THE ENEMIES OF REVIVAL
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
This is a well known passage that is often used by preachers to talk about the subject of revival. It is a REVIVAL verse. This word was spoken to King Solomon at the dedication of the temple. He is told by God that disobedience and rebellion will result in judgment upon the nation of Israel. This verse is God’s promise that those who turn from their sins; call on Him and walk in His ways will experience a revival of the presence and blessing of the Lord. Now, this is a verse to Israel, but it speaks to every generation as well. Those who meet the conditions detailed in this verse will experience the promises mentioned in this verse.
Folks, we need revival! We church members love our meetings; but we need more than a meeting, we need a REVIVAL. We need something that we cannot produce by our own efforts. Revival is a supernatural event. It comes only by the sovereign decree of the Lord. We can have a meeting this week, but we cannot have a revival unless the Lord gives it. While we cannot produce a revival, we can meet the requirements set forth in these verses, and that will make revival much more likely.
The Chronicler speaks of the possibility and the problems associated with revival. While telling what we can have, he also tells us about what can prevent revival. I would to point out The Enemies of Revival today. There are four problems mentioned in this verse that can sabotage and prevent revival from taking place. We need to listen closely to what the Bible has to say about this matter and do whatever we need to do to see that these enemies of revival do not hinder us from getting what we need from the Lord. Let’s look into this passage together and talk about The Enemies Of Revival.
(Note: This verse is directed to God’s people. He says, “If My people, which are called by My name…” This is not a verse to lost people. Lost people do not need revival, they need to be saved! If you are not saved, you need to come to Jesus Christ, confess your sins and call on Him for your soul’s salvation. If you do know the Lord today, then God has something to say to you from this verse. He will help us, if we will allow Him to. Here are the enemies of revival.)
I. PRIDE (P) IS THE ENEMY OF REVIVAL
A. “Will humble themselves” – This phrase deals with the area of our pride. The word translated “pride” in the Old Testament means “to rise or to swell up.” It refers to the rising of the waves of the sea. It speaks of men thinking more of themselves and their abilities than they do of God. Pride says, “I do not need God, I can make my own way. I know best. I call the shots in my life.”
Friends, we are eaten up with pride in our modern churches! We have adopted the Laodicean mentality, Rev. 3:17a. We have learned how to function without the help of the Lord and it has destroyed the power of the church! When we compare ourselves to the world around us, we are looking pretty good; but when we lay the modern church alongside the early church, Acts 2:42-47; it is easy to see that we are in sad deplorable shape!
God hates pride! (PRIDE) Illustration – Pro. 6:16-19. Each sin mentioned in that list is a result of pride! Here is God’s Word on pride: Pro. 8:13; 11:2; 16:5; 18-19.
How can you tell if you have a pride problem? Here are the evidences of pride in a life:
1. Pride refuses to listen, it always interrupts others.
2. Pride likes to talk about itself all the time.
3. Pride has an intense desire to be noticed.
4. Pride believes that it deserves everything it gets.
5. Pride is not thankful.
6. Pride cannot be corrected.
7. Pride does not like to follow instructions.
8. Pride exalts itself in the presence of others; it brags.
9. Pride criticizes and tries to makes itself look better by putting others down.
10. Pride thinks of its own needs first.
(Example – Boxing- Muhammad Ali furnishes a good example of pride at work. He was on an airplane once and he was standing up in the aisle, talking and laughing and entertaining the passengers. Finally, the stewardess came back to him and said, “Mr. Ali, you’ll have to take a seat and fasten your seat belt because the plane is about to take off.” Well, Mohammed Ali looked at her with a snarl, and said, “Honey, superman don’t need no seat belt.” She looked at him and said, “Yeah, and superman don’t need no airplane either. Now sit down and buckle up.“)
B. God has a better plan! (BETTER PLAN) – He calls on His people to “humble themselves”. The word “humble” means “to bend the knee; to bring down; to place self under another.” Pride will not allow the prideful person to bow their knee to the Lord!
God desires His people to take whatever steps are necessary to bring themselves under His authority. He wants us to know that we cannot do it. He wants us to know that we are dependent upon Him for everything we have. He wants us to bend the knee to His authority in our lives.
