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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Defending a Lion - Part 4

Michael Youssef - Defending a Lion - Part 4

Michael Youssef - Defending a Lion - Part 4
Michael Youssef - Defending a Lion - Part 4

That operating manual that is given to us by God, if we don't read it regularly, if we don't read it carefully, if we don't follow it closely, the lostness can be very serious, very serious indeed. I have been imploring you not only to regularly read and heed and obey the Word of God, please hear me right because it's very important. Because it is not what I say, ultimately, it is not what they say; it is what the Word of God says. I want to tell you today about seven deadly sins that you must not commit as you read the Word of God. Seven deadly sins that you must avoid at any cost when you begin reading the Word of God. Some of you will say, "Well, Michael, why do you start with the negative"?

Well, if I don't start with the negative, you won't know the positive when it comes through. The first deadly sin is proof texting. Proof texting. What is proof texting? Okay, let me put you to the test. What have I been saying for decades that I have been privileged to preach in this place? Put the text where? In its context. When you take a text out of its context, that's called proof texting. In other words, you basically take the text out and run with it. I wanna give you an example. In fact, with every one of those I'm gonna give you examples from the Scripture so you'll know practically what I'm talking about. 2 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 9, the apostle Paul said, "The Lord said to me, 'My strength becomes perfect in your weakness.'"

So, a person who's struggling with some moral weakness and who is trying to get the victory over his moral or her moral weakness would see this text as if God's strength will be perfect in me. I don't need to deal with these moral issues. No, that is not what it means because the apostle Paul is talking about physical illness, physical ailment, that he had experienced, and he said, "Three times I prayed, 'Lord, heal me,' but the Lord did not heal me. In fact, he said to me that 'my strength will become perfect in your physical weakness.'" Sometimes, God blesses people in spite of their physical weakness. In fact, sometimes, I believe he blesses us because of some of those physical weaknesses. I know of a man who had amazing gift of healing, really was, and yet he himself suffered a great deal.

You see, that's what Paul is saying. He's not talking about moral weakness, he's not talking about things that we need to repent over. So in context, you would understand it that it is something to do with physical ailment that he was living with because not doing that is called proof texting and, beloved, let me tell you, if you proof text you're gonna find yourself up a creek without a paddle. Now, you've been forewarned.

Second deadly sin about reading the Bible that you must avoid at any cost is that you need to know when to take the Scripture literally and when you take it figuratively. "Uh-oh, Michael is saying you don't take the whole Bible literally". Wait, wait, wait, be patient. Because if you understand there are certain linguistic principles whether it be in the Hebrew or the Aramaic or even in the Greek language. But mostly in the Semitic language, there are certain things, or certain linguistic rules and principles, that you must understand.

I'll give you an example. There is something in all the Semitic languages, really, known as Hebraic hyperbole, something so important, it's vitally important, it is so serious that you have to exaggerate the point in order to realize the seriousness of it. That's what it means. Again, the example is when Jesus said, "If your eye causes you to stumble," do what? "Gouge it out," right? No, I'm not gonna ask you to raise your hand if your eyes ever cause you to stumble. I'm not gonna ask you but I'm gonna raise both hands. I am looking at you. I see some glasses, but I don't see too many gouged eyes.

So you understand what I'm trying to tell you. Why? Because this is what you call Semitic hyperbole. Our Lord is saying that this is something so, so very, very important that you must not allow anything to get in the way of accomplishing it. Don't allow anything to get in the way of you entering into heaven. Don't allow anything to get in the way of you being saved. Don't allow anything to get in the way of you going to heaven, and because he has to make that point, he blows it up so you can see it. And so Jesus is saying it is vitally important for a Christian believer, I'm talking to believers now, I'm not talking to non-Christians.

Christian believers, not to allow their eyes to constantly wander in lust and in envy and in greed and the rest of it. It's so dangerous. It's so dangerous that it could impact your eternity. Or take, for example, the Communion. Our Lord Jesus said, "This is my body. This is my blood". Well, did he cut a piece of his flesh and got 'em to bite on it? No, it's symbolism. The bread symbolizes his body, and the wine symbolizes his blood that was gonna be shed on the cross. See, the same thing, if I am speaking any of the Semitic languages, I will get a picture out of my pocket and I'll say to you, "This is my grandson". You say, "No, that's not your grandson". In English, you would say, "This is a picture of my grandson," right? But in the Hebrew language, they don't speak that way. So you have to understand what is symbolic and what is literal.

