This sermon is number 5 in a series of 8
The Revival We Need - Part 5
"A Revival In Holiness"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2009 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
If you've been with us on previous occasions, you'll know that we started on Sunday morning, really, looking at 'What Is Revival?'. Then we took up a series 'The Revival We Need', and we saw on Sunday night that we need 'A Revival in Christ-Centred Gospel Preaching'. On Monday night, we need 'A Revival in the Bible'; Tuesday night, 'A Revival in Prayer'; and tonight we're looking at 'A Revival in Holiness'. Tomorrow evening we're looking at 'A Revival in Love', and on Friday night 'A Revival in the Holy Spirit'. It has been tremendous to see some of you out every night, and it's a blessing to my heart.
Tonight we're looking at the book of Nehemiah again, for the last time, we'll be turning our attention to other portions of Scripture tomorrow night and Friday night - but tonight we're looking at Nehemiah, and I want you to turn to chapter 9 again just to read the last verse, but we'll be looking primarily at chapter 10 of Nehemiah. So do turn with me, if you don't have a copy of the scriptures don't worry about it, just listen as we read together, and it will come together as we expound it in a moment or two.
So Nehemiah 9 verse 38 - and you remember that they had come to a place of humiliation and repentance, God's people that is, and in verse 38 we left them last night making a sure covenant, an agreement with God: and they "and write it", they wrote it down, "and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it".
Verse 1 of chapter 10: "Now those that sealed were, Nehemiah", and then there's a long, long list that we'll not read just now of the names of the people that sealed this covenant with their name. Then at verse 28 we'll take the reading up again: "And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law: And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD: Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God: And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God".
Let us pray: Father, we thank You for Your word. We acknowledged the other evening that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable. Lord, we pray that the inbred profitableness of these words will be opened up by the Holy Spirit now, and applied to all our hearts. Whatever our needs may be personally, those among us without Christ, and without hope in this life and that which is to come, Lord, save them by Your grace. Come by that Holy Spirit conviction, make them aware of the need of Christ. Oh God, we pray for Your own people, and we have a great need too, Lord. Oh, every single one of us, Lord, none of us can say we have no need of God. Lord, we have great need of more knowledge of holiness. Oh God, we pray that our own eyes would be opened to our own sinfulness, defilement and unworthiness in Your sight. Lord, that we would get not only a glimpse of ourselves, but for one glimpse of ourselves we would have ten glimpses of the Saviour. Lord, that we would see in Him all that we need, and all that has been provided for our holiness and sanctification in Christ. So help us, Lord, oh do something new tonight, Lord, in all our lives. Corporately together may the flames of revival even start, if they haven't already started, may they start tonight. Lord, may each of us be able to say: 'May it start in me'. Oh God, help us we pray, for Christ's sake, Amen.
We're looking tonight at 'A Revival in Holiness'. Now, if you don't know what 'revival' is, let me just reiterate it again: revival is for God's people, it's for Christians. You can't revive a dead corpse, there's no life in it. Revival is for those who have been born again by the Spirit of God, but have grown cold in their faith and need to be stirred up again, set on fire afresh for God. But just in case there are folk here with us tonight and you're not saved, I want you to understand that we are not preaching that you should seek after holiness - far from it. Yes, the Bible teaches that God is the holy God. Right from the very beginning of this book God is set forth to us as holy, holy, holy - thrice holy, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is depicted as the God who cannot look upon iniquity. That doesn't mean that He doesn't see our sin, what it means is: He takes no pleasure or delight in our sinfulness. The whole message of the Bible is that, because of our sin, we are estranged from this holy God. Our sins and iniquities have come between us and God.
Sin, therefore, had to be dealt with - and that was a great problem for the human race: their sin. If I can say it reverently, this is the great problem for the Almighty Holy God: our sin. God loves us, but God is a holy God and He cannot contravene His own nature of holiness. This is where the message of the Christian gospel comes in, because God came in the person of His own Son, Jesus Christ. He died on the cross, He Himself was separated, in some strange way forsaken by God at Calvary, because He was bearing in His own body our sins on that tree - and that's why He cried out: 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?'. Now He answered the question Himself in Psalm 22 where that was prophetically uttered: 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?, verse 1, in verse 3 the answer comes, 'For thou art holy'.
