Man’s Condition – God’s Solution (Part 1)

Man’s Condition – God’s Solution (Part 1)
Robert Wurtz II

In an age when sin and iniquity are advancing upon the visible church from without; while the unregenerate fill up the ranks from within; it would be tempting to raise the white flag, throw in the towel, and declare all is lost. When the Western Nations are in a state of total moral collapse; and the only resounding call for revival from within the churches focuses on everything but genuine repentance- it would be easy to despair even of life. Darkness is covering the land as sure as it covers the midnight hour. However much the vexation of these facts move the saints to despair, they have not taken God off guard. He destroyed this world once already. Todays rebellion is just another repeat of wickedness in His history book. Why does it keep happening? From Satan that rebelled in Heaven, Adam, who rebelled in the Garden, and Israel that rebelled in the Wilderness- Sin has made its mark for destruction, and free moral agents have received it.    

God Made Man Upright

Man was not created a sinner or with a sinful nature. (Eccl. 7:29) God wanted a creature in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26); not little gods, but sons and daughters. God’s plan to make man in His image has not changed (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Adam was created innocent (Genesis 2:25). There was nothing in Adam’s original constitution that predisposed him to rebel against God (Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:31). He was designed with good natural desires for things such as knowledge, eating, leadership, procreation, etc., that drew him to do these important things as part of God’s plan. God knew that man’s desires would result in conflict with His revealed will; so he gave Adam a couple of commandments. Understand that there are and were various ways of fulfilling those good, natural desires (Genesis 2:16-17). Temptation is an appeal to the intellect to fulfill a good natural desire in a bad way. Natural desires do not discriminate, so man must resist the desire to disobey God in the fulfilling of his or her desires. In other words, God gave boundaries as to right and wrong ways to fulfill those good natural desires. In the beginning man was not inclined to sin by any satanic force, only tempted to sin through the senses and reason. This changed when Adam opened the door to Sin in the Garden of Eden.

The Importance of a Right Understanding

Soteriology is the study of salvation. One of the fundamental elements of the subject biblically is what came to be known as Original Sin. There are various ways this doctrine is described, but typically, it is understood to mean that men and women are born into this life as sinners with a sinful nature (Ephesians 2:1-3, Psalm 51:5). Some more radical ideas suggest that the will is in complete bondage to the Sinful Nature and in a state of Total Depravity. This essentially means that man in his fallen state cannot rightly obey God at all. Man is spiritually dead and “spiritually dead people” can’t do anything spiritual. 

I affirm that man, because of the sin of Adam, is born constituted a sinner; nevertheless, this constitution by no means relieved man of his free choice (Romans 5:19, Joshua 24:15). We inherit Adam’s disposition to sin just like we inherit a disposition to physical death. All people, by their first birth, are born in Adam and experience the consequences of his actions. Constitutional Sin is our inheritance (as it were).

Nevertheless, even though man cannot help but be bent towards sin, God is just in condemning man for his sin because man could have chosen at any given time not to sin (Romans 2:1). It is a resistible propensity. We can resist good, and we can resist evil. This is the essential message of Romans chapters 1-3. However, God does not want people having resist an inward propensity to sin. He wants them to have a propensity to do righteousness. This is what Romans 5:19 tells us. By one mans sin many were constituted sinners; in the same way, by one man’s obedience shall many be constituted righteous. What Adam did made people sinners; what Jesus did on the cross has the effect of making men righteous. That is, through Christ man can be regenerated into a new creature that obeys God and performs righteousness as a natural tendency. If we do not understand man’s need for regeneration, then we cannot understand rightly all that Christ has accomplished on the cross.

Two Ways Scripture Uses the Word ‘sin’ (Sin and sin) 

We need to take a moment and define some of our terms so we are talking about the same thing. First, the Bible speaks of Sin (the root) and sins (the fruit). I will try to make the distinction by using upper case Sin for “Sin” the Root and lower case sin for “sins” the fruit.

Wherefore, as by one man Sin entered into the world, and death by Sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)

If something “enters” the world, there was a time when it was not here and then it “entered.” This is common sense. What is this Sin that entered the human race through Adam? 

