SEXUAL SIN – Part 2

One of the keys to overcoming sexual sin lies in the meditation of the Word of God concerning it. This will nurture the fear of the Lord in you. For example, in Gal. 5:19-21 the works of the flesh are divided into four basic categories 1) sexual sins, 2) sins connected with pagan religion and the occult, 3) sins of the temper, and 4) sins of drunkenness. It is interesting that sexual sin is listed first, not only here, but also in several other scriptural references in the New Testament.

Rom. 1:24, 6:19 – Uncleanness is singled out
1 Cor. 6:9-11 – Sexual sins listed first
Gal. 5:19-21 – Sexual sins listed first
Eph. 4:19 – Lewdness and uncleanness singled out
Eph. 5:3 – Fornication and uncleanness singled out; let it not once be named among you.
Col. 3:5 – Fornication and uncleanness listed first
1 The. 4:3 – Sexual immorality singled out in our walk of sanctification.
1 Pet. 4:3 – Lewdness listed first from our past life.

There are at least four primary sexual sins the Word of God speaks of; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lewdness.

Here are the definitions of these four sexual sins:

1. Adultery: Unlawful sexual intercourse involving at least one married person. Adultery is incompatible with the harmonious laws of family life in God’s kingdom, and is under God’s judgment since it violates God’s original purpose.

2. Fornication: Pornography, illicit sexual intercourse including prostitution, whoredom, incest, licentiousness (lack of moral restraint), and habitual immorality (would include sexual fantasies that lead to masturbation).

3. Uncleanness: Often refers to homosexuality and lesbianism

4. Lewdness: unashamed indecency, unbridled lust, unrestrained depravity (a disposition or settled tendency to evil, the innate corruption of unregenerate man), the person with this characteristic has an insolent defiance of public opinion, sinning in broad daylight with arrogance and contempt. Again, this often refers to sexual sin.

Here’s where many people err in their understanding of their sexuality. Notice the following verses.

“Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Cor. 6:13-14).

Paul is correcting the dangerous misconception among the Corinthians who believed, “as the stomach is designed for food, the genitals are created for sexual experience.” This mind-set is not only common among unregenerate human beings but also among Christians who justify sexual immorality. Paul shows how this analogy is false because your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost and belongs to Christ.

Eating food is a secondary and temporal arrangement, but sexuality reaches into the eternal and metaphysical depths of one’s being. An essential identity exists between the present physical body and the future glorified body (v 14). Sexual intercourse is more than a biological experience; it involves a communion of life. Since Jesus is one with the born again believer’s spirit, it is unthinkable to involve Him with immorality; thus the strong admonition not to let the sin of fornication and all uncleanness “even be named among you” (Eph. 5:3).

Sexuality is a uniquely profound aspect of the personality involving one’s entire being. Sexual immorality has far reaching effects, with great spiritual significance and social implications (v18). Such immorality is not only a sin against the body but against the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the body. It is one of the ways we are to discern the Lord’s body, which when consistently neglected, as I stated earlier, often brings weakness, sickness, and even premature death.

Regardless of how satisfying and fulfilling sex is in its rightful place within the marriage, it is still a temporal arrangement and not a part of our eternal existence. And yet by it we procreate and give birth to eternal spirits. Sexual immorality messes with the power of procreation with someone you are not married to. The sexual drive is not sinful, but it is hurtful if not kept in its proper place. Scripture forbids sexual immorality so as to protect you.

Politicians, businesses, schools, and our public institutions are not qualified to handle the subject of sexual immorality and deviate sex problems we have in our culture. They are a part of the problem, not the solution. Sadly though, the church has fallen so short of addressing this problem from a strong Scriptural perspective. Some churches no longer even believe what the Bible says about sexual immorality is pertinent. One high-ranking church official said that the church is going to have to come to an understanding of homosexuality according to the changing culture. That is one of the biggest problems in the Church today. We are conforming to the standards of the culture around us.

Another well-known Charismatic television preacher told his audience that homosexuality is not sin, but brokenness. “What do you think David and Jonathan were doing? What do you think Ruth and Naomi were doing?” implying that they were involved in homosexual and lesbian relationships. I had to shake my head at that one. And yet this preacher is considered one of the greatest preachers in America with a very large following. It turns out that one of his own children is a homosexual. Although this is a very crushing trial for any godly parent to have to face, one cannot be loyal to his family at the expense of betraying God’s holy Word.

When influential preachers say erroneous things like that, it opens the door for deception and compromise among masses of people who respect these preachers. This will lead to a flood of evil, immorality, and all kinds of perversion among the hearers of such.

It is sad to see the dilution of sound doctrine in much of the Church today. It is grievous to the Holy Spirit to see such cowardice and compromise among preachers who have either departed from the true faith or who are afraid to teach sound doctrine in the area of sexual morality. As a result, our children and young people are getting educated by the reprobate minds of the world.

Let the preachers of righteousness speak up with strength and conviction for the time is here when many are not enduring sound doctrine, but with itching ears are heaping up teachers unto themselves.

SEXUAL SIN -Part I

“Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18).

“I smell sex!” said the prophet as he stood at the podium of a formal student function. “And some of you who are planning to get married are making a big mistake.” Those were the words of the late Kenneth E. Hagin speaking to his Bible school students years ago. Apparently the unclean odor of a spirit of lust had gotten into the prophet’s spiritual nostrils and he reproved his students. Many were making marriage plans based on lust instead of the will of God.

