Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 6
In this age of so-called "toxic masculinity," the age of a ferocious attack on biblical manhood and biblical womanhood, an age where many a father proven to be delinquent in exercising their God-given servant leadership in the home, in an age where many a father have abandoned their families, in an age where fathers are portrayed on television as buffoons and bumbling idiots, someone who's really just slightly more valuable than a family pet, in this toxic environment, and it is toxic, the words of 1 Corinthians 4:14 to 21, are sobering words regarding fatherhood. By the way, I don't need to tell you that the whole reason we are in this confusion, cultural confusion, national confusion, or even global confusion, is a result of turning our backs on God and his Word.
Please listen to me. The answer is not surrendering to the so-called "sexual revolution". The answer is not capitulating to this mass deception regarding manhood and womanhood. The answer is not to invite into the church of Jesus the tampering with God's created order. Why do I say this? Because doing that will only lead us further into moral decay and moral extinction. To do this is gonna literally dissolve our Western civilization before our eyes. Indeed, this is the time for God's people to faithfully but lovingly say, "Thus says the Lord," that God calls men and fathers to be role models, to lovingly serve and lead, to lovingly model godliness, to be a role model and authentically leading by sacrificial giving and living and loving.
We've been seeing in this series of messages from 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is addressing something is of vital importance and probably of more importance in our time than any time in my life. What is it? That small compromises, eventually, sooner or later, will lead to a complete departure from biblical truth. Pulling our anchor from the water of the Word of God will cause us to be lost in the sea of chaos and confusion. And in these days, God's men and women need to stand up and shine his light.
In fact, this is the reason why the Apostle Paul is writing to them, and I believe with all my heart he's writing for us in the 21st century. Sometimes he says this with sternness, sometimes he does it with sarcasm, and other times, he does it with rebuke because he knows that any church, any church, can reach the abyss, traveling one inch at a time, one inch at a time. Turn with me, if you haven't already, to 1 Corinthians 4, beginning at verse 14 to the end.
And I've asked myself the question, as I was preparing and I'm praying, and I asked, "Why? Why is Paul being so uncompromising here? Why is that"? And the answer is this: Because he loves them as a faithful father loves his children, and he makes that very clear because he cannot stand watching them straying away from God's Word, one step, one step at a time. One step at a time. It's grieving him to his very depth of his soul. He cannot bear seeing them being misled by Satan, just like Adam and Eve was misled in the garden because, as a faithful father, spiritual father, he gives his children the best and the most. Paul wants them to experience the fullness of authentic faith in Christ.
Question: What are the marks of godly fatherhood as described here in this passage? Well, there are at least four that I have found in this passage here, and I want to share those four characteristics about godly fatherhood from this passage. First of all, in verses 14 and 15, he said a godly father must lovingly admonish. Secondly, in verse 16, he said that a godly father is to be an example setter. He is to set the example. And, thirdly, verse 17, he said a godly father is to teach. He's to be a teacher. And, fourthly, and, finally, verses 18 to 21, a godly father is to discipline. I'm gonna explain that in a minute.
Look at them closely with me. How does a father, a faith faithful father, whether it be earthly, a father of physical children or spiritual father, how to lovingly admonish his children? Godly fathers must first warn his child when he sees them getting off into the danger zone. That's the beginning of admonition. The word that Paul uses here, it means "to correct". It means "to make right what is wrong". What purpose? What purpose, investing time and energy and effort. Why? For the purpose of bringing about a change. The idea here is very clear. In admonishing, you do not do it to destroy the child, but to reclaim him or her. It is not to abuse the child, but to get alongside of them and help them change direction. It is not to provoke the child and put them down. It's not to be constantly critical of the child, but to uplift them.
Godly church leaders must lovingly admonish when they see one of their members are in danger. When you see a brother or sister going into the deep end, you cannot shrug the shoulder and say, "Well, it's none of my business". If you love them, you lovingly admonish them. Sometimes admonition can be the most loving thing to do, but the sad part is this, and that really is the one that breaks my heart, that we live in a time when pastors, preachers, teachers, are the one who misleading their congregations. But here is a great example from Paul about loving admonition. Listen carefully. He refers to the Corinthians, carnal as they were, as "brothers," several times. Why? Because a loving father, he cannot only admonish, but also encourage.
Paul calls them not just "children," but "beloved children". In spite of their disobedience to the Word of God, in spite of their immoral lifestyle, which we'll see in the next message, in spite of their doctrinal errors, which we'll see down the road, in spite of their spiritual immaturity, he loved them just the same. Secondly, godly fathers is to set the example. Verse 16, "Therefore, I urge you to imitate me". If I tell one of my children to be imitators of me, it does not mean that I'm perfect or I'm gonna said, "Hey, look at me boys," you know? No, I want them to imitate me for even when they see me fail, but particularly when they see me fail, they see that I acknowledge my failure and that I am ready and willing to repent of my failure.
