Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Forgetting Who You Are, Day 2

Episode Resources

Watch this message.

Watch "A Grandmother's Gospel Ministry."

Leslie Basham: Dr. Russell Moore asks: Is your faith in Jesus theoretical, or does it lead to action?

Dr. Russell Moore: It’s one thing to love orphans in the abstract, until you bring that child with fetal alcohol syndrome into your home who's never been in a situation like that before.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, November 4, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yesterday we heard part one of a message from Dr. Russell Moore. At True Woman in September, he showed us the importance of letting a skeptical world see our brokenness and neediness. The church doesn’t need to look like we have it all together. Instead, we need to be honest about our need for the Lord in everything. If you missed part one of his message, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com. Now let’s pick up with Russell Moore speaking from Mark 5:1–20 from the True Woman '16 Conference.

Dr. Moore: One of the problems that we have within the church is that sometimes we will do, kind of like people in my wing of Christianity who aren’t Pentecostals. We'll pray for each other for health. If somebody has something kind of minor, “I’ve got an infected ingrown toenail.” Then we’ll say, “Lord, heal that infected, ingrown toenail.” When somebody has something really major, advanced pancreatic cancer, we’ll pray, “Lord, comfort their family. Let Your will be done.”

As a friend of mine said when he got cancer, “I want all of you praying like a Pentecostal. God can heal all of that.”

Sometimes we do the same thing when it comes to spiritual realities. Sometimes we somehow believe that the power of the gospel is enough for people who are moving along with kind of respectable levels of sin. But the gospel is not enough to reach people who are completely at the point of brokenness and at the point of despair.

And that’s one of the reasons why some of you even in this room right now, may be in bondage all of the time, because you are constantly confronting the accusations of the devil. Even though you’re in Christ, you constantly have a conscience that is saying to you, “Yah, but remember the way that you treated that person? Remember that sexual relationship that took place? Remember that marriage that broke up? Remember that child that was aborted? Remember those secrets? Remember those things that nobody else knows about?”

You hold those things in your heart, when in reality, Jesus has already encountered you. Jesus is not surprised by your secrets. Jesus is not surprised by your history. Jesus is not surprised by your struggles. Jesus is not surprised by your temptations.

Jesus is ruling and governing history. So He decided that you would be sitting there hearing the proclamation of the gospel. You didn’t get in there accidentally. He had you there in order to say if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Jesus has encountered you, and He has said to you, “What is your name?”

There is a power in that. And there is a power that expels and drives away fear. But notice what happens. When Jesus says, “What is your name?” The man’s response is, “I don’t have a name. There are so many of us that we are ‘Legion.’”

This man’s situation, this man’s lost-ness, this man’s despair had led him to the place where he had lost himself. He didn’t even know who he was. This is a man who is, on the one hand isolated, away from everybody else, and on the other hand, he is crowded out with all of these unclean voices in his head.

And here we are in a culture where even when people are not inhabited in this way by the unclean, people are more connected than ever before—and yet lonely, and yet isolated, and yet alone.

The man says, “I don’t have a name. I am ‘Legion.’” The man doesn’t know who he is anymore because he is just a collection of unclean spirits. You do not have to be a demonized man in a graveyard to be that lost.

All you have to do is to just see yourself in terms of all of your roles—all of the things that you do, all of your jobs, all of your children, all of your relationships, all of your ministries, or all of your responsibilities. And to be lost in such a place that you don’t even know what it is like. You are numb to the reality of hearing the voice of Jesus calling you personally by name. “Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?”

This is what has happened to this man. And this is what has happened to endless people all around us right now. Many of them are asking is, “Is the gospel for someone like me?”

A friend of mine who had been a lesbian, feminist, atheist, activist started to weigh the claims of the gospel. She started reading through the gospels, and she started to be drawn toward Jesus. She said one of the first things she did was to go and sit at a coffee shop across the street from a church and just watch the people getting out of their cars or their vans or their trucks, walking into that church and saying, “Could I ever be one of those people?”

There are many people who are asking that question right now. If all that we present to the outside world is: “We’re more moral than you are. We’re more well-behaved than you are. We have families that are more stable than yours are. We have lives that are more put together than yours are. We’re happier than you are. We’re more blessed than you are." We manage our image to show that we have everything all together—there’s no brokenness; there’s no woundedness; there’s no sin; there’s no detox. We’re shiny, happy people for Jesus. Then we will give the picture to the outside world that the gospel has not come for sinners but for the righteous.

Jesus doesn’t do this. Jesus walks right in here to this place of this lonely man, and he brings him out of loneliness into community. “I send you back to your people.” Jesus brings him out of this crowdedness, into a personal relationship – one on one with Him. Jesus comes and frees him from his own power.

