Shiloh (Part Two)
A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way (Isaiah 35:8).
Jehovah spoke the word through Jeremiah the prophet (Jer. 7:12), giving Judah a history lesson, that they might remember what he did at Shiloh in removing the ark of the covenant (the presence of God), allowing it to fall into the hands of the Philistines. The same was to happen to obstinate Judah, if they did not mend their ways (Jer. 7:1-5).1
Surely you will agree with me that we are in big trouble in our nation and in the American church. Why is this so? I do not fault the President or the Congress. We are getting what we deserve. We are a wicked nation. I do not fault the unbelieving world around us. These are the things unbelievers do. We should not expect anything different from the lost world. The problem is with the church, and the problem is that we have forfeited the power of the Holy Ghost. We need power and we dreadfully lack it. Why do we lack power? There is one simple, yet profound reason for our powerlessness in ministry, for our inability to effect change in our culture – SIN. That is it, plain and simple. When we sin we grieve the Holy Spirit. We lose his sanctifying, empowering presence. We do not lose the indwelling of the Spirit. We do not lose our salvation, but we do lose his convicting, converting, and sanctifying power in our personal lives and ministry. We forfeit his divine graces.
How are things in the home? It may be that your spouse has been saying to you, ‘You always run roughshod over me. You never listen to me. It is all about you and your schedule. You put your tasks and schedule before people all the time.’ Perhaps you get around to confessing your sin and apologizing, but nothing seems to change. You go back to the same old thing. Perhaps you should say to your spouse, ‘I am going to pray about this for a couple of days, asking the Holy Spirit to show me my sin. I will get back to you on this.’ It may be that God begins to show you the ugliness, pride, and arrogance of your self-absorption. You may find that the Holy Spirit reveals to you that it does seem to be ‘all about me.’
We need Holy Ghost power in our families and in ministry. Business as usual is not working. We have that power available to us, but sin is blocking the flow of that power. Imagine that you are in your church’s Sunday morning worship service and Jesus is bodily present (he is, of course, present spiritually) and Jesus is walking through the pews with a golden pitcher filled with the living water of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). He walks up to each one in the service, intending to fill each believer’s cup with the water of the Spirit. To one, he says, ‘Okay, receive the Holy Spirit,’ but to another, he silently passes by without filling his cup. What’s the difference? One person’s cup is clean and the other’s is not. If we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us (Psa. 66:18). Our sins make a separation between us and our God (Isa. 59:1-2). Husbands who refuse to live with their wives in an understanding way will have their prayers hindered (1 Pet. 3:7). If we say that we have no sin then we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). What, then, must you do? You must ask God the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sin (to convince you that your actions and attitudes, no matter how small or petty they may seem, are sin). You must sincerely grieve over them (blessed are those who mourn, Matt. 5:4), repenting, humbling yourself before God, agreeing with him that your behaviour is rebellious and prideful. Then comes the beauty of sanctifying grace. ‘If we confess our sins, then God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). This is revival, beginning in the home – what the brethren of the East African revival used to call ‘repenting and rejoicing.’
Another analogy is the highway of holiness (Isa. 35:8). This highway leads up to Zion, the new Jerusalem. There is only one entrance ramp onto the highway of holiness and it is the cross of Christ, and the cross has a small door at its base. One must bow down low to the ground to enter the narrow gate through the cross. As we do so, we then are walking in the light, as Jesus is in the light, having fellowship with our brothers and sisters, being constantly cleansed by the blood of Jesus. So, Jesus is walking with us on the highway of holiness, as are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each side of the highway has utter darkness and we can easily stray off the road into that darkness. You will know you are there when you try to hide your sinful attitudes and actions from God and one another, when you try to downplay them, projecting them onto others, calling them mistakes, poor acts of judgment rather what they are – rebellion against the great lover of your soul. You will also know you are off the highway of holiness when you are having tension with loved ones, especially family members. Revival begins in the home. When you are on the highway of holiness you are enjoying sweet fellowship in Jesus. When you get into the darkness off the highway, you must repent. How? By going back to the entrance ramp, the cross, bowing down and crawling through on your knees.
One more analogy. God sovereignly bestows spiritual gifts as he wills (Eph. 4:7, 1 Cor. 12:4-7). We have no control over the gift we receive nor of the degree it is given to us. For example, you may have the gift of teaching like R.C. Sproul but you may not have it to the large degree he has. In other words, your spiritual gift of teaching, evangelism, or mercy ministry comes from God. Think of your gift as a pipe and the diameter of the pipe is the degree to which you have that gift. The diameter of the pipe of your teaching gift may be one foot, while Sproul’s may be three feet. You have no control over that. God is sovereign. However you do have the responsibility of keeping the debris out of your pipe so that the water of the Holy Spirit may flow unrestricted in your life. So, ask the Holy Spirit to ransack your heart (like the security agent who takes you out of line, opens your suitcase, and rummages carefully through all your stuff), to show you any hurtful way in you and to lead you in the everlasting way (Psa. 139:23-24).
This is the way to powerful ministry, my friends. This is not rocket science. Ask God to show you your sin, especially in your marriage and with your children, those closest to you. Ask the Spirit to bring deep conviction and contrition, that you really feel the weight of your sin, that you humbly confess your sin to your spouse and children, even if they do not reciprocate. Then immediately claim the cleansing blood of Jesus and the filling of the Holy Spirit. This is revival power – repenting and rejoicing, repenting and rejoicing.
- See ‘Shiloh (Part One)’ here
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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