We must stop and point out that Sin (the root) is older than the human race. Sin is a corruption of the once good nature of Satan (Ezekiel 28:15). This corruption was first manifested in Satan when he became self-conscious and self-willed. No one had ever disobeyed or challenged God, as far as we know, before Satan; he pioneered rebellion (Ezekiel 28:12-18). Sin manifests as a clash of the creatures will with the Creator’s will (note the five “I will’s” in Isaiah 14:13-15). When Satan rebelled against God, a degeneration took place inside him. Regeneration can be defined as when Jesus Christ is ruling and reigning over a person(s); degeneration is when we are ruling ourselves. This mysterious corruption of Satan’s nature is what we know as Sin, the root, or the dynamic. It is an infectious rebellious nature that we could call the law of Sin (See Romans 8:2).

Sin Entered the Human Race

Adam opened the door for Sin to enter the world and Death by Sin (Romans 5:12). God told Adam that in the day they ate of the Tree of Life literally, “dying thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17 YLT). This is the first Death or the ultimate death. Eternal separation from God is the second Death; this is ultimate death as it passes into eternity (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:6-14). Adam and Eve died that day and it was a “spiritual death,” as we say. They died in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). This is important to understand. Adam and Eve did not die physically in the day they ate of the tree (Genesis 5:5). So what was the death that they died? Their God conscious spirit died and from that day forward all that were born “in Adam” would share in this condition (Genesis 3:23). This is essential to know, because all persons are either “in Adam” or they are “in Christ” (I Corinthians 15:22). Those who are in Adam are under Sin; they who are in Christ are under righteousness.

Man Loses His Relationship With God

The glory of God departed from Adam and Eve in what I would call the first great ICHABOD experience of mankind. The LORD departed. Man was no longer in fellowship with God. The face to face relationship with God was broken off. God had to forsake man or bring instant judgment (physical death, so I think), but He did not leave man alone (Genesis 3:15). I suggest that the reason man did not die physically, at the time they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, was because God had a plan. God left the presence of man so He could begin the process of redeeming man from the Sin that entered the race. He could have just wiped man from the face of the earth, but He chose to redeem us. 

Keep in mind that God did not alter His desire to make man in His image and likeness; but in order to keep this plan in play, He had to leave off from fellowship. When God’s unique presence is near, typically, judgment is swift. Many examples of this such as Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, etc. God is omnipresent, but He is not present in the way He desires to be. That requires a place when He can be at home; a righteous and holy environment. 

Initial Evidence of a Sinful Nature

Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve believed the lie of Satan and acted on it in faith. They placed themselves and the whole human race under the influence of the spirit of disobedience. They trusted in lies and came into a union with the spirit of this present evil age. These are mysterious things and we cannot speak of them particularly. Spirits are like wind, you can’t see them; you can only see the effects of their influence and presence. John said it simply, whosoever habitually commits sin is a child of the Devil (John 8:44, 1 John 3:8-10). This is strong language, but we have to face reality. Moreover, Sin entered, and Adam and Eve became by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2). They were driven from the Garden of Eden with a carnal mind at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). God placed Cheribim with flaming swords at the gate of the Garden. Why?

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Genesis 3:22)

God did not want man eternally ratified in a Sinful state. Man’s nature was corrupted and all of Adam’s posterity would be born “In Adam” with that same corrupted nature. This is Sin “the root.” God needed to sever the influence of Sin in man. How? The man Christ Jesus, the last Adam, would have to die to Sin for us. At death, liberation comes for slaves and wives (See Romans chapters 6 & 7). He that is dead is freed from Sin (Romans 6:7). Does one need die to reform their “behavior”? Death was needed to break the slavery to Sin (Romans 6:11). How could God do this? In His infinite wisdom He would destroy the root by The Seed (which was Christ Galatians 3:16).