This wasn’t the first time something like this happened at the school. I was present when he came into class one time, his face red like a tomato. I told my classmate that morning on the way to school that I sensed something was up with Brother Hagin. When he walked on the platform to teach I knew instantly that this was not going to be your normal class. He opened the Bible up to Ephesians 4 and began to talk about the unclean spirit of homosexuality. The conviction of the Holy Ghost was so thick I wanted to get on my face and groan. There were a number of students involved in this practice and Brother Hagin called their number.

It’s moments like these when the seriousness of sexual sin makes its mark on you and leaves you with the fear of God. Every form of sexual immorality is forbidden in scripture. It is the sin most emphasized in both the Old and New Testaments. Why? What makes it so?

First of all, you must understand that sexual immorality is one of the things that mark our Western culture and much of the world today. Everything is sensual. Everything must be sexy. We live in a sex-craved world, and nakedness jumps out at us from everywhere. It is becoming more and more difficult for young men to keep themselves in a state of moral purity. Here are a few things the Word of God has to say about nakedness:

Adam and Eve lost their fellowship with God because of sin resulting in their nakedness (Gen 3:7, 10-11).

The first recorded human curse was over nakedness (Gen 9:20-23).

Nearly two entire chapters in the books of Moses along with many other references were a code of ethics on nakedness and sexual immorality (See Lev 18 and 20).

Exposed genitalia or nakedness were common in Canaanite or demonic worship. Instructions and prohibitions to Moses were so Israel’s altars would not be like the Canaanites’ (Ex 28:41-43; 20:26).

When Moses returned from the mountain Aaron had lost control of the people as they worshiped a golden calf, “unrestrained” (Ex 32:25), as the New King James says it. The Old King James says “naked”, and the Living Bible says “committing adultery”. And all this happened shortly after a move of God.

Why all this talk about nakedness? To further reveal the degenerative state of our society and show you that what was shameful in America and other nations just one generation ago is now flaunted everywhere. This is another sign of the coming of the Lord. The devil is trying to get the whole world naked before Jesus comes. If you worship the devil he will have you taking your clothes off in no time. The Church is called to go in the opposite direction. Cover yourself with the Blood (and some clothing may I add). Wash yourself with the Word. Fill yourself with the Spirit.

When a man commits adultery he receives a reproach that shall never be wiped away. That does not mean he cannot be forgiven or is damned forever. It just means he suffers a blemish from an act that will remain with him in shame and in blame. Many people who know about it will never forget it, and will always convey unspoken disapproval toward that person. The adulterer breaches trust. Is there mercy? Of course there is. By no means is it the unpardonable sin, but there is a reproach that comes from messing with the power to procreate.

God forgives and forgets adultery but man does not. That is what the Word of God means by “a reproach that shall never be wiped away”. Why is it that men will forgive a liar or a thief, but not an adulterer? Thousands of years after Samson fell into Delilah’s lap, and David’s adultery with Bathsheba, men still produce stories and films about them that bring shame to their legacy. Have you ever asked yourself why that is? It is because God put it in man’s heart that way to protect the immortality of the human race.

Without sex there is no procreation. There is mercy and hope for those who have committed adultery and repented, but men, especially ministers, reap a more bitter harvest because of the sacred trust people put in them.

I’m dealing with a minister friend of mine right now who committed adultery and got caught (there are many who never get caught, at least not by man; and yet there are others, who although never committed the physical act of adultery burn with lust in their hearts, which Jesus stated is synonymous with committing the act [Mat 5:27-28]). I’m doing my best to be a good friend and pray for him and encourage him. Presently he is in a restoration process, but it is a very bitter harvest and one filled with great regret. Everything in his life has changed…everything! If he continues to humble himself he will be restored, but there are some things he will never recover.

Prevention is always better than cure especially when it comes to sexual immorality. If you have fallen in this area God will surely forgive you when He finds repentance, and you should forgive yourself (1 John 1:9). I know there are a number of men and women who have fallen in this area. It seems like it is one of the easier areas for Christians to succumb to. That perhaps also explains the reason for so much warning and admonition in the Word of God concerning sexual immorality.

In Part 2 we will look at the four kinds of sexual sin and correct the dangerous misconception among Christians who believe as the Corinthians believed that, “as the stomach is designed for food, the genitals are created for sexual experience Stay tuned…

THE ADDED VESSEL ANOINTING

Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him.’ All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps.  Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

(Mt. 25:1-13 – NLT)

Verses 3 and 4 in the New King James version reads like this:

“Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

The fundamental difference between the wise and foolish virgins was that the wise kept extra oil in an added vessel and the foolish did not. Oil, of course, is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The psalmist of old said, “I shall be anointed with fresh oil” (Ps. 92:10). In other words, oil gets old and stale and we need to be anointed with fresh oil.

Oil is the dividing line between the wise and foolish virgins. If we received all the oil we need at salvation, why would we need a parable like this? The point many of us can miss in this parable is that our lives have got to match up to what God wants to do to us, in us, and through us in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the dividing line.

“Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18-19) is God’s command. This command was given to already Spirit-baptized believers. The admonition here is to stay filled or maintain the infilling, as the original Greek bears forth the meaning, “Be being filled…” which implies continually.

