Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 13
If we dig deep into our hearts, we're going to find that at the very core of any sin, the very heart of any failure, the very essence of conflict, there lurks pride and arrogance. There lurks wanting my way. There lurks the insisting of my opinion must be followed. There lurks me, my, and mine. Regardless of the kind of sin, regardless of the conflict, whether it would be at home or among friends or among brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever it may be, regardless of the pain, you can trace the source all the way to pride.
And in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, particularly the first 13 verses that we're looking at today, the Apostle Paul is saying, "As surely as day follows night, as surely as winter follows fall, as surely as April follow March, as surely as these things are predictable, sin will follow pride. Pride will always lead to sin. Arrogance and self-importance will always lead to failure". In the last message, we left 1 Corinthians chapter 9, where the Apostle Paul told us that just as an athlete must have his mind control his body, not the other way around, so must the believer in Jesus Christ in his and her conduct, so must the believer in Jesus in the running of the spiritual race, so must the believers in the Lord Jesus in their exercising of self-control.
Why? He said the reason he himself, the great apostle, does that is because his fear that he may be disqualified. This great man of God, this great apostle, who had preached so faithfully the gospel of Jesus Christ. When the Apostle Paul comes to chapter 10, he said, "Let me give you exhibit A". And it is Israel. Despite of their privilege of being called the people of God, despite of their advantage that they had, despite of the miraculous signs that they saw with their own eyes, despite of seeing the supernatural intervention of God again and again, and despite of witnessing firsthand God's power at work, and yet pride got hold of them, and they became disqualified of entering into the Promised Land.
Spiritually speaking, the Christians to whom Paul is writing and the Christians who are here today, the Christians of the 21st century, are in a dangerous place. Back then, they were feeling, the Corinthians at least, they were feeling that they're super spiritual. They were feeling that they're spiritually superior. They were feeling that they knew better. They felt that they were immune to temptation. They felt that they had more gifts than anybody else, they're so gifted by God. They were saved, baptized, sanctified, and satisfied. We have a lot of them these days. They were lacking in no spiritual gift. They were strong and mature, and they're free to live which way they want to live.
And Paul is saying to them, "You are self-deceived. You are endangering your spiritual life. You are living on the far edge of freedom, and you're about to fall off. You are stretching your liberties to an extreme, and you're about to reach the point of no return". In fact, verse 12 is a key verse in this passage, "Therefore". Remember the rule about therefore, you got to find out what it's there for, right? "Therefore let he who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall".
Three things from this verses 1 to 13, 1 Corinthians chapter 10. Three things, write them down if you're taking notes. First of all, you find the privilege of grace. And don't you ever forget that grace is an incredible privilege. Verses 1 to 4, the privilege of grace. Secondly, the pride of life, verses 5 to 10. And thirdly, the principle we must learn, verses 11 to 13. The privilege of grace. I said already Paul has a passionate plea, and his passionate plea here is that remember what happened to Israel in the wilderness. But God, can you say it with me? But God. Say it again. Heard their cry and he sent them a deliverer. And he sent ten plagues on Egypt and the Egyptians, and he kept them safe. He revealed his supernatural power to them again and again and again. He performed miracles of parting the Red Sea. He provided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
And what happened after all of that, after all of that? Some of them, now most of them, became disqualified from entering into the Promised Land. Why? Well, they have fallen into idolatry, immorality, and rebellion. And Paul is saying to the self-confident Christians, any self-confident Christian, please, please don't do this. Don't let this happen to you. For they were not only delivered by the hand of God, but they were also baptized into Moses. What does that mean? By the way, it has nothing to do with water baptism, I'm going to explain that to you. The word "baptizo" in the classic Greek means to identify with, to identify with.
So, when you got baptized into Christ, you don't only acknowledge that he's your Savior and Lord, but you're identified with Christ. That's what baptism in its classic sense means, the word "baptizo". And therefore, the Israelites identified with the faith of Moses. Why? Because they had no faith of their own. So, they kind of identified with the faith of Moses.
You say, "Michael, how do you know that"? Every time at the first sign of trouble, they want to go to Egypt. They missed the kabob. They said that actually, that's not making it up. The pots of meat. Why baptism here has nothing to do with water baptism, simply because when the Israelites crossed the sea, it was dry land. They didn't get their feet wet, let alone their bodies. It has nothing to do with water. Not only were the Israelites were delivered from slavery, not only they're identified with Moses, but they were provided for in every way, physically, spiritually. The privilege of grace, say that with me. "The privilege of grace".
Now, the pride of life, which often follows the taking of grace for granted. Pride, pride, pride, pride did what pride always does, always does. You know, it's a great privilege of living long enough to see it. Pride did what pride always does. All of Israel were recipients of that common grace, that common blessing of liberty. All of Israel identified with Moses. All of Israel received support in the wilderness. But out of the entire Israelite nearly 2 million people, only the family of Joshua and the family of Caleb entered into the Promised Land from that generation. Question, where does pride come from? Oh, wouldn't you want to know? Do you want to know?
Pride comes from misusing your freedom in Christ. Pride comes from misusing of God's blessings that he gives you. Pride comes from self-centeredness instead of being God-centered. Pride comes from self-pleasing instead of daily, moment by moment saying, "Lord, how can I please you"? It comes from placing confidence in self instead of being placed on Yahweh. In the same way the Apostle Paul is saying to the Corinthians, he's saying to us that when Christian believers do not subject their appetite to Christ, when Christian believers do not exercise self-control under the power of the Holy Spirit, when Christian believers do not control their temper, their emotions, their action, their freedom, they become disqualified in the same way.
