By Editorial Staff
Published January 6, 2008
By David Houston
It is amazing to me that people think they can live life the way they want to and still know God. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:14 that “without holiness, no man shall see God.” This does not refer to conjuring up some emotion. The Bible is speaking about allowing our hearts, our minds, and our actions to be purified by the Word of God.
We cannot be casual and expect that God will come meet us. It is impossible for us to come into the presence of God with sin in our lives. Without holiness, we will never meet God; and without an increasing holiness, we will never get close to Him. It is the greatest privilege in the world to know God. It’s also the greatest privilege for God to be shining the spotlight of His Word on our hearts, breaking up the fallow ground.
One thing that will block us from the presence of God is presumptuous sins. In Psalm 19:13, King David said, “Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me.” Presumption is defined as “blind or headstrong confidence; unreasonable confidence in divine favor. Bold and confident to excess.” King David understood that presumptuous sins can rule over us. In the Psalms we are commanded to hate evil. We cannot be passive about fighting temptation or wicked thoughts in our minds; we have to hate them!
God is putting a spotlight on the sin in our hearts because He loves us. He wants our consciences to be pricked and convicted. God doesn’t want us to have head knowledge only, just knowing we’ve sinned, because that doesn’t change anyone. It does not benefit us just to know in our heads that we have sinned. God wants to let it convict our consciences. He wants our consciences to be hurt, to be remorseful, because we have offended a holy God.
In Psalm 51, David repented to God for his sin. We must keep in mind that an entire year had passed since he committed the sin of adultery against a woman, ordered her husband killed, and ultimately sinned against all of Israel. Yet in verse four he says, “Against You [God] only have I sinned.” His conscience was so pricked because he had sinned against God and offended him – that was so real to him at that time that everything else paled in comparison.
The only way you are going to have the kind of friendship with God that He desires with you is to be pricked in your conscience. It requires a tender conscience which causes you to realize that you have offended a holy God.
Sin separates us from a holy and pure God. It keeps us from being able to love Him. We have dealt too lightly in the past with our sin, and we are too familiar with it. God wants us to develop a hatred of sin. The reason a lot of people never experience God is because they haven’t realized that they have to hate evil and separate themselves from it to walk with a holy God. God is love, but He is also holy.
Joy Dawson, in her book Intimate Friendship With God, explains four distinct levels of attitudes toward sin. Let’s look at these different levels:
- Level One: The person who does not sin because the consequences are too great. This person lusts after someone else in his or her heart but does not commit adultery or fornication because of the consequences being too great. Obviously, there is no hatred of evil and, therefore, no fear of the Lord.
- Level Two: The person who lives by the Golden Rule. He wants peace at any price and cannot understand anyone who is so radical that he would try to change the status quo of his life or anyone else’s. This person can be full of the sins of selfishness and self-righteousness without being aware of it. If you asked him: “How long has it been since you spent more than an hour in prevailing prayer for the lost souls of men? … What is the depth of your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ for the lost souls of men to be reached by your witnessing to them on a personal basis?”
In all honesty he would have to answer, “Very little or none at all.” There is no fear of the Lord manifest in these sins of selfishness, prayerlessness, self-centeredness, complacency, and self-righteousness. There is no acknowledgment, let alone any hatred, of these sins in the person who lives on this level.
- Level Three: The sincere Christian who earnestly desires to please the Lord Jesus Christ. He does not want to sin and is deeply concerned when besetting sins are in his life. He wishes he could find an answer as to why he is always having to confess over and over again the same sins. Perhaps he commits the sins of criticism and of judging others, the sins of pride … He is deeply concerned and longs for freedom.
- Level Four: The person who has the fear of God upon him. He hates sin; therefore, he seldom sins. If he does, there is a quick awareness of sin, immediate repentance, and a willingness to humble himself before others if directed by the Holy Spirit to do so.
Do you know which level you are demonstrating? Whatever sin you see in your life, God wants you to turn against that sin. We need to get violent at sin trying to rule our lives. We must turn our hearts toward God and let Him illuminate our hearts to see any sin.
I wrote a letter to our church at UCLA recently explaining a practical way God had given me to break up the fallow ground in my heart.
Hosea 10:12 says, “Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to reign righteousness upon you.” I believe that the Lord has shown me practically how He wants us to go about this, and I will share it with you in this letter.
I’m quoting a great deal of this from a booklet, How To Promote a Revival, by Charles Finney. Finney said that the way to tenderize our hearts and break up the fallow ground is in self-examination: considering our past actions, the motives of our hearts, the thoughts that have been in our minds. Go over your past sins one by one. Write them down in detail and meditate on your sin. Meditate on the coldness and indifference and uncaring attitude of your heart in order to let the Holy Spirit begin to convict you deeply of your sin and your lack of love for God.
Finney lists several topics that I think are helpful and that I have been using in my prayer times in the last few days.
1. Lack of love toward God. Think of the little time that you have given to God. Write it down. Think of the indifference that you have had to God’s feelings and opinions. Think of the lack of affection that is in your heart toward God.
2. Lack of love for the Bible. Write down in detail the lack of desire and fervency in reading the Word of God. Is it simply rote or duty?
3. Neglect of prayer. List your attitude in prayer; your lack of zeal for prayer; the excuses that you make instead of prayer; the lack of listening to God and earnestly desiring to hear His voice. Does not your prayerlessness reveal your self-sufficiency?
4. Worldly-mindedness and carnality. The love for things of the world has crept in. List the desires that you have for your worldly possessions above the love of God. List the amount of time that you give to thinking of worldly things versus the love of God and worship.
5. Pride, Vanity. Detail the manifestations of pride that the Holy Spirit shows you. Is it not sin to care more for external appearance than your eternal soul? Do you have selfish ambition more than zeal for God’s glory?
6. Personal worship. Write down as well as you can remember the last times you had personal, intimate worship time with God. Why does your mind wander so? Why do you find so little time for worship with God? Why do other things take precedence?
7. Hardness of heart. As you are listing these things, list the indifference that is in your heart even now as you acknowledge the sins of lack of love and lack of gratitude toward God.
8. Lack of personal holiness. Detail the compromise: looking at things that you should not, listening to things, even saying things out of your mouth that grieve the Holy Spirit.
9. The thoughts of your mind. Jesus said if you look on a woman to lust after her you have already committed adultery. List how unholy and impure your thoughts have been and how little you have done to take them captive to the obedience of Christ.
10. Disobedience to the written Word of God and to the spoken Word of God. Write down every instance where you have deliberately disobeyed your conscience, the voice of the Holy Spirit. Acknowledge to the Holy Spirit in writing how you have grieved Him and offended Him by not listening, by deliberately ignoring or disobeying His voice.
11. Acknowledge the lack of fruit of the Holy Spirit. Write down the sins of anger, jealousy, envy, backbiting, exaggerating.
Be thorough in your work. In breaking up your fallow ground, you must remove every obstruction. As you go over the catalogue of your sins, decide that you will repent and change. Wherever you see wrong, resolve at once in the strength of God to sin no more in that way.
You need not expect that God will do all the work. Much is up to you. Fasten your attention upon your sin. You cannot look at your sins long and thoroughly and see how bad they are without feeling, and feeling deeply. Let the Holy Spirit bring full conviction and a thorough repentance, as well as the cleansing and refreshing of a clean conscience and a pure heart before God.
Parts of this article were taken from Intimate Fellowship With God, by Joy Dawson, (Old Tappan, NJ: Chosen Book, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1986), pp. 51-55.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Revival and Spiritual Awakening
Your comments are welcome!
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)