When the man says, “We are Legion” or rather when the spirits say, “We are Legion,” that is an assertion of power. That’s how the Roman Empire protected itself—with legions, with soldiers. That’s the reason why Jesus said at His arrest, “Don’t you know that I could call my Father and He would send twelve legions of angels?”

The spirits within this man are puffing themselves up and saying, “We are many. We are mighty. We are powerful.” Exactly what we so often want to do as a church. “Pay attention to us because we’ve got the power to boycott. Pay attention to us because we’re a big voting bloc. Pay attention to us because we’re the people who will shape the future of the culture. We are Legion. We are many. We are powerful on your own terms of power.”

But Jesus sees that and says that is death. Jesus doesn’t even flinch until the spirits in this man are crying out and begging, “Please don’t send us out into the abyss. Send us instead into those pigs.”

And you know what startles me about Jesus here? Jesus says, “Okay.” That’s not how I want Jesus to act with demons. If I’m directing Jesus, I want Jesus to say, “Oh, you don’t want to go to the abyss, well the abyss is exactly where you’re going to go. And I’m going to make sure that everybody sees you as you’re fleeing out into the outer nothingness.”

Jesus says, “Okay. Go to the pigs.” Why? Because Jesus is able here to have a confidence because He doesn’t believe that this legion of demons is ultimately going to be able to derail him.

One of the reasons why we can be, as a church, so angry and so outraged and mean to people who disagree with us, to people who reject us, to people who call us names, is because if we’re honest, we’re afraid.

We’re afraid that somehow they are right that we are being left behind. We’re afraid that somehow they are right that the power of the Holy Spirit is not enough. We’re afraid that somehow we have to have something else to prove ourselves to be right, to prove ourselves to be blessed, to prove ourselves to be loved by God.

And we want to see that and we want to find that. Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus speaks instead with a voice that is able to say to these spirits, “Leave and go.” He is able then to say to that man, “Where are you? Go home. Go to your people. Go back to your community.”

Jesus has a quiet confidence that we see over and over again in Scripture. Jesus is never freaking out when everybody else is. When the boat is about to capsize, everyone else is starting to panic, Jesus is asleep.

When the crowds are starting to leave, all the disciples are starting to panic, Jesus is calm. When Jesus is being arrested and led before Pilate and everybody else is running as fast as they can go, with Simon Peter cussing in front of the fire, Jesus is standing there as calmly as He can be, saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

When everybody else is calm, Jesus is anguished. When they walk into the temple and they see that the people have made a marketplace of it and they’ve taken over the Court of the Gentiles, Jesus becomes so angered that He drives them out. The disciples are probably standing around and saying, “You’re not new here. You’ve been coming here since you were twelve years old. Why now are you upset about this?”

When Jesus encounters a fig tree that doesn’t have figs because it’s not the time for figs, He curses it and denounces it. And the disciples are probably saying to themselves, “He probably needs a vacation or something.”

When the disciples are asleep in the olive court in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is sweating blood. Jesus is calm when they’re panicking, and Jesus is anguished when they’re asleep. Why? Because Jesus knows about what is actually going on in the world around us better than we do.

Jesus knows that the things we are the least worried about are the things we ought to be the most worried about. And the things that we are the most worried about are the things that we ought to be the least worried about.

And in this He speaks a word of gospel solution. Notice the reaction. When Jesus frees this man from these spirits, when Jesus returns this man to his right mind, it says that the people there are frightened. The people want Him to leave. The people assume that Jesus is the problem.

Why? Because what they wanted to do with this man is to chain him. What they wanted to do was to keep him away from hurting anybody else and just to control his behavior.

Sisters, that is Bible-belt, cultural Christianity. Let’s get people to behave the right way; let’s get people to say the right words; let’s get people to know how to act; let’s get people to do all of these things the way a good Christian should except apart from the actual power of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That does not address the problem.

When the people actually see the gospel, they are frightened by it. They start to retreat from it. As a matter of fact, they are infuriated by it because some of these people are angrier that they have lost pigs than they are rejoicing that they have gained this brother.

They are more concerned about their possessions, about their security than they are about the advancing the kingdom of God. And before we get too hard on them, how often do we do the exact same thing? It is hard and difficult if you are going to love a hurting and dying world.

It’s one thing to love orphans in the abstract until you bring that child with fetal alcohol syndrome into your home who’s never been in a situation like that before. It’s one thing to love hurting women in the abstract. It’s another thing to bring that unwed mother into your home.

It’s one thing to love the lost people that you’re talking with in the line at the coffee shop. It’s another thing to say, “It doesn’t matter how messy my house is right now. It doesn’t matter how disorganized my kitchen is right now. These people in my community need me right now.”

We all, left to ourselves, try to prioritize those things. The reaction here is one that sees Jesus as a problem, that sees the gospel as a problem, because we assume that what really matters is our lives the way that we have planned them.