They indulged in murmuring. They indulged in complaining. They indulged in maligning. They indulged in ingratitude to God. They indulged in careless lifestyles and became disqualified because, here you see them, verses 7, 8, 9, 10. First of all, in verse 7, idolatry, I'm going to explain that in a minute. Verse 8, sexual immorality. Verse 9, tempting God. And verse 10, complaining and murmuring against God and against Moses. See, when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites immediately persuaded weak knee Aaron. Aaron was a weak knee brother, he really was. You know that. They said, "Oh Aaron, here's our gold, here's our ornaments. Make us an image of a bull," which is the God of power in Egypt, Apis.
"And let's have a party like we used to do in Egypt. And let's get drunk and drown our sorrow like we used to draw our sorrows in Egypt". And they had a party worshiping Apis. Please comprehend what I'm trying to tell you. Idolatry begins and ends in the heart. Whatever constantly occupies your thoughts, whatever constantly occupies your time, whatever constantly occupies your energy, whatever constantly occupies your finances to the exclusion of God, that's an idol. Be forewarned, what are you doing? You're tempting God. You see, you're tempting God.
In the book of Numbers chapter 21, verse 6: "The Israelites received their answer for tempting God". And God sent them little fiery serpents that bit them and caused so many of them to die. Little fiery serpents, that's why Moses, God said, "Put a brass serpent on the stick, and lift it up, and those who look at it will be healed". It's really a foreshadowing of the cross of Christ. They went from idolatry, to immorality, to testing God and trying his patience. And worst of all, they murmured, they complained because they were discontented.
Beloved, listen to me. Even in the age of grace in the New Testament, God does not look favorably on discontentment with his will. In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul says, "I have learned to be contented whatever circumstance I'm in". Contentment is not something you're born with, contentment is something you learn. You train yourself. You train yourself. Doesn't come naturally. Thirdly, he comes to the principle that we all must learn, every one of us. Nobody can be exempt. These 3 verses in these verses 11, 12, and 13, Paul makes it very clear that disqualification of the disobedient Israelites was an example to us. It's a warning to us.
Not just to the Hebrews, but to the New Testament believers in the 21st century. Verse 11: "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of age has come". The end of the age been since the time Jesus was ascended into heaven after the resurrection. Verse 12, here I'm going to give you a Youssef translation, "Therefore, let no one become cocky". That's really what it means. "But rather be forewarned". Let anyone who takes credit for only what God has done be forewarned. Let anyone who twists the Word of God to please people be forewarned. As carelessness with God's Word increases and we're seeing it now, openness to temptation increases also. As carelessness with God's Word increases, resistance to sin is weakened.
As confidence in one's own interpretation of the Scripture increases, false belief systems become entrenched to all of us. Yours truly, I take those words very, very, very seriously. All of us, let's be forewarned. The more we place confidence in ourselves, the more vulnerable we are to sin. The times when we think we're spiritually strong, and we're not worried about anything, and we don't lean on the arms of God, be very careful. Be forewarned, that's the time when you really need to throw yourself on the arms of Jesus and the arms of mercy. Verse 13, Paul gives us an urgent reminder, "No temptation has overcome you, but such is common to man. But with the temptation, he gives a way out".
The word "temptation" here means test. That's what it means, test. Temptation and test come to all of us all the time, and I would to God that can be standing here today and say to you that I have succeeded 100% of the time. I would to God, but I haven't. The secret is to know where to go when you failed. Don't stay in your failure. I'm often saying to the Lord, and I pray with my brothers between services as well as my personal prayer life, every time I'm constantly saying to the Lord, "I have no strength on my own whatsoever. I am utterly, hopelessly, and totally dependent on you".
Verse 13 is my greatest encouragement. Can you look at it with me, verse 13? "God is faithful, and he will not test you beyond your ability to bear". How? By providing you of an escape hatch. But only if you prevail yourself to that escape hatch. It's there for you to prevail. If you prevail, if your refuse it, and I often cling to that promise constantly.
I want to tell you this as I conclude. John Bunyan's book "Pilgrim's Progress," I read that book when I was 12 years of age, and it literally transformed my life. And then I read it again and again and again since then. Must be read by every believer, young or old. "Pilgrim's Progress," wrote it in prison because he preached without a license. Go figure. In one scenario in that book, Christian and his companion Hopeful, the two of them, they fall asleep in a field that was owned by the giant named Despair.
Giant Despair finds them and he takes them into a dark castle known as Doubt, Doubting Castle. And there in Doubting Castle, Despair puts them in this dark, sinking dungeon. No food, no water. On the advice of his wife, Giant Despair first beats them up mercilessly, and then he suggested to them they should commit suicide, they just kill themselves. No hope. After the giant leaves, the two companions begin to talk to each other and discussing this.
And finally, Christian remembers, all of a sudden he remembers that he has a key in his pocket. He has a key in his pocket, he said, "I have a key in my pocket called Promise. And I am persuaded it will open any locked door in Doubting Castle". And sure enough, it opens the doors of Doubting Castle and open the gates. And then they go out and find themselves on the king's highway once again. Now beloved, wherever you are, only you know where you are. You can use God's promise as your key to unlock wherever you've been locked into and get back on the king's highway.