Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Holiness

Leslie Basham: When was the last time you mourned over your sin: a month ago, a year? If you can't remember when, maybe it's time for revival.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, January 6.

When a light is turned on in a room, everything can be plainly seen. It's not that those things visible to the eye now weren't there before; it's just that they were hidden in darkness.

In the same way God can illuminate every area of our lives even our hidden sins. Today on Revive Our Hearts Nancy will talk about one of the trademarks of revival, the conviction of sin.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Almost a century ago God moved in an extraordinary way pouring out His spirit in revival in the nation of Wales. There are a lot of wonderful eyewitness accounts of that moving, but it was said that during that revival in Wales that whole towns were stirred. Everyone was talking about God and about eternity. In fact, if you can imagine this, they had to cancel some major sporting events equivalent to our Super Bowl because there was no interest in people attending.

We are talking this week about what it is like when God moves in revival. What are the characteristics of revival?

We've seen that one of the marked characteristics is an extraordinary sense of the presence of God.

Accompanying that is a sense of urgency and intensity about spiritual matters.

During times of revival people's focus changed from earth to heaven. One writer said, "In revival the minds of people are concentrated upon things of eternity and there is an awareness that nothing matters so much as getting right with God."

I shared earlier this week about how God moved on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1950. It was said that during those days in Lewis you could stop any man or woman on the street and find that he was thinking about God and the condition of his soul. Can you imagine if that were true today?

Duncan Campbell who was one of the instruments used in the Lewis Revival said that within a matter of days the whole neighborhood was powerfully awakened to eternal realities. Work was largely set aside as people became concerned about their own salvation or the salvation of friends and neighbors. In homes, barns and loom sheds even by the roadside men could be found calling upon God.

George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards were two of the instruments that God used in our nation in the first Great Awakening during the 1700's. George Whitfield wrote and said, "For nearly three months in the autumn of that year there was no end of the people flocking to hear the Word of God. Thousands were turned away from the largest churches for lack of room.

Jonathan Edwards described one of those services. He said, "The assembly was in tears while the Word was preached, some weeping with sorrows and distress, others with joy and love, and others with concern for the souls of their neighbors. There was this spiritual intensity, this urgency about spiritual matters.

In a revival that took place in Korea about the time of the revival that we have referred to in the nation of Wales, one writer said, "Every man forgot each other. Each was face-to-face with God. I can hear yet," he said, "that fearful sound of hundreds of men pleading with God for life and for mercy -- people earnest about the condition of their souls, about their relationship with God.

You have the sense here that it wasn't anything external that was stirring them up to be concerned. It was an internal work of the Holy Spirit of God that was stirring their hearts.

Now in the presence of God and with this increased urgency and intensity about spiritual matters, there also comes, in times of revival, intense conviction of sin. Because as we come into the presence of a holy God, we come to see ourselves as we really are.

With that conviction of sin there is an outpouring typically of confession of sin. People want to make sure that they are right with God.

As that congregation there on the Day of Pentecost faced the holiness of God, they cried out, "Brethren what shall we do?" [Acts 2:37].

Revival always includes a profound awareness of our own sinfulness which then results in deep repentance and, of course, an embracing of Christ whose grace is our only hope. Revival throws light into dark places.

The Book of Malachi speaks of God coming as a refiner's fire. There's an intensity. There's a purifying. There's a purging. There's a painfulness about revival. We often think of revival as just the overflow, the joy, the blessing, the wonder, the glamour, the glory of it all.

There is a season for that, but it begins with people having an intense sense of their unworthiness, their sinfulness, the wickedness of their hearts in the presence of a Holy God. God comes as a refiner's fire to purify away the dross and to bring out the pure metal or gold. There is no true revival without deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin.

One of the things that ought to concern us about modern-day Christianity, in the West in particular, is that we have lost our capacity to mourn, to grieve over our sin.

Today as we watch people laugh rather than weeping their way to the altar or into the presence of the Lord, I think, that's because we don't have a concept of who God really is and the terror of His wrath and His judgment against unrepentant sinners.

You see this evidence of conviction and confession of sin in each of the different revivals of the past. It comes out in different ways, but there's this humbling, painful at times, sense of confession before a Holy God.

Let me just read to you some of the instances where this has taken place in various revivals.

