Michael Youssef - Appropriating the Happiness That Is in You - Part 3
I'm gonna make a statement, a startling statement. Are you ready? Immorality is not the most dangerous problem that we're facing. I told you. Immorality is not the most dangerous threat to our Christian values. Immorality is not the most worrisome difficulty that we are facing today. Now that I got your attention, I want to explain this because, by definition, immorality is the breaking of the moral standards. By definition, immorality is the breaking of the moral absolutes. Immorality by its very definition is the breaking of the moral code. Immorality is the breaking of the moral norms.
And please listen carefully. Everyone can see when there is something that is broken, right? If you have eyes you will see something that is broken. You recognize brokenness when you see it. And that is why I'm saying immorality is not the most dangerous enemy that we are facing today. But the most dangerous threat that we are facing is amorality. Amorality. What is amorality? Amorality says nothing about breaking the moral absolutes. Amorality says there is no such thing as moral standards. Amorality says there is no such thing as moral absolutes. And my beloved friends, that is what we are seeing in the streets of our cities today. So what is the answer? The answer is for tens of thousands of God's people to pledge together, "We will pray for America on a daily basis. We will intercede for America that God might revisit us once again". That is our only hope for deliverance.
Today I come to the main course in the Sermon in the Mount. This is probably the heart and soul of what Christianity or the Christian faith is all about, because the heart and the soul of the Christian faith is Christ. So the Beatitudes were stepping stones, as I've been telling you for weeks. These are the stepping stones to get into a point where becomes the salt and the light and here, after this preparation, leading us to the very heart of the Christian faith. Turn with me to Matthew chapter 5, verse 17 to 20. Jesus said, "Do not think..." Can you say that with me? "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them". Only Jesus could have known what they were thinking. Here's an outline to these verses. I'm gonna make them a lot easier for you. You will never forget them. There are four things in the outline of this passage.
First of all, Jesus is saying that God the Father is the author of the Old Testament. That's what they refer to as the Law and the Prophets. Secondly, God the Son is the authenticator of the Old Testament. Thirdly, no one should abrogate the Old Testament. Fourthly, God will only accept those whose righteousness exceeds or surpasses that of the Pharisees and the scribes. First of all, the law was authored by God the Father. It was authored by him. The Bible said in Exodus chapter 20: "God spoke all these words". Not some of these words, not part of these words. "All these words". Now in order to get to the depth of this part, you need to understand, they made a mess of the Commandments, so I'm gonna show you actually examples. They made a mess of them. And their mess that they created, they took it as authoritative as the Word of God itself.
And so Jesus was trying to tell them what the original intent of those Commandments that they made a mess of. Now let me give you just some example to give you a taste of how these boys stressed the wrong thing. When God gave a commandment, one of the Commandment, is the Sabbath rest. Why? Because God knew, by nature, we're gonna be enslaved to our iPhones and iPads and we're gonna be workaholics and we're gonna try to work hard and make money and we'll work day and night, day and night, day and night, so God said, "No, there is one day a week in which you should stop working and focus on me". See, that is the very heart of the law for the Sabbath. And so the rabbis came in and they said, "Well, what's that mean? We need to really explain it to people". So they say, "Carrying any load is a breaking of the Sabbath". A bunch of lawyers came in and said, "No, no, you've got to define what the load is".
And so, a bunch of them came in and said, "Any load that is bigger than a fig is breaking of the Sabbath". And the other one says, "Well, any milk that is larger than a swallow, just one swallow, to wet your tonsils, is a breaking of the Sabbath". The other ones come in and said, "No, any honey that more than you place in a wound," it'll probably... two drops of honey, "is a load and it's breaking of the Sabbath". Then another group come in and said, "No, no, no, any oil that's more than enough to anoint a small part of the body, that's a load". And my goodness, it goes on and on and on. I just don't... I'll watch it... fear of time. It's entertaining if it wasn't sad. As far as the Pharisees were concerned, all of these, the opinions of these rabbis are as weighty as the Word of God itself. But when Jesus was referring to the law, he specifically was talking about the Ten Commandments. Why? Because God the Father is the author of the Ten Commandments, and that is why Jesus said when he gave the Ten Commandments, the Lord said, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery".
Just in case, I want to identify myself as the author. Secondly, that is why Jesus came to authenticate the Commandments. Jesus came to fulfill the Commandments. Jesus came to complete the Commandments. Jesus is the only one, the only one, the only one who ever lived on the face of the earth he was able to keep all of the Ten Commandments all of the time. None of us can do it. And that is why he was sinless, perfect Son of man and Son of God. In fact, he came to show us that the law actually pointing to him. In fact, the entire Old Testament is pointing to him. From the time the law was announced with thunder and lightning, all the way to the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, that is all of them, all of them, all of them were pointing to Jesus.
Please hear me right. This is very important. To fulfill is the opposite of to destroy. Up to this point, no one, as I said, no one was able to keep the Commandments. Only Jesus. This is another way of saying that Jesus is the fulfillment of the longing of all of the Old Testament. Look at it this way: The Old Testament was like a house without a roof. Jesus is the roof. The Old Testament, a sketch. Jesus gave it definition. Jesus not only bring about the explanation and the fulfillment of the law, but he did not bring about totally new teaching like some people would have us believe. He came to authenticate the Old Testament. He came to clarify its original intent, original meaning. How? By perfectly obeying the law that God the Father has authored. And that is why, listen carefully, all the ceremonial laws, all of the ceremonial laws, ended with Jesus. Can I get an "amen"? Because all of the ceremonies, all of the sacrifices, all fulfilled in Jesus alone.
