Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 1
I don't think there is a doubt in anyone's mind that our world is very sick and is getting sicker by the day. Selfish ambitions, another security of the nation, is blinding so many politicians and even in the church of Jesus Christ, there's some who have abandoned the truth that they once preached and once believed for the sake of popularity and acceptance. In many a marriage today, there is so many broken vows for the sake of one's unbridled lust and selfishness. The greatest danger for believers who live in this sick world is that they can get infected by the world's spiritual illness. And the question is this, how can you and I live healthy, spiritual life in a sick world that's getting sicker.
As I commence this series of messages entitled, "Healthy Living in a Sick World," we're gonna be looking specifically at the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. You might ask, why did you choose 1 Corinthians in order to show and illustrate this? Well, Corinth the city and Corinth the culture identified with modern 21st century western culture. You will see how the sickness that the believers in Corinth were exposed to is very similar to ours. You're gonna find out that so many of the issues that Paul points to here in that first episode is part of our world today, that so many of the cultural infections that was threatening to infect the church of Corinth are familiar to all of us today.
So many of the ailments that we see today, Paul faithfully deals with in the church of Corinth, and that is why it is of uttermost importance and relevance for us today. A little bit of background, Paul pioneered the church in Corinth. He was the first one to preach the gospel in the town, in the city of Corinth. He founded the church of Jesus Christ there in Corinth. Paul received a lot of grief from the church of Corinth and that is why he writes two of his longest letters, two of his longest epistles in the Bible to that church in Corinth, why? Because Corinth was not an easy city to preach the gospel in. Corinth was not an easy city for the believers to remain faithful to the Lord in that city. Against these impossible odds, the Apostle Paul preaches the gospel in Corinth, and there he founded the church of Jesus Christ in that city.
So, you can imagine that in the midst of this toxic environment to say nothing of the human tendency toward friction and infighting, and you see the issues that Paul deals with. Bottom line, they were importing godless lifestyles into the church. They were importing godless methodology and methods of operation into the church. There were importing worldly techniques into the church. Here is the real battle among the believers. They wanted to hold on to all of the blessings that came as a result of their putting their faith in Jesus, but they also wanted to hold on to the immorality of the culture of the day. They wanted to have one foot with Jesus and one foot with the corrupt culture. They wanted to go to church one day a week but for the rest of the week, they want to be like their immoral friends.
And that is why Paul tells them in chapter 6, verses 8 and 9, that this is impossible. It's impossible to do. Something is gonna give sooner or later. Others in the church had confused priority. Listen to me very carefully, this is important because easily, we have confused priorities like the Corinthians. What they did, they shunned the pagans in the world completely, whom they're supposed to be reaching out to and testifying to, and reaching for Jesus Christ, but then they've been chummy with the immoral incarnate Christians. And Paul is saying you should do the opposite. You should shun the immoral and the carnal Christian, and then you should reach out with love to the pagan world, confused priorities. And he says stop that confusion. But the one thing that hits you like a lightning bolt, if you focus on it, that in the midst of all this, he called them saints.
The NIV said, "holy," but really, literally the word "saints". Some other translations said, "Saints". Listen to verse 2, "To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints". Can you imagine that? "Together with all those who are, in every place who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours". Paul is calling the Christian believers in Corinth, messed up as they are, as they were, he calls them saints. How come? Beloved, listen, according to the Word of God, every true believer in Jesus is a saint. Every born-again believer is a saint. Everyone who believed that Jesus is their only Savior and Lord, whether they are faithful or not, whether they are totally committed to him or not, whether they are active or not, whether they are faithfully living for Christ or not, Paul calls them saints.
I told you it's mind blowing when you think about it, why? Because believers in Jesus are saved by grace and not by works. Can I get an amen? Because believers in Jesus are positionally saved even if they are not acting like it because believers in Jesus have nothing to do with what they did or did not do. These Corinthians, with all of their flaws, in practice they were gross sinners, but in position, they were saints, why? Because positionally God see the believers through the righteousness, the prism of the righteousness of His Son Jesus, who took our sin upon his cross. Positionally we are already sanctified, but also we are daily being sanctified and that is why the Holy Spirit always brings us under conviction in the area of our practice. He doesn't bring us under conviction in the area of our position because that is settled.
"Therefore, there is no condemnation upon those who are in Christ Jesus". So, the conviction comes in the area of our practice. If we are honest with ourselves, we will discover that every time we fall into temptation, every time we deliberately sin, every time we fall into ungodly behavior, it is because we have forgotten who we are. We have ceased to think that we are truly princes and princesses, that we are children of the King of kings, that we are the brothers and the sisters of the Lord Jesus who took our sin upon the cross. At that moment, we need to stop and remind ourselves who we are, who our heavenly daddy is, who our older brother Jesus who died for us is, that he who dwells in us is greater than he is in the world, that he who dwells in us is more powerful than temptation, that he who dwell in us can give us the power to live a healthy life in a sick world.