You will notice that the Cheribim are always standing between man and God (Isaiah 6:2 , Exodus 26:31). This has been the case since the Garden of Eden- though it was not always this way. God walked with Adam and His glory was upon him. This is not to say, necessarily, that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. But surely Adam walked with God in innocence and fellowship. This was God’s design. However, man profaned his sanctuaries through transgression- opening the door to that alien spirit of disobedience to enter. The LORD departed and the spirit of disobedience took up residence. The Glory departed from the Temple (as it were), and since that time all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

God’s Plan for Man- More than Obeying the Commandments

God is in the process of bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10). Men are born as children of disobedience. They are of their father the devil. How could they become children of God? Jesus said it plainly in John 3:3; you must be born again. Understand that a person is made a child of God through the process of spiritual regeneration so that they are no longer children of disobedience. This is why John says, “now” are you the sons of God (I John 3:2). There was a time when they were not sons of God, but now they are. This is an absolute miracle of God.  

One cannot become something, by nature, simply by practicing. A dog cannot become a cat by practice (Jeremiah 13:23). Only if something happens of supernatural effect can the essential nature of anything be changed. In another figurative picture, the nature of man is to bring forth “thorns and briars”- are rejected, and near unto cursing who’s end is to be burned (Hebrews 6:8). An apple tree cannot produce oranges; and a thorn tree cannot produce a useful fruit. Nevertheless, because we have those things that accompany salvation, a better thing can be expected of us (Hebrews 6:9). What is it? The fruit of the Spirit (Matthew 12:33). 

It is impossible for a person, by means of keeping the law, to yield the fruit of the Spirit- because in order to yield the Spirit’s fruit- one must have the Holy Spirit. A person can imitate good behavior, but God wants a change of heart and spirit. He wants us to do good by nature. We have to have the indwelling Holy Spirit to be what God wants us to be. We have to have “begun in the Spirit” (Galatians 3:3). This is God’s design for man. 

The Law of Moses, though Spiritual, falls woefully short of bringing many sons unto glory because it cannot work in them to will and do God’s good pleasure (Romans 7:14, (Philippians 2:13). All the law could do was show man the standard. In the process of giving man His law, that law brought the “law of Sin” to the surface (Romans 7:13). Paul says that when the commandment came Sin revived – and I died (Romans 7:9). What is it? Sin took advantage of the commandment in such a way that Paul found that what was ordained to be of life actually became a means of death. Why? The Law gave the sinful nature something to rebel against (Romans 7:23 Romans 7:11).

The children of Disobedience

There is an alien spirit at work in the unregenerate causing them to will and to do Satan’s lusts and desires, under the guise of their own good pleasure. This nature can be restrained with institutional law, just as a dangerous animal can be trained to perform in a circus or at a zoo. This training gives the impression that the wild nature in the animal does not exist. Nevertheless, at times, the force of the animal’s true nature comes out, and people get hurt or killed. Any training based change can only ever be temporary. This is important. This is why you cannot teach a person to be a Christian. You can teach them to try to imitate Christ- but it is contrary to their nature. In time, they will make war with the things of God, because their mind and heart are at enmity with God. 

Eph 2;1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

Charles G. Finney in the 1800s argued against Original Sin, I believe, because he trusted more in his present experience than in the biblical revelation. The proof that men are spiritually dead is that they fall short of the Glory of God. Man cannot in himself or herself rise to the level of the Glory of God. No matter how well they keep the commandments they still have to deal with the fact that the Holy Spirit in not working in them both to will and to do God’s good pleasure. It’s not about whether or not a person can to some degree keep the law and ask God to forgive the rest; that is a horrendously low view of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. Nor through fearful judgments and threats can one bring about an end the inward rebellion that must be dealt with through the Cross of Christ.

Why Graft them in if they are already OK? 

If men are not dead towards God, why did the Gentiles need to be engrafted into the vine? (Romans 11:24) If the Tree is not corrupt, why does it bring forth thorns and briars? (Matthew 7:16) Trees bring forth after their own kind (Genesis 1:12). If you want to change the tree’s fruit, you have to change the tree’s root (Ezekiel 11:19). Identifying just “where” Sin is holed up in a sinner is a matter of debate; but who can debate the fact that men and women do not bear the fruit of the Spirit of God by their own nature? Who can overlook the masses of humanity bringing forth a steady harvest of thorns and briars?

