In the 1960’s and early 70’s there was a revolution that rocked the United Kingdom and United States, then made its way through much of the Western world with its “anti-establishment” trend. It interrupted the accepted traditions and beliefs, and created a counterculture or subculture whose values and lifestyles were opposed to those of society. Young people rose up and defied the established authority and the prevalent cultural rules of right and wrong with their protests. They rebelled against parents, government and God. Many experimented with drugs and were addicted or died from an overdose. Morals were thrown to the wind. It was an age of “if it feels good, do it”. The consequences were harmful and, in most cases, the new “freedoms” proved to be a greater bondage than the established authorities. Were they wrong in all their opinions? Probably not. Were the authorities right about everything? Probably not. Was God right about everything? Absolutely yes! Turning from Him caused a downslide in morals that entangled people in drugs and illicit relationships.
But even before this rebellion settled down, there was a new kind of revolution on the horizon, and it would break the chains of bondage brought on by the previous revolution. It would release every kind of captive. It would give freedom to whoever wanted it, all ages, races, and social statuses.
I was in high school in the 70’s, during this second revolution that overlapped the end of the first one. This second revolution was an outpouring of God’s Spirit that swept across our nation and through our schools. I remember the students standing in the courtyard before classes and singing worship songs. Many were brought into the kingdom of God, and their lives were changed forever. Yet, at the same time, the other revolution still continued. As a result of it, I also remember the threat of a riot in our school. I saw some students who obviously came prepared to carry out that threat. There was an air of fear and apprehension. I don’t know what caused the tension to escalate to that point, but the school had to cancel classes for the day and send all the students home. What a stark difference in these two revolutions.
Just as the 60’s counterculture rocked the lives of so many, the 70’s counterculture brought many to Jesus Christ, the Rock upon which they could build their lives and have a firm foundation of truth, freedom, real peace, and a genuine relationship with Him.
The second revolution was different from the first in a major way. These people didn’t revolt against the government or parents or God. It was a spiritual revolution. It was a revival.
Andrew Murray said, “A true revival means nothing less than a revolution, casting out the spirit of worldliness and selfishness, and making God and His love triumph in the heart and life.” This revival was certainly one that changed hearts and lives forever. Thank God, I was part of that revolution! And it changed me forever.
A revolution is a breaking away from established authority. A counterculture is the society that is birthed from this breaking away. It is a “way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing norm.” Some call it rebellion, and usually it is. But that is not always true. Sometimes it is recapturing what we have lost. Actually, this world’s culture is in rebellion to God. When sin came into God’s perfect world, a rebellious counterculture was established and it continues today. Followers of Jesus Christ are often considered the rebellious counterculture, when technically it’s the other way around. Jesus came to turn the world back to the original “norm”. He came to empower us to be free born citizens of His kingdom.
A revival is a revolution. It doesn’t come through a series of meetings, emotional stirrings or the determination to turn over a new leaf. This revolution begins deep down in the soul. It is the hunger and thirst of a desperate heart with a longing so deep that it refuses to be turned away without receiving more from the Holy Spirit. This revolution is a breaking away from the world (spiritually) and places us firmly in the kingdom of God, under the rule and authority of Jesus Christ.
Let’s go back to the quote from Andrew Murray. What does it mean to cast out the spirit of worldliness? What does God say about the spirit of this world? In 1 John 2:15-16, He says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
The love of the world will draw us away from God. It will never lead us to Him, but will entice us to please our flesh, our carnal (sinful) nature. The lust of the flesh is indulging in the corrupt state and behaviors of the world. The lust of the eyes is covetousness, always looking for something more, but never being satisfied with any of it. The pride of life is a hunger and thirst for honor, riches and the applause of men. We cannot live in both cultures. We must make a choice. The scripture clearly states that if we are friends of the world, we are the enemies of God. The spirit of this world is corrupt and in rebellion to the kingdom of God and God’s authority. Therefore, we are a worldly and selfish people. But we don’t have to stay that way. We can be born again of the Spirit, living and walking in the Spirit.
But even as God’s children we can begin to slide back into the ways of the world and the thinking of the world. When we do, it’s easier to try to justify our waywardness by attempting to reinterpret the Word of God so we can feel more comfortable here. But God will never change, and we only deceive ourselves when we try to alter His Word and the working of His Spirit. It is imperative that we stay filled with His Spirit and immerse ourselves in His Word. It will keep us strong in the Lord. We can only keep the worldliness cast out of us by “making God and His love triumph in the heart and life.” The church cannot do the work of the church until she has made her garments white and is pure and holy before God. We need to be revived and renewed.
To revive means to “awaken to spiritual concerns, bring to life again, recall to activity from a state of lethargy, recover from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression.” Be honest. Do you need to be revived? Do you need to be awakened from a spiritual sleep? Have you become lethargic, let your guard down and neglected your relationship with Jesus? It is so easy to slip into the pattern of the world if we are not consistently immersed in His Spirit and Word.
Billy Sunday said, “A revival does two things. First, it returns the Church from her backsliding and second, it causes the conversion of men and women; and it always includes the conviction of sin on the part of the Church. What a spell the devil seems to cast over the Church today!” Billy Sunday preached in the early 1900’s. Just imagine if he could see the Church in this day. We need a revival! We need Holy Ghost conviction!
My mother told me about a revival that happened at a church in a mill town years ago. The church people had a renewal and revival swept the entire city. They had services every night for several weeks. The people flocked in. Conviction would come and souls would be saved. When the services were over at the church, they would gather in homes to pray. But this revival wasn’t restricted to the church building only. People were being convicted of their sins in the mill and being saved right on the job. Their lives were so affected that they served the Lord the rest of their lives. It wasn’t just a temporary emotional experience.
What kind of influence are we as individuals and as the church? When is the last time we have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit or have been reproved by the word of God? Conviction is given in God’s mercy, to show us sin that lurks in our lives and will destroy us and our influence if we don’t heed His call. If we want to influence those in the world to bring them to Christ, we have to show them the power of God in us. We cannot do that until we answer the conviction of the Spirit. The Church of the Lord Jesus needs to be a pure, holy Church.
What are unbelievers seeing in us? What are they hearing from us? Is it the same conversations and interests they have, or are we empowered to share Jesus through our lives and words? Does our life cause them to be convicted of their sin and want to turn to Jesus?
If we are to cast out the spirit of worldliness, we cannot resist the conviction of the Word and Spirit of God. Only when we lay aside everything else to seek after God will we experience the revolution that will change us completely…and change our world.
We can experience a personal revival when we shut out the voice of the world and begin to hear and act on the voice of God.
“A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God.”