Because God is holy, He can't just, you see, sweep the sin under the carpet. He can't just wipe the slate clean, He has to be just and deal with sin! Yet because He loves us, and He is long-suffering, and He is not willing that any man, woman, boy or girl should perish, He himself was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. He took the rap Himself, went to the cross in the Lord Jesus Christ, and bore our sins, took our shame. Mrs Alexander put it like this:
'He died that we might be forgiven.
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to Heaven,
Saved by His precious blood'.
You see, we cannot become holy in and of ourselves - that's why Christ had to die on the cross, that's why He had to take our sin. If you never understood this, we call it 'imputation' - but don't be confused by that big word. When Jesus Christ, on the cross, took the burden of my sin and your sin, the great exchange was potentially there - that, if we have faith in Him and trust in Him alone, He can give us God's righteousness back. If we acknowledge that He took our sin, and trust Him alone for our salvation, He gives us the righteousness, the holiness of God Himself. That's amazing! So that when God looks down upon us as sinners, He sees the pure and spotless life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that's wonderful, surely that's worthy of a 'Hallelujah', child of God tonight? This is judicial forgiveness, it means that in God's court of law, if you like, we are forgiven. We have been declared righteous, not because of anything that we can do, but because of what He has done and we are trusting in that. My friend, are you trusting in that tonight? That is the only thing that can save you. A modern chorus asks the question:
'How can I be free from sin?
Lead me to the cross of Jesus!
How can I be pure within?' - Not through works, not through ritual, not through religion!
'Lead me to the cross of Jesus!'
But though it costs nothing to become a Christian, it costs everything to be a Christian - there's a difference. It's by faith alone that we are saved, but Jesus Christ didn't just die to make converts, He died to make disciples. He didn't just die to cleanse our sins in the past, but He died to give us power over sin in the present, and even deliver us from the very presence of sin in the future. You see, this is a complete salvation in this Bible. When we get saved God gives us a divine nature. Now what that simply means is: He implants within our hearts His own life. You see, we can't live holy lives in and of ourselves - that's why we are indwelt, the Bible teaches us, by the Holy Spirit. He comes into us, but the old sin nature is still there. You see, when we become Christians, whether or not we live practically holy lives is really down to the issue of which nature we feed. Whether we feed the sin nature and try to breathe new life into something that Christ has put to death on the cross, or whether we feed the new nature and allow God's Holy Spirit to live the very life of God through us.
Believer, what nature are you feeding? Do you need a revival in holiness? Brian Edwards, in his book 'Revival', said: 'God looks for men who will be willing to surrender anything and everything, so long as their life can be kept clean. Without exception, those whom God uses in revival are men and women who fear God and sin, and nothing else. They take seriously the command 'Be holy', God says, 'as I am holy''. Great revivalists of the past all had this emphasis on personal holiness. John Wesley declared in 1734: 'My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness, for without being holy myself I cannot promote real holiness in others'. Incidentally, that was four years before his conversion! David Brainerd recalls a time when among the Indians in North America at night, before a pagan festival, he went to the woods to be alone with God. His experience during that night reveals the kind of men that God can trust with revival, holy men. He said: 'All things here below vanished, and there appeared to be nothing of any considerable importance to me but holiness of heart and of life, and the conversion of the heathen to God. All my cares, fears and desires which might be said to be of a worldly nature disappeared, and were in my esteem of little more importance than a puff of wind. I exceedingly longed that God would get to Himself a name among the heathen, and I appealed to Him with the greatest freedom that I knew, that I would prefer Him above my chiefest joy'.
Are you there, believer? Duncan Campbell describes his own experience of surrendering fully to Christ. He was shot from his horse and seriously wounded in one of the last cavalry charges of the Great War. While a Canadian trooper was carrying him on horseback to the casualty clearing station, Campbell reviewed his life and saw how empty it had been - even as a Christian. He prayed Murray M'Cheyne's prayer: 'Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be'.
Now in chapter 10 of Nehemiah we have something akin to that, for if you count the names - 84 men put their seal to this covenant - they wanted God, and they wanted people, God and people to know they were serious about obeying God's word and living holy lives! The signatories of this declaration of dependence on God, after Nehemiah's signature, were the names of 22 priests between verses 1 and 8, 17 Levites from verses 9 to 13, 44 leaders of the people from verses 14 through to verse 27 - and by the way, these names are not exhaustive. We see from verse 28 that these names only represented whole families, so there were more involved in this covenant with God.