If man merely needs to repent of sins that are past, and resolve to obey the commandments in the future, why do men need the Holy Spirit in order to be Christ’s? (Romans 8:9) It is because they do not presently have the Holy Spirit in the sense that God desires. They cannot yield the Fruit of the Spirit by nature. Man’s nature is horribly corrupted; not to the extent that he/she cannot obey God; but they do not obey from the heart. They cannot because they are of their Father the Devil and the lusts of their father is their desire (John 8:41-45 see also John 4:34). That is what gratifies them. This is why Jesus said in John 3:3 “Ye must be Born Again.”

When a person becomes a New Creature, they receive a whole new desire. God works in them both to will and do His good pleasure. Regenerate man can bear Fruit. He can love from the heart like God loves. God pours out His love into their heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). This is what God wants. Anything less is Law. Anything less is why Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians. A person has to begin and continue in the Spirit in order to be made perfect. Christ is of no effect to those that seek perfection by the Law. It did not get the Jews where God wanted them; it could not change their nature. Christ through the cross can deal with man’s nature and prepare them for the indwelling presence of the Fruit enabling Holy Spirit.

New Feet On An Old Path

New Feet On An Old Path
Robert Wurtz II

Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before. (Joshua 3:4)

The children of Israel were preparing to cross over, with much anticipation, into the Promised Land. The people have their concepts of what this new life means, but the reality of the matter is that they have not passed this way before. Their forefathers wasted away and died in the wilderness until only Joshua and Caleb were left to lead. Rebellion springing from evil hearts of unbelief had so plagued the people that they did not enter into His promised rest. God having put all the unbelievers out, He was preparing to lead His people into a place that they could not now conceive of – a place where God would be present in such a way that He would carry all of his enemies before Him. 

Sanctify Yourselves

When God comes near our attention must be arrested and all preconceived notions of God must be cast down – to make way for the God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. It was not time to think of God in a way they had thought of Him before or they had seen their rebellious forefathers think of Him: it was time to sanctify themselves and prepare for His arrival. For had God been with them He had driven their enemies out from before them – but rather the devil ran wild among them even as he does in our day. What shall we do Joshua? “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Why Joshua? Because you have not passed this way before. You have been a lot of ways, but you have not passed this way. You have tried a lot of gimmicks, but you have not passed this way before. 

By This Shall You Know

And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. (Joshus 3:10, 11)

God was about to drive the enemies out from before the Israelites. All He needed was to come – just to show up – in His manifest presence and the enemy would flee. Perhaps you’re already thinking of the passage: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7, 8) This has always been the pattern of it. When we are finally prepared to submit ourselves to God, we will know the manifest presence of God. But He must be exalted in our eyes. He must be sanctified in our hearts. We cannot think of Him as anything man-made, for He is the only “only one.” There is none like unto Him. Their forefathers perished  having concocted a “god” after their own lusts and imaginations that they might “play” before it. Jehovah (YHWH) was not a demon, whom they were dancing and playing around as if it were the lord. He is the majestic exalted One that holds all power in His hands. When He moves none can ask Him, What doest thou? You will know what the One True God is among you, because He will drive the enemy out from before Him. 

Jesus the True Joshua

When Jesus came into the world and began His ministry he was moving in an authority that was carrying all principality and power before it. Demons would fall at His feet and beg him not to destroy them or torment them before “the time.” Even the Disciples struggled and could not cast a demon out of one dear child that threw him into the fire and the water. Jesus was not happy. He referred to them as a twisted and faithless generation and demanded that the child be brought to Him. Jesus rebuked the demon and the child was healed instantly. (Matthew 17:15-18) Later they asked him why they could not do it – He said because the type of demon vexing the boy came out only by prayer and fasting. It took an extraordinary walk with God to deal with it. We need an extraordinary walk with God in this crisis hour. 

