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Living holy in an unholy world

This is the first in a new series on Revival. Exhortations to believe for, to prepare and pray for revival!

In essence revival is centred in Jesus Christ. It is our pursuit of Him; knowing Him and being transformed to be like Him, which brings about a personal revival, which then can flow through us and impact others around us. Whether you are waiting for a fresh touch of God or are experiencing revival at one level or another, let us press on to know Him more and receive from Him the immeasurable more which He has promised.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,… Ephesians 3:20

Living holy in an unholy world

I have a quote written in the front of one of my old Bibles. Where it came from and who the author is, I don’t know. It has been there since the early 70’s and in those days I was reading a lot about revival, men who experienced visitations of God and saw nations change, so I guess it came from a good source.

“When the church is most unlike the world, then the church will do the most for the world.”

Probably not a particularly popular statement among portions of today’s church. However, I still believe there is a mountain of truth and soundness about this quote. The world is not looking for a cleaned up version of itself, though they might not always readily admit it. They need an alternative world; a world where truth and grace reside side by side, a place to live in harmony where love, joy and peace dominate.

Does it sounds too good to be true? Isn’t that the promise and hope of the Gospel? If it is (I believe it is), then this should be the model; the Kingdom of God reflected in the life of His Church.

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, Romans 14:17

We need a return to holiness; we need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to impact each of our lives so that daily we can walk in victory over sin and failure and bring glory to God.

One of the works of grace, which is essential for us to live a life of victory, is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not talking about doing works to inherit salvation. However, we must certainly be prepared to position ourselves for the Holy Spirit to work in us and the work of grace in our hearts, reflected by the way we outwardly live.

As we contemplate, hope for and seek God for a much needed national revival to sweep across our churches, impact our lives and flow out into our communities, I believe we must first ask the Lord to touch us personally and bring us into a deeper experience with the Holy Spirit; a work that sanctifies us and enables us to live holy lives.

15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15 & 16

From being renewed, touched and sanctified by the Holy Spirit when we gather to pray I believe it will result in a powerful cry for revival, coming from our hearts, with authority, having been touched and transformed by His grace and love.

4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4 – 7

We know that when we are converted, saved, born-again (whatever term you prefer), having surrendered our life to Jesus Christ, a marvellous and unprecedented miracle takes place. The finished work of Christ on the cross purchased everything for us. He paid the price once and for all, that everything the Father has in store for us is now available and ours to possess in Christ Jesus.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Here it is. One, simple, legal and defining statement! In fact on this verse the whole book of Ephesians hangs. However, that is a topic for another day.

To put it simply, on the cross everything was paid for. At conversion everything is given to us and our whole life is then a discovery of God’s immeasurable love and grace, which He has for us.

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 & 7

It is as we press in to know Him that we are able to plumb the limitless depths of this love and grace.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12 – 14

When I invited Christ into my life (May 1970), I was saved, sanctified and justified by His grace. My conversion was such that in a moment of time I was dramatically changed. Opposed to church and Christian belief, living a life of sin and self centeredness, I had no plans that included God or religion. Nevertheless, I was confronted by the Gospel, convicted of my sin, realised I was lost and destined to spend eternity in hell. So I chose to confess my sin, asked for God’s forgiveness, invited Jesus into my life and everything changed. Overnight I became a different person. I was now God centred and suddenly a passionate and dedicated follower of Jesus Christ.

Even after such a dramatic turn around there was still a great need in my life for the ongoing work of sanctification. There were numerous areas of my life that needed attention and many of these were dealt with as I grew in Christ and through the normal aspects of Christian life, church attendance, prayer and Bible reading, etc.

However, I needed more. I remember the night I first encountered the power of the Holy Spirit. I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to fill me with Himself and no sooner had I said “Amen” I fell to the floor overcome by His presence and like a fountain gushing from within I began to speak in a language I had not learnt. Though I have experienced many such moments since, different and even more dynamic than the first, I have never forgotten that first touch.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16

Our walk and fellowship with the Holy Spirit must be constant and consistent; filled with the Spirit over and over again. Not a one-time event, but a daily walk, continually seeking and relying on Him for His leading, guiding and empowerment. Nevertheless, there are moments when, suddenly, He comes and reaches deep into the recesses of our lives and completes a deeper work of sanctification; one that often brings us into a new place of freedom and liberty. It is often a time of revelation when our eyes open wide, our hearts and minds are illuminated and the wonder of His grace, love and majesty completely overcomes us.

Throughout my life there have been moments when the Holy Spirit has come on me in a significant and purposeful way to carry out a work of sanctification; cleansing, healing and transformation. I was not backslidden, living in sin or some such state. But the moments when He reached into my life and the work He performed, was as significant as the salvation experience. These moments sometimes happened during a time of personal crisis or a specific period of seeking the Lord for more of Him and other times completely by surprise.

One such time, many years ago, took place when we were facing a change of direction and starting a new ministry. While seeking the Lord late one evening I was suddenly aware of the Holy Spirit all over me intensely. As I lay on my face before Him I sensed He was reaching deep in my heart and working there. It was kind of painful, but without the pain, which seems a strange thing to say, but I’m sure many reading this will identify with what I am saying.

As tears flooded down my face and crying uncontrollably, I began to see moments of my past life where a certain attitude and faulty thinking had impacted my life. I saw aspects of my childhood where this had developed and even saw moments in my life and ministry where this heart condition had influenced me, but I understood that even in those moments His grace protected and brought me through.

The transformation that took place during that intense hour or so with the Lord was like a salvation experience. Not that my eternal status had been in any danger, but He was saving me, I was experiencing the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. His grace has saved us, we are being saved and we will be saved!

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1Peter 1:3 – 5

Over the years there have been a number of events when the Holy Spirit has invaded my life in a “suddenly” moment and brought about an aspect of renewal and transformation, which ultimately has deepened my love for Him, brought a new understanding of His ways and better enabled to fulfil His purpose and destiny on my life.

Am I favoured? Yes! Am I more favoured than you? No! Equally we are heirs of Christ, loved by the Father, redeemed by the Son and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Individually and corporately we need to seek the Lord, wait for Him to come and work His perfect plan in us.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.

10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4 & 5 &10

Thank God for His grace. Where would we be without it? There is a great deal of teaching on grace impacting the Body of Christ at this time. Much is good, but there are elements that are dangerous. Imbalance, compromise and over emphasis may cause some to be shipwrecked in their faith. Any truth taught to the detriment of another is error. The Bible is a perfectly balance book. Those of us called to preach must strive to make our messages equally balanced.

Grace does not do away with the need for sanctification nor does it excuse us to live unruly. It gives us access to His unlimited resources of love, mercy and forgiveness.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 & 24

The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is an essential element in God’s plan and purpose for our lives. He has redeemed us that He might present us before the throne blameless, holy and sanctified through Jesus Christ. Let us participate with Him so that together we can walk as Christ walked, holy and blameless, that our lives will be salt and light in a world in darkness, one that is in desperate need of a revival flowing out from the House of God.

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