(Zechariah 4:6) “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 59:19b) “When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”
The Key to Revival
A Biblical revival is the work of God, not man, although we have our part to play in it. Biblical revival is produced by the Holy Spirit. When there is repentance and faith the seasons of refreshing come from the LORD. When believers rediscover or go back to their first love for the Lord Jesus and His Word then the Holy Spirit will send a revival. The key to a revival for any believers or for believers corporately and their leaders is the absolute and unconditional surrender of the will to God. In these next three studies we will see fifteen things that happen in a genuine Biblical Revival.
What Happens in a Biblical Revival?
1. A Biblical Revival sees the return of believers from their backslidden heart and lifestyle.
God can do nothing with a backslider. In fact to stay in a spiritually backslidden condition is to put oneself in harm’s way spiritually speaking. As the late Rev George Lazenby said; “When a believer backslides everything seems greased for the occasion.” Now a backslider in heart and life may still be outwardly religious and a member in good standing in the local assembly of believers because of their involvement in the fellowship. To all outward appearances on a Sunday or at the mid-week prayer meeting they look as if they have it all together spiritually. They may not be indulging in the sins of the flesh as it were but deep down on the inside of them they are no longer loving God with all of their heart and with all of their mind, and with all of their soul and with all of their strength and consequently incapable of really loving their neighbour as God intends. The Bible says that the love of God has been shed abroad or poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5) but in order for this love to work it must be accompanied by faith and obedience to the Word of God. It produces the obedience of faith. (Romans 1:5; 16:26)
What is most important?
Now there are some things in this life that are not wrong in themselves such as watching sport, dining at nice restaurants, enjoying a home and a car or a successful career or even going to see a good and wholesome movie on certain occasions (if that is really possible today?) or going to a good concert for that matter but if these things become more important to us than doing God’s work then they become an idol. You see God does not want any rivals for His affections. He is a jealous God who loves us dearly and wants the very best thing for us in life but He cannot condone idolatry in any form. Anything we will not give up to God, if He asks us to do so, becomes an idol. A backslider then is a believer who has lost their first love for God, for the Lord Jesus, for the Holy Spirit and for the Word of God and I might add for their fellow believers. The end result will be a withdrawing from the fellowship. They have allowed the world the flesh and the devil to consume their mind, emotions and their will. If they do not repent then they may well end up being left out from the wedding supper of the Lamb. The five wise virgins kept their first love kindled by the supply of the oil of the Holy Spirit. The five foolish virgins lost their first love and did not allow themselves to be constantly supplied by the oil of the Holy Spirit. The wise ones went into the wedding feast while the foolish ones missed out.
2. A Biblical Revival sees Backsliders restored.
If the Holy Spirit is really at work in a local assembly and the preachers and congregation are open to the Holy Spirit then a backslider coming into the fellowship or who is already in the fellowship will see his true spiritual condition and repent and regain his first love. Sadly in many churches the Word of God is no longer preached in the power of the Holy Spirit neither are they open to the gifts of the Spirit. If they are open to the gifts of the Spirit and practice them Biblically then Paul tells us what will happen in the local assembly of believers; ”But if an unbeliever or uninstructed person comes in while everyone is prophesying, he will be convicted and called to account by all, and the secrets of his heart will be revealed. So he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is truly among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
Discerning of spirits
One of the gifts of the Spirit desperately needed today is the gift of discerning of spirits i.e., the ability from the Holy Spirit to see whether someone is teaching in the Spirit or by another spirit or in the energy of the flesh without the anointing of the Spirit. Sometimes those with this gift will be able to recognize sin in the congregation. One who has this gift needs to walk very humbly before the LORD and deal very graciously with the backslider of heart. As Paul writes; “Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the Law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)
In the case of King David and King Manasseh
When King David committed adultery and murder he thought he could get away with it but when the prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin David humbled himself before God and repented. While God in His benevolent providence and mercy and love permitted David to stay with Bathsheba the sin of adultery and murder came upon his son Absalom and it grieved David. King Manasseh we are told filled Jerusalem from one end to the other with innocent blood and yet in prison in a foreign land repented before God and was restored by God. In a revival even the little sins are exposed and have to be dealt with. The blessed Holy Spirit will bring to mind things done or left undone that have been long forgotten by us but brought to our attention that they might be dealt with. Also spiritual victory will not happen if there are things in our life that have been devoted to destruction that we hang onto.
In the case of Achan
Remember the sin of Achan who kept for himself some of the booty from Jericho and it brought defeat for the whole assembly of Israel at the hands of their enemy. In Achan’s case he was put to death including his whole family. Sin is a very serious business and when one part of the Body of the Messiah sins the whole Body is affected. If there are things, pursuits or pleasures in our lives that prevent us from reading the Bible, praying continuously in the Spirit and enjoying fellowship in the Spirit with other believers then we are in a spiritually backslidden state. If we are not continuously filled with the Holy Spirit then we are in a spiritually backslidden state. A revival, if it is genuine, will first and foremost deal with the backsliders in the fellowship and expose sin. After that has been thoroughly dealt with the seasons of refreshing will come from the presence of the LORD. Once Achan’s sin had been dealt with the Israelite community started to have victory over their enemies again.