Now we have seen already that reading God's word is important, chapter 8 - 'Get out the book!', they said, that was their cry, 'Bring out the book!'. They opened God's word and they started obeying it again. We need to get back to the book if we're going to see revival. We saw last evening in chapter 9 that praying was important: they had to repent, they had to reflect, they recollected, and they reconstructed the things that had been broken down in their lives. So they were putting prayer back in its place - but now we're seeing that they actually took pen and paper and wrote down their intentions. They signed a covenant that they wanted to be totally obedient to the Lord and separate from the world!
You've probably been hearing a lot today about the United States of America, and the President-elect - but when the US Declaration of Independence was signed, that did not establish the country's independence. The US Declaration of Independence merely stated an intention, a cause and a reason for action. It had to be converted into fact, and that was done by force - the War of Independence. What an illustration that is to as Christians, for many times we have been to meetings just like this, many times we have heard God's word and we have been stirred and we've been blessed. Maybe you're here tonight, and you're not saved, and there have been times that your heart has been touched by God, and His grace and His forgiveness that you've heard about, and the precious blood of Christ that was shed for you because God loves you - and yet you, and even the believer in a similar position, walks out the same way they came in. You've heard God's word, you've been stirred by God's word, but you've failed to obey God's word.
This declaration in chapter 10 affected whole lives, and that's what Christianity is meant to do. It's not Sunday-go-to-meeting, and in the midweek maybe if I'm a really strong believer - that's not Christianity. Christianity is for the whole man, salvation is to save the whole man - for God wants the whole man, Jesus died for the whole man! Vance Havner said: 'Most church members live so far below the standard, that you would have to backslide to be in fellowship with them. We are so sub-normal, that if we were to become normal, people would think that we were abnormal'!
This dedication of the people was public, and it was also specific. Generally it affected their attitude to God's word, they were going to obey it - but what I want you to see tonight is: specifically, this declaration affected three areas of their life. First of all, the home; second, society; and thirdly, their worship. Now let's deal with these one by one. First of all: it affected the home. Their behaviour, specifically, in their marriages. Verse 30, look at it, they declared in this signed document: 'that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons to marry'. So here the Israelites were making this covenant that they would keep their relationships swept clean from foreign influence.
Now, can I say something to you? At the very beginning of time God created a man and He created a woman, and He instituted marriage - not society, God did. God planned it, He blessed it, He ordained it, and from the very beginning of time it has been the devil who has attempted to destroy it - and he's still doing it today right across our land. I believe the latest statistics are in our own province that one out of every three marriages now end in divorce, and the staggering thing is - believers - that the statistics aren't any different, I'm led to believe, in the church.
Now, from experience, Israel knew that this was their Achilles heel - for the young men in Israel were no different to anywhere else in the world, and when they saw a beautiful girl it didn't matter what background she had, or what nation she was from...the red blood started pumping. Many of these young girls that these young Israelites were marrying and setting up home with, it didn't matter in one sense that they were a different race - God's not racist - what God was concerned with was that they followed different gods, they worshipped pagan deities and idols, and often they worshipped these idols in great immorality and practices that are so vile we couldn't even mention them tonight. So they were exchanging sons and daughters, and with that exchange in marriage came an exchange of religious beliefs - and eventually their fidelity to the God of Israel, Jehovah, had been diluted.
Now many great men of God have been affected in this way: King David, King Solomon fell. They weren't the first, and they won't be the last. Yet the injunction is still given in the New Testament to God's people: 'Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers'. This principle needs to be stressed today, because there is such an increasing blurring of the lines between light and darkness. Holiness ought to affect our homes, holiness ought to affect our behaviour in marriage, holiness ought to affect all our relationships among family and friends. Can I ask you tonight: is there purity in your home? It's all right coming to a meeting with a Bible under your arm, and a suit on, and a big ten gallon hat - but what happens when the door is closed?
There is a severe problem, I think I mentioned it to you before, but I only mention it again because it is such a serious problem. The internet - whilst God is using it, and I know that - the internet has proliferated such vileness into homes that is unimaginable, inconceivable. Now all of us - but for the grace of God go I - because we're all susceptible to it. All of us, to a man - in particular - have fallen in the flesh, if not in the deed, by the eye, and the Lord Jesus said that's as much adultery as anything! But there is this anonymous sin, internet pornography - and I'll tell you: there are Christians that are in the grip of it. They're so ashamed that they can't seek out help, and I want to tell you tonight: if you have a problem with this, don't you be ashamed, because we're all only sinners saved by grace - and you need to get help before it destroys you, before it destroys your marriage, before it destroys your children.
