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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 18

Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 18

Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 18
Michael Youssef - From Valley to Victory - Part 18
TOPICS: From Valley to Victory

Scientists tell us that what children learn growing up is like a metal needle engraving on a steel plate. It stays there forever. It can never be erased. Now, some of these engravings are wonderful, they are positive. That's the godly moms and dads that I know in this church and what are they doing? They are engraving wonderful things about loving God and loving the Word of God and memorizing the Scripture. And I'm just so thankful for that. But some of these engravings, particularly in older generation, is negative and not positive.

And therefore, it takes an absolute commitment and surrender to the Holy Spirit of God to slowly but surely blunt these negative and destructive programmings. It takes an absolute commitment and faith in the power of God to let go of these negative build-ups. It takes a total surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to learn how to major on the majors, and minor on the minors. It takes a dogged determination to allow the transforming power of God to help us to love the other person and overlook the baggage. Can I get an "Amen"?

Now hear me right on this one, because this principle does not only apply to marriage. It applies to all relationships, all relationships, within the family, church, whatever they may be. And that is why the best place to start is the beginning in bringing up godly children and bringing up spiritually healthy children. The future spouses will thank you for it. But how do you do this? Well, by parents choosing... listen to me carefully. By parents choosing not to nitpick on their children and all the children said "Amen". When we, as parents, choose to fight on every hill, we lose the battle. But when we as parents prioritize the issues in life, choose the hills on which we are ready to fight, when we as parents choose to overlook the minor issues instead of focusing on them and then leave out the major issues, or muddle the major and the minor and they grow up not knowing which is which. This is, my beloved, the one thing that I'm standing here to testify to you that I have tried to do.

Now, I'm not always successful, but I tried. If the Apostle Paul is saying one thing in Romans 14, it is this: he is pleading with believers to major on the majors and minor on the minors. Focus on what's important to God. Focus on the heart not the outward appearance. Stop wasting your energy on that which is not necessary for salvation. Stop your petty arguments over things that are not scriptural, things that have nothing to do with holy and righteous living, things that has nothing to do with spiritual development and growth in the spiritual life, things that have nothing to do with the heart and loving God with all of your heart. Most of us, when we come to Christ, we come to church and we bring our pre-Christian life, our pre-Christian baggage, into the church.

In the church, these issues are less intense as they are in a marriage because, thank God, we don't live together. Just to be sure that no one will misunderstand me, I am not talking about the people who are bringing their blatant sin into the church. That's not what I'm talking about. I am not talking about people who want the church to accept their blatant sin and immorality and call it just difference of opinion. I'm not talking about that. I am talking about things that are not necessary for salvation, not necessary for righteous and holy living. I'm talking about clothes and food and drink. I'm talking about matters of Christian liberty.

That's what Paul is saying and that's what I'm amplifying. I used to hear the preacher all the time say, "Thou shall not smoke, thou shall not drink, thou shall not play cards, thou shall not go the cinema". What if Jesus returns and you're in the cinema? To this day, I'm still afraid that Jesus is gonna come back and I won't see the end of the movie. Now, I know these are not burning issues today. I know that. I know they're not burning issues. But I'm giving them as an example, a personal example, so you understand what is important and what is not. It is important for us and it's the plea of the Apostle Paul, is that we be able to distinguish what is contrary to the Scripture and what is not. We live in a time when there are so many evangelical pastors who have placed blatant sin in the same category as Christian liberty like food and drink. They do.

Today, we have churches that have accepted Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and remain in their religion but it's called the insider movement. We have churches that have acquiesced to the pressure of society and accepted homosexual marriage to be equal to that of heterosexual marriage, which the Bible is very clear about, even if it's the law of the land. That's because abortion is the law of the land that we have to do it. Are you with me? Now, these churches twist the words of the Scripture found in other places and here in 14, and they say that these immoral issues, just a matter of preference. That these immoral sins, just a matter of life choices, lifestyle. These unbiblical choices are issues of Christian liberty. And that's why I'm trying so hard to make sure you don't misunderstand me when I'm talking and expounding on the Word of God.

Now, we can distinguish between what is absolutely biblical injunction and what is not. And that is why, now more than ever, it's the biggest burden of my heart for recently and for the years to come, it's the biggest burden of that we need to be discerners, not drifters. And that is why, now more than ever, we need to learn to be biblically accurate and that biblical teaching is non-negotiable. Let me summarize Romans 14 under three headings so that we can kind of get our arms around this. First of all, in verses 1 to 4, Paul is saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff but," immediately but, and but is very important here, in verses 5 to 12, he is saying, "Be patient in helping the weaker Christian". Finally, verses 13 to 23, he says, "Keep your focus on the big picture". "Keep your focus on the big picture".

Don't sweat the small stuff, verses 1 to 4. I know management gurus can come to your company or institution or organization and charge you big bucks just to tell you this. And this is not me. Two thousand years ago, that's what the Apostle Paul said. It's the Word of God that says that. But Paul immediately after saying this, he said, "But". I'm gonna explain that's very important. See, in the early church, particularly in the city of Rome, Corinth as well, but Rome particularly, the Jews who converted to Christ, the Gentiles who converted to Christ, they came and they joined the church and they brought with them their pre-Christian life.