C. We need to take the steps (STEPS) Jesus laid out for the church in Laodicea, Rev. 3:17b-18. In the OT times, when Jonah entered Nineveh and preached his message of impending judgment, the king of that city proclaimed a fast and all the people humbled themselves under God’s mighty hand, Jonah 3:1-8a.
That is what the church needs to do today. God’s people need to realize that we were nothing when He found us; we would be nothing without Him and that we can accomplish nothing apart from His power in our lives, John 15:5.
D. If we are going to have revival, then pride, the enemy of revival, must be dealt (DEALT) with forever!
II. PRAYERLESSNESS (P) IS THE ENEMY OF REVIVAL
A. The people of God are challenged to “pray”. “Prayerlessness” is the first cousin to pride. Prayerlessness says, “I do not need to call on the Lord, I can make it just fine without His aid.” Prayerlessness does not say, “He is all I need”; but “I am all I need.” Prayerlessness relies on self and the resources self can produce and refuses to lean on Jesus alone. Prayerlessness is the enemy of revival!
B. It is a fact that we can have prayer and not have revival; but we will never have a revival apart from prayer! Prayer is the ultimate statement of our inability. Prayer looks to God and says, “I can’t, but you can!” Prayer acknowledges personal, profound dependence upon the Lord. We do not have revival because we do not pray! And, we do not have revival because we do not pray as we should, Illustration. James 4:2-3! Charles Finney said, “Prayer is the essential link in the chain of events that leads to revival!”
We have lost the art of waiting before the Lord in prayer! Too much of our praying is anemic, antiseptic, formal, repetitious and long-winded. We pray around issues and never really get down to trusting God by faith. Our prayers leave our mouths, but they do not move God in Heaven.
(Illustration – Dwight L. Moody, a famous evangelist from Chicago went on vacation to England. He wasn’t planning to do any preaching; he was on a sabbatical. But he met a preacher there who said, “Mr. Moody you’re so well known, would you come and speak at our church?” So he went to preach the next Sunday morning.
That afternoon Moody wrote in his journal that they were the deadest crowd he had ever seen and that the only thing worse than preaching to those people was that he had promised to go back that night and preach again. But he went back that night, and about halfway through the sermon something happened.
The people started to come to life, and he felt compelled to ask if anyone there would like to become a Christian and a lot of people stood up. He didn’t know what to do. So he said, “Maybe you don’t understand what I am asking. So when we are dismissed if you want to become a Christian come over to this little room and meet with me.” When the service was over, he went to the room and it was packed. Moody said to the minister, “What does this mean?” He said, “I don’t know. But I think you need to preach again tomorrow night.”
The next day Moody got on a train and went to Ireland to continue his vacation. But when he got off the train there was a memo that said, “Come back. Revival has broken out.” So Moody got back on the train, went back to that church and preached 10 straight nights. And 400 responded to the invitation.
Moody couldn’t understand. Those people were dead, and something changed it. What happened was that an 80 some year old invalid widow named Mary Ann Adelard had read one of his sermons in the newspaper and had started praying every day that God would bring D. L. Moody to her church. That is revival praying.)
C. We pray for a few minutes and think we are ready for revival. We recite our prayer lists to the Lord and make our requests for our fleshly, material desires and we think God is going to move in with mighty revival power. Well, it is not going to happen! We have to come to the place where we sacrifice our pride on God’s altar; declare our utter helplessness; and cling to Him until He moves in power in our lives and church. Leonard Ravenhill said, “The church is dying on its feet because it is not living on its knees!”
D. When Jonah’s message came to Nineveh, the people humbled themselves and they began to pray, Jonah 3:8b. When they did, God moved in power and sent a revival! Another example of revival praying can be found in Neh. 9:1-2. When we call on God from a pure, humble heart, we will see revival follow! How is your prayer life?
III. PRIORITIES (P) ARE THE ENEMY OF REVIVAL
A. God’s people are told to “seek His face”. The word “seek” means “to search out by any method; especially by worship and prayer.” The word “face” refers to “the countenance; to turn toward His direction.” This little phrase is a call for God’s people to stop looking for help and purpose in every other thing in life. They are called upon to make God their primary focus and their first priority.
You see, revival does not come to people who seek revival; but to people who seek God! Far too many people are caught up in what God can do for them. But, seeking His face means that we hunger for Him more than for what He can do. He wants us to love Him for Who He is! The essence of genuine revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again, Ill. Rev. 2:1-7. Seeking Him will bring revival to His church, James 4:8; Isa. 55:6.