New Feet on an Old Path

The Disciples were often content in those days to allow Jesus to do the fasting and praying. They allowed Him to spend the time in communion with the Father. But as with Joshua so too with the Disciples, they will need to sanctify themselves and prepare for the coming of the Lord (inward and into man). He was not coming this time to take up residence in a building, but in the very Bodies of the people. Sanctify yourself Peter! Sanctify yourself John! For you have not passed this way before. You have walk with the Lord Jesus and you have healed the sick, but you have not passed this way heretofore. When God came in the book of Acts a history broke out upon the human race never before seen in human history. God was among the people carrying all before Him. Sometimes we forget how dreadful these times were. They watched Jesus ascend into Heaven after He had been raised from the dead. There is nothing like unto that in all of the scriptures. The Spirit was poured out and a transformation took place so complete, that it ushered 120 people into the Kingdom of God at once. They were moving in a reality no human being save the Lord Jesus Christ had known to this point. Sanctify yourselves you 120! Prepare the way of the Lord!… for you have not passed this way heretofore. The Lord Jesus had walked in this reality and now the 120 would take it up. Stunning things happened. Fearful things.

When God Comes

 By the time we get to Acts 5 two people had been smitten dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. Herod made the dreadful error of exalting himself in the presence of God and was was struck dead where he stood and worms ate him. (Acts 12:23) In the next chapter a pretender named Barjesus decides to act out in the midst of a move of God and the hand of the Lord came upon him – blinding him for a season until he could get some sense. Consider these verses to get a feel for what it must have been like to have lived the “book of Acts experience”:

“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43 KJV) 

“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.” (Acts 5:5 KJV)

“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (Acts 5:11 KJV)

“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” (Acts 19:17 KJV)

Chapter to chapter there are signs and wonders being performed, even demons being cast out. God was near and He was driving out His enemies before Him. The only limitation to this reality is when the people decide it is no longer necessary to sanctify themselves before the Lord. For Joshua and those that came across the Jordon they refused to throw down the gods and altars that littered the landscape. God warned them in Judges 1 and 2 that he would no longer drive their enemies out. Why? because the people were trying to entertain the very thing God wanted thrust out. So He left the enemies in the land to be thorns in their sides. God has often given the people what they demonstrate by their conduct that they want. 

God Came and God Went

The majority of people in Israel did not want God. That is why they died in the Wilderness. Had they wanted God, He would have never allowed them to die there. They wanted their sin and they longed to return to Egypt. They took a look at God on Mount Sinai and wanted no part of “that God.” So they fabricated one themselves to play around. This will be the pattern of the people over the centuries. Finally God is preparing to roll-out again. As bad as He wanted to stay – He cannot live in the filth of sin. The more the prophets called them back to the covenant the angrier and more high-handed the people became. Alas God laid it on the line in Jeremiah 6 when he stated emphatically:

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BA)”>
    who have eyes<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BB)”> but do not see,
    who have ears but do not hear:<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BC)”>
22 Should you not fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BD)”> me?” declares the Lord.
    “Should you not tremble<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BE)”> in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BF)”>
    an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
    they may roar,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BG)”> but they cannot cross it.
23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BH)”> hearts;
    they have turned aside<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BI)”> and gone away.
24 They do not say to themselves,
    ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God,
who gives autumn and spring rains<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BK)”> in season,
    who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BL)”>
25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
 your sins have deprived you of good. (NIV)

It might as well read as a newspaper headline. people are committing sin in such high-handed ways that our forefathers would turn over in their graves. Nobody is asking “where is the Lord?” They are dancing around the golden calf of the man-made gods of much of modern Christian TV and radio. When was the last time you turned on the TV and trembled because He and not men were being exalted? When was the last time a mainline minister – ministered a sermon that so exalted Christ that it made you tremble before a holy God? They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(BJ)”> the Lord our God. 

Passing this Way

There is a way we need to pass that does not travel through the well trodden paths of the lusts of men; but a path like unto Israel walked when it followed behind the Ark of God or when the Church was born in the book of Acts. We cannot look back to a reference point and say “we will do this” or “we will do that” because you have not passed this way before. You have passed a lot of places and you have heard a lot of things, but you have not passed this way before. The way of separation and holiness. The way of set apart unto God – ness. A place of fasting and prayer. A place where the demons will know who Christians are unlike the bygone years of, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) There are no reference points outside of the book of Acts or moves of God like unto that – that we can look to. God has moved in book of acts power in times past, but for the overwhelming majority of us you have not passed this way before. May the Lord lead us into that place of absolute separation and faith that we may do his will in this desperate time. May the Lord speak to us words of direction that we might follow him as they did in the book of Acts. Not falling behind and not getting ahead. May the Lord gives us ears to hear once again what the Spirit is saying unto the churches. 


