"He who does what is right
just as he is righteous"
(1 John 3:7b, NIV)
We need revival yet, if we are going to see revival, I think there are some things we need to confront and come to terms with.
1. If we have sinned we need to repent. We cannot claim to be holy as Christ is holy if we live in sin. The reality of our faith is found, not in mere words, but in deeds (James 2:22). Struggling with guilt is not dealing with sin. If you sin, you should feel guilty, and the only way to remove the guilt is to repent from your sin and turn to the Cross of Christ to wash it away by his blood; that is, in a nutshell, to "cease from sin and do good" (Psalm 37:27).
2. As the Church, we need to stop calling ourselves "sinners". We are not sinners. God now calls us "saints." In many places in practically all his epistles, Paul identifies believers in Christ as "saints." Nowhere does he refer to God's people as sinners. We will only lower the standard and always have the greatest difficulty in overcoming the fallenness of our flesh if we continue to identify ourselves with sinners, that is, with those who in refusing to come to Christ are demonstrating their hatred for God and, as such, stand as his enemies (John 3:19-20; Romans 8:7; Philippians 3:18; James 4:4).
3. We need to stop using the Bible as a comforter for any sin and the sinful lifestyle. We need to stop assuaging our guilt by satisfying ourselves with the Bible's portrayal, however honest, of God's people in their weaknesses and failings. We need to stop taking comfort in our sin by the sad fact that even the Bible shows men and women of God less than perfect. We will never reach the goal of holy living here and now if we continue to look away from the righteousness of God's people and focus on their shortcoming and sins.
The Bible reveals the acts of his people honestly. However, it is not so we can emulate them in their sin or take comfort that they also sinned and, therefore, expect only a continuation of living a life falling in sin, defeated by it's allure. Men and women are portrayed with such dreaded honesty in the Bible so we can see the grace of God, through His promises, at work in their lives as demonstrative of that same grace that is directed towards us and more than sufficient to overcome sin and the irresponsible and unwise lifestyle.
I'm often reminded of this anonymous poem when I read about the failings of God's people in the Bible:
"Wouldn't this old world be better, If the folks we meet would say: I know something good about you, And then treat us just that way!"*
For example, I may hear preaching about Aaron's sinful foolhardiness in making the calf idol, but I never heard a sermon about Aaron's desperate run to head off a plague God sent against the Israelites for their rebellion. It is where he shows himself to be truly a "man of God" in every sense of the word.
Concerning Aaron when the Israelites were being punished by a deadly plague for their rebellion, a blogger writes, "Aaron now displays a devotion to his office of mediation between God and the people. Whereas, in the first case 'the Lord struck the people with a plague, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made,' we see later on that Aaron 'took his stand between the dead and the living so that the plague was checked.' In the former instance, he was a mediator for death but in the latter he became mediator for life."
Another example is Lot. How often we hear what a worldly fool of a sinner was Lot. I've yet to hear it preached what a righteous man was Lot, for 3 times in one sentence is he designated as righteous in the New Testament: "righteous Lot," "righteous man," "righteous soul" (2 Peter 2:7-8).
It is not a matter of denying our sinful thoughts, words, or actions, or ignoring the sins of God's people as if they are not recorded in the Bible. It is a matter of where we ought to focus our faith in God. Focus on our failings, and we will fail. Comfort ourselves with the sins committed by those in the Bible, and we dull the conviction of the Spirit in our conscience. Looking at ourselves and others as merely "sinners saved by grace," and we will miss the experience of grace that empowers to holy living.
What does the Bible exhort us to do but to "fix your thoughts on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:2 NIV).
It is not denying our failures and the sins we do commit. It is not denying where we once were before Christ. It is to affirm the power of the Cross to grant us forgiveness and overcome our failures and sinful actions; it is to affirm our position as God’s “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If we are to stand together above the squalor and shipwreck of our fallen state and show the world we are the people of God in the demonstration of the power of the Spirit that we say we possess in Christ, we must abandon sin, recover our calling as saints, and proclaim the righteousness of those men and women of God whom the Bible records as having overcome.