Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 15
Satan never comes out and says, "Hey, I'm Satan, I'm here to confuse you. I'm here to bring division in your home, and church, and in your society". That would be easy. I wish he would, but the Bible said he appears as an angel of light. But perhaps there is no greater confusion that Satan has managed to bring to our society in trying to destroy it than the balance, the biblical balance, between men and women. That is really the tragedy that we're facing today, but the bigger tragedy, actually, for me personally, the bigger tragedy is the church leaders who have gone out of their way to redefine, or even watered down and modify biblical truth in order to accommodate this terrible cultural confusion.
Instead of standing up and standing out, they gave in and they surrendered. In fact, they have gone even further. In order to accommodate and to please the culture, they have changed the Word of God. The one thing that I want to remind you regarding the church in the city of Corinth, the Corinthian church, in spite of their spiritual immaturity, in spite of there are so many problems in the church, we've been seeing this throughout this series of messages, in spite of their utter confusion on some issues, they respected the apostolic authority and the divine wisdom of the Apostle Paul.
Despite of all that, and that is why we are seeing here in this epistle, the Apostle Paul is basically answering questions that they have asked him and because they respect his apostolic authority, because they respected his divine wisdom, they come to him with questions about lifestyle and not doctrine. And they asked these questions and the Apostle Paul, in spite of the Holy Spirit, he gives him an answer to every one of their questions and that is why 1 Corinthians, these God-inspired answers to these questions are very relevant to us.
And I want to show you the love and respect for the authority of the Apostle Paul, something that the new, the modern church today is trying to undermine. In verse 2, he says to them, "I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings that I have passed on to you". Now, some of your translations said "traditions". The word "paradosis" in Greek means a body of teaching that he passed on to them. He's not talking about some dead rituals and dead traditions that some people think he's talking about, he's not. The main problem in the Corinthian church was not concerning doctrine, but morals. The main problem in the Corinthian church was not concerning theology, but lifestyle.
They knew biblical truths, but they did not know how to apply these truths into their everyday life. They knew biblical teaching, but they did not know how to live a godly life, and that is why the Apostle Paul praises them for their strength before he deals with their weaknesses. In this case, they had a confused notion regarding biblical manhood and biblical womanhood. Can I say any more how relevant that is? Biblical distinction between men and women, between the role and the function of men and the role and the function of women, has always been an issue among God's people. Satan created that division in the Garden of Eden, and he continues to reinvent it in every society and in every time in history.
As you know in this church, we preach the whole counsel of God and we don't skip the tough passages. And that's what the popular culture would want us to do, and that's what the popular preachers want to do. We don't do that. It's very popular to say we need to distinguish when the Apostle Paul is speaking as a rabbi, and when he's speaking as an apostles. Who's gonna make that distinction? The Bible said they were inspired of the Holy Spirit. When they wrote the words of God, God offered those words, all of them, the ones they like and the ones they don't like. He authored all of them.
But here you must understand that whether it is Paul, or Peter, or James, or Jude, or John, any of the New Testament writers, when they were writing, not only they were inspired of the Holy Spirit, not only directed by the Holy Spirit, but there were only expounding eternal truth that has existed in all of the Old Testament. In fact, I can tell you, and I can prove it to you from history, that it is Jesus and his gospel who elevated the status of women. It is the gospel of Jesus that gave women dignity, honor, and equality. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that says that when it comes to salvation, men and women are on equal footing.
1 Corinthians 11, Paul confronts a similar confusion of roles and identity in the Church of Jesus Christ. Please hear me out on this one. This is really important. If you think this passage is about dress code for men and women in the church, you miss the meaning, you miss the eternal principle that the Apostle Paul is trying to communicate here. You really miss it. And the principle is this, men and women are equal in every way. And remember, this is very radical teaching. Whether it be among the Greeks or among the Jews, it's very radical.
And Paul said while they are equal in every way, each of them serve different functions. And when it comes to the true biblical Christianity, there is no superiority inferiority dichotomy in the Word of God between men and women. The only difference in function, is in role. And those difference in functions, listen carefully 'cause that's what the Word of God is concerned about, only two institutions, the home and the church. He's not talking about the secular culture.
Keep that in mind. I'm gonna refer to it again and again. Home, church, that is their concern, the concern of the Scripture, why? Because after all, what is the church? What is the church? It's the gathering of the families. Here's how the Word of God shows us the difference in function and in role that men and women occupy and that is why the Apostle Paul, look at verse 3, underline it in your Bible because I want to show you what the real crux of the argument that the Apostle Paul is making here. It's in verse 3 and he's saying that just as the Father and the Son are equal in the Godhead, within the Godhead, they are equal, the Father and the Son are equal.
The Father and the Son had different function and different role to play in relationship to salvation and relationship to ministry. And yet, they both are equal. God the Father, God the Son are equal in every way. That's where he begins. That's what you must understand where he's going from here. Think about this. If Christ Jesus God the Son did not fulfill his role, humanity would be still living in total darkness today. You and I would not be here today. Redemption, salvation will not have taken place. If the Father did not willingly, or if he was not willing to go through the agony of being separated from his Son, we would still be in darkness today. The Father fulfilled his function. The Son fulfilled his function, and yet both are equal in the Godhead.
See, Paul never makes a distinction between men and women, hear me out please, listen carefully. He never makes a distinction between men and women in terms of their personal worth, in terms of their abilities, in terms of their intellect, or their spiritual walk. You will never find that. You'll never find it in the Scripture. But there's more, there's more. In some of these areas, and we all know that, some women even excel more than men in some areas, and that is why he is only sticking to the church and the home.
