Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 7
Today we pride ourselves on being called "tolerant Christians," which means that we tolerate every sinful practice and unbelief, meaning baptizing sin into the church, of not being called bigoted, meaning that we actually not only loving sinners, but we love sin. The list goes on and on and on, and while in reality we ought to be weeping over sin.
Beloved, I weep over my sin as well as the sin of others, and weeping over sin is what chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians is all about, which is probably more relevant for us today than any time in 2,000 year of Christian history because the Corinthian believers were determined to live by the cultural norm, just as many professing Christians today, instead of the authority of the Word of God. They were determined to accommodate and explain away sin that's in their midst under the guise of loving, under the guise of grace, under the guise of cultural relevance, under the guise of not wanting to be offensive, under the guise of wanting to be understanding. They welcomed into the water of baptism people who were deliberately and proudly living sinful lifestyle.
Now, beloved, listen: we have come a full circle in 2,000 years, and I wonder (it's my personal opinion) I wonder if the end is not near. Here in chapter 5, the apostle Paul comes and begin to deal, beginning at 5, is a sin of the flesh, and he begins to deal with the other sins in the church which we're gonna see as we unfold this whole episode. In chapter 5, he turns his attention to the tolerating of sexual sin in the church. In chapter 5, he turns his attention to the fact that compromising the authority of the Word of God always, always, always leads to acceptance of other sins.
Now, please don't misunderstand this chapter because I don't want your attention to be focused away from the heart and the burden of the apostle Paul. I'm not minimizing the fact that he's not minimizing the fact that there is a sin, and he deals with it, and he names it, and he spells it out, but his biggest burden, his biggest heartache, his biggest pain comes from the fact that the church has accepted that sin and approved that sin. That's the burden of this chapter.
Hear me right, please. We sin. We have the flesh, and I explained that to you a few weeks ago. There are some people who may sin because they're misguided. There's some people who sin because they're misled. There's some people who sin because they're misinformed, but what makes things worse is that many in a church leadership are not lovingly admonishing such a person. Church leadership are carelessly rationalizing and excusing it instead of admonishing. Tolerating and not repenting of one's sin will make us susceptible to other sins. Look at verses 1 and 2, 1 Corinthians chapter 5. The first thing he had to show them is that immorality is an immorality, is an immorality, no matter who calls it what.
Until you confront this head-on, you can talk about philosophy until the cows come home. It will not get us out of the pit. The Greek word that the apostle Paul uses here is the word "porneia," from which we get the word "pornography". The broad definition of pornography is that sexual activities, any sexual activities outside of a heterosexual relationship in marriage. In the Corinthian church, the porneia that was taking place was incest; and here, in this case, Paul is saying that, even under Roman law, it is illegal. Even the pagan Rome believes that incest is a sin, and yet the believers in Jesus Christ were tolerating it.
Let me give you a grammar lesson very quickly here. The tense of the verb here is very important because it indicates that this is not merely a one-time sin. This is not just somebody who fell a short indiscretion or a short affair or an occasional indiscretion, or short-lived fling. No, the tense is very important because this is a repeated offense, and there is a world of difference when somebody walking with the Lord and then fell in temptation and repent and turns back to the Lord, and then another person who continues on and on and on and accepts sin as the norm. That's what he's dealing with here.
Paul said to the Corinthian's church, "You should be mourning over the sin, not blessing sin". Now, I wanna be very clear. Listen to me. I wanna be very clear. This is very personal for me. The day may come, I don't know, but the day may come when they will haul me out of this place in handcuffs, but I will never shrink from calling sin "sin," whether it be in my life or anybody else's life. I call sin in my life before I call it in anybody else. In verse 2, the apostle Paul is saying, "You should be mourning over sin as if you're mourning over a death in the family". You and I know there are a lot of people in our country are praying for a revival.