In 1927 Smith Wigglesworth preached a profound prophetic message at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, CA. By the inspiration of the Spirit he said this:

“There must be a special preparation for the return of Christ, and at least half of all believers will be totally unprepared.” This agrees with the above parable of the 10 virgins.

The standard established by the Lord from the beginning of the Church age is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and maintaining that infilling through continually speaking Spirit-inspired utterances.

Even the qualifications for the selection of men to wait on tables in ministry to the widows included being Spirit-filled.

“Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom…” (Acts 6:3).

Peter in rehearsing before the contentious Jews the vision and account of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Gentiles stated: “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a vital and an essential part of the early Church.

The Church must be careful in not departing from the standard God set from the beginning. The supernatural Church is God’s standard. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is where it starts. Even after Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon a few disciples (Jn. 20:22) they were still commanded to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, which was the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) in His fullness. This is proof again of the distinction between the new birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

All ministers and saints alike must humble themselves and unload their traditions of men that are making the Word of God of none effect (Mk. 7:13), give up their worldly wisdom that is nullifying the manifold wisdom of God from being displayed (Eph. 3:10), and cast off their doubt and unbelief that is short-circuiting the power of God in our generation (Mk. 6:5).

Traditions of men, worldly wisdom, and doubt and unbelief are some of the weights and the sin that so easily ensnares us and keeps us from running with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb. 12:1). The foolish virgins did not have enough oil to carry them through the midnight hour. Conversely, the extra oil in the added vessel kept the wise virgins ready and carried them through.

We are living in the night season of the Church.

“For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory shall be seen upon you” (Is. 60:2).

“Then the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night”(Is. 4:5).

These verses tell us that in the night season the glory of the Lord and the fire of God shall be seen on God’s people. We know that this last scripture was witnessed in Israel during their wilderness journey, but how much more shall this manifestation be enhanced during the days of the outpouring of the Spirit in this Church age?

The question is not, “Are you saved?” but “Are you filled with the Spirit and burning with the fire of God?”

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning” (Lk. 12:35).

In Bible times in order to have freedom of activity men tucked the skirts of their long robes into their belts around their waist. This signified a position of readiness for action. But in the night that instruction would not benefit them without also having their lamps burning. When you have no oil, your lamp cannot be kept burning. Not having the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life is sort of like driving your car at night without the lights on.

Your lamp is the word of the Lord that burns in your spirit through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart” (Pr. 20:27).

“And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us’” (Lk. 24:32).

The point of this parable is that even though the 10 virgins are all saved they were not all ready for the coming of the Bridegroom.

“When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (Mt. 25:5).

All the virgins were drowsy and fell asleep, and all of them woke up when the cry was made, but only the five wise had enough oil to get their lamps burning and move out to meet the Bridegroom.

Lethargy is a huge problem in the Church today. This message is so important because of the dullness of people’s ears. We need an electric word like a live wire that shakes and arouses us from our doldrums and lethargy.

Wise virgins unload the weights and sin that so easily besets them, and maintain an infilling of fresh oil in their lives that keeps them burning with the fire of God, and prepared for their translation at the Bridegroom’s return. If death should meet us first, then the way we enter heaven will in part determine our eternal reward and position in heaven.

Paul spoke of attaining unto a certain resurrection, calling it a prize to be gained (Phil. 3:11-14). The problem is that we sit on our laurels and we stop pressing into “knowing and gaining Christ” (Phil. 3:8-10) and preparing ourselves for this glorious attained place and being ready for our translation.

Here is the rest of the aforementioned prophetic excerpt from Smith Wigglesworth:

“All the people which are pressing into and getting ready for this glorious attained place where they shall not be found naked, where they shall be blameless, where they shall be immoveable, where they shall be purified by the power of the Word of God, have within them a consciousness of the very presence of God, changing their very nature and preparing them for a greater thing, and causing them to be ready for translation.”

May this word stir you and cause you to take great inventory of your life, so that you will undo from your life that which is keeping you from being a wise virgin.

May the earnest reader understand this great mystery.

 

 

 

THE VISION OF THE TWO END TIME SUPER CHURCHES

(This vision was given to David Wilkerson years ago. I submit it to you for prayer and preparation.)

I see the rise of a super world church. I see the formation of a super world church council consisting of a union between liberal, ecumenical Protestants, and the Roman Catholic Church joining politically hand-in-hand to create one of the most powerful religious forces on earth.

This union is going to start as a cooperative charity program and it will end in a political union. This visible super world church is going to be spiritual in name only, freely using the name of Jesus Christ, but will in fact be antichrist and political in many of its activities.

This powerful church union will be deeply involved in social action, tremendous charity programs, and ministries of compassion. Its leaders will make statements about meeting human needs. They will send out a call for social action, political intervention, and a greater voice in world affairs.

There is going to be a sudden mysterious chain of events. Just when it appears the ecumenical movement is nearly dead, a rather mysterious chain of events will bring about the framework for this union. Rome is going to insist on and receive concessions from the Protestant ecumenical leaders. The Pope will be considered more of a political than a spiritual leader of this church union.

Protestant leaders of the ecumenical movement are going to insist upon and receive concessions from Rome. Protestants will not be asked to consider the Holy Father as the infallible head of the church. They accept his political leadership without accepting his role as Peter’s successor.

I see something that frightens me to the very core of my soul. I see an army of career people invading the most influential posts in this super church. They are going to be ungodly, antichrist people, obsessed with the idea that this super church must become a big political power, strong enough to defeat anybody who opposes its actions.

