new Christian, and I would hear these big preachers talking about victory all the time, victory, victory, never talk about their failures, and I used to think, "There's something wrong with me".

We know experientially the enticement of sin is forever plaguing us. The allure of sin is forever beckoning us. The glamor of sin is forever enticing us. The glare of sin is forever calling us. As long as we live in this flesh, everywhere we turn we see sin surrounding us, if you're an alert Christian. To fight sin with our own efforts, oh, my goodness, if you do it on your own strength, it's only gonna bring failure, frustrations, exasperation, and discouragement, and that is why the legalists give God a bad name. Did you know that?

They give God a bad name because they try to live up to their standards, their own strength and fail, and people seeing it. They're watching it. They call themselves Christians, and that is why it is only when you and I allow the Holy Spirit of God to be the wind, because that's one of the names of the Holy Spirit: Ruach. He's the wind of the Holy Spirit, to blow on our sail, that will pull us forward from victory to victory. Beloved, do-it-yourself religion is not only frustrating, it is dangerous. Oh, but if you allow the Holy Spirit to work freely in you, he's gonna lift you up to freedom's highway every time.

Love, not bondage. Maturity, not immaturity. Do-it-yourself religion is frustrating and dangerous. Finally, fourthly, surrender keeps you afloat, keeps you afloat. Every genuine, maturing believer understand and feels what the apostle Paul is feeling as he's writing those words. "What a wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death"? "I'm surrounded by sin". He's not saying that always falling in sin. He's saying, "I'm just surrounded by... I find it available all the time". Don't miss what I'm gonna tell you. This cry of Paul takes us where the Lord Jesus Christ begins his sermon on the mount. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled".

Blessed are the spiritual bankrupts and know it and confess it, because they will be blessed. Blessed are those who hate sin in their life and they abhor it. I cannot count the times when I say to myself, "When will I ever learn that it is surrender that will give me true freedom"? I can testify to the fact that if you seek God with all of your heart, you will find yourself in perfect freedom. Hear me right, because genuine believers are sensitive to sin. There's people who say, "Oh, no, no, you get to the point where you lick that". No, don't fall for that. You see, growing closer to Jesus, growing closer to Jesus... that's why we talked about sanctification, you're growing closer to Jesus, you become more like Christ. You're growing closer to Jesus. It's like getting closer to a bright light. All of a sudden you say, "Oh, there's some stain here. I didn't see that when I was away.

Now I'm closer to the light". Or I'm closer to a magnifying mirror, and you get closer and closer. "Ooh, where did all these little wrinkles come from"? See, you're conscious of sin, but thanks be to God that the apostle Paul does not leave us hanging here with verse 24, where he exclaimed, "Who can rescue me from this body of death"? Don't miss this. Don't miss this. He did not say, "What must I do to get delivered from this body of death"? That's what a lot of Christians do. "How can I respond"? Or, "What program should I implement to get me out of this"? Or, "What white paper I could write on the subject"? Or, "What marketing program I could bring along"? "What 27-step program should I implement in my life"?

No, no, no, no, no; no and a million no. The answer is thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Say it with me, "Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord". Only surrender to God will give you deliverance. Only surrender to God will make us float to victory's shore. You get to the point you say, "Now that I've come to the end of my rope, now that I've come to the end of myself, now that I have come to the end of my efforts, I know where to go for victory".
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