Listen to me. Keep on praying, but I'm gonna tell you, based on the authority of the Word of God and my knowledge of revival history, there will be no revival until the believers come clean with God, and they mourn over their sin. I know this idea of weeping over sin does not make sense to the churchgoers of today. I know that. I know, but it only makes sense to those who love Jesus with all of their heart. I know because I know there are thousands of knees have not bowed down to Baal, and you being here is an indication of that. I know to those who look at the cross and say, "Jesus, you did this for me. You died for my sins. You stayed on that cross until I'm... be redeemed and forgiven. Jesus, you shed your blood that I might be set free from sin and have power over sin, not sin have power over me".
Now, beloved, when sin is not dealt with, when sin is not repented of, when sin is not confessed fully, when sin is not cleansed and purged, there can be no joy of the Lord, and there can be no power in that person's life. Do not ever, ever, ever forget that the church of Jesus Christ, that's you and me and all the believers, that we are the bride of Christ, but if the person or the persons refuse to repent, then that person must be let go of by the church. That's not my words, that's not, I don't make the rules, it's in the book, why? Because, when he or she let go away from the cover of the Word of God, from the cover of the body of Christ, he or she is all alone, all alone when he's totally separated from the loving support and care and fellowship, other believers. And that's what Paul means by "handing over to Satan".
Now, beloved, listen to me, I'm gonna tell you God knows the truth. I never read 1 Corinthians 5:5, mark it in your Bible, 1 Corinthians 5:5, without my eyes are moist with tears. Why is Paul taking this drastic measure of handing this persistent, adamant sinner, to hand over to Satan? Well, there are two reasons for that: first of all, to bring that person to repentance. That's always the purpose. That is always that desire. But, secondly, to keep the rest of the church from being contaminated. The deepest longing in our heart by taking any drastic measures should be to bring that persistent sinner to repentance, never, never, never, never to harm or to hurt that person, but if that person stubbornly refuses to repent, then Satan will eat his lunch and dinner.
Then Satan will have his way with that person. Why? Because that person has removed himself or herself from under the covering of God. That person even expected, according to that verse 5:5, may lose his life or her life so that God may save their soul. Now, he's talking about a true child of God, the elect of God, the believers, the adopted by God. Jesus said that, "Those whom the Father has given me, I lose none. I lose none eternally". So in order that God may save the true child from his or her own persistence in sin, he will even allow them to lose their physical life in order that their soul may eternally be saved. Here's the good news.
Here's the good news. We know from 2 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 5 to 11, that both that sinner in the Corinthian church and the whole church repented. Isn't that great news? That's great news. This is the true purpose of any discipline, to restore them by repentance. I'll pray to God if there's anyone here persistent in sin, have never repented of their sin, never confessed sin. Today will be the day. Don't risk your life because, if you persist in sin, if you are determined never to confess and never to repent of your sin, then all, you are on your own, and that's a very frightful thing.
Secondly, the reason for this drastic measure, verse 6, look at it with me, it keeps the rest of the church from fully plunging into sin. Paul said, "Your boasting is not good". What does he mean by this, "Your boasting is not good"? While the Corinthian's believer were tolerating immorality of the incest in their church, they were bragging about their numbers. They were bragging about their budget. They were bragging about how many campuses they've got. They were brag about their activities. They were bragging about their gifts. And you'll see that in a little later on in the series. They were bragging. And while they were bragging about their large membership, they were tolerating sin.
Verse 6, again, Paul said, "A little leaven can penetrate and impact the whole lump of dough". A wise baker knows, when the dough reaches a certain height, it must be put in the oven. Why? To stop the leavening process that could ruin good bread that could feed people and totally ruin it. Beloved, that's what happens if sin not dealt with promptly and thoroughly. God told the Israelites when they were running out of Egypt, redeemed out of Egypt, the slavery of Egypt, he said, "No leaven, no leavened bread". They cannot be burdened with carrying that old life of Egypt with them.