Survival of the Revival (Revisited)

Survival of the Revival (Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)

In 2004 I preached a series of messages to our Adult Bible Class concerning the subject of repentance and revival. Our church had been visited of God in a marvelous way giving rise to numerous rededications to the Lord and over 30 water baptisms. There was an urgency among many that danger was on the horizon. Not just danger of judgment, but the very real danger that the churches would backslide into a deeper hardness and worldliness than they already had. Although I never heard God say it, it was almost as if we were facing the same fate of the church at Ephesus, “Repent and do your first works, lest I remove thy lamp stand out of its place.” Snow storms had forced church closings in an unprecedented way that winter. Each cancellation caused the urgency to grow stronger. Many were getting the message loud and clear. The prophet said it this way, “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid…” One translator put it, “I have heard Thy report.” The prophet is alarmed. There is a great urgency. His prayer? O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

As God was moving…

 One of the great challenges of that time was that so many people had their own definition of revival. At that time we were still in the shadow of the so-called ‘holy laughter’ of Tortonto, the ‘Holy Ghost Bartender’ blasphemy and a host of other weird manifestation infestations among works that very well may have started off well. Eventually men like Todd Bentley would be kicking people in the face with their biker boot and calling it ‘Holy Ghost direction.’ A few people claim to be healed and delivered and suddenly everything that happened in these meetings was validated. The people cast discernment to the wind and the Church received another hefty black-eye for the nonsense. It happened as Derek Prince, one of the most respected figures in the Charismatic Movement, warned some years before when he wrote:

“Now, the Bible speaks about signs and wonders. It says some things about them that are good, and some that are very frightening. I want to turn to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and read a few verses there, beginning at verse 9. The coming of the lawless one [that is the title of the Antichrist] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

So, Paul says here there are such things as lying signs and wonders. There are true signs and there are lying signs. True signs attest the truth. Lying signs attest lies. Satan is fully capable of supernatural signs and wonders. Unfortunately, many in the Charismatic movement have the attitude that if something is supernatural, it must be from God. There is no scriptural basis for that assumption. Satan is perfectly capable of producing powerful signs and wonders to attest his lies, and the reason such people are deceived is because they did not receive the love of the truth. On such people God will send strong delusion. That is one of the most frightening statements in the Bible. If God sends you strong delusion, you will be deluded. I think that is one of the most severe judgments of God recorded in Scripture, sending these people strong delusion. They will be condemned, these people, because they did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”(D.P. Protection from Deception 1996)

Notice how he stated that the Charismatic movement is particularly vulnerable to deception because they think that everything that happens supernatural is of God. It is not. It was not until Todd Bentley was caught in adultery that many people left off believing he was legit. Even then some wanted a ‘quick restoration’ so he could get back in his ‘ministry’. It is madness. How do things like this happen? It happens when the supernatural becomes front and center in the churches. When people start following signs and wonders instead of signs and wonders following them, they are ripe for deception. 

The Danger of ‘Spiritual Experiences’      