Let me explain this. Let me explain this. Jesus, and Jesus alone, became the great high priest. Jesus, and Jesus alone, became the sacrifice for all of our sins. Jesus, and Jesus alone, became the ultimate feast and celebration. You see, in the Old Testament, in the old covenant, the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, but Jesus entered into the heavenly tabernacle. The high priest in the old covenant entered once a year; Jesus entered once and for all. The high priest in the old covenant went beyond the veil, but Jesus tore the veil in two. The high priest in the old covenant offered many sacrifices, but Jesus, our great high priest, offered only one sacrifice. The high priest in the old covenant offered the blood of bulls, but our Lord Jesus Christ, our great high priest, offered his own precious blood. The high priest in the old covenant always was temporary, but Jesus, our great high priest, is the eternal and permanent high priest. The high priest and the old covenant were changeable, but our great high priest Jesus is unchangeable. The high priest's sacrifice was imperfect, but our Jesus, the great high priest, had the only perfect sacrifice.
Even the ceremonial offerings found their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why they all ended with Jesus. You see, Jesus authenticated the Old Testament. He authenticated it. God the Father authored it, God the Son authenticated it. Thirdly, I wanna say that God the Holy Spirit helps us, empowers us, strengthens us to not abrogate it. I'm gonna explain it. Because I wanna tell you it is impossible. You heard me right. It is impossible to accept the authority of Jesus as Savior and Lord without accepting the authority of the Scripture. They stand together. To accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord is to accept all that he taught in the Scripture. Listen to what Jesus said. Not me, thank God, not the mega-church pastor. "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven".
I know it is fashionable these days. I know, I know, I know because I listen. I stay in touch with what's going on in the world. It is fashionable to say, you know, the Commandments are outmoded, the Commandments ought to be replaced by the Sermon on the Mount. And all I want to do is scream from the top of my voice: "Are you kidding me? Do you know that the Sermon on the Mount demands more than the Ten Commandments"? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus upped the ante, not lowered the bar. I'll give you an example. In the Commandments said, "Thou shall not commit adultery". Who did Jesus say, "Yeah, I know you heard that, but let me tell you something. The moment you lust after somebody, you already committed adultery". Ooh. He upped the ante, didn't lower the bar. And it's, "Oh, we should replace the Ten Commandments with the Sermon on the Mount".
They probably hoping that people don't know what's in the Sermon in the Mount. It said, "Thou shall not kill, thou shall not murder". Jesus said, "I know you, but here's what I tell you. If you harbor anger and bitterness toward your brother or sister, you already committed murder". Tell me that that is not a very high standards. On and on and on I could go, but listen carefully. Jesus is not, is not, is not... how many of these? Is not saying that we're saved by keeping the Ten Commandments. Don't misunderstand me. He's never said that, and I'm not saying that. No, and a million no's. The law is a mirror that tells me that I'm a sinner and heading for hell. It tells me that I'm a sinner. I'm in desperate need for the Savior who kept the law perfectly, who's invited me to hang on his coattail.
That's the only way I'm gonna make it to heaven. God's moral laws are the reflection of the character of God. Don't ever forget that. Listen to what Paul said in Romans 6:15: "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace"? God forbid. "May it never be"! So, a question: what is grace? What is grace? Grace removes a penalty of the law, but only for those who are in Christ Jesus. Praise God. Praise God. The Commandments reveal our sin to us, but grace of God forgives our sins when we repent. The Commandments reveal our hopelessness in trying to obey God in our strength. But the Holy Spirit gives us the power and the strength to obey. Fourthly and finally, God will only accept those whose righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the scribes. You know, I remember when I was a young Christian and I read this. I said, "Lots of luck". There is no way, I mean, on the surface you read this, impossible. I mean, these guys were so meticulous with the details.
These guys were scrupulous about keeping the law. I mean, they wrote themselves the sticky papers everywhere on the walls and even on their forehead. "Don't forget, don't forget, don't forget, don't forget". Who am I gonna... my righteousness exceeds theirs? There is no way. I can't keep up with that. But please, please, please, listen. If meticulousness and keeping of the religious rituals would take you to heaven, I mean, these guys would be at the front of the bus. But the only righteousness that pleases the Lord is the righteousness that no one, no one, no one, no one can accomplish. What is that righteousness that exceeds, surpasses, the righteousness of the Pharisees? It is the very first step of the Beatitudes. It's the first step. It's declaring spiritual bankruptcy, of coming to the Lord, "Lord, I have no righteousness of my own. I have nothing to stand on. I have no righteousness that put me in the right standing with you. There is no amount of good that I can do that will gain me that righteousness".
And then, and only then, you hear the voice of Jesus say, "Welcome, welcome, you made it the first step. Welcome". And then he continues: "Only my righteousness that I give you is that righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees and the scribes. Only when you cling to my righteousness will get you to heaven. Only taking upon you my righteousness that will make you acceptable to God the Father. All these religious hypocrites, all the show-off religious people, all these self-sufficient frauds, they will never make it to my Father's heaven. Only those who have nothing and declare that they have nothing to offer". That's what poverty in spirit means. That's why it's the first step of climbing the ladder. "Blessed," happy, makarios, "are those who are poor in spirit".
Please, please trust me when I tell you that Jesus is saying hypocrisy is not a substitute for holiness. Jesus is saying rituals is no substitute for righteousness. Now whether you are a person who has bought into this horror of amorality or you are a person who thinks that you're good enough and righteous enough to make it to heaven, both opposites, but both will end up in eternity of torment. And that is why the invitation is now. Jesus is saying, "Come to me now, while you can because the time is gonna come when the door will shut and nobody will be able to enter". Come to him. Hang on his coattail. Enter heaven on his robe of righteousness, not yours.