And Paul takes a picture of this of what happened to them, that God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, and so Christ delivered us and redeemed us from the dominion of sin. What is old should be left behind, and now march for the new. We don't only remember the cross on Good Friday or when we celebrate the Lord's table, but we remember the cross every waking moment. Our Passover has been sacrificed for us, therefore, let us keep the feast, hallelujah. Thanksgiving. In fact, the word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek word "eucharistio," which means "thanksgiving". We are in gratitude to God and thanksgiving for the power over sin and the dominion of sin.
We remember our Passover, and our Passover is passing over from eternal death to eternal life. It's passing over from darkness and hopelessness and gloom into light and hope. It is passing over from hell to heaven. It is passing over that took us from the slavery of sin into freedom and victory in the Son of God. My dear, dear friends, my dear friends, every piece of leaven that's hiding in our hearts, every piece of leaven that is in our hidden motives, every piece of leaven that is lying inside our spirits will sooner or later spill out a disaster unless we decisively deal with it biblically, confessing and repenting, but that's not all.
God has given us the resources. He has given us the resources to deal with sin on a daily basis, sometimes even moment-by-moment basis. He gave us his Holy Spirit, and he gave us his Holy Book. Look at verses 9 to 13. Here, Paul corrects a misunderstanding that arose from a previous correspondence he had with them. Listen carefully. Sometimes people deliberately misunderstand. My goodness, I've seen it. In the letter that he had sent them before this one, he told them not to associate or fellowship with immoral people.
Paul was referring to immoral people in the church, in the membership of the church, not those who are outside of the church. And he was flabbergasted and said, "How can you miss this one"? But he goes ahead, patiently explains it away. His misunderstanding resulted from them cutting themselves off from the people of the world completely and tolerating sin inside the church and accepting fellowship without condemning, without admonishing, without helping the person to repent. And Paul is telling them, "This is a complete misunderstanding. If you cut yourself off from the world, from the nonbelievers, who's gonna witness to them? Who's gonna tell them about Jesus? Who's gonna lead them to salvation? Who's gonna tell them that Jesus saves"?
In fact, verse 11, he goes on to talk about this immorality. Let me categorize them in three different ones, okay? Sexual perversion, greed, idolatry. Why sexual immorality? Well, because it degrades the person who commits it on a regular basis without repentance because it can lead the person into bestiality. Why is persistent in sexual sin without repentance dangerous? Listen carefully. Because sexual passion should not rule supreme in our lives. Jesus should rule supreme. It is an insult to the Holy Spirit of God, who is on the inside of us and ready and willing to help us overcome and get into victory when we ask him to... and don't.
The person who does not appreciate the power of the Holy Spirit, which is available to them, will always fall in this habitual pattern of behavior which becomes devastating. The second category here is greed. Why does he put greed on the same level as sexual immorality? Because a greedy person judges everything by purely materialistic standards, and our life and our future eternity is far from materialistic standards as it gets. There's something else: a greedy person is not a giver. He's a taker.
You see, God is a giver. Satan is a taker. A godly person gives. The greedy person takes, and then takes some more. Everything God created gives. The sun shines to give us light and warmth. The trees give us fruit and shade. The rain comes down to water the seed and grow the food. Everything under Satan's control takes, takes, and then takes again and gives nothing in return. The Bible said, "Satan steals, robs, and plunders". The third category is idolatry.
"Why..." you say, "Michael, what's idolatry got to do with me? I don't get a statue out like some of my Hindu friends, Buddhist friend, and bow to it"? That's idol worshiping. Please listen carefully. Listen carefully. Anything or anyone who occupies God's rightful place in my life is a form of idolatry. Sexual immorality is a sin against oneself. Greed is a sin against others. Idolatry is a sin against God. Water that this world gives is like saltwater.
Have you ever tried, you felt thirsty, and you drank saltwater? The more you drink, and you're thirstier, and the more you drink, it looks like water, and you drink it, the more you thirst, the more you thirst, and the more you thirst. It will never satisfy. But thanks be to God for the living water, the Lord Jesus Christ, who set us free from the power of sin and the dominion of sin by the power of his own blood on the cross of Calvary. He has set us free, and every single moment, he wants to give us victory. The question is will you ask him? Every time you fail, will you ask him?