If you think that freedom is doing your thing, if you think that freedom is picking and choosing which part of God's Word to obey, which part to believe and which part not to believe, you'll be just like the wild horses and end up as food for the wild animals.
My friend, there's only one true freedom, and that is the freedom of surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. Up next, a deeper look into the freedom available through Christ from Dr. Michael Youssef on Leading the Way audio. Dr. Youssef began Leading the Way as the local media outreach of The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, now reaching across six continents, touching billions of people in 28 languages. If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Youssef and Leading the Way, just reach out to a ministry representative.
We are at 866-626-4356, or you can visit us online, ltw.org. Right now, though, listen with me as Dr. Michael Youssef reveals the incredible freedom that you have in Christ. I want you to turn to Acts 19-8, that Jesus indeed delegated his authority over Satan and all his evil spirits to his apostles.
But there in Acts 19 verses 8 and following, there's something else that is very, very, very important. I want you to listen to me very carefully, please, because here we see the absolute danger of wanting the power of Jesus without submitting to the authority of Jesus. Here we see the absolute danger of having one foot in the world and one foot in the church. Here we see the danger of wanting all the blessings that come from Jesus Christ without surrendering to Jesus Christ.
Here we see the danger of wanting the best of both worlds, so called. Here's the danger of singing with the saints and then sinning with the sinners. Here's the danger of being religious without being redeemed.
Here's the danger of wanting all of the benefits without any of the responsibilities. Here we see the danger of appearing to be a Christian on Sunday and then living like the devil for the rest of the week. Here we see the danger of wanting to please God but then want to please self at the same time.
Here is a danger of being lukewarm. Remember, to be a Christian is both privilege and responsibility. And the average Christian is very happy to receive all of the benefits. The average Christian is very happy to be saved and sanctified. The average Christian is very happy to get all of the privileges but none of the responsibilities.
No wonder Satan rejoices over the state of the church today. To have the liberating power of Jesus Christ that you must do some things and then you expect some things. You do some things for the Lord and then you expect some things from Him. What are they?
There are four in number. First, when you have boldness in your life, when you practice bold proclamation verses 8, 9, and 10, it is only then can you expect God's faithful confirmation upon you and upon your life and upon your family and upon your business. Verses 11 to 12. It is when you are able to discern false imitations that you will expect the Word of God to dominate. You see, when you're bold for Christ, you can expect God's confirmation upon you and upon your life. When you are discerning, you can expect the Word of God to dominate not only where you are personally but where you are even geographically. Paul understood the freedom and the power that comes from surrendering to the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to hear me right. I have counseled enough Christians to know that the average Christian wants to be a smorgasbord Christian. God, I want to do this and I will do this but I won't do this and I won't do the other thing.
That is not Christianity as far as the Bible is concerned. When your desire is to unleash the power of the Word of God, God is going to give you more power. Meanwhile, what's going to happen? There's going to be hardness on the part of others. It doesn't mean it's going to be smooth sailing. It doesn't mean that when you are bold, everything is going to work the way you want it to work or the way you think it works.
No, no, no, no. There's going to be hardness of heart. There's going to be opposition. There's going to be difficulties.
There's going to be tough times. But the good news is Jesus said, I have overcome the world. The good news is Jesus said that he who's with us is greater than he who's in the world. That's the good news of the Gospel. I want you to look at Acts chapter 19 verse 10 because it tells us about those who had hardness of heart.
I'm going to come to that in a minute. But I want to tell you first of all that boldness was the hallmark of the apostles Paul's life. Boldness was the hallmark of the apostle Paul's ministry. Boldness was the hallmark of the apostle Paul's preaching. Hear me right please. There are some people who often confuse boldness with rudeness. That is not it. There are some who think that the secret of boldness is belligerence.
Absolutely not. True boldness only comes from a complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. True boldness only comes from a total submission to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. True boldness only comes from a total commitment, not half-hearted commitment that we're facing in the church today.
Listen to me very carefully. I am yet to see someone. I am yet to meet someone who has surrendered his or her life totally and completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and they are living in fear and doubt. I haven't met one. I am yet to meet someone whose only desire is to please the living God, is to please the Lord Jesus Christ and they are timid about their biblical truth. I am yet to meet someone who fears no one but God and is intimidated by the enemies of the truth of the gospel.
I haven't met one yet. Paul's bold proclamation in the synagogue for three months met with some hardness of hearts, but that did not deter him. That did not stop him. That did not discourage him. That did not cause him to give up. That did not cause him to throw in the towel and say, well, I better do something else.
No, no, no, no. He continued on, but now let me tell you about the hardness of the heart that Paul is experiencing. Listen very carefully because there is a disease that seemed to be touching a lot of Christians. The hardness of the heart against God is a process. It doesn't happen just overnight.
It is a very slow and laborious process. If you want to develop a callous anywhere in your body, anywhere in your skin, all you need to do is just keep rubbing. Sooner or later you will develop a callous. You're going to develop a hardness in that area of your body.