You see, Jews wanted to keep on eating kosher meat and Paul said, "That's fine". Gentiles were buying cheap meat, because meat that was offered to idols. Meanwhile, there were believers from among the Jews and the Gentiles who understood very quickly that they are free in Christ regarding food and drink and these things that are not necessary for salvation, those whom Paul calls strong Christians. So they began to see people who were sweating the small stuff to be inferior. They are the weak Christians. Not only that, but the strong were flaunting their liberty in Christ. They were flaunting it. They were showing it to everybody. These strong Christians in Rome were flaunting things that are totally unnecessary for salvation. It is totally unnecessary for righteous living and holy living.

But nonetheless, the Apostle Paul sees how the small stuff can fester and become a big stuff and then can destroy the church. That's what his concern here is all about. And that is why... I'm only telling you what Paul is saying, and not giving my opinion. He's saying, "It is not good to sweat the small stuff but if the small stuff bothers the conscience of the weaker believer, don't do it. For Christ's sake, don't do it. It's not a big deal. When it comes to our walk with God, the strong must be seen as not offending the weak. The mature believer must be sure that he or she is not riding roughshods over the immature. The liberated believer needs to be patient with the weak ones".

Let me explain this. In days gone by, legalistic churches taught that smoking will affect your salvation. Now, even the pagans are saying, "Smoking is not good for you". It has nothing to do with Christian. Now, if a believer smokes and he is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is not gonna affect his salvation or going to heaven. It may get him to heaven much sooner, hello? In the same way about drinking alcohol. It's not gonna affect a believer's salvation. It might give you a cirrhosis of the liver if it's excess drinking and get you to heaven sooner, too. Alcohol might begin a process of addiction and create stronghold in a believer, and that leads to drunkenness which is a sin, but will not affect salvation.

Beloved, if it is not necessary for salvation, if it is not vital for your Christian walk and righteous living, you need to be flexible. Our salvation is not dependent on these things. Listen, listen, listen. Why? Simply because when you come to Jesus Christ in faith and repentance, and you receive his death upon the cross to be your death, when you come in repentance and faith and believe, you have been transformed from death to life. And the Bible said: "Therefore, now there is no condemnation upon those who are in," where? "Christ Jesus".

Listen, I have seen Christians all over the world pointing fingers. Here's something that I always endeavor to do personally. This is my personal testimony. When I am taking on some erroneous biblical teaching by certain individuals, I stay away from names and personalities because I have nothing against those individuals. Many of them I don't know. I will face the error head on. I will name the error. I will refute the error. But I leave the person's name out. That's just my way of understanding the Scripture.

Secondly, "Be patient with those who are weak in the faith". What Paul is saying here, he is saying that two people may disagree over matters that are not really important for salvation. It's not gonna affect their salvation. And yet, they both are right before God. Here's a principle that I endeavor to follow, and when you hear me say the word "endeavor" or "try", you must fully immediately go to understand that I haven't always been successful. As a matter of fact, that I made my fair share of mistakes. This is not false humility. It's the absolute truth, and I'm conscious of 'em.

In my younger years, I was not only extremely judgmental, but I used sarcasm in my judgmentalism, from which I deeply regret. Here's my testimony now. If the Lord convicts me of not doing something, even if every single preacher and every single believer is doing it, I don't do it. Why? Because the Lordship of Jesus Christ is paramount to me. I don't have to do what others do if the Lord convicts me of not doing it. Years ago, I heard this axiom: "In the essentials, unity; in the non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity".

I have emphasized this majoring on the major just about for all the years I've been pastoring you. Beloved, I literally dedicated my life on the promise of Jesus: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," and I stacked everything in life on that promise and I'm here to say to you that God keeps his promise. When he says: "All these things be added to you," I didn't realize how incredible, overwhelming, these things can be. What a blessing of God. Don't sweat the small stuff but be patient in helping those who are weak in the faith.

Thirdly, keep your focus on the big picture. Keep your focus on the big picture. When our eyes are focused on the truth of the gospel, we will not have a space in our lives or time to criticize others regarding non-essentials. When our eyes are focused on the glory of Jesus, we will not waste our time focusing on social habits of others. When our eyes are focused on pleasing the Lord above everything else in life, we will not be spending time concerned about clothing, or drinking, or food, or all this stuff.

Look at verses 16 and 17 of Romans 14: "Don't allow what you consider to be good to be spoken of as evil". Why? "Because the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit". I have never found a person with a critical spirit to be a joyful or peaceful person. I have not seen it. A busybody who's constantly concerning themselves with what others are wearing and eating and doing is never joyful. A person who makes a big deal regarding traditional matters is never a contented person. There are even who even get carried away that they think more righteous than our Lord.

You know, I've met people like that but it's something very important regarding those who flaunt their freedom. Please listen carefully. Don't miss this. You and I have the responsibility to ensure that our freedom is not causing others to stumble. Whatever form of freedom it may be for you, it may be different for you, it may be different for you and different for me. If it is going to cause a weaker Christian to stumble, we are under obligation to forego it.

You say, "I don't want these legalistic, self-righteous people to get away with it". Well, do it for Jesus's sake, okay? Verse 21. Paul calls this beautiful behavior on the part of the strong Christian. Why? Why? Because it's free from arrogance. It is free from selfishness. It is full of selflessness because it means that my eyes are on the gospel and the kingdom of Jesus and not on my freedom. It is beautiful because it will not cause a weak Christian to fall into sin. Beloved, let's not waste a single minute. Let's not waste an ounce of energy. Let's focus on Jesus, his kingdom, what is near and dear to his heart. Let's use all of our ammunitions to defeat sin and temptation in our lives, and God will honor you because you have his promise, amen?
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