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  • Gary Hatrick

True Revival. Where Will It Start?


By Gary S. Hatrick


When Christians talk about the condition of the world, there is no doubt in their minds that the world needs Christ. When you think about it, that is really a no-brainer since it has needed Christ since Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden and in reality - even before that.


We also know that since the time of Adam, sin has brought destruction and increased godlessness into the world. We also know that God is holy and that holiness is the only way for there to be joy and peace in the world.


This Christian complaint would be consistent if Christians took a stand for the holiness of God. If we believe Christlike holiness is the only hope for the world, our lives should reflect that belief.


It seems, however, that as the world drifts further and further from Christ, the church follows as if it were inextricably tethered to the world. As the world becomes more godless in it views, so the church tends to engage in practices and accept philosophies and standards that would once have been considered improper. We always seem to want to keep at least a boundary between ourselves and the world so that we can say that we are not like the world. We are not as bad as "they are.".


So, although God is changeless (Mal. 3:6 ), Christians seems to change with the rapidity of a television with its remote stuck in the cushions of the couch.


Some would say that these changes have been a move away from legalism toward a more biblical view, and in some cases, I would agree. Others would say, and I am afraid it is more accurate, it has been a move away from holiness. A move away from behaving like a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart (I Peter 2:9-12).


Is holiness really that important? Well, considering it is required to get into Heaven, I'd say yes.


Of course we know that we could never be holy enough to get to Heaven because of our sin. That's why Jesus the Christ had to die for our sins to make those who believe in Him holy.


That doesn't mean we are not supposed to try.


The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:15, 16: "but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'."


You see holiness is a command and holiness is not a moving target. God's holy standard has not changed since the first day of creation. It does not depend upon the condition of the world's view of what is good and right.


People who want to soften God's commands for holiness like to say things as, "We'll never stop sinning until we get to Heaven," or "That's why I need God's grace." These are true statements, but they don't give you permission to sin, or to not be concerned about it. Romans 6:1 asks "Are we to continue in sim that grace may increase?" and emphatically answers: "May it never be!"


Think about this: Why would God command us to do something He didn't expect us to try to do? The answer is: He wouldn't.


I submit to you that when we say things like: "We'll never be perfect until we get into heaven" or "We'll never stop sinning until we are rid of these sinful bodies;" we are speaking truth, but deep down we are really making excuses, because in our flesh, we really love to sin.


We like to find scapegoats for our sin so we can pretend it is not all our fault. One of the prime targets for blame is the devil. A million years ago, in the 1960s, a phrase become popular that elicited laughter: "The devil made me do it!"


God has given us commands, a regenerate spirit, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Word of God and all we need to be able to fulfill His commands. Why don't we then? Why don't we live totally obedient lives as He commanded? Is it because of the devil? Can we lay the blame on him?


No.


That may seem like a fine excuse, but James tells us we cannot blame the devil when we sin because it is our own lusts that bring it about. Plainly, we sin because we want to. We don't obey God's commands to be perfect because we don't want to.


We have a cleansed soul. We have the Holy Spirit. We have the Word of God. We have the power to obey. Yet we don't - at least not always. Is it because of our sinful flesh? Yes it is, but it is still us. It is still our decision.


This is a hard pill to swallow Those of us who go to church, read our Bible, have our devotions, try to share Christ with others, and grieve over the condition of the world, need to take the mirror of the Word of God and compare our lives with Christ's holiness. We will not like what we see.


You see, in our flesh, we don't want holiness. We don't want to be the servant of all; we want to be looked up to as the leader (Matt. 26:-28). We don't want to lay up treasures in heaven; we want to bank up our treasure on earth (Matt 6: 19-21). We don't want to love our enemies; we want to hate our enemies and beat them into submission and see the despair in their eyes as the realize we have won (Matt. 5:43-45). We don't want to suffer persecution for proclaiming the gospel; we want to be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease (II Tim. 3:12). We don't want to lay down our lives for the sake of Christ; we want to live life on earth to the fullest (John 15:13). We don't want to be perfect; we want to give lip service to perfection (Matt. 5:48). We want to keep our private sins taking comfort in the fact that we won't be perfect until heaven (Heb. 12:4). We want to look into the mirror of the Word of God and then walk away and immediately forget what we saw (James 1:23-27).


I hate that paragraph, but if I dig down deep in my heart, I can't deny any of this. Can you?


I have a friend who used to say "We are not as close to Christ as we would wish to be, we're as close as we want to be. Ouch!


Only when we see ourselves as we really are will we cast our faith and hope on the cross of Christ and begin to learn to live a life of dependence on Jesus. Those of us who are believers have done so for salvation, but salvation is just the beginning of the Christian life. Only when we examine ourselves and judge our own condition properly will we be able to see clearly to make a judgement on the condition of the world. When we do, we will find ourselves not complaining, not hating, but loving as God loves. Hating the sin, bit genuinely loving the sinner. For the only true difference between them and us is that our eyes are open. We have trusted in Jesus' death and shed blood for the remission of our sins. We have been given the Holy Spirit. It makes all the difference in the world, but it is the only difference.


The world is in bad shape, but the hope of the world is not in politics or in a law or set of laws. It is not in putting prayer back in schools or the Ten Commandments in courthouses. I can line a rat's nest with silk stockings, but it is still a rat's nest. The hope of the world is in a Man - the God-man Jesus Christ and He has declared that the world should see Him in us.


The hope of the world is in the revival of the church and the church being obedient, humble, repentant, and in pursuit of Christlikeness and His holiness in our lives.


Don't look at the world and congratulate your self on how far you are away from it. Look at the holiness of Christ and pray that you can live as close to Him as possible.


That means you, believer. It means me.


So the next time you are lamenting the condition of the world and the ineffective condition of The Church, don't say the church need to wake up. Say, "I need to wake up," then stop hitting the snooze button. It's time to go to work. Jesus is coming and He said, "work while it is day because the night comes when no man can work" (John 9:4).


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