C. How to Seek Revival
b. Seek holiness
We have noted elsewhere that there is little fear of God in the church today. As Christians we can coast along in the Christian life and tolerate failings which should be firmly rejected. There is little point in praying and preparing for Revival if we are not willing to face up to and repent of our sins.
Praying and preparing for Revival means putting God first:
- We need to concentrate on the first and greatest commandment – to love God with all our heart, soul and mind – and live first and foremost for God’s sake rather than for the sake of neighbour and the sake of the church. Our constant concern over all we do should primarily be “Was the Lord pleased?”
- We need to see all our sin as primarily against God and confess it primarily because it has grieved and offended him, not simply in order to be forgiven and escape condemnation and not even primarily to love our neighbour (important though that is).
- We should desire the Lord’s name to be honoured and deeply lament it being dishonoured, including by our own sin.
- We should reverently enter into the grief the Lord bears over the sin of man and the failure of the church.
Obviously, “Love your neighbour as yourself” is always a very close second motive to loving God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and it is essential to loving God (it shows that we love God – 1 John 4:20-21). But it is second to the “first and greatest” commandment. Also we must remember that God loves our neighbour so if we offend that neighbour we offend God.
Practical guidelines on seeking personal holiness
This section is meant to facilitate a practical meditation on holiness. It is based on a number of New Testament passages which refer to holiness. I have made it clear that passionate, pleading prayer is absolutely vital in preparing for revival. But I think we should heed A W Tozer’s warning: “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work.” As Paul puts it: “I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing” (1 Tim 2:8). We need personal revival i.e. a growth in personal holiness.
Paul writes: “Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor 7:1). He adds: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph 5:25-27). “He has saved us and called us to a holy life” (2 Tim 1:9).
The writer to the Hebrews says: “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Heb 2:11). “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (Heb 12:10). “Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood” (Heb 13:12).
Do I regularly take stock of my walk with God and repent of my sins? Do I witness to my faith?
Paul says: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” He goes on to list numerous attitudes:
- Practising humility: Am I guilty of pride?
- Being devoted in love: Am I really loving?
- Hating evil: Do I hate every wrong thing in my life?
- Honouring others above oneself: Do I honour others above myself?
- Being patient in affliction: Am I a patient person?
- Being faithful in prayer: Is my prayer life as strong as it should be?
- Being generous: Am I generous or do I love money?
- Practising hospitality: Am I hospitable?
- Bless those who persecute: Do I bless those who upset me?
- Not repaying evil for evil: Do I refrain from ‘attacking’ those who attack me?
- Not taking revenge: Do I refuse to get my own back?
- Loving your enemy: Do I love my enemies (think of names)?
“Everything that does not come from faith is sin”: Do I live a life of trusting God?
Eph 4:22-32; 5:3-5; Col 3:12-31
Paul writes: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” He goes on to say:
- Always tell the truth: Do I tell lies?
- Avoid sinful anger: Do I have a problem with selfish anger and rage?
- Do not steal: Am I dishonest in any way?
- Avoid unwholesome talk: Do I say things I shouldn’t?
- Avoid bitterness: Do I nurse bitterness in my heart towards anyone?
- Avoid slander: Do I gossip negatively and divisively about people?
- Be kind and compassionate: Am I unkind and insensitive towards people?
- Always forgive: Is there anyone I have not forgiven?
- Avoid sexual immorality: Do I commit sexual sin in mind or action?
- Avoid greed: Am I greedy for gain?
- Avoid obscenity: Do I use bad language?
- Avoid coarse joking: Do I tell inappropriate jokes?
- Submit to one another: Do I put the needs of others, including my wife/husband before my own?
Live in the light of divine judgment
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.”’So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another” (Rom 14:10-13).
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:14-19).
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:10-13).