God’s people want revival.  We see the way the both the church and the world are going.  We have people in the position of a pastor saying that Jesus isn’t the only way.  We have so many people, even in the church, redefining God’s Word and claiming that what God has called sin and an offense to him really isn’t.

This verse comes to my mind.

“Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”   Galatians 6:7 NKJV

We’ve been doing some serious reaping.

If My People

There is a verse we go to often, one that promises redemption no matter how bad the circumstances.

If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and see my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

That is an awesome promise, but I think most of the time we go straight to the second part and ignore the first.

This is an IF/Then promise of God.  “If” you do this, “then” I will do that.  There are some promises that are unconditional. This isn’t one of them.

Each of us individually has the natural tendency to think we are right.  We see so clearly everyone else’s issues, but we give ourselves a pass on our own.  Jesus talked about this:

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”  Matthew 7:3-5 NLT

He’s not saying that it means your friend’s issues are okay.  He’s saying that you can’t help them until you take care of your own stuff first.

We are so incapable of righteousness on our own that we need God to show us what needs to be dealt with.  That is the sanctification process, God cleaning out our stuff through the Holy Spirit that indwells believers.  (John 16:8)  We are justified, made right in his sight, when we believe in Jesus Christ as the salvation of God (Genesis 15:6, Isaiah 43:10-11, Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:24, Romans 5:1, Romans 10:10,) But it is the daily work of the Holy Spirit to convict us of what is out of alignment with God’s will in our life and empower us to overcome. (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 John 5:5)  That is a lifelong process and it doesn’t end until we see Jesus face to face.  (Philippians 1:6)

David understood this and it is what he was talking about in Psalm 51:

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.  Psalm 51:10-13

He was saying, “I can’t do it on my own, take out anything in me that keeps me from you.’   He knew he couldn’t lead anyone to God while he had issues of his own.

Paul said the same thing to the Corinthians:

My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.  1 Corinthians 4:14

It’s Not Them, It’s Us

But we seem to miss all of that.  We look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 and we come away thinking, “God change them.  Show them they’re wrong.  Fix them.

It’s not them, it’s us.

God says, If my people, you and me as believers in Christ:

  1. Humble ourselves
  2. Pray
  3. Seek my face
  4. Turn from our wicked ways

That last one is the kicker isn’t it?  He is not talking about if the world around us repents.  He is saying the condition for Him coming and working in our communities and culture in an overwhelming move is if we turn from our sin.  If we acknowledge we have “stuff” that isn’t in agreement with his word and his will.

That’s called repentance.  A turning away.   And he is telling his people, you and me, that we need to repent.

Every single one of us has stuff.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

Note that this letter is also written to the church and John is telling them how to walk with God.  It’s basically the same message as 2 Chronicles 7:14, you have to get rid of your “stuff,” but he does it in clear detail with a fuller promise.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.  We have to admit it is a sin in the first place, and then he forgives and empowers us to overcome it.  1 John 1:9

Simple, right? But why isn’t it easy?

It’s because of pride, which is why humbling ourselves is the very first thing listed in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

On Being Overcomers

As Bible believing Christians, I think our biggest obstacle is that we have an “us and them” mindset.  We see all these issues going on and we tell ourselves and each other, “I didn’t vote for him.” Or “‘They’ are doing this.” “”He’ is such a (you fill in the blanks)”

Don’t say you don’t do this.  I see, hear, and read it all the time.

They.  He. Them.

As long as we stay stuck in that mindset, we will stay exactly where we are.

If you are serious about seeking after God, ask yourself this question and get real.  Think over the relationships and situations God has put you in.

Have you spoken up every time an opposing view, one that you knew would grieve the heart of God, and presented the truth of Christ?

Or did you say nothing because it might jeopardize a business connection and they might think you are a little “out there?”

Have you had a friend that made coarse jokes, or even worse, cheated on their spouse, and instead of going to them and telling them it wasn’t right, said nothing?  Maybe you disconnected from them, but quietly without giving them the reason why because you don’t like conflict.  Maybe you even told yourself, “Who am I to judge?”

I know I haven’t.

You don’t have to “judge,” i.e. “decide,” if it is right or not.  God has already made it very clear his position on both those things.  One is so important he put it in his top 10 (Exodus 20:14.)  He expresses the types of behavior we should be exhibiting if we have the spirit of the Living God within us.

3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Ephesians 5:3-5 NLT

Those aren’t the only situations.  I’m sure God is bringing to your mind times when he prompted you to say or do something and you didn’t.

If we haven’t done that, we are part of the problem.

We have silently endorsed and facilitated that mindset and spiritual stronghold and we are just as guilty, we are just as much a part, as the one who is actively engaging in it.

Christianity isn’t about toleration. At all.  Ever. 

There is a passage in Ezekiel that very clearly illustrates what God expects from people who seek him.

First, God tells him, “You need to get right.”

10 Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. 11 Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”  Ezekiel 3:10 NLT

Next, he tells Ezekiel in verse 18 that if God gives him a message and Ezekiel doesn’t warn the people, he will hold Ezekiel responsible for it.  Then, he repeats the same thing:

20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.” Ezekiel 3:20-21 NLT

Then he repeats this again in Ezekiel 33:18.  He is talking to his people.  This is the exact same thing in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Old and New: Saved Through Faith

You may be saying, “Well that’s Old Testament, we’re under the New Covenant saved by grace and that doesn’t apply.”

First, it ALL applies.  If you don’t take note of what God says in the Old Testament and understand how seriously he takes walking with integrity, there is no way you can understand anything the New Testament writers are saying.