While those who are in leadership are speaking about miracles and love and reconciliation, these hirelings who work under them are going to be harassing and persecuting every religious organization that does not come under their leadership.

I see homosexuals and lesbians welcomed to the super church union. I see this super world church, in the guise of understanding, accepting homosexuals and lesbians into its’ fellowship. Homosexual and lesbian love will be vindicated by the leadership of this church union. Homosexuals will not only be welcomed, but they will be encouraged to continue in their practices. Homosexual and lesbian ministers will not only be ordained and given places of authority, but they will be heralded as a new breed of pioneer evangelists introducing new concepts of love and evangelism.

I see in nearly every major city in the United States and around the world, homosexual churches catering exclusively to the spiritual needs of their own kind, with full recognition from organized religion. Their Sunday school and church literature distributed to their children will suggest to teenagers that homosexuality is a normal and acceptable form of Christian practice.

I also see some of the members of this super church would embrace anti-Christian practices such as nude dancing in church and occult practices.

Nude dancing in some of these member churches will be excused as an artistic form of worship. Men are going to become worshipers of the creature more than worshipers of the Creator. God will be forced to give these kinds of worshipers over to their sins. As a result, many will be given over to a reprobate mind, creating a new form of mental illness that will not respond to any kind of treatment. God will not let that go unanswered. Although nude dancing will not become widespread, it is going to be accepted by many church leaders in the future as a legitimate expression of worship.

I believe this super world church will condone certain occult practices. They will set up study committees to de-fang the devil. They will make his image into one of a non-entity, bland, and someone not to be feared. In some of the most respected, wealthy churches in America, séances will replace prayer meetings and that is already happening. More and more ministers are going to be intrigued by the supernatural planks of the spiritualist and Satanist groups.

I see the day coming when certain ministers who have never been too close to Jesus will get very close to the devil. Satan is going to appear as an angel of light to deceive, if it were possible, the elect, the chosen of God. Satan’s own ministers will appear as these angels and will try to spread the message within the church that the enemy, Satan, is not to be feared. The super church will never officially accept the occult practices outright, but phrenology, palmistry, fortune telling, and horoscopes will be widely respected and accepted.

THE SECOND SUPER CHURCH

(David Wilkerson also saw the rise of another super church during the end-times. Instead of being political like the first church, this one would have almost no political power. Instead, they would be filled with supernatural power. Instead of speaking out openly and visibly like the first church, the second church would be silent on social issues and would operate invisibly to the world, even going underground to avoid severe persecution. However, the same persecution that forces them to go underground would also cause them to unite and draw closer to the Lord. In his supernatural power, they would boldly proclaim the gospel throughout the world.)

I see the rise of a super church, a supernatural invisible church, a union of deeply spiritual followers of Jesus Christ, bound together through the Holy Spirit and mutual confidence in Christ and in his word.

This supernatural church of true believers will become a kind of underground church. It will include Catholics and Protestants of all denominations, young and old, black and white, and people of all nations. While this visible super church gains political power this invisible body of believers will grow tremendously in spiritual power.

This power will come from persecution. The persecution madness that is coming upon this earth will drive these Christians closer together and closer to Jesus Christ. They will be less concerned about denominational ties and more concerned and emphasis on the coming of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will bring them together as one people in all walks of life.

Although this supernatural church already exists around the world, in the days coming soon it will become almost invisible. It will not speak out on social issues, but as persecution becomes more intense, this body of true believers will become almost radical in its’ evangelistic efforts. In addition, this invisible church will receive supernatural unction and Holy Ghost power to preach the gospel to the four corners of the earth.

His actions were cited in a recent post entitled, “Pope Francis Taking Unprecedented Actions to Unite World Religions”. I believe he has set the stage and prepared the world for the next step, which brings about the formation of an alliance between Catholics and Protestants with the Pope as their political leader.

An example of his growing political role was his upcoming speech to the United Nations on September 25, 2015. That was his first Papal visit to the United States. Amazingly his visit coincides with the end of the Shemitah year, which is the same time we were attacked fourteen years ago on 9/11 and then hit by the collapse of the housing market seven years ago. Many Christians believe we could see the death of the dollar soon. So the timing of the Pope’s visit is either an amazing coincidence, or perhaps a planned event by the same people who are planning to take down the dollar.

Many believe Pope Francis is a strong candidate for the second beast, the false prophet identified in Revelation 13:11-18. This beast is revealed as a spiritual leader because he has “two horns like a lamb” and he makes the people of the earth worship the first beast. But he will be more than a spiritual leader. He will also be a political leader because he is the one who implements a global economic plan, which causes everyone to receive the mark of the beast.

“And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that there be given them a mark on their right hand, or upon their forehead; and that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, even the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

The mark of the beast is all about controlling people by controlling their money. This high tech device will enable the financial elite to control the wealth of every person in the world. Anyone who resists or refuses to submit to their authority can easily be eliminated from their system, making it impossible for them to buy or sell.

So the second beast plays a dual role as both spiritual leader and political leader.

If David Wilkerson’s vision is correct, this role will be fulfilled by the Pope. With big storm clouds now moving in, 2015 or 2016 could be the year when the Pope steps into his new role.