Third deadly sin in Bible reading is ignoring the historic and cultural context of the Bible. Just because God called Elijah to confront King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and the prophets of Baal, and then he sent fire, consumed his sacrifice, it doesn't mean that I or anybody else go down to a city hall and say to a pagan mayor, "Mayor, bring your bull out here and let's see if we can have context". No, no, God was speaking and using a certain man at a certain time for a certain purpose. What do we learn from it? That our God is a mighty God, that all the so-called gods, whether Baal or Ashtaroth or Ashtarah, they're not really gods at all. And that is the point that the Scripture would teach us, not that we would go and do like Elijah did.

Fourth deadly sin about Bible reading: be sure to get a good translation of the Bible. In fact, I would encourage you to have maybe two or three in front of you as you're studying the Scripture, because as you read one or two, three, you will get the meaning much better. You don't have to go to seminary but sometimes these translations will give you a real feel for that. Otherwise, you'll be like this lady who absolutely pestered her pastor by telling him that there are perfect people other than Jesus Christ because she was only reading King James Bible. It's nothing against King James, listen to me. There are some people think that this is the translation that Paul used, they really do. "It's good enough for Saint Paul, it's good enough for me". Listen, I've seen everything through the years, but finally, when the pastor said, "Well, where is it in the Bible"? She said, "Psalm 37, verse 37. It says, 'Mark the perfect man.'" Well, if she had read a different translation, she would have discovered that the words are "Notice". But in the old Elizabethan English, it said "Mark". "Notice the blameless man".

Fifth deadly sin about reading the Bible is you must avoid at any cost reading into the Bible what you want to read into it. Oh my goodness, that is the curse of the age, I'm telling you. I know there are some people who say, "When I open the Bible, and whatever my eyes fall on, that's a text for me". That is the wrong way of reading the Bible.

Six, I'm moving quickly. The sixth deadly sin of Bible reading is this: Don't think, ever, that you're brilliant enough to understand the Scripture without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Can I get an "Amen"? Listen to what the apostle Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 2, verse 7: "Reflect on what I'm saying," here it comes, "for the Lord will give you insight into all things". You see, I have never opened the Scripture in the early hours of the morning, every day, as I wake up and I start with the Word of God, without praying, "Holy Spirit, open my eyes that I may see wonderful truth from your Word. Illuminate my mind so that I can learn from your Word what you want me to learn". Otherwise, the Bible will become either just an intellectual exercise in reading it or we just twist the words to make it what you want it to make.

Finally, number seven. Number seven: failing to apply what you have just read in the Scripture. I know, I know, I know, it takes time to do that. It takes time. You cannot microwave the Scripture. You cannot microwave application. And I know this is the age of social media, or 90 characters or less, and all that stuff. We just don't have that attention span. We have really taken all of that into our reading of the Scripture. But, beloved, you will not grow, you will not learn, and you will not apply the Word of God if you're constantly in a hurry. If you have to wake up half an hour earlier, go to bed half an hour later.

Now, beloved, to read the Bible for its maximum effect, for its maximum impact upon your life, you must avoid those seven deadly mistakes. But then I want to go on to give you, very quickly, three questions that you must ask yourself as you read and heed and obey the Word of God. The first question to ask yourself is what does this part of the Bible that I'm reading say to the original readers of it? 'Cause each one has a context. It was written or was said to people at a certain time. So you must ask the question, "What did it mean to the original reader, the first person who read it, to whom it was written? Secondly, what is the real meaning of this passage that I'm reading? And thirdly, how can I apply this to my life"?

Let's look at them, very, very quickly. What did it mean to the original reader? We have been seeing how the Bible is written by 40 individuals and in a span of 1600 years, and yet, it says the same thing. It's one theme. Old Testament, Jesus says Jesus is coming. The New Testament says he's here. There, you allow the Holy Spirit to guard your thoughts, just as the Holy Spirit guarded the thoughts and the hands of the writers of the Bible. For example, let me give you an example. Moses was speaking to the Israelites who, for 400 years, were up to their eyeballs in idolatry of Egypt. They knew very little about Yahweh, just what they heard through oral tradition. And so they really had very little knowledge.