First, lovingly admonish. Secondly, setting the example. Thirdly, the godly father teaches. Look at verse 17 with me. The godly father teaches. One of the major discipline, in addition to lovingly admonish and setting the example, is telling them the truth, biblical truth. Dads, let me tell you something. Young dads, listen to me. You are the primary Bible teacher in your home. Paul not only taught the truth to the Corinthians, believers, as a loving father, but he also sent them some good and godly and authentic Bible teachers to help them along the way. He sent Apollos, and he sent Timothy. Paul was not about to send them a false teacher or a compromising leader. Just like any father, any godly father would not take his children to a church, no matter how good the music is, to a church that is compromising the Word of God.
Remember, a few messages ago, I mentioned, and Paul said that "I laid the foundation which is Christ alone, no other foundation. Only the Christ". And then I told you that we all are builders. We are building on that foundation every single day. Every one of us are building on that foundation. All dads and all moms are building on that foundation. All Bible teachers and disciplers are building on that foundation. Every time you lead someone to Christ, you must follow it up by building on that foundation.
Now, beloved, there are some who think that the truth of the Word of God is unintelligible and confusing. They do. Therefore, some preachers, when they hear that from their non-believing congregation, they will say, "Bypass Bible teaching. Water it down with some psychobabble in order for it to make sense". For instance, "As the Old Testament truth is hard to accept by some by today's standards, of course, move it or remove it". "If the supernatural is difficult to comprehend by the modern culture, remove it". "If judgment of God is unpopular, explain it away as just a symbolic thing". And that, my beloved, beloved, beloved friends, will eventually leads to not trusting any of the Word of God, not just the difficult passages, and you're gonna end up only with the two covers of the book, not even the maps are gonna be there.
But I'm also aware of the fact that some people get so philosophical. I mean, they get so philosophical about the Word of God and the truth of the Word of God, and they lose the attention of people. You've been to places like that? I have. The purpose of communicating the truth is not to impress people with our knowledge but to help them comprehend the truth. Then they can accept it or reject it, but at least they need to understand it. I come fourthly and finally to, a godly father is to discipline. I know that, in some circles, the word "discipline" is a dirty word, and, yet the Bible over and over and over again tells us that our heavenly daddy, he disciplines his own children because he loves them so much.
And fathers must discipline their children, and I question why people reject that word and think it's a dirty word, "discipline"? "Discipline" is just, take it out. It's out of schools and out of homes, out of everywhere because my particular generation think that "discipline" means "beating up the child". They think that discipline is synonymous with corporal punishment or physical punishment. That could not be further from the truth of the Word of God. "Discipline" means that, when I see my child falling into a pit, I gently and correct their direction so they move away from the pit. If I see my son is standing in front of a train, then I immediately and lovingly and quickly come and move them away from danger and tell them why I did this.
That's what discipline means. The Corinthians here we're allowing their pride and arrogance to lead them into a very dangerous territory. They became so arrogant that they we're saying, "Yeah, Apostle Paul would not dare to disciplines us. He'd not dare to correct us. We know everything, and we know better than he does, and we're just as smart, and we're just as knowledgeable. We're just as gifted as he is". And Paul said, "For the sake of your salvation, for the sake of your reward, for the sake of your peace and joy and fulfillment in life, I will not fail to correct you".
Now, beloved, I want you to watch out. Just watch out. You will see it. When you hear a Christian become obsessed and constantly talking about the freedom in Christ, the freedom in Christ, when they become obsessed about their independence of the Bible, when they say, "I have the right to interpret the Bible as I see fit," "I have rights," period, when you see this, watch it. When you see this, you know that that person, if they are a believer, he or she is in a backsliding mode. That's backsliding. We don't use that word very often these days. He or she, in a backsliding mode. Whenever someone is obsessed about grace, not the grace that saved us from sin, but they're talking about the grace that allow us to sin to our heart's content, that person is either taking the first step toward losing their way, or they're covering up the loss of their way.
Not long ago, a pastor of a mega church, here in the United States, had to step down from being a pastor because of a moral issue. One of his elders said the following. Listen carefully. "We should have seen the signs because he became obsessed with grace, but not the grace of forsaking sin, it's a grace that issues a license to sin". And here Paul concludes by telling us that power is not the power of words. Power is not the power of eloquent speech. Power is not on being a great communicator. No, he said the power is in the Word of God. That's where the power is.
Verse 20, "The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk," talk is cheap. Talk is inadequate. Talk is easy. Talk is insufficient. The kingdom of God is about the power of God in the Word of God, the power that transforms lives, not encourage them to sin, the power that changes lives, not keeping in sin, the power that leads to holiness, not fake happiness, the power that converts, not keep you in place. The power gives you victory, not acquiescence to sin.
My beloved friend, I don't know where you are. Only you know where you are. Each, individually, you ask yourself the question: What am I relying on? Am I relying on the power of the Word of God, or am I relying on something else, my abilities, my talents, my gifts? And I pray as we go to the Lord in prayer, that each of us will do business with God and say, "God, I wanna walk out of these doors, totally reliant on your power and the power of your Word".