Meanwhile, God has a plan for his people. Major changes are coming to the true church. Denominational walls are coming down. Doctrinal disputes are coming to an end. Man-made programs and schedules will be abandoned. Big name ministries will fade away. A worldwide army of nobodies will soon arise in their place. The Lord alone will be magnified.

The days of playing church will be over. We won’t have time for that any more. With the flames of persecution all around us, we will refuse to settle for anything less than genuine encounters with the Lord. From those encounters will come increased spiritual power and authority as we are filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Through his power working in us the glory of God will be revealed to the world, giving them one final chance to repent and be saved.

The body of true believers will finally become the Bride, the Church without spot or blemish, who has made herself ready for the return of the Lord.

WHAT IS TRUE REVIVAL?

Revival is not the pursuit of any manifestation or aspect of ministry whether it be miracles, signs, wonders, visions, shaking, trembling, falling down, weeping, laughter, healing, deliverance, appearances of gold dust, and anything else you could possibly hear of. Most of these kinds of manifestations are frequent in times of revival, but they are not the revival. They may accompany revival or lead to revival, but they are not necessarily evidence of revival.

Revival is a definite outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church and then those she is called to reach.

Revival is a restoration of Divine life from deadness and dullness. It is a return to spiritual health, vibrancy, and vigor.

Revival awakens us from a sleeping heart and stirs us from our slumber. We become conscious of heaven and of eternal things.

Revival means to flourish after a time of decline; to come back into use; to become valid, effective, and operative again.

Revival is when the saints return to normal, when the Holy Spirit becomes their oxygen, when a hunger to know God is the norm, when being conformed to His image is their focus, when evangelism and discipleship become a lifestyle.

The primary purpose of revival is not initially for the enjoyment of the Church but for her cleansing, renewal, and refreshing. A cleansed, renewed, and refreshed Church in the hands of God will do the most good.

I believe one of the final moves of God’s Spirit on the earth will be to ignite His people with an intense, burning passion for God that will yield true holiness and prepare it for the glory and harvest to come, as well as the Lord’s soon return. It is only a revived Church that will accomplish the full purposes of God.

Charles Finney defined revival as, “A renewed conviction of sin and repentance followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God.” It is only under the influence of the Holy Spirit that conviction and repentance are birthed. God, working through the preaching of men (Acts 20:21), commands people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), and then grants repentance as a gift (Acts 11:18).

There is always a man-ward part and a God-ward part in the promotion of revival. “One plants, another waters, but it is God that brings the increase” (1 Cor 3:6-7). A farmer prepares his field, plants seed, and waters that seed, but sown seed is no guarantee of a harvest without God’s blessing on the laws of nature. Just as a good farmer has tools to produce a harvest so praying, preaching, and the power of God are tools God has given us as a means to revival. However, it still takes God’s grace and blessing to produce it.

For example, in the wilderness journeys of Israel when the waters of Marah had become bitter God told Moses to cast the tree into the waters. When he did, the waters were made sweet (Ex 15:22-25). So what or who caused the sweetness? Was it the tree or was it Moses? It was neither. Actually, it was God’s power that did it, and the obedience of Moses triggered it.

It is human nature to attempt to imitate revivals of the past or depend on some blueprint or strategy that worked in the past. We should endeavor not to do that, but instead put our dependence on God. Our part is to simply obey the written Word and what the Spirit of God is saying to us and use the tools and means God has given us. If we do this we can expect revival.

Methods and men cannot produce revival without the Holy Spirit’s orchestration. There are two extremes here: The first being that some people work in their own strength trying to produce revival through imitation, hype, or programs of one kind or another. The second extreme is that some wait endlessly for what they refer to as “the sovereignty of God” to bring revival. Neither is correct. No doctrine endangers the Church more than this last extreme.

WHAT HAPPENS IN A REVIVAL

The greatest fruit of a true revival is when backsliders and sinners are delivered from their sinful practices and begin to conform to Christ. The first work of the Spirit is not to tell people how to be happy but how to be holy. As stated above, revival begins with the conviction of sin; conviction that people can feel, conviction that hurts, and finally a conviction that culminates in repentance and then obedience.

My first introduction to the Pensacola outpouring (1995-2000) that lasted nearly five years was a deep conviction of sin and people weeping and wailing over their sins. Even the elementary age children could be heard in one service moaning and groaning with a consciousness of sin and an acute awareness of the lost condition of mankind. Uncontrollable weeping, trembling, confession of sin, and united prayer marked many of the services. People came from nearly every state in America and around the world and would stand in line from early morning until evening to attend the services. Man cannot produce that kind of overwhelming response and expectation from the people by putting a sign out in front of the church building advertising the services, or by devising human methods to promote revival.

In one meeting large trash bins were placed on the altar and many who were turning from their sins came forward and threw away what the evangelist called, “articles of affection”. Drug paraphernalia, marijuana, cigarettes, condoms, pornographic magazines, and the like were carried forward by many in tears and discarded once and for all. When their repentance culminated with this type of action then their tears of godly sorrow would turn into tears of wonderful joy. “Blessed are those who mourn”. That is a picture of what happens in true revival.

Revival throws light in the dark places of our lives. It removes deception and deals with attitudes of our hearts the naked eye cannot see. In revival people weep over sins they once entertained.

