We left off yesterday talking about how Christians need to be afraid to sin if we are to see an open heaven. I am not talking about the old, hardline, Pentecostal movement where you always wore long sleeves and the women never put on make up. But we are not talking about the other extreme, where, you can do anything you want to do during the week, then you come and sing on the platform on Sunday. When experiencing an open heaven, God does not allow such things to go on.
When you mention sin, some church folk tune you out because they grew up in a time when they were told, “Don’t watch TV, Don’t wear makeup, don’t cut your hair, don’t have fun, DON’T SMILE! That is not what I am advocating here. However, the Bible has its own list of sins that it says not to commit. This makes it easy to preach what should be done and what should not be done:
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So, yes, there is a list of things we are not to be involved in. And, it says that the works of the flesh are plainly recognized. There is no guess work here. Are these things forgivable? Of course they are. But when we are desiring to operate under an open heaven, it is time to step away from these things completely so God is pleased with our lives.
We have all seen revivals break out in major cities only to end after several months due to indiscretions on the part of the leadership. If we are to see a sustainable revival which goes on for YEARS and shakes whole countries, we have to get the mind set that we cannot indulge our flesh in any of the sins listed above: even if God will forgive us. We are not talking about whether we will make it into heaven (even though verse 21 above says that those who do these things WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God). We are talking about being a clean vessel that God can use. I believe that we do not see a world shaking revival because God cannot trust us as advertising for His Spirit.
The cycle is the same: A revival breaks out in a place and everyone flocks there to check it out. God moves and shakes the place for a period of time, then, the leaders begin to try to package it and sell it. As soon as the wisdom of man comes into the picture, God vacates and looks for another people who will stay humble and just continue to do the things that brought revival in the first place. In the worst cases, leadership falls prey to lust, sexual immorality, etc. and the revival comes to a halt because of sin. We look no different from the world in the things we do.
The unsaved of the world are looking for a solution to their problems. When the church tries to be “seeker friendly”, and compromise to the point that we look no different from the world, why should they come to us? We need to portray a clean and holy lifestyle that gives the world an alternative to the failed lifestyle they already have. But what is happening is this: They get to the end of their rope and come to the church for answers. What they discover is a powerless church that can’t even get their own lives in order. How can they help me?
When we say, “don’t worry about changing. You can go to heaven just like you are!” we are doing them a disservice. This is not what they are looking for! They already know that the lifestyle they live now only fills them with guilt and failure. Do not encourage them to stay in that. Show them the way of holiness that will take away the shame of their past life. This will produce joy in them. But they need to see it in you first.
We, as the church, need to live above reproach. Just be a doer of the word:
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
When we look into the mirror of God’s word, we are transformed into His image. This is what the world wants to see as proof that what you have is real. So show them the character of Jesus everyday. This will bring revival.
2nd Corinthians 3: 18 But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.
Next week, we will talk about the blessings that are evident when we are operating under an open heaven.