If we’re freed from fear by the gospel, then we are going to be the people who are willing to have our lives wrecked and rebuilt by Jesus.

I was so embarrassed about that woman thinking we had drunks all through the church. But I hadn’t been there very long when we had a lady who started coming to the church who had this combination of Alzheimer’s Disease and Tourette’s Syndrome of some kind.

She would be in the service, and she would just yell out her thoughts on whatever was being said. So you learned if you were teaching not to ask a rhetorical question. And she would yell out the vilest string of profanities you’ve ever heard in your life.

And the first time she started doing this, I’m teaching and my immediate thought is, I can’t believe this happening. We’re going to have people visiting here today. They’re going to have children with us. We’re going to have people whose kid’s first word is going to be ‘blankety-blank-blank’ because of what’s happened in my church.

I’m embarrassed by that until a group of elderly ladies came up after, and they said, “Oh Brother Russell, we could tell you might be embarrassed when Miss Betty was doing what she was doing.”

And I said, “Well, I kind of was.”

They said, “She’s our sister. She’s sick.”

And one of them said, “Brother Russell, when Miss Betty says, 'Blankety-blank-blank you blankety-blanker.' That’s just her way of saying ‘Amen.’”

What they were saying is, “This church does not exist for you and your image.” And what they were saying was, “This church does not exist for its reputation. This church exists to be on mission with Jesus to seek and to save that which was lost. And so we will bear the burdens of our sister.”

If we are going to be the people who will engage the people around us without fear, we must give up our attempts to be strong and powerful and all together. And we must be the people who bear witness to the outside world. "We’re not more moral than you. We’re not more behaved than you. We’re not more put together than you."

The only difference between us and you is that somewhere outside the gates of Jerusalem we were crucified with Christ. And somewhere outside the gates of Jerusalem, there is an empty hole in the ground where we walked out with Christ. And we're so joined with Him, God says exactly of us what He says of Jesus Christ. “This is My beloved child in whom I am well pleased. There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ.”

And until the day when we are freed from all of this besetting sin, and until the day when we are freed from all of these doubts and all of these fears, we will walk not seeing where we’re going by faith because we follow a voice that first said to us, “What is your name?” And we confess and bear witness that we’re with Him, and we’re in detox.

Thank you.

Nancy: Dr. Russell Moore has been showing us how to speak the truth to a world that is needy, yet often hostile to the truth. He’ll be right back to tell you about one influential woman in his life. Dr. Moore delivered that message in September at True Woman Conference hosted by Revive Our Hearts. When you visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, you can watch the video or listen to the audio of all the plenary sessions from True Woman '16. If you didn’t make it to the conference, you can experience some of what it’s like to actually be there. If you did attend, you can be reminded of the truths you heard. Again, check out all the resources from the True Woman conference at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Over the years, I’ve heard from so many women who were in a difficult situation and did a web search for help. ReviveOurHearts.com popped up, and they were able to hear content that addressed their specific need and pointed them to Jesus as the only one who can truly meet that need. The reason ReviveOurHearts.com is able to be there for these women 24/7 with all kinds of helpful resources is because of those who support the ministry financially.

If you've benefitted from Revive Our Hearts and you're seeing God at work in your own life, would you ask Him how He’d want you to support the ministry so it can reach others? When you make a donation of any size this month, we’ll say "thank you" by sending you the 2017 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. Each month in this calendar features a quote from my upcoming book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. I think you’re going to love up-to-date, classy design of this year's calendar. I know the first time I looked at this calendar I said, "Wow! This is beautiful." I love how the designers highlight this idea of the beauty of the gospel through the design that they chose for this calendar. You can go to ReviveOurHearts.com and see for yourself what this calendar looks like.

That’s also where you can make your donation of any amount and request the Adorned wall calendar. The web address is ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Let us know what donation you'd like to make to the ministry and be sure and request your copy of the Adorned wall calendar.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about making America great. On Monday we’re going to step back from that and ask, “What really makes a nation great?” What does the Bible say about what makes a nation great? I'll tell you in advance, the answer is a lot different from the rhetoric we've been listening to over the past several months. So be sure to be back with us on Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Like I said earlier, the message we heard from Dr. Russell Moore was from True Woman '16. The theme of that conference was Cry Out! We talked a lot about the power of a woman’s prayers. Our team caught up with Dr. Moore during the conference and asked him if he’s seen what God can do when women pray.

Dr Moore: I would, humanly speaking, not be a Christian today if it had not been for my grandmother who lived next door. She was a pastor's widow. She not only prayed for me insistently, she was the one who made sure that I was at church, that I was under the teaching of the Word. God used her example and her direct influence on my life to lead me to Christ.

I think we want to look back and say, "Where is my ministry right now?" Sometimes we don't even know. Sometimes God is using lives in ways we can't really chart out and see.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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