When A Church Starts to Get Things Right
It is really impossible for the people of any local church to understand the spiritual consequences of worldliness and carnality upon the operations of God. God cannot bless where He wants to bless! God’s work is hindered and stifled through carnality and worldliness in the lives of church members. In Paul’s second epistle to the members of the church at Corinth, he commends them for taking care of the matters he addressed in his first epistle. Although the Corinthian believers had accepted Christ as their Savior at the writing of Paul’s first epistle to them, they were living in carnality. They were integrating various aspects of their previous pagan worship into the worship practices of their local church. Paul reminds the Corinthians believers of these issues in II Corinthians 7:1 and addresses once again the solution to these problems.
“1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. 3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you. 4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. 5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you” (II Corinthians 7:1-12).
The Holy Spirit of God is constantly working to bring about revival in every local church. He does so by convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment. However, He does not override the free will of mankind. The work of the Holy Spirit seeks to bring people to see their failures, repent of those failures, and yield their lives to His use. Humanity has two basic responses to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
1. Repentance with yieldedness
2. Hardening with resistance
Real repentance and yieldedness will be accompanied with real effort at real change. Hardening to the Holy Spirit’s work can come in many forms of resistance. People commonly refuse to recognize that the Holy Spirit is using a truth to speak to an area of their lives. Others recognize the truth that He is convicting of, but their pride keeps them from owning it and their carnality keeps them from change.
Modern Christianity has cultured two attitudes which keep revival from taking place. If a Christian possesses either of these two attitudes, revival will not happen in his life.
1. We want divine action without human participation.
2. We want to win spiritual battles without experiencing spiritual conflict. This results in an attitude of trying to avoid conflict at any costs.
We cannot fight a spiritual war without participating in that war or without some conflict with those refusing to do what is right. Often the battle is with our own carnal natures. To seek revival is to join one’s self in partnership with the Holy Spirit while declaring war on anything and everything that is in contradiction to the will of God. That is the partnership Jesus endorsed.
“He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Luke 11:23).
According to II Corinthians 7:5, when believers enter the struggle for revival, resistance will often be equal to or greater than our efforts. If a believer wants to do the Lord’s work in the power of the Holy Spirit, he must realize he will constantly face conflict and problems to the degree he seeks to advance the cause of Christ. The person who adopts the self-protecting attitude of avoiding conflict at any cost will determine to restrain forward movement that will advance the cause of Christ to reduce the resistance of the forces of evil.
Why did Paul write the Catalog of Carnality we call the first epistle to the church at Corinth?
“Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you” (II Corinthians 7:12).
Paul wrote the first epistle because he wanted them to know he cared for their spiritual welfare. Would it have been easier for Paul to simply avoid the conflict? According to II Corinthians 7:8-10, Paul understood that before a local church could advance the cause of Christ in their community, it would require that local church to be unified in PURPOSE, DOCTRINE, and PRACTICE. We all must understand this truth. This is the definition of a revived local church. However, that will only happen when each and every person in that local church is revived of God by active co-operation with the indwelling Holy Spirit and determined to “do the work of the ministry” and to do it God’s way.
According to II Corinthians 7:1, if revival is going to take place, personal holiness must be the believer’s clothing before the message of salvation can be his banner. Paul saw the ministry of the pastor/shepherd as twofold.
1. The pastor was to work to keep the corrupting influence of the world out of the church.
2. The pastor was to preach truth that the Holy Spirit would use to motivate the local churches to take the message of salvation to the world.
The great difficulty in these two things was that each new believer coming into a local church would re-introduce the things of the world back into the church. The local churches then would tend to become fortresses against the world rather than evangelism training centers to reach the world for Christ.
I see six attitudes of a revived Christian that come through the attitude of genuine repentance (II Corinthians 7:10-12).
1. “Carefulness” is from the Greek word spoude (spoo-day')
A. “Carefulness” does not mean cautiousness.
B. “Carefulness” refers to an overwhelming desire to accomplish something for Christ.
C. To possess this attitude, one must constantly be repenting of its opposite - the care less attitude.
2. “Clearing of yourselves” is from the Greek word apologia (ap-ol-og-ee'-ah), meaning a verbal defense.
A. The idea is an attitude of doctrinal and emotional preparation to answer any challenge that might arise.
B. “Clearing of yourselves” means to maintain an attitude of Christian love from which all service flows.
C. “Clearing of yourselves” means to do all of this regardless of what it costs you to do so.
D. Jude summed this second attitude up in Jude 1:3.
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).
E. To possess this attitude, one must determine to change with godly sorrow against the natural tendency to be neutral and avoid conflict.
3. Indignation” (v. 11) is from the Greek word aganaktesis (ag-an-ak'-tay-sis), meaning to be bothered or irritated.
A. A person is indignant when he sees someone treated unfairly, or unjustly, and is so irritated by it he is consumed with making it right.
B. This person is driven with the desire for justice in all matters of righteousness.
C. Any injustice, any ingratitude, or any meanness of spirit must be confronted and dealt with.
D. To possess this attitude one must determine to change with godly sorrow.
4. “Vehement desire” is from the Greek word epipothesis (ep-ee-poth'-ay-sis), meaning to long after something with a passion.
1. This person has fervency about him.
2. When we do not possess a burning passion for the cause of Christ, it affects the way we see people.
3. The un-revived do not see people the way God sees people.
4. The un-revived do not see people with a passion to win them to Christ.
5. The un-revived do not see people lost and doomed to an eternal Hell.
5. Zeal” is from the Greek word zelos (dzay'-los), referring to an excitement of the mind, excited with expectation and purpose.
A. Zeal is contagious. People with zeal create zeal in the lives of others.
B. Those with cold, stifling deadness in their souls produce the same in others.
C. Real zeal is when a Christian becomes a walking burning bush declaring the glory of God.
D. If you do not have that kind of fervency in your Christianity, you need to determine to work at change in godly sorrow for not having it.
F. “Revenge” is from the Greek word ekdikesis (ek-dik'-ay-sis) and refers to vindication or the meeting out of justice.
A. The intent here is in the sense of vindicating a person who has been wrongly accused of something or has been hurt by someone’s vicious attack.
B. The person with this attitude must seek to right wrongs.
These are the attitudes of a revived heart. These attitudes reveal someone on fire for the Lord. Revival does not come to most churches because they are unwilling to repent of the attitudes that keep revival from happening. God always wants to see revival and is working to that end. Do you suppose the Spirit of God possesses all of these attitudes?
If we expect divine action without human participation, revival will not come. If we try to avoid conflict at any cost, revival cannot come. Every Christian must honestly examine his own life before God. He must allow the Holy Spirit full access and complete control. Only then will the “godly sorrow” that brings about real change happen. Revival is your decision!
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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.