So Moses is speaking to people who did not know who Yahweh is or experience his power as they did later when they crossed the Red Sea and gone into the wilderness. On the other hand, 1000 years later, Ezekiel and Jeremiah, "Remember God did this, God did this, God did this". So they knew Yahweh and yet they turned their backs on him. They saw him perform miracles before their eyes and yet they wanted to worship Baal. And so, Ezekiel and Jeremiah, they're talking to rebellious people versus what Moses was doing. They rejected God's instruction, they rejected God's command. Or look at the New Testament. The apostle Paul has written to many churches, different cities, Philippi, Corinth, the Thessalonians, but each letter was addressing and giving answers to certain problems that that church was facing. He was dealing with a specific problem and giving them biblical and godly answers.

So it is very important to know what the problem was and what the solution is. Secondly, you have to ask yourself what does the Bible mean by what it says? Make no mistake about it, the reason today many people reject the Bible, they never really read it, but they reject the Bible as the Word of God because it runs contrary to man's nature. It really does. The Bible is counter-culture. For example, the world says, "Sock it to your enemy," right? And we say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah". I mean, this is very natural, right? I mean, that's the very nature says, "Yes, sock it to your enemy". And then Jesus comes in and said, "Love your enemy". What? "Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who would spitefully use you".

See, the world says, "That's bonkers". The world says, "Look after number one. That's all that matters, number one". But Jesus comes in and he says, "Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it". Listen to me. It does not make sense to the world. That's why they reject the Bible. It does not make sense to them. And it is laziness on the part of preachers to say, "Well, if it's hard to understand, if it's hard to accept, reject it. You don't have to accept it. Move on. Take what you like, leave out what you don't like". That's laziness. Instead of we are called of God as preachers and teachers of the Word of God to explain the difficult things. And that is why you must always ask the question, "What does the Bible mean by what it says"?

So how do I know this? Well, first of all, ask the Holy Spirit, I already said that twice. Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine your mind, and he will. Ask him. He will do it. Use a good trusted commentary on the Bible, a good trustworthy commentary. Keep it handy. Look up, if you get into an issue, it's so difficult and you don't know, just look it up. Double-check things. Don't just take it for granted. Make sure you're on the right track. Thirdly and lastly, lastly, the final question to ask yourself is this: How can this apply to me? How does this apply to me? When I am facing problems in my business, in my work, my home, how is this gonna apply to me? It's very important. It's very important. If you are like me, I spend the first fruit of the day with the Lord and the Bible open in front of me. But I've found that most mornings, as I open the Word of God and I read it, the Holy Spirit begins to speak to my heart, "Michael, this Word is for you. This encouragement is for you. This rebuke is for you. This challenge is for you. This warning," oh, have I ever got more of those than I can count. "This warning is for you. This exhortation is for you".

Charles Spurgeon, one of the great preachers of yesteryear, and just in case you think this man piled degrees after his name, he dropped out of school at the age of 15. He taught himself Greek and Hebrew. He taught himself the Word of God. He allowed the Holy Spirit to open his mind, to open his heart, and teach him. He'd written hundreds of books. The most remarkable man that I have ever read about. Here's what he said about the Bible. He said, "This book has wrestled with me. This book has smitten me. This book has confronted me. This book smiled upon me. This book frowned on me. This book clasped my hands. This book warmed my heart. This book weeps with me and sings with me. This book worships with me and it preaches to me. It maps my going and my coming. It is a young man's best companion, and it is still my morning and evening chaplain".

Beloved, as I conclude the series of messages, I wanna tell you there are a lot of Bible apps out there, lots of Bible reading plans that can be overwhelming. The Bible says that in the last days there gonna be a famine. Listen carefully. But that famine is not gonna be for bread or water. It's gonna be a famine for the Word of God. And when I hear that only 18% of Christians read the Word of God regularly, I can tell you the famine has begun. And so, it is the burden of my life and the reason for living is to equip you for those days that are coming upon us and they're coming faster than we think, faster than we're anticipating. So get ready for the spiritual battle. The Lord is on your side, and the good news is we have read the last chapter and it says that we win.
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