But can I take this a step further, because it doesn't have to be the internet - it can be The Sun and The Star newspaper that some Christians read, imagine it! It could be television programmes - and we're all susceptible to this when we're on a lazy night and we're flicking through the channels, and something comes on and we just sit there and watch it! Now listen carefully: the immorality that marked these idolatrous pagan gods was a fertility cult that worshipped sex. I tell you: our nation worships a lot of things these days, but one of the things is definitely sex. It can get such a grip on believers lives, because it's everywhere around us - immorality on every hand, and all of us need to keep purity in our homes. Listen, can I appeal to you - and I'll come up against the teenage years very soon with my children, and I know it's easier preaching like this than dealing with it - but if you can, in all your power, keep a computer and a television out of their room, you make sure you do that.
What about purity in our relationships? There was a university study taken very recently, I believe, in the United Kingdom universities. It was a survey taken among 'evangelical' students and Roman Catholic students. They were comparing these students who had religious profession of one kind or another, with students that didn't have - and they found that there was no percentage of a difference between professing students and those who had no faith, regarding those who went into marriage without their virginity intact. Purity in relationships: listen, if Christians aren't any different from the world, how are we ever going to have revival?
What about purity in our attitude? The apostle Peter said, speaking of the home, if a relationship isn't right between a Christian husband and a Christian wife, our prayers will be hindered. It's serious, isn't it? Holiness affects the home. We can have all the holiness meetings we like, but if it doesn't touch the kitchen table, and it doesn't affect our habits, and it doesn't affect what we do in our leisure time - sure, what's it worth anyway?
It specifically affected their behaviour in their marriages and in their home in general, but secondly: it affected the whole society, because this declaration affected the behaviour on the Sabbath day and the sabbatical year. Verse 31: 'If the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath', that's what they declared, they wouldn't buy them, 'or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt'. Charles Swindoll says that for Israel to be holy in an unholy world, they had to learn to resist the powerful urgings psychologists call 'herd instinct' - doing what everybody else does, because they do it! Herd instinct is the pressure to conform to our peers, usually in order to avoid ridicule and rejection. Boy, how powerful is the herd instinct! Dr Ruth Berenda did a study on one occasion, and she got several groups of ten teenage young people. She brought them all together, group by group, and she said: 'Now, I'm going to bring you into a room, and I'm going to show you ten lines on a blackboard. I want you all to put your hands up when I point to the longest line on the blackboard'. They all agreed to this, but what one poor soul of the ten didn't know was that the rest of the nine had been taken off in secret, and told not to put their hand up to the longest, but to put their hand up to the second longest. So through each of these groups of ten, they made this experiment, and they found that there was one poor soul - when everybody put their hand up for the second longest line, they looked around them, and you could see their eyes bouncing, and maybe the sweat breaking, and the hand starting to rise. They knew, point of fact, that it wasn't the longest line - but everybody else had their hand up, so they put their hand up. In 75% of the cases, that's what happened.
You see how strong peer pressure can be. Dear unsaved friend here this evening, I said last night that John Wesley - even before he was saved - said when he was in Oxford University that he would only have friends that would help him to heaven. Are your friends taking you to hell, or are they giving you a hand up to the glory? The sad fact of the matter is, believers, it's not just unsaved people that are affected by peer pressure, but it seems today that Christians are judging standards of holiness upon what others are doing. Now this is tragic, churches are doing the same - such-and-such a church does this, so it must be OK; or such-and-such a place of worship has stopped doing that, so it's OK for us to cease - beware! I'll tell you: beware if we are in the Conservative crowd, and we think that we are all right - because you can have this same mistake in the pride of right position doctrinally, when you feel that you're being directed by God's word, and you've got it all right, and all the 'i's are dotted and all the 't's are crossed. Do you know something? You can be dead right, 'dead' being the imperative word! You see, you can have the doctrine right and the life is not. What counts is that we are obedient and subject to God's word. It doesn't matter where we belong in a sense, if the life is not intact in holiness for God.