Things have changed a lot in the last 8 years. A whole generation of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians have entered Christendom that express their faith primarily with music. Notice I did not say praise and worship, but music. Many believe that the presence of the Lord is the strange feeling they feel when the electric piano is set to strings or when the tempo carries the people off into a frenzy. They think that the presence of the Lord comes and goes as they worship and praise. This is simply false. When the cloud and fire sat over the Tabernacle it was there day and night. The only thing that ever caused the presence of the Lord to depart was sin and compromise. This is played out in Ezekiel chapter 8 and following. Emotions come and go- but the presence of the Lord will remain so long as He is made welcome. (Isaiah 66:1ff, Acts 7:1ff, Ephesians 5:18, etc.). Paul told the Corinthians:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The Corinthians apparently did not know that the Holy Spirit ‘dwelled’ in them. ‘Dwelleth’ is a present reality. We spend a lot of time asking God to come to a place where He already is. What many are really saying is that they want a deeper spiritual experience. But when we say that we have to ask what we mean by that. Are we saying we want a close consciousness of God? Are we asking for a double-portion of Holy Spirit conviction? Because when the Spirit is come He will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. When the Holy Spirit is near the fear of the Lord is upon the people. When John saw Jesus He fell at His feet as dead. Paul was knocked clean off his mule and was blinded when he saw Jesus. Is this what we are asking for? Do we want an Isaiah 6 experience where we cry out woe is me for I am undone? This is an important question to ask. Once our desire turns towards a quest for an inward experience of some kind of Spirit manifestation we are moving in dangerous territory. Emotional people desire emotional experiences. The Holy Spirit must not be confused with an emotion that accompanies His presence; otherwise anything that can create a similar feeling may be confused with the Holy Spirit. Derek Prince continues his warning:

“I do not want to appear critical, but I have to say, to my understanding, most of what is called worship in the Charismatic movement is not worship at all. Often it is very self-centered: “God heal me. God bless me. God, make me feel good. God do this and God do that.” It is ego-centric; it is soulish. Only the spirit can focus directly on God. Much of the music that we have in church today appeals to the soul, stimulates the soul, It is very much the same kind of music as is used in the world to stimulate the soul. I am no expert in music, absolutely not at all. I cannot sing a note in tune. But I have a certain sensitivity to the impact of music. Having lived five years in Africa, I am aware that certain repetitive themes and rhythms can deaden your sensitivity. If you sit under that long enough, especially when it is very loud, you lose the capacity to discern. And in Africa those rhythms are used to call up demons.” (D.P. Protection from Deception 1996)

Hanging around too long…

During the Revival in 2004 I published and preached these words, “This is where many revivals blow up. People start seeking a “deeper experience” in the Lord in some mystical way and end up ready for the funny farm. Instead of allowing the Spirit of God to empower them for service they keep seeking more and more and more “spiritual blessing” until they just flat lose it all together! The pressure and drive to minister becomes so volatile that they nearly explode like an atomic reaction from the pressure. Anyone seeking an experience with Christ apart from knowing Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings- being made conformable until His death- is headed for flakesville”. Why? Because the anointing of God is for service. It is not for our entertainment. An experience with God that is genuine causes us to want to share the faith with others and conform to pure religion. A lot of things have been blamed on the Holy Ghost that were not God at all! People don’t bark in the Holy Ghost. They don’t contort their bodies like epileptics or any other demonic thing. When people don’t use their anointing to minister and they keep seeking more and more and more power and blessing—they open themselves up to devils.” (Survival of the Revival, courtesy 2004) As Andrew Strom said preaching in Kansas City during this same time of revival, “revival is not the top blowing off of the church- it is the bottom falling out.”

Protecting the Ground God has Given Us

So what does it mean to be revived? Simply means we come into a place where we are full of the Holy Spirit. What does that look like? A good example is found in the life of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. I have a few thoughts along this line:

1) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and not desire greatly to minister to the lost (Acts 4:31).

2) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and continually struggle with sin (John 16; Mark 16, Romans 6:2, etc.). 

3) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and not love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself (1 John 4:8). 

4) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Ghost and be speaking by the Holy Ghost and speak of Christ irreverently. Jesus said in John 16:14 that when the Spirit is come “He will glorify Me.” (see also 1 Cor. 12:3) The Holy Ghost exalts Christ to the highest place of all. 

5) It is impossible to be full of the Holy Spirit of grace and not deny ungodliness and worldly desires. The Spirit of grace teaches us to be sober, righteous and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11- 12)     

When God sends revival into our lives and into our church serious changes take place in our priorities. People begin to feel the heart of God. God’s concerns become their concerns. The fear of the Lord comes over the churches so as to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people. Christ must be exalted, not in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 

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