Second, the grace part comes in through faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.   Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

Nothing in that has changed from the Old to New Covenant.  Salvation has always been through faith in the salvation of God . . . Yeshua.  (Genesis 15:6, Isaiah 43:10-11 NASB)

The law was given to show us that we are utterly and completely incapable of righteousness without the redemption of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 3:20 NLT, Galatians 3:19 NLT)

Third, the New Testament says the exact same thing.  In both letters to the Corinthians Paul is raking the church over the coals because they are tolerating sin.  You confront and hope for immediate restoration and repentance, but you don’t tolerate it and allow it to remain because it will affect the entire church body. (1 Corinthians 5:6-7.)

After exhorting people in confession and the power of prayer (James 5:13-18 NLT,) James ended his letter to believers with an exhortation to work to bring back believers who had fallen away (James 5:19-20.)  Jude ended his short letter in the exact same way (Jude 1:24-25.)  This is at the end of a letter warning against false teachings and “shameless shepherds,” those leaders who weren’t take their responsibility to guide and protect those in their care seriously (Jude 1:8-13.)

The very last book written, Revelation, includes a rebuke to the church of Thyatira.  They had a lot of people who loved the Lord in the church and a lot of good programs going, but they were tolerating a woman who was teaching false doctrine and leading people into immorality.  (Revelation 2:18-29 NLT.)

What are We Really “Loosing” in Heaven?

Jesus said:

 “And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”  (Matthew 16:19(1  NLT, Matthew 18:18 NLT)

What this means is when you allow, tolerate, or come into agreement with something, you are giving the spirit behind it more force in heaven.  You are enabling and facilitating it.

Spirits Rampant in the Church

Spirit of Lawlessness

When you speak against elected leaders, you are giving force to the spirit of lawlessness.  God tells us to pray for those in authority over us.  (1 Timothy 2:1, Jeremiah 29:7)

Spirit of Witchcraft

When you don’t take a stand against someone who is trying to manipulate or control a situation, you are giving room to the spirit of witchcraft.  No one likes conflict or ugly situations, but we aren’t supposed to cave.  God says to stand firm.  (Luke 21:19 NLT)

Antichrist Spirit

When you speak against other believers or come against Israel and the Jewish people, you are permitting and giving force to the Antichrist spirit.  There are a lot of words slung about bashing other people who have confessed Christ as Lord and Savior because they believe differently in certain areas: when to baptize, what days to observe, how the church should be structured and the role of women in it, and spiritual gifts are just a few.

I remember the first time I read about the filoque controversy all I could think was, “And you split a church over that?”

At least pondering who the Holy Spirit proceeds from has some theological weight, it’s not like getting mad and leaving a church over the color of the carpet that was chosen or because someone didn’t invite you to lunch after church.  But it’s more than a little arrogant to think that you can define with certainty the nature of God who is beyond our comprehension.  (Job 36:26)  You may think you have a handle on his nature, but we won’t truly understand until we see him face to face.  (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Everyone who confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their hearts that God raised him from the dead is part of the body of Christ.  (Romans 10:9) Someone being in a different denomination than you and believing differently in a particular area does not give you license to trash talk them (1 Corinthians 3:4-9) and when you do, you are bringing judgment on yourself for speaking against Christ.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Also, when God promised a blessing to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12:3, that was an eternal covenant.  It was not an If/Then promise, he swore by his own name and it cannot be broken.  (Genesis 22:16)   God also said to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Both blessing the Jewish people and praying for Jerusalem put us in a position of blessing.

What Christians need to understand, especially in the times that we are in, that when Jesus comes again he will return to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 43:7, Ezekiel 44:1-3, Revelation 19:14) to the Jewish people (Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 14:3-5)  The rise of antisemitism we are seeing today with the push to erase the nation of Israel and to scatter and eradicate the Jewish people is straight from the hand of Satan.

If he can do that, if he can break God’s word . . . he wins.

He can’t, but he has fooled himself through pride into thinking otherwise, and he has deceived many within the body of Christ as well.

Spirit of Lust and Perversion

When you laugh at or make vulgar jokes, or endorse movies or shows that promote lasciviousness, you are increasing the spirit of lust and perverseness.

That our nation has come to the point that the highest court in our land has endorsed same-sex marriage . . . that gets our attention.  A lot of churches are speaking out about that.  But there are a lot things going on in the very churches that are speaking against that spirit in one area that do absolutely nothing when it comes through in other actions.

Here’s the thing.  Sin is sin.  Calling someone an idiot (Matthew 5:22 NLT) or gossiping (Proverbs 6:16-19)  causes just as much separation from God as someone participating in a homosexual lifestyle (Romans 1:23-27, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, Lev 18:22, Lev 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:4-6, Revelation 22:15, Revelation 21:8.)  All need to be confessed, repented of, and submitted to Christ.

But the consequences of those sins in our lives are different.

So, the next time you see or read about someone who is in bondage to homosexuality, ask yourself, “Father, have I done something that has given fuel to that spirit?”

When he brings something to your mind,

  • Confess and repent of it,
  • Plead the blood of Jesus over that area of your life.
  • Ask God to fill you with his Holy Spirit with the power to overcome and the spirit of purity.

After you’ve done that, once you’ve gotten yourself right, then pray for that person.  Ask God to give them a spirit of grace and humility, that the stronghold of pride is broken and that the love of Christ expels the shame, fear, and condemnation and that they can see who they are in their Heavenly Father’s eyes.

It Starts with Us

If we want to see change in our communities and culture, we have to first allow God to change us.  He can’t do that unless we acknowledge we have things to change, and sometimes we can’t even see it until he shows us.

And he won’t show us unless we are willing, until we humble ourselves (step 1 in 2 Chronicles 7:14) and ask him to.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

Photo Credit: A fire rainbow seen off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina on August 18, 2015. of this rare phenomenon.