Revival results in a thorough removal of sinful practices, like the grinding to powder of Aaron’s golden calf (Nu. 32); like King Josiah’s crushing of the pagan altars and then scattering them into the Kidron Valley (2 Kings 23); like the burning of the magic books in Ephesus (Acts 19). True revival offers no compromise with the devil, the flesh, and sin. It reserves mercy only for the truly repentant and gives grace to help the needy. One cannot read the story of the revivals of old without understanding this. There is no honor to God in a revival that does not produce the fruits of holiness.

When revival comes our priorities change. Pleasing God becomes more important than pleasing ourselves. Sin and doubtful habits begin to trouble us. The fear of God is restored in us, and there is a wonderful cleansing from all sin and a fresh infilling of the Spirit of God.

In revival the fire of God burns away the roots of sin and molds our hearts to God’s heart. It purifies our motives and ignites us to action.

Holiness is the one outstanding mark of revival. If a so-called revival does not produce the fruits of holiness then it is not true revival. If there is not lasting change in the lives of the people then it is not the real thing. If it does not alter our appetites and passions and give us a greater hunger for God and for Biblical holiness then it is not fulfilling the purposes of God regardless of how many people attend and how much excitement it generates.

Duncan Campbell, who experienced the glory of God in extraordinary ways in the Hebrides revival off the coast of Scotland (from 1949-1952), said: “Revival is always a revival of holiness.”

When you have renewal and refreshing without fundamental repentance and obedience, you quickly return to your old ways once the experience wanes. You get touched by God, you get excited, but a few days later you are the same. If your encounters with the Lord don’t lead you into a deeper fellowship with Him, into the Word and prayer, and a greater life transformation then all you got was a skin-deep experience.

Understand that revival does not begin with the glory. Revival does not usually begin with the joy of the Lord. Instead, it often begins with holy conviction, sometimes with tears, and always accompanied by godly sorrow. Revival then culminates with the continued manifestation of the presence of God that aligns our hearts and lives with the Father’s will.

In effect, 5 of the 7 letters written to the churches in Revelation were with an emphasis on repentance so these churches could be revived. Repentance is usually a precursor to revival. Blessing and reward was promised on the truly repentant churches of Revelation, but a certain judgment was declared on those who refused change.

The God who allowed the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) is the same God today. The God who judged Uzzah (2 Sam. 6) is the same God today. The God who judged Achan (Joshua 7), and before him Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10), is still as holy now as He was then. Remember, without holiness no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).

Revival fire creates a hunger for God and for prayer which is the basis and foundation of revival. A church that is consumed with a spirit of prayer is a church in revival. Once the operation of the flesh drops below the operation of the spirit, when spiritual activity supersedes fleshly activity, you are experiencing revival and what is considered normal Christianity. Revival wanes when the opposite happens and this process is reversed.

Let me conclude with a sober warning from one of America’s great revivalists.

“Let Christians in a revival beware, when they first find an inclination creeping upon them to shrink from self-denial, and to give in to one self-indulgence after another. It is the device of Satan to “bait” them off from the work of God, and make them dull and gross, lazy and fearful, useless and sensual; and so drive away the Spirit and destroy the revival.” Charles Finney

“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You” (Ps 85:6).

WHAT IS TRUE HOLINESS?

Holiness is not a popular message today. One of the reasons it’s not popular is because of the misconception people have of holiness. Many still equate holiness with rules and restrictions. But living holy is not about what you wear and how you dress, or about the length of your hair, or even the outward blessings you may have. Holiness is the character of God. It’s the nature and love of God.

Jesus was the perfect example of holiness. He was holy because he was ruled by love in all things. Every thought, word, and deed he ever did was motivated by love. Every act of His life was a contribution to the glory of God. Even the miracles He performed were not so much to prove His own deity, but out of a love and compassion for humanity. How wonderful and burden destroying is His love!

Understand that Jesus did not preach the gospel and heal the sick because He was trying to earn points from the Father. He didn’t lay down His life and forgive His enemies so He could earn wages from the Father and make it back to heaven. He never did anything for money, popularity, or to gain a name or an advantage for Himself. Simply put, everything Jesus said and did was out of love and for the glory of God alone regardless of public opinion. That, my friends, is holiness!

Have you ever met someone you knew who was hiding something and not telling you the truth? Hiding is a manifestation of sin and pride. The first thing Adam and Eve did when they sinned in the beginning was to hide. This is just the opposite of holiness. Holiness has an unveiled and open face. It doesn’t hide because it has nothing to hide. In the day of reckoning and accountability and the revealing of all things, nothing can be hidden from the fire of His holiness.

Pride hides. Holiness is transparent. The more transparent a person is the greater holiness he is walking in. When people have ulterior motives and a certain self-seeking agenda, they will twist their words or an event to their own advantage; they will use people for their own gain, courting words to their own favor, often shading the truth to put themselves in the best possible light and to protect themselves. Almost every human being has something they hide. The only ones who don’t are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our goal should always be the image of Christ; to be like Him, to be pure and transparent, to be holy, and to love with a pure love.

Many profess belief in the Bible but don’t really believe that its words will have any bearing on their eternal destiny. The Bible has much to say about works. Certainly we aren’t saved by works, but they shall determine our eternal reward. After all, it is written that faith without works is dead. Works are the way we prove the sincerity of our faith. But I’ve met so many people in my years of walking with the Lord who seem confident that no matter how they live their lives on the earth they will somehow make it to heaven and even receive their eternal reward.