On what basis are we to live healthy lives in a sick world? Well, chapter 1, verses 4 to 9, Paul gives us the answer. Because we have been declared to be saints, or as I said the other translation, holy. We already been declared that, therefore, we should live holy lives. Because we have been given holy nature, therefore we can live holy lives. Because we are seen by a holy God to be holy, therefore we can live holy. Here, you see the indicative comes before the imperative. You say, "What's big about this"? It's very big. Listen to me. The indicative forms the basis for the imperative. Here's the indicative, "you are," that's the indicative, right? This is in there, "you are".
What's the imperative? Therefore you must live like it because you already are, therefore you live like it. You are, live like it. That is really what this great blessing is about. But today I want us to look at the very first inconsistency between position and practice. Our position as children of the living God redeemed for all of eternity, and the unfaithfulness that some of us practice. I'm gonna show you the first inconsistency, and I'm gonna show you why Paul, of all the problems that we're gonna see in the coming series, all of the problem, he chooses this one as the first inconsistency that is not honoring to God.
Here in verses 10 to 17, you're gonna see the first inconsistency because the one thing that breaks the heart of God when, any church, any church, when there is a strife and division. Please hear me right. I am aware of the fact that quarrels, and arguments and disagreements are all part of life, I know that. From birth to death, the natural inclination is to be, and to have, and to do what we want. The whole culture encourages that, the whole culture says grab all you can. The whole culture said, "The sky is the limit, go for it, regardless of whom you hurt".
There are few things that can mar the testimony of a believer like quarreling and fighting. Today, there are many divisions in the church which actually causes some non-believers to be squeamish about the Christian faith, and I'm not talking about the silly things, the non-unimportant things that are not necessary for... I'm talking about the big, biblical doctrinal issues. The Corinthians here, there were lots of spiritual sickness, but the Apostle Paul chooses to deal with this one, cult of personality, first because it's that important, that important to Paul because cults seek converts to their cult, and to the cult leader instead of converts to Christ.
When it comes to the issue of biblical authority, when it comes to the infallibility of the Word of God, when it comes to the centrality of Jesus Christ, I want you to know this is a hill that I'm not only willing to die for, I'm ready to die for it even today. When it comes to biblical authority, when it comes to the inerrancy of the Scripture, you'll find that in this church, there is no division and I'm gonna tell you why. What you hear from this pulpit is what you hear in Bible classes is what you hear in home groups. Why? Because God is not confused or self-contradictory because God does not disagree with himself because God and his Word are one.
The Holy Spirit authored his Word and that is why Paul was appealing to the Corinthian Christians to agree on the fundamental truth of the Scripture. He said, "You should not follow personality cults, even if Paul himself is one of those personalities". "I belong to Peter". "I'm really following Paul". "I'm following Cephas, and I'm following..." Come on. Paul said, "Did Paul die for you? Was Paul crucified for you? Was Apollos crucified for you"? No, no and a million noes. What's the ultimate purpose of unity in Christ? What's the reason? Why, why is it? Because unity in Christ is the will of God. Can you say that with me? Unity in Christ is...
The psalmist said, "How beautiful it is when the brethren dwell together in unity". In 1 Peter chapter 3, he talks about unity between husband and wife, and he makes it very clear when there is this dysfunction with no unity, or disunity between husband and wife, he said your prayers will not be answered. Read it when you go home, 1 Peter chapter 3. The second reason why, because unity in Christ glorifies the Lord, and that is why the source of our unity is none other than the Holy Spirit himself. And he is the author of the Bible, he's the author of the Scripture. Paul repeats this very principle to the Philippians when he said, "Do nothing out of selfish ambitions or empty conceit, but with humility, put others ahead of yourself".
Now, beloved, listen to me. Walking in the Spirit, submitting to the authority of the Spirit, placing one's self under the Word of God produces both humility and unity, certainly produces love for one another. But carnality, on the other hand, produces pride, self-centeredness, self-will, and hence, division. I want to tell you this story as I conclude. Years ago, I read the story and when you hear the language, you'll understand, it was the language used back then, we don't use it now. But that's just, I'm gonna repeat the story as I read it.
A visitor went to visit what was called, back then, an insane asylum. And the visitor saw that only three guards were guarding hundred inmates. And so, he asked the deputy warden, he said, "Don't you fear that these hundred people will overpower the three guards and escape"? I'm quoting word for word here. The deputy warden said, "No, because lunatics never unite". As a I said that's the language of yesteryear. We don't use that now, but it is true spiritual sanity unites people in Christ and for Christ. True spiritual sanity will produce the fruit of the Spirit. True spiritual sanity is gonna attract non-believers and even those starving Christians who are in a dry land is gonna attract them to Christ when they sow that unity and love and commitment.