In Part 1 of “Seven Steps to Revival,” I covered the first two steps- Holy Dissatisfaction and Holy Desperation. If you are new to this article I encourage you to read Part 1 dated October 16, 2015 in the Archives of this website.
Holy Separation: Step 3
Holy separation involves separating ourselves from distractions and activities to draw near to the Lord. It begins with prioritizing our schedule so that the Lord has first place in our lives. Distractions can not only interfere with our family time, they also vie for our personal time with the Lord. The most critical time we have to protect is our time with the Lord. That time will make us better husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, Christians and friends. Our time with the Lord also builds our emotional and spiritual strength and our well-being.
Holy separation includes the need to separate from those who do not share the same passion we have for Jesus. People close to us will either pull us down or draw us up to a higher place of knowing Him. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” If friends are not willing to grow with us, we may have to leave them behind. Our spiritual life is critical because it involves our eternity as well as the eternity of those we will touch.
Unfortunately, there can be people in our lives who are not interested in the Lord, or they have ceased to grow and have become unteachable. If we do not separate from them, we can be pulled back down into the world’s philosophies and sinful lifestyles. Matthew 6:24 affirms, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).” This verse primarily applies to money, but it also relates to anyone or anything we place as more important than the Lord. The Lord must be first in our lives.
Worldly distractions of entertainment and social activities can also dominate our time and attention. One of the primary passions in our modern culture is entertainment. There is nothing wrong with having wholesome fun, keeping up with friends, enjoying social interaction, and going on exciting vacations. The problem arises when we allow entertainment to become out of balance with the rest of our responsibilities. Often, we can find ourselves neglecting our spiritual man as things encroach upon our time with the Lord.
Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel determined in his heart that he would not defile himself by [eating his portion of] the king’s rich and dainty food or by [drinking] the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might [be allowed] not to defile himself.” (See Ezra 10:11, Numbers 6:3) Temporarily fasting food, media (such as internet, television, movies and secular books) and activities allows us concentrated time with the Lord. The enemy will use even good distractions to dilute our time with God and draw our attention to other less important events. Even church activities which are good and necessary for our growth must not become more important than our private time with the Lord. By separating ourselves from all distractions, we can return to seeking the Lord, and keeping our hearts on fire for Him. The closer we are to God, the greater discernment we will have to recognize ungodly distractions that weaken our spiritual growth.
God is sovereign but He has given us personal responsibility to walk humbly before Him, obeying His commandments. James 2:24 instructs, “You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes]. Paul also exhorted the church in Philippians 2:12b-13, “work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
The apostle Peter charged the church to become vigilant about their faith by comparing the devil to a roaring lion on the hunt hoping to devour unaware believers by stealing their faith and devotion to the Lord. (See 1 Peter 5:8). The Lord Himself warned us that there would be many who would fall away from the faith. Matthew 24:10-12 warns us, “And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error, And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
The time of the Lord’s return is drawing near and we must not “assume” everything will be alright if we are not in a living, abiding, passionate relationship with the Lord. The spirit of deception is active in the world today, and the doctrines of men and demons have been etching away at the Word of God in people’s hearts for many years. If we do not know the written word and have it deposited securely in our heart, which is the seat of our faith, we can be vulnerable to secular philosophies. Knowing the written Word only, however, will not be enough to keep us secure to the end. Knowing the written word is not the same as knowing the One Who is the Living Word! For us to endure to the end, we must not only KNOW Him, He must KNOW us. By daily abiding in His presence, He will know us.
“But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].” Matthew 25:10-12. By separating ourselves from the world’s philosophies and systems, we can become solely devoted to the Lord and then by abiding in Him, we will endure to the end. “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–“ Jude 24.
Holy Consecration: Step 4
Holy consecration is a dedication or re-dedication of our hearts to the Lord. For the believer, holy consecration is an act of humility which causes us to acknowledge we have drifted from our previous passion; therefore, we re-commit our hearts and our lives to God’s will and purpose for us. Exodus 19:6a “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation [consecrated, set apart to the worship of God].” (See Revelation 1:6 and 5:10, Isaiah 61:6)
It is God’s mercy and grace to give His people revival, just as it was when He gave us salvation. We did not deserve forgiveness from our sins at the time we were saved, and we do not deserve revival when we have allowed our relationship with the Lord to cool. It is His goodness and kindness that draws our hearts back to Him. The closer we are to the Lord the greater we understand His love and mercy.
Our American culture is all about freedom, individual rights and privileges. However, there are boundaries to our freedom in America in the form of laws, which are supposed to be for our protection. It is the same in the Kingdom of God. The Lord has established relational, moral and ethical laws by which we are to conduct ourselves. Many of God’s laws now conflict with our American culture and its laws. Under grace, those laws are kept through a relationship of love with the Lord. He does not give us the grace to abuse His law, He gives us the grace to keep His law and that grace comes through intimacy with Him.
Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”
David is our best example of holy consecration. He had committed adultery and in the process set up a man to be killed in battle to hide his sin. His response to the Lord’s conviction was Psalm 51. David acknowledged his sin, made no excuse, and pleaded to the Lord’s mercy and steadfast love. He also asked the Lord to purify him with hyssop.
Hyssop is a large plant used as a medicinal herb and for applying the blood sacrifices upon the altar of sacrifice. David was asking the Lord to cleanse him of his sin and the root cause of that sin by covering him with the blood of sacrifice. Today, we have an even greater sacrifice, the Lord Jesus, and His blood is enough to cover all our sins. In Psalm 51, David cried out to the Lord, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.” (Read the entire Psalm). By confessing our sins which are the cause of neglecting the Lord’s presence, we take a giant step toward revival. When we pray for Him to cleanse us and restore us to a passionate first-love relationship, He will graciously hear and answer our prayer.
Holy separation and holy consecration are necessary steps for us if we are to be restored and renewed through revival. The process removes the guilt of sin and the shame of disobedience. God’s arms are open wide to all who humbly acknowledge their sin and affirm His Lordship over our lives. If He is to be called Lord, He must be Lord in our hearts. When that happens, we are certainly revived!