“Now if anyone build on this foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, and straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

What will make each of our individual works clear is the fire of God’s holiness. It will take holy fire to reveal the motives behind our works. Our motives play a big part in determining if our works are gold, silver, and precious stones or wood, hay, and stubble. Some believer’s works shall be burned, and he will suffer loss. Yes, the Bible says loss! We don’t often think that there will be any loss for the believer who makes it to heaven, but the Word of God tells us differently. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that to be my lot and portion.

Every believer needs to live with a daily consciousness of finishing his race and fulfilling God’s plan for his life. I sort of have this picture in my mind of two graphs in heaven; one represents what I actually did with my life in God, and the other tells me what the fullness of God’s plan and will was for me. And my constant pressing is to shorten the gap between the two.

At this point certain people may be thinking, “that’s alright if I lose my reward because I’ll still make it to heaven, and that’s what’s important”. I’ll be plain here and tell you that this is a loser’s mentality. A wise man considers the afterlife and his eternal reward, but a fool does not. A wise man realizes that his life on earth is very temporal, but eternity is forever. The issue in not just one of salvation, but of your personal love for Jesus and your standing throughout eternity. Will you have a seat close to Jesus for all of eternity?

There’s a reason why the mother of James and John requested that they sit on the right and left hand of Jesus (Mat 20:20-23). There’s a reason why Jesus promised His disciples thrones where they would be judges (Mat 19:28). To those who overcome He grants a seat with Him on His throne (Rev 3:21). There’s a reason why Jesus promised more authority to him who is faithful both here and the hereafter (Lk 16:10-12). Paul spoke of crowns being laid up for him (2 Tim 4:8). He spoke of attaining unto a certain resurrection (Phil 3:11) that included more than just the general resurrection of the righteous.

Heaven is for the saved. No one without the new nature can enter into the holy atmosphere of heaven. But rewards are for the sanctified and for those who refused to deviate from the pursuit of their first love.

On the other hand, hell is for the devil and his demons and for all those who chose to live independently of God.

Let’s live like these things are true.

HOLINESS AND THE LORD’S RETURN

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and prays always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk. 21:34-36).

The world’s system is turning up the heat and creating an environment that is suffocating the spirit of watchfulness and prayer in many believers today. The consequences of not watching over our hearts will be un-preparedness and an un-readiness that will cause us to miss the return of the Lord, lose out on our eternal reward, and be trapped here on the earth during the tribulation period (the parable of the 10 virgins view).

Many people’s schedules, clocks, and calendars are not set according to a heavenly order. Their priorities are wrong. Many Christians are busy, busy, busy…tired, tired, tired…no time or surrender in prayer, no spiritual nourishment, and no rest. It’s a vicious cycle that is feeding and strengthening the flesh and its desires. This cycle must be reversed for people’s spirits to gain the ascendancy over the flesh in order to move into the flow of God in these last days.

I want to deal with two issues in keeping ourselves watchful and ready for the Lord’s return.

BUSY-NESS

Typical scenario: There are parents, both husband and wife, both with regular jobs, and with school age children. They get their children ready for school in the morning before sending them off, and then stop by the local Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a quick coffee and maybe a bite to eat. They come home from a full day’s work late in the afternoon. The house is messy so Mom cleans and tidies up a little bit while getting some laundry done. Dad has to pick up the car he dropped off at the mechanic shop earlier in the day and then pick up the mail at the Post Office. On the way home he picks up dinner for the family since Mom is too tired to cook. The kids are isolated at home with each one doing their own thing in their own little world. One has his headphones on listening to music, one is playing his video games, while yet another is arguing with Mom about the clothes she wants to wear to a friend’s house this evening that she can’t seem to find.

Then comes the weekend and finally time to catch up on all the other extra chores; time to get a little extra sleep and relaxation; time to indulge a little in some innocent or even not so innocent pleasures.

Day in and day out, weekend in and weekend out, this is how most people live. This is life in America and in some other nations as well for the average family. Much worse and even more stressful for some who have single parent homes or are in abusive, strife-filled situations. And sadly, it is not much different for Christians than non-Christians except for maybe a church service on Sundays.

Life for most people is a constant whirlwind, carving out a living, trying to climb out of debt, or stay out of debt, pay bills, save up for the children’s college education or retirement, remodel the home, etc. etc. etc. This is what many consider normal life. But is it normal? Is it wrong? Is it sinful? Is it according to God’s standards? Can we be less busy and live less tired with less stress? Give more time to prayer and the things of God without neglecting our personal responsibilities? Or is this all a part and parcel of the present culture and world we live in that cannot be changed?

Before we address those questions, notice that in the verse of scripture above, the warning Jesus gave has to do with our hearts being weighed down. That’s the issue. That’s what we have to guard against. What I find is that this kind of busy, hectic lifestyle has a tendency to squash intimacy with God, sensitivity to people, and nullify God’s real purpose for our lives. That is what makes it wrong and below God’s standards. Does it weigh down your heart where you are less watchful and prayerful? That is the question you should be asking.

How can you order your life so that you stay filled, fresh, and on-fire about the things of the Lord? That’s the real issue here. The same order doesn’t work for everyone. We are all living different lives with different schedules. The main point is that you need to get your life and house in order, and put it in a position that is conducive to receiving from the Lord and making your spiritual supply to others.