Alan Redpath said: 'Is it not a fact that to many the voice of the Assembly has been louder than the voice of God in holy Scripture? Is it not a fact that the traditions of the elders have, in critical times, been more relied on than 'Thus saith the Lord'?'. So often, wherever we come from in church experience, we can miss the truth of separation, and we can be satisfied with being ecclesiastically separated from the established church, or physically separated from the world - while socially in our everyday humdrum mundane life, we're no different than our neighbours, we're no different than anybody else. What about business? Sure, the list is as long as I can think of, of the businessmen that are professing believers, and they'd cut your throat as quick as look at you! They'd walk all over you to make a pound, and the testimony of Christ is in disrepute because of businessmen, at times, who operate just like the Philistines! A sore point in our land is politics, and for too long - I'll tell you - the Gospel has been misunderstood as being something political. Can I say to you: the gospel has got nothing to do with politics. I'll tell you something better than that: do you know what politics is? It is the greatest manifestation of the world that I've ever seen. It is worldliness personified! Some are very quick to hammer other churches, and don't realise that they are in marriage with the world and it's affecting their spiritual lives.
What about the entertainment that we enjoy? Would we let a drunkard into our home? Would we let a man that swore like a trooper sit and talk to our children? But we watch it on the television, don't we? What about the soaps that will never make you clean? Every single one of them revolves around a public house, and yet you never seem to see anybody drunk! This is serious when we consider this. What about the clothing we wear? The immodesty at times that is seen even in places of worship, the company we keep, the language we use - what does it matter if we're separated from the crowd, or the other crowd, or physically the world, if we don't know this true holiness within our hearts? We can be correct, but there might be other people less correct and they're more holy!
We can go with the crowd like anybody, and it's a dangerous principle on which to live your life - to go with the crowd - remember Peter succumbed to the herd instinct, when? When Pilate, the enemy of the Jews, and Herod united together in an ungodly alliance against Christ - and Peter went along with the crowd! That's democracy for you. You see conformity to the world means that God's people lose the distinction of who they are. Conformity with the world and loss of distinction go hand-in-hand. Now the day of distinction for Israel was the Sabbath day, but the lines of that distinction have been blurred. At the very beginning of time in creation, God established a principle that one day in seven should be a day of rest. After the exodus from Egypt God give the Sabbath day as a gift to Israel, as a sign of their special covenant relationship with God as a nation. So the observation of the Sabbath, Saturday, carried a certain spiritual overtone. It was more than just having a rest for your physical well-being, but it spoke of a testimony that they had toward God.
Now the Christian celebrates the first day of the week, and it's also meant to be a memorial of a new creation. This is something you need to hear, unsaved one: the Jews kept the Sabbath day, which is the seventh day, which is a Saturday. They worked the whole week, and they could only rest at the end of their work - that's the law. But we keep the first day, why? Because we rest on a finished work, there is no work for us to do - and everything derives from something that is already done. Don't you be working for your salvation, it's finished. Jesus, our Lord, rose from the dead on the first day, and He brought to bear an entirely new order. Following His resurrection, almost every significant development in the life of the early Church took place on the first day of the week. If the Sabbath for Israel was a witness to surrounding nations that they were different, that they belonged in covenant relationship to Jehovah, in a similar way the first day of the week is telling people around us that we belong to the Lord, that it's the Lord's Day, it's special.
Now the Sabbath was hedged about with many observances and rules and rituals that we are not under in this age, but the fact of the matter is: we can learn an awful lot about how we should behave on the Lord's day by considering what the Lord Jesus did. What did He do? After His resurrection, between His resurrection and His Ascension, those 40 days - look at what He did on the Lord's Day, look at what the early believers did on the first day of the week. It gives us guidance as to how we should observe the Lord's Day, there is a pattern from the Lord and the apostles as to how the day should be spent in worship, in service to God, in meeting with God's people. It ought to be a different day than any other day!
Now, I know people have to work, some folk, but a lot don't - a lot don't. There's something else in verse 31, the seventh year - this had to be kept. Now what they would do was, the leaving of the seventh year, they wouldn't plough and sow the fields, they would leave it to settle and to rest. Now, what does that matter? Well, it was showing, imagine this, a whole year - they didn't have supermarkets, they didn't have GM crops, they didn't have mass produce, they were subsistence farmers, they lived off the land themselves, they provided for themselves - so they went a whole year without a harvest, that's living by faith if ever there was!
Now don't think living by faith is something that itinerant preachers do, it is something believers are meant to do. It just simply means - this seventh year left - we are to hold loose the things of this world, hold them loosely and be ready to let them go when the Lord asks. Now, what we are really saying here is: this holiness covenant challenged their relationship with society - and I'm asking you tonight as believers, are we any different from the world at all?
