Our 21st Century churches have left out four vital emphases that, if restored, would, I believe, lead to one of the deepest revivals in our history. The first one that is tragically missing as a vital emphasis is the Holiness of God. God is Holy, but most Christians seem to have no idea how important that is for us to understand.
9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Romans 7:9-24 (NASB)
If we are honest, each of us would have to confess that there are sins that have an incredible hold on us. It seems that no matter how devoted we become in our walk before our Lord, there will be some sins that trip us up, making us stumble and fall to our deep chagrin. Our self-loathing resulting from this can be quite severe. We cry out to God, we promise Him that we are done with that sin. We declare that we would rather die than do it again. We weep. We mourn. We then start to recover and become joyous in the Lord again. Then a short time later there is that sin pouncing upon us out of no where. We seem to have little or no strength or resolve to fight it off and then we stumble right back into it again.
This whip-saw, teeter-totter, up and down, back and forth hell on earth drives us to near madness. Why can’t victory come Lord? I have let go so You could control me Lord! Aren’t we supposed to ‘Let go and Let God?” Part of the problem in our 21st Century American Church is that there is little emphasis, if any, on proper biblical discipleship. Also, many preachers seem to believe that all they have to do is encourage their pew sitters by being positive. No one, it seems, is taught how to live as a true disciple of Christ.
Part of what is missing in the 21st Century Church is a proper Biblical understanding of sin as something alive within each of us. The Bible is very clear that, unlike most people’s understanding, no one is good because our hearts are desperately wicked.
9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
10 “I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds. Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NASB)
But, but, but…didn’t that get washed away when I got saved? Justification by Faith is an “imputation” of Christ’s righteousness to our account. It did not make us perfect little Christians. Our regeneration changed us into new creations, but that means that God called and drew us to believe and gave us the ability to do so. We now have the ability to obey Him. However, our sin nature is still intact and very much alive. We all have a tremendous drive to be fulfilled. From birth we have been desperately seeking fulfillment from all of our experiences, senses, or whatever. The most used part of our being that we use for this is via our flesh. We seek things from our flesh to feed our insatiable appetite for fulfillment. Of course, nothing we can do or acquire this way gives us any lasting fulfillment. This means that we are like zombies on a treadmill seeking anything to fill that void in our hearts. Many people use religion in a hope to fill that void. That, of course, is nothing more than chasing after the wind in church.