One of the mistakes people often make is to base all their decisions and order of schedule around money. Solomon, speaking for the common man, said that money answers all things. That, however, is only true when your priorities are in order.

For example, I know of low income families who raised their children in the ways of the Lord, many times doing without, and they are reaping huge benefits from their children now. On the other hand, I know wealthy families who used their money to live in more luxury, but their children are away from the Lord. Their money, which was used for their pleasures, led them away from the Lord’s ways. How are you using your money, and what are your priorities?

Recently I had lunch with a wonderful brother who is a painter. It is a blue-collar job that does not pay real high wages. His wife is a homemaker who home schools their children. If they put their children in public school and the wife got an outside job, they would do much better financially. But their priorities are in order and they realize that money isn’t everything. I admire a decision like that, and I know it pleases the Lord.

The public school system is a gateway to hell for many of today’s children. I know some who have made it through, but I know more that have not. You can’t base all your decisions on money. Too many Christians are materialistic minded and earthly minded instead of eternity minded.

“And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30 – NLT).

This verse doesn’t even talk about sin, which I will also mention later. None of these things listed – eating, drinking, buying, selling, farming (building), and planting – that people were doing in Lot’s day were wrong in themselves, but the people were so absorbed in them that they had no time for spiritual matters.

There is great financial pressure today. The temptation to make quick money, even sometimes through questionable means, is very strong. You need to be assured that if God is first in your life He will take care of you (Mat 6:33). If you learn to follow the Spirit of God He can teach you how to profit in all things, and that includes financial affairs. But if you choose to follow the system of the world and try and keep up financially with all the world’s demands, you will miss God.

The supreme call of the hour is to prepare yourself for the glory of the Lord and the harvest to come, and to be watchful and ready for the Lord’s return. Get your house and priorities in order. Get filled with the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Win souls, win souls, and win more souls! People are eternal and far more important than possessions. Put yourself in a position to be the witness God has called you to be. Remember that busyness is not always a sign of effectiveness.

SIN

This is another issue that stops Christians from being watchful and having a spirit of prayer and readiness for the Lord. I want to continue being very practical and honest with you as I share my heart. At this writing, I’ve been saved for 35 years and preached my first message back in 1983. I’ve watched my generation be raised and I’ve watched my generation raise their children. There is great failure today in this area of raising our children in true holiness and the fear of the Lord. This is why many of our children are being lost to the world (For more insight please refer to my book, My Son, My Son).

Chewing gum was a big no-no in school 50 years ago. Today it’s drugs, rampant sexual promiscuity, and even murder. The standard has fallen. The Church has followed the world and lowered her own standards. As a result, the home has lowered her standards. The course of generations is always affected by sin and the choices of the previous generation. If not for the mercy of God, many of us would be casualties too. But when one knows better, when one has been enlightened, there is great responsibility to walk in that light and a great accountability to the Lord.

I have been a guest in other ministers’ homes and got up to use the bathroom in the nighttime and observed the minister’s teenagers watching pornography on the television, or nowadays on computer. I’ve heard the music that minister’s kids listen to today and I am appalled. I’ve been in the homes of local church deacons and elders and have observed very suggestive magazines, novels, and videos that I would never have in my home. I have seen a level of rebellion and disrespect in today’s children that was almost unknown in my generation. What is going on? Strong godly leadership in the Church and in the home is at an all time low.

As a leader in the church or in our home, we not only have a great responsibility as gatekeepers to watch what comes into our own lives and homes, but also over those the Lord has entrusted to us. One day we will give account to the Lord for the souls entrusted to our care (Heb 13:17). We must be thorough in holding up the standard so people can keep out the spirit of the world and sin from their lives. I’ve seen leaders make very unwise choices in this area simply because they under-estimate the power and gravity of sin and its effects.

Since the young generation is the future of the Church and the nation, let me give you an example in this area of how a little leaven can leaven the whole lump. That is, a little sin, a little poison, a little cancer, can destroy the whole body or the entire life. It can set a person’s life completely off course.

One day when our son was 12 years of age he came home from youth group and told me how his youth pastor had found one of the other kid’s iPods and discovered worldly music on it. One mother said that it’s not so bad, and it won’t hurt for them to listen to a little secular music. A parent who says that has no understanding of how the devil works.

My wife had a word from the Lord she received in a dream. The dream was a prophetic warning for a large church we were preaching in. In the dream she saw music coming out of a CD that was bringing devils into the church. Music has power to transmit that kind of influence.

This sort of thing is happening everywhere in churches especially among the young people. But again, the responsibility lies with parents and the spiritual leadership in churches. What kind of example are we setting? And what kind of training are we giving them? Are we entertaining them, or are we really preparing them spiritually to be a soldier for Christ in this life?

I’m amazed at how we downplay the spirit of the world in our churches today. I’ve seen pastors get up and promote rated R movies and not think anything of it. I’ve seen women who have been part of the church for years dress so scantily. I’ve seen supposed Christian youth concerts where teens are bumping and grinding to the music (for those of you who don’t know what bumping and grinding is, it is the equivalent of having sexual intercourse with your clothes on). And what do most Christian leaders do about things like this? Absolutely nothing. Why? Because they are afraid to offend people. They would rather offend God and please the devil. I know I’m being strong here, but it’s time to speak plain about these things. We are losing a generation.

We are living in the end times. Holiness and the fear of the Lord are to be major emphases as we approach the rapture of the Church and the Lord’s return.