In the case of Sampson
Sampson was a man called and anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and brought about many victories for the people of God. However, due to the lusts of his flesh which he would not keep in check caused him to gradually backslide from his consecration to God. It did not happen overnight but was a process that over time weakened his spiritual resolve and in the end he was shorn of his spiritual power by the seductress Delilah. She represented spiritual seduction as all bad women in the Bible represent spiritual seduction. At the end of his life Sampson truly repented even though his backsliding over the years had ruined his life. In his death he gained a great victory over Israel’s enemies. He came to know the power of the Spirit operating in his life again. If we know we have backslidden then let us return to our first love and God will give us the power over the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Judgement must begin in the House of God
When the Israelites backslid they were defeated by their enemies but when they repented and forsook their sins they had victory. So it is in a Biblical Revival that God’s people repent and get right with Him. As Peter writes; “…For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) As Paul also writes; “…For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32) God wants to heal the backslider of heart. As it is written in the prophet Jeremiah; “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” (Jeremiah 3:22)
3. A Biblical Revival sees the confessing and forsaking of all and every sin.
In the Book of Acts we see what happened as a result of the revival in Ephesus after Paul had preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. “…And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totalled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” (Acts 19:18-20) When the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit not only are sinners saved but the power of the occult is broken over their lives. Those saved confess and forsake their sins and get rid of all that would hinder them spiritually.
Idols and demons
We are told in the Bible that idol warship is the worship of demons. (Deuteronomy 32:16-17) (1 Corinthians 10:20) This is why the LORD put this as the first commandment. Idolatry in any shape or form places the idolater in the hands of demonic principalities and powers. When a believer allows something or someone or some pastime to occupy and control their thoughts and actions they are in fact exposing themselves to demonic power. Satan will always look for any opportunity to destroy our faith and fidelity to the Lord Jesus through idolatry. We are clearly told that our spiritual wrestling match is not with human beings although they may be the instruments through which Satan works, but that we are up against principalities and powers of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness in high places that are too strong for us.
The weapons of our warfare
The weapons of our warfare are not human weapons but spiritual weapons that are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, not only in our lives but in the lives of others as well. Paul writes; “For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
The mind is a spiritual battlefield
For the believer the mind is the battlefield. Today our minds are bombarded with images that have the power to grip our imagination. These thoughts that assail our minds and imaginations must be cast down and cast out. This is why we must pray in the Holy Spirit continuously to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. This is God’s will for us in the Messiah our Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) (Jude 1:20-21) Every day we need to put on the full armour of God and to pray in the Spirit on all occasions and with all kinds of prayers ad requests and for all the saints as well as they need our prayers as we need theirs. (Ephesians 6: 10-18) One of the spiritual benefits of being filled with the Spirit is that we are empowered to pray in the Holy Spirit. He is a loving, sensitive and divine person who prays for us, with us and in place of us when words fail. (Romans 8:26-27)
Think on these things
Another way to cast down imaginations that defile us is to think on those things that are lovely, wholesome and of good report. Paul writes; “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Sometimes it means just turning off the nob on the television or avoiding certain websites or not watching a certain movie that will defile us spiritually and make us filthy on the inside. We also need to avoid magazines and books that will soil and defile us spiritually. Paul also writes; “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Saviour, Jesus the Messiah.” (Titus 2:11-13) Sometimes we just need to say “No!”
4. A Biblical revival sees the breaking down of pride before God.
One of the reasons God cannot send revival is because of pride. In the local assembly pride can very easily gain a foothold in the Body of the Messiah. Pride was the downfall of King Saul and Sampson and others in the Bible and in the long history of the Church. Many started out well but in the end God had to lay them aside because of pride. Of course pride in any form connects directly with the devil in that it was pride that caused him to fall from heaven and to be consigned to the eternal flames. The Bible speaks much about pride and its consequences.
Pride must go!
In a Biblical revival one of the first things to be broken is pride. Many in ministry and positions of leadership hang on to their authority and like having power and prominence in the eyes of their congregations. Others pride themselves on their gifts and abilities or works of charity. Others draw attention to themselves and their problems incessantly not wanting to be free from them but have people give them constant attention, this can become a form of pride for them in the local fellowship. It needs to be said There is a difference between the kind of pride that God hates (Proverbs 8:13) and the kind of pride we can feel about a job well done (Galatians 6:4) or the kind of pride we express over the accomplishment of loved ones (2 Corinthians 7:4).
The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness or conceit is sin, and God hates it because it is a hindrance to seeking Him. Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” This kind of haughty pride is the opposite of the spirit of humility that God seeks: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who recognize their utter spiritual bankruptcy and their inability to come to God aside from His divine unmerited favour. The proud, on the other hand, are so spiritually blinded by their pride that they think they have no need of God or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance and more so because of their good works or morality.
The consequences of pride
Throughout Scripture we are told about the consequences of pride. Proverbs 16:18-19 tells us that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Satan was cast out of heaven because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-15). He had the selfish audacity to attempt to replace God Himself as the rightful ruler of the universe. But Satan will be cast down to hell and ultimately end up in the lake of fire in the final judgment of God. For those who rise up in defiance against God, there is nothing ahead but disaster (Isaiah 14:22).
Pride can hinder salvation
Pride has kept many people from accepting the Lord Jesus as their personal saviour and as lord of their life. Admitting sin and acknowledging that in our own strength we can do nothing to inherit eternal life is a constant stumbling block for prideful people. We are not to boast about ourselves; if we want to boast, then we are to proclaim the glories of God. What we say about ourselves means nothing in God’s work. It is what God says about us that makes the difference (2 Corinthians 10:18). The sin of pride will take us to hell if we do not repent before God. It comes in many forms and it takes the wisdom from the Holy Spirit to recognize it when it enters our lives.
Why is pride so sinful?
Pride is giving one’s self the credit for something that God has accomplished. Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us. As Paul writes; “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). That is why we give God the glory—He alone deserves it. A Biblical revival will see the breaking down of pride. At the end of the day we need to take to heart what the Lord Jesus Himself said; “So you also, when you have done everything commanded of you, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10)