It works the same way spiritually. When you repeatedly keep on rejecting God's truth, when you repeatedly keep on ignoring God's conviction of sin in your life, when you repeatedly keep on going back to the same sin, when you keep on muffling the voice of God that is trying to speak to you and bring you to a conviction, I want to tell you your heart will become callous and hardened. But it will not stop there.
It will not stop there. You see, hardness of heart eventually going to give way to a total rejection. That is why the scripture says today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Do you know why? Why does scripture repeatedly says today, today, today when you hear his voice, harden not your heart? Because the word of God and God knows that what is going to happen, the process is going to begin and then the callous is going to take place in your conscious, in your mind and in your heart. And then it's going to be harder for God to get through to you.
But boldness is not deterred by the hardness of the heart. Secondly, the faithful confirmation of God. Look at verses 11 and 12 of Acts 19. Paul's bold proclamation was confirmed by the Lord.
I hear people all the time. I wish I can get confirmation from the Lord. I wish I could hear the Lord saying something to me.
Listen, you need to begin by examining your own life. Have you ceased to be bold for Jesus? Have you ceased to be bold about your faith?
Have you ceased to be bold about the truth? Because when you are bold in your walk with God and in your ministry and in your life, God will confirm. He will give you confirmation. He will bless your ministry. He will bless the work of your hands.
Whatever you do, you're going to prosper. Because God always gives confirmation to boldness. In fact, we hear in this passage, we see there are extraordinary miracles that has never happened before or since that took place with the Apostle Paul. Not just sick with being healed. Not just demon possessed were set free.
But even apron and handkerchiefs. Things has never happened before or since. We're healing people.
They took place. Why? Because God is faithful and he will always confirm and encourage the boldness of his saints. When you refuse to be intimidated, when you refuse to be silenced, God will bless you. There is a certain blessing with your name written all over it that's reserved for those who will not be intimidated. God promised to be faithful to those who are faithful. God promised that he will honor those who honor him. The Lord Jesus Christ himself said, if you're ashamed of me before people on earth, I'm going to be ashamed of you in the day when you come to my Father's presence in heaven. Hear me right, please. If you are a timid person, if you are timid about your faith, do not expect extraordinary blessings to come upon you.
Why? Because extraordinary blessings only follows boldness and bold life for Jesus Christ. But you know there's something else that is very important here. Whenever boldness is exercised, true gospel preaching, true witnessing, true Christian living takes place. Emitators are not far behind. Whenever God's people are faithful, there are those who like to imitate them. Which brings us to the third point, false imitators. The copycatters are always there ready to exploit the situation. The imitators are always ready to exploit people. The crooks are always ready to use God's name and God's power to serve their own purposes. They'll always be there.
They were there back then, they are here now, they'll always be there. See, Ephesus was no exception. Look at verses 13, 14, 15, 16 of Acts 19. Do you know what the saddest part about the imitators and the false teachers and the false preachers and the false Christians, you know the saddest part about this, I'm going to tell you from my perspective, the saddest part is that so many of the Christians cannot distinguish between the true and the false. So many of the Christians are not able to discern the truth from falsehood.
That probably breaks my heart more than anything else in the world. And here is an example. Chapter 19 of the book of Acts, 13 to 16. You see in Ephesus there was a man by the name of Shiva. Skiva or Shiva, either way, he had seven sons. He had seven sons. And they belong to the high priestly family.
When the Bible called high priest in Ephesus, it's not high priest in Ephesus, it means that they belong to the high priestly family. What were they? They were actually themselves demon possessed. And they were doing their magic work. They were exercising. He said, wait a minute, how can a demon exercise a demon?
Very simple. He who is possessed with a more powerful demon, exercise a lesser powerful demon. Do you know that the Bible tells us that in the invisible army of Satan, there are ranks, there is order, there are generals, there are foot soldiers, there are colonels, there are all kinds, there are powers and there are principalities. There's a rank in Satan's invisible army.
And those who would exercise other people who are demon possessed, they're basically using a more powerful demon to exercise a lesser powerful demon. And that's what Shiva and his seven sons were doing. They were like a modern day pluralistic society. They really are.
I want you to focus with me just for a minute. They were not very discriminating at all. Whichever one name would work, they will take them on.
Whichever evil spirit will work, they add them to their repertoire. It didn't make any difference. Like so many preachers of this day who think that diversity is a great thing and cannot distinguish between Moses and Jesus and Allah and Mohammed and Buddha and Krishna and they said all is the same, Shiva and his children were like that. They wanted to add Jesus' name to the list.
You don't have to do anything, just add the name to the list and it's okay. Now Shiva was not a Christian. He knew Jesus only from what he saw happening in the ministry of the apostle Paul and the apostles. He wanted Jesus' power but he did not surrender to Jesus' authority. He wanted Jesus' supernatural strength without submitting to Jesus' power. So he invoked the name of Jesus in one of his magic shows as he was about to exorcise one of those weaker, demon-possessed, weaker spirits.