Thirdly and finally - it affected not only their home, and their society, it affected their worship: their behaviour toward God, their support of the Temple, verse 32. They brought the things that they hadn't done before that they should have done. They brought, in verses 33 to 39, gifts and sacrifices for ministry. Now nine times Israel's place of worship, the Temple, is mentioned. Verse 39 sums up really, at the end, their attitude, they said: 'We will not', we covenant and sign, 'that we will not forsake the house of God'. You've got to understand something: this is not the house of God, you see this building? It's only bricks and mortar. No church building is a house of God, now understand that. God used to dwell in temples made with hands, but God has got a new Temple now - and the church of Jesus Christ is not a building, it's not a denomination, it's a body of redeemed people, living stones that He's placing together for His glory. He has put into them His life, His Spirit! But individually that's the same: the believer's body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Now, dear unsaved friend, if you've ever tried to kick a habit, or you've ever tried to overcome a sin - this is what you're missing: you need the Holy Spirit in your heart. You need God's life, the only life that pleases God is His own life. He is the only one who can give you the power, John 1 verse 12: 'To as many as received Christ, to them gave he power to become the sons and daughters of God, even to as many as believe on his name'. But believer, you're the walking Temple of the Holy Ghost - and therefore it ought to affect where we go, it ought to affect what we say, what we think, what we do. Believers, whether they like it or not, even those that are as carnal as goats, are carrying the presence of God into ungodly places. It's serious.
When we are right with God, we'll be like the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we'll support God's work, we'll support God's house, God's people, and we will not neglect the house of God. But here's something else, Romans 12 verses 1 and 2 says there is an expected worship of us all, and it's not coming on a Sunday morning and a Sunday evening, it's presenting our bodies, our whole selves, wholly unto God, acceptable unto God, in His will giving ourselves unto God - have we done that? Paul is more or less saying: you'll not get a pat on the back for doing this, it's expected.
Do you not agree with me that we need a revival in holiness? I need, I need a revival in holiness. The island of Lewis, before the awakening, the revival, was in dire straits spiritually. This was a place that had experienced refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and had begun to grow cold and indifferent. The view of the situation as being dire was shared by the Free Church Presbytery of Lewis who, in the following declaration in the Stornoway Gazette and West Coast Advertiser, publicly expressed their deep concern for the need of holiness. Now I'm quoting this to you, and with this I finish: 'The Presbytery of Lewis, having taken into consideration the low state of vital religion within their own bounds, and throughout the land generally, call upon their faithful people in all their congregations to take a serious view of the present dispensation of divine displeasure manifested - not only in the chaotic conditions of international politics and morality, but also and especially in the lack of spiritual power from Gospel ordinances, and to realise that these things plainly indicate that the Most High has a controversy with the nation'! It went on: 'The Presbytery affectionately plead with their people, especially with the youth of the church, to take these matters to heart and to make serious inquiry as to what must be the end should there be no repentance! They call upon every individual, as before God, to examine his or her life in the light of the responsibility which pertains to us all - that haply, in divine mercy, we may be visited with a spirit of repentance and may turn again unto the Lord whom we have so grieved with our iniquities and waywardness'.
Next year will be the 150th anniversary of the 1859 revival in Ulster, and there will be great commemorations - but really there should be commiserations, because the only thing that stops a revival is sin. This anniversary teaches us that there must be 150 years of sin, that we haven't had a visitation of God since 1859.
Let's bow our heads. Now I know that a great deal of what I have said is to believers, but you know it applies to you, my dear friend, if you are still in your sin and have never been delivered from it. Don't you try to be holy now, you can't be holy, none of us can be holy in our flesh. You must come to the foot of the cross, you must bow there in brokenness and humility and confess your sin, and take the salvation that is a free gift that God offers to you - true life, and He will put His own life in your bosom. He will live His life through you. People say: 'Ach, I don't think I could keep it' - it's not you keeping it, it's Him keeping you. Would you let Him in tonight to cleanse you from the inside out, to know what it is to be holy? But believer: what responsibility there is upon us! We are meant to be holy priests, royal priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices. Where are we? Can you pray like M'Cheyne tonight: 'Lord, make me is holy as a saved sinner can be'? Do you know something? I believe this: you can be as holy as you want to be, you can be as holy as you want to be. God wants you holy, so He's not the obstacle - the problems are always on our side, aren't they? Surrender, bring your dirty cup to the Lord now, offer it up, be cleansed in the blood and filled by the Spirit, and you'll not regret it. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Lifeboat Mission in Moy, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth recording in his 'The Revival We Need' series, entitled "A Revival In Holiness" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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