As I have observed the Covid-19 pandemic, I cannot help but see that this is a storm that has come to test the foundations of our spiritual practices in the Body of Christ. I get the feeling that God is not just speaking in this pandemic but also through it. There is a call to revival. It is a call to return to spiritual fervency as we look forward to the return of Christ. Revival is a reset button. When we deviate from the origin, purpose and destiny of the church we are always in need of revival. For us to revert to the original plan, the intended purpose and the foreseen destiny, we need to consider that revival does not just take place. It requires a few ingredients to make the recipe complete. Today we will look at one recipe- self-awareness of our sin.
Any deviation from God’s biblical plan is sinful. A deviation from God’s biblical plan for sexuality and marriage is sin. A deviation from God’s biblical plan for reconciling relationships is sin. A deviation from God’s plan for our money is sin. The Bible says in Isaiah 59:2 that it is sin that separates us from God. If the spiritual dryness has seized your heart, this is where you must begin. Scripture calls us to search our hearts and find the deviations (Psalm 139:23-24). A believer that desires revival must do so. In solitude, in stillness, and in truthfulness we must allow the Holy Spirit to tell us that he is not pleased with our snooty attitudes, our lack of absolute purity, our holding onto grudges etc. But this recipe for revival is often hindered by the lack of a few ingredients.
We compare our sins with the sins of others
The pride of the human heart prevents self-awareness of its sinfulness by glancing at the neighbour’s sin. Such a heart tells itself, “Am I really that bad? I haven’t killed innocents, bombed a city or stolen billions.” Yet this is the very sin that needs to be killed in the revival, making a case for itself. It defends its putrid nature by examining more consequential sins. The depraved thinking of this mindset is that because the neighbour’s sins have more consequential effect, they truly must be the evil that needs revival. Beloved, if you retain this attitude, you will make your heart an uninhabitable home for humility and a rotten ingredient that cannot be part of revival. The truly repentant heart sees the seemingly harmless gossip among high-school girls as pernicious enough to cost the death of the Son of God for our sins. It isn’t just baneful murder that took Christ to the cross. All sin took Christ to the cross. All sin caused his death. When we make a defence of what we perceive as “small sin” we deny ourselves the spiritual refreshing of a revival.
We assume our good works as alternative ingredients for revival
When God calls for revival, he is not asking for a piling up of good deeds to counter the evil. When the world first qualified for global wrath in the days of Noah, God wasn’t seeking a mountain of goodness to overwhelm the multiple hills of evil. God was calling for a purging of evil and an establishment of good afterwards. That is why he sent a flood. There was no newness with the old. New wine needed new wineskins. Some may assume that revival means we turn our eyes from the evil and begin to pile up our good works. The Bible says that even all our good works stand as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). God is not primarily calling his people to be good; He is calling them first to be new. Once we are new, then goodness will follow naturally. Revival is only possible in the purging of evil first. We must repent of our evil. We must also repent of our false thinking that our filthy rags of goodness are enough to purge evil. The only purge that can bring revival is the blood of the slain Christ that wipes away our sin.
We do not perceive the holiness of God
Another hindrance to understanding the sinful of our hearts is not grasping the holiness of God. We must see that the standard is high to be part of God’s kingdom. God’s holiness calls a glance of lust adultery. He calls anger murder. He terms using God’s name in vain as blasphemy. The holiness of God shows us that we are not being called into mere civility. We are being called to something alien- definitely more than human but not less than it. This holiness of God helps us see that the only person that fits this alien criterion is the LORD Jesus. Unlike any human, He meets the lofty standards of God’s holiness that we cannot reach. The revival that God is calling us to makes us see that Jesus has given us that holy record and he has taken our sin upon himself. And now because of that great exchange, we have boldness and confidence to interact with this holy God (Hebrews 4:16). Christ has cleaned up our act and has borne our sin upon himself.
We do not interact with truth
When our hearts are not aware of our sinfulness, it is often because we are not constantly reflecting on the truth. The Bible says that the Word of God is a mirror (James 1:23-25). A mirror shows us the spots and blemishes we often miss through self-examination. Our natural reaction when in front of a mirror is to spot error in our physical appearance. We notice the bulbous zit, the unkempt hair, the dry face, the sagging eye bags, the lengthy nose hairs, the spinach in our teeth, the crooked tie, the missing earring, the improperly ironed garment etc. What do we do when we notice them? We act. We powder the zit, we comb the hair, we oil the face, we wash the face, we trim the hairs, we brush the teeth, we straighten the tie, we change the earrings, and we undress and iron the garment. We experience revival! The mirror shows us that we are out of touch with reality. So does God’s word. The scriptures are a mirror that can bring necessary discomfort. We once felt very comfortable and thought we were okay until we stood in front of the mirror. Until we read, hear, study, memorise and meditate God’s word, we are in the assumption that we are fine and not in need of revival. The mirror keeps us in touch with reality. The reality is the truth. Even though we don’t feel the zit; it is there. The Word of God can show us sin that we don’t know exists in our lives. It can reveal that pride is hiding, envy is lurking, lust is pretending to be love, wrath is crouching etc. Interaction with the truth helps us get this recipe for revival. Don’t rush your time in front of the mirror. Take your time. Examine. How often should we interact with this mirror of truth? The Bible is not cake for special occasions but bread for daily use.
Prayer for revival
Father in Heaven, I perceive that you are calling me to revival. LORD, I see the clear picture of my sin. Please forgive me for delaying my revival for the times I have compared my sins with others’ sins and felt good about myself. Please forgive me for leaving sin to run unchecked because I have thought I am better than others. I understand that all sin put your Son, Jesus, on that cross for me. Forgive me of my pride. Please forgive me for assuming that my good deeds can compensate for my sin. My deeds did not being my salvation and they cannot, therefore, bring about my revival. Let my good deeds be the fruit of revival and not the cause for it. Please forgive me for neglecting your holiness. Forgive me for forgetting that you are a just God and that your ways are higher than my own. Please help me depend on the finished work of Christ so that I can now live according to the standard you have called me to. Finally, please forgive me for not spending time in the truth of the word of God. Give me a hunger and a thirst for the word of God. Make me prioritise it as Job did in Job 23:12. Help me make the scriptures more necessary than my daily food so that I may be in touch with the reality of the truth as I examine myself daily in the mirror of God’s word. Amen.