What happened? Satan actually knew more than these magicians, than these guys. He said, Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you? You see, they did not understand that the name of Jesus is no magical charm. The name of Jesus is not to be used by whoever. The name of Jesus is so uniquely authentic, is so uniquely true, is so uniquely authoritative. The name of Jesus is the power above all powers. The name of Jesus is the authority over all authorities. The name of Jesus is above all rulers. The name of Jesus over all principalities, over all demons. And they tremble at the name of Jesus. You see, that's why people do not want to mention the name of Jesus in public. Because there's power in the name of Jesus.
But Shiva had to learn the hard way. He was addressing some of those demon-possessed. Look at verse 13 of Acts 19 and it says, Command you in the name of Jesus at whom Paul preaches. And the demon says, what? I know who Jesus is and I know who Paul is, but who are you? Not only that, but the demon-possessed man with the evil spirit strength was able to give them all a good beating.
But not only that, he tore their clothes and had to run out in the street naked. Don't undermine the power of the name of Jesus. It's not a magical name. It's power. And the believers discerned truth from falsehood. And in doing so, it led to the domination of the word of God. You see, whenever Jesus' power is contrasted with the power of Satan and the evil one, hands down, Jesus will win all the time.
Whenever God's truth is contrasted to Satan's falsehood, the truth will win in the long run, no matter how long it may take. When the Ephesians saw what the evil spirits did to these false imitators, they turned to the Lord and they submitted to the authority of the word of God. And they did not do this just as a reaction to what was happening.
They did not do this on a temporary basis. They did not do this just with words only, but they did it by lighting a match to five million dollars worth of occult paraphernalia that they were practicing. That's the equivalent amount of money for today. Now, beloved friends, I want to tell you something. This is true repentance. This is true repentance. You see, true repentance is not to keep on going back to that bottle. True repentance is not to keep going back to those websites that you know you're not supposed to go there and the magazines and the books that you keep. True repentance is not to keep on going back to the places of sin that you know you are in disobedience to the word of God. True repentance is abandoning of the paraphernalia of sin.
Ephesus was renowned for its cultic activities. And so, when the fear of the Lord came upon them, they were ready to surrender and they did not count the cost. I wanted to cry at that moment and say, God give us men and women who would surrender to the authority of Jesus Christ, who do not count the cost. Sometimes we think we give God 10% and then, you know, we just do our thing and God is pleased with what we're doing.
No, God is more interested in the 90% that you keep in your pocket than the 10% you give him. When they recognized their enslavement to sin and Satan, they were ready to be liberated. When the Ephesians saw the real freedom, they were ready to give up the false one.
And that is why, when they witnessed the freedom from sin, they gave up the enslavement to Satan. I'm going to tell you this as I conclude, but I want you to listen very carefully. This is something I thought about and reflect on several times. You see, Hollywood likes to portray a herd of wild horses, strong and free, roaming about, roving in the plains and the hills, frolicking with reckless abandon, no restraint whatsoever. Now there is an agenda here. The agenda is they want to present this romantic fantasy can be ours. This romantic fantasy of free in the wild can belong to men and women only if they choose it. Unbridled fashion of freedom.
Have the best of both worlds, but nothing could be further from the truth. Listen to me. This is Satan's lie of presenting false freedom to our society. Wild horses, just like human beings, they fall slaves to the closed system of entrapment. As a matter of fact, the Department of the Interior compiled overwhelming evidence that these mustangs, which roam freely in the West, that are held up as a model for society, for humanity, they are not free at all. The breed literally deteriorates.
They said that the bloodline is a mess. The horses often fall prey to predators. They talk about the lack of food and nutrition. They are often first victims to natural disasters and diseases.
They easily get injured and crippled, and when they get infected, they die a very slow and very painful death. Furthermore, the document from the Department of Interior said they never realize, of course, the full potential of the good life that comes from being harnessed, broken to the bit, cared for, groomed, washed, fed, the balanced nutrition of food. And in this case, freedom is not really freedom at all, and I don't care who says it. If you think that freedom is doing your thing, if you think that freedom is living independent of God, if you think that freedom is breaking of God's laws, if you think that freedom is picking and choosing which part of God's Word to obey, which part to believe and which part not to believe, if you think that freedom is giving God the crumbs that fall off your table, spiritually speaking, you'll be just like the wild horses and end up as food for the wild animals.
My friend, there's only one true freedom, and that is the freedom of surrendering to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for joining Dr. Michael Youssef for Leading the Way. Maybe this audio message prompted some faith questions.
Talk with someone who's willing to help you get life-changing answers. Begin the conversation at ltw.org slash Jesus. As we close out today's episode, we wanted to share a brief testimony of a life impacted by the teaching of Dr. Youssef and Leading the Way. Ek from Morocco recently shared this exciting story after connecting with the Leading the Way field team in her area. She tells us, I am so happy to be discipled, even if it is through the phone. Friends, the passion to know Christ encourages me in my own faith, and I hope that you're encouraged as well. Learn ways to stand with Leading the Way and Dr. Michael Youssef when you call 866-626-4356 or online at ltw.org. This program is furnished by Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, passionately proclaiming uncompromising truth.
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