B. If you had to be really honest today, what is the number one priority in your life? Is it your job? Is it your bank accounts or retirement? Is it your family? Is it your church? Is it your spouse? Is it your hobby? Or, is it the Lord? When anything but God is the number one priority in your life, you are out of balance and you are not a candidate for revival.
When God is our first priority, the things He cares about are the things we will care about. When we are seeking His face, we will be able to see what has His attention. And, what has His attention is to be that which has our attention. He wants us to love what He loves, hate what He hates and do what He does. He wants us to develop that attitude Jesus Christ adopted while He was here on earth, John 5:19-20.
C. If you really want to know what your priorities are today then ask yourself three questions: 1.) On what activity do you spend most of your time? 2.) On what do you spend the bulk of your money? 3.) On what do you focus your thoughts?
Look at where you go; what you do and where you spend your money. Do that and you will have a good idea of your priorities in life. Where does God fit in the equation of your life? Is He in first place? If He isn’t than you are not a candidate for revival!
D. Misplaced priorities are the enemy of real revival. The priorities of Nineveh were all messed up. Then, Jonah came to town with his message of doom and destruction. The people of Nineveh, from the king on down, got their priorities fixed up and they began to seek the Lord, Jonah 3:8. They got interested in the things that interested the Lord. Things like prayer, holiness, worship, etc became a priority and God sent them a revival. He can and will do the same for us today, when our priorities are what they ought to be.
IV. PRESUMPTION (P) IS THE ENEMY OF REVIVAL
A. Finally, God’s people are told to “turn from their wicked ways.” That is, they are to forsake their sins and embrace holiness. The problem in Israel is that they were guilty of presuming upon the grace and goodness of the Lord. The same trend is evident in the church.
We say, “I am saved and some of the things I do don’t matter!” Yes they do! Sin keeps us out of the presence of the Lord, Isa. 59:2. Sin closes the Lord’s ears to our prayers, Psa. 66:18; Pro. 15:8, 29; Pro. 28:9.
B. It is easy to see the hypocrisy and sin in our nation. We need more money for schools, so we legalize and promote gambling and lottery building fund raising. We need to stop teen pregnancy, so we give out condoms and open abortion clinics. We want to balance the budget, so we raise taxes. We want to stop the spread of AIDS, so we practice “safe sex.” It’s no wonder God won’t send revival to our nation!
What about the church? Why aren’t we having revival? We are just as bad! We do not have revival because we are just as guilty as the world! Church people sin! They drink, they steal, they lie, they cheat; they commit adultery; they engage in sexual activity outside of marriage; they carry hate in their heart; they walk in pride; they walk in hypocrisy; they drag the precious name of Jesus through the mud and He cannot and will not bless a mess like that! We are saved by grace, but grace is never a license to sin!
What we need is a season of repentance. We are good with our excuses; and we are quick to rationalize our behavior; but we are slow to fall before the Lord and confess our sins and receive His forgiveness. But, He will never bless us with revival until we do! We must come clean about our sins, before He can bless us, Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9.
C. James 5:16b says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The key word in that verse is “righteous”. The word refers to a person who is “holy, upright and keeps the commandments of the Lord.” Does that describe you? Are you a righteous man or woman? Can God hear your prayers, and could you be an instrument of revival in His hands?
D. We need revival, but revival will not come to a presumptious people. It will only come to those who get honest about their sin; who confess them; forsake them and turn to God with all their hearts, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart,” Jer. 29:13. Revival will come when God’s people adopt the attitude that gripped the hearts of the people of Nineveh. They dealt with their sin problem and God moved in a great revival, Jonah 3:8-10.
Yes, there are some enemies that must be defeated. They can be defeated, and if they are, we can experience God’s power. He promised Israel that He would “I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
That is a description of revival: God hearing; God cleansing and God working. The word “heal” means “to stitch back together; to repair thoroughly.” That is what we need today!
Are you a candidate for revival? Here is the invitation:
1.) Are you “His people”? If not, you need to be saved. You need to seek Jesus today!
2.) Are the enemies of revival, pride, prayerlessness, misplaced priorities and presumption active in your life? If they are, you need to repent and set it aright today.
3.) Would you like to see God send us a real revival? It can happen, but we must meet His conditions.