You see, their differing roles has nothing to do with superiority. It has everything to do with function, just like the Father and the Son. And that's where he begins in verse 3 and that is why, Beloved, they complement each other. They complete each other, not contradict each other. They complement each other. Now, here Paul goes all the way to the Book of Genesis, and he expound on the eternal principle. He's not coming up with any new teaching. He's not coming up with some new fangled ideas. He goes all the way to the Book of Genesis, and he begins to talk about God's eternal principle regarding the different assignments and function between men and women.
So, what's the Apostle Paul doing in this passage? He's merely reinstating, reinstating the assigned role of men and women that God created them to do in order to fulfill God's purpose in their life. Look at verse 3 again. God is the head of Christ. What does that mean? That while Christ is in every way equal to the Father, and yet John 4:34, and John 5 30, and John 6:34, he makes it clear over and over and over again, that he came to do the will of the Father, why? Because there's harmony. There's harmony between the Father and the Son in their understanding of the different roles that they are fulfilling.
And he's saying here, the principle is this, it's about the church, and I'm not talking about anything else. He's saying when you come to worship the Lord in the church, do not dress up in such a way that draw attention away from God and onto yourself, why? Because you are gathered together on Sunday for the purpose of lifting up the name of Jesus. And here Paul is dealing with a specific culture and a specific issue that is relevant to the Corinthians because he never repeats it anywhere else. He takes the eternal principle and he applies it to this church, and applies it to this church, and this culture, whatever the church culture is in.
And that is why it is not necessary, as I said, repeated in the Scripture. But in Corinth, here's what you need to know, women were shaving their head because they want to look like men, and men were growing their hair because they want to look like women. And Paul is saying that the distinction between men and women should be clear, but this distinction should not be practiced or observed by tyranny, only by love. The Father sent the Son who is distinct from him out of love. The Son submitted to the Father out of love, not compulsion. And this is how it should be between husbands and wives at home, and men and women in the Church of Jesus Christ. Can I get a witness?
Please, don't ever forget, don't ever forget, that the Son loved his bride so much that he died for her, that he died to redeem her. But there's a key verse here, verse 11, again, underline it in your own personal Bible. Verse 11, is a key verse, don't miss it. In the Lord, a woman is not independent of man, nor a man independent of woman. Beloved, chauvinistic attitude toward women say nothing about the abuse of women is alien to the Scripture. It's alien to the Scripture. This arrogant attitude on both the part of men and women is alien to the Scripture.
Now I cannot emphasize enough how radical, how radical, this liberating teaching of the Scripture in the 1st century culture. It was so radical. And in the Greek culture in which Paul is preaching, they literally traded their wives at will. And so, the Apostle Paul comes in and says, "No, man is dependent on woman and woman dependent on man". While men and women serve different roles and functions in the Christian church, they are not different in their spiritual importance to God and to the church. Neither is woman independent of man nor man independent of woman.
Now beloved, let me testify to you. I think the vast majority of you know this and probably know what I'm gonna say, that in the past 50 years if it was not for my wife's encouragement and support, I wouldn't be here today. If it were not for my wife's faithful exercising of her role and function in the family over 50 years that we've known each other, I would not be here today. Listen to me, with all of our ups and downs, and we shared some of that with you when we did the series on marriage, with all of the challenges that we faced in the early days, in the middle days, any days, but in the 50 years that we have known each other, the one thing that we have never disagreed on is the different roles that God has given each of us, and I know the same can be said for most of you, if not all of you.
And the New Testament makes it very clear that women play a vital role. They have played a vital role in the church. That is the absolute truth. In the same way Paul said, men's spiritual headship does not make them independent of women. The different roles and the functions of men and women are not different in importance, they're different in kind. Can I get an amen?
And again, he's talking about the home and the church, not dealing with the secular culture of life. We're talking about only two institutions that the Bible is concerned with. And while one of these differences is that women do not teach men, and yet you and I know that women usually are the most influential shapers of men. You say, how? Women are indispensable in developing boys, which are men in the making. Whether men acknowledge it or not, men are dependent upon women and vice versa.
Let me conclude by reiterating a vitally, vitally important matter. Here the main issue, not women cutting their hair or men growing their hair, although Paul is frowning on this, there's no doubt about it. But don't miss the main issue. Don't miss the illness by focusing on the symptoms. The heart of the matter that Paul is dealing with here is the issue of inner rebellion. What do I mean by that? Is whether I am willing to accept the way God created me to be, whether the way I receive it with gratitude and live it up in my life, or I rebel against God's ordained role. That's really the issue, the issue is of the heart.
You see, the church does not and should not legislate things like haircut or style of clothes. But these are not the core issues. These are the symptoms of a deeper problem. The core problem back then, and the same thing, the core problem today is that, "Do I have a rebellious heart? Do I have a contentious heart? Do I have a heart that defy, want to defy the will of God? Do I have a discontented heart for where God has placed me? Do I accept the way God made me and the role he assigned and ordained for me? Or do I operate and function in a role that he did not create me to be"?
I am trying to prove something to someone. Beloved, the battle of the sexes, so called, did not start even in the 1st century church. The battle of the sexes began in the Garden of Eden, and the first thing that devil did is create a wedge between Adam and Eve. That's the first thing he did. But thank God for the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ won the battle, where Christ's love won the day, where Christ's submission to God the Father to accomplish what no movement, no revolution could ever accomplish. Christ now can fill our hearts, whether we're men or women, with joy and contentment. And he gave us only one way for spiritual contentment and that's obedience and not rebellion. Can I get an amen?