In the mid 1800's there was a revival in Scotland, and it was said that the conviction of sin was so great that many businesses had to close down in order that the people might get right with God.

Now as I read these accounts, try and imagine if this kind of thing were to take place today. Let me just remind you that God has not changed. He is still holy. He is still able to move people by His presence and to bring about this kind of deep, intense conviction and confession of sin in our day.

In Ireland God moved in the 1800's and one eyewitness said that conviction of sin became so awful that sinners were compelled to cry out in agony confessing the iniquity of their sin. "Unclean, unclean" were cries that frequently rent the air as this conviction manifested itself in many.

Now as I read an account like that, I think about my own prayer times and the way that I more normally confess my own sin. I don't know about you, but I find that many times when I am confessing sin it's with kind-of a ho hum, not very earnest sort of sense of the greatness of my sin against a Holy God.

But when the presence of God is manifest among His people, there is this intense conviction of sin that gives us a sense of agony about the sinfulness of our sin.

In one revival it was said that simultaneously the spirit of God swept over the homes in the area around the village and everywhere, at the same time, people came under great conviction of sin.

God moved in what was then the Belgian Congo in the mid 1900's, and one missionary who was there during that time said, "There was no escape. In the light of the cross and a Holy God everything looked vile. No corners were left in shadow. Petty thoughts became hideous in their sight as they were contrasted with God's standard of purity."

In a great revival in the Shantung Province in China, it was said that the preachers couldn't finish their sermons before people would begin crying out in agony because of their sins. When is the last time you saw that happen in your church? When is the last time I saw that happen in my church? When is the last time I was that sinner crying out for God's mercy?

Brian Edwards has written a wonderful book on revival called Revival! A People Saturated with God. He says in that book that revival is not intended for the enjoyment of the church but for its cleansing. He goes on to say, "If we are to expect revival in these days, we must expect it to hurt."

"In recent years," he says, "we have been busy trying to convince the world by our Christian clowns and comedians and by our big happy events that Christianity is fun. The reason the world does not take Christianity seriously," Edwards says, "is because Christians don't.

"Revival does not persuade the world that the Christian faith is fun but that it is essential. There is a colossal difference. The first work of the Spirit is not to tell us that we can be happy, but that we must be holy because God is holy."

If you and I want to experience revival in our own hearts, in our churches, in our homes perhaps the starting place is to say, "Lord, would You let me see how holy You are and in the light of Your holiness, would You show me whatever You see in those dark, hidden corners of my heart."

We can't see ourselves as God sees us unless God shows us to ourselves. I think that's why the Psalmist said,

"Lord, search me, know me, try me,
see if there be any wicked way in me" [Psalm 139:23-24]

I'm not asking God to show me how I measure up to some other half-hearted believer. Just say, "Lord, whatever You show me, I will agree with You. I'll agree with what the light says.

You know what that is? That's confession -- just agreeing with God. "What You have shown me is true. I confess it." If we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, cleanses and goes on cleansing us from all sin.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been giving us a clear picture of holiness. It's an important part of genuine revival. Nancy talks about holiness in her new workbook, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival.

If you are feeling spiritually dry or you just want to be closer to God, the workbook will help you draw closer to him. Well, also, Nancy, what else can people expect?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, Leslie, when this book first came out, I handed it to one of our staff and he said, "Is this a guarantee to experience revival if I go through this book?"

I said, "You know, it's not the book that will bring revival. But I think I can guarantee that if you will spend twelve weeks of your life seeking Him, seeking the Lord, in a concentrated way, going through this book and listening to the Lord and letting Him speak to you and responding to Him, I think you will experience revival."

I said that kind of tongue-in-cheek, but I really do believe that for those of us who are tired of "business as usual" in our Christian life that this is really an incredible opportunity to seek the Lord, to set aside other things and to listen to Him and let Him speak to us. And as we seek Him, I believe that God really will revive our hearts.

You can order your copy of Seeking Him by calling 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959. I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave to our special matching challenge during the month of December.

We are still tabulating and we'll give you a final update when we know the final result but we do know that God has blessed the ministry financially during these last several weeks and want to thank everyone who had a part in praying and giving to make that possible.

Tomorrow Nancy will explain the way revival ushers in reconciliation of relationships. We hope you can join us for Revive Our Hearts.

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

Thank you, Pat, for preparing today's Revive Our Hearts for the Internet.

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