Where are the soul crushing, convicting preachers that stir up demons and set the captives free today?
I don’t remember exactly what I was preaching that evening as a visiting guest minister, but I know there was an extremely sober, weighty atmosphere—and the message was hitting hard on repentance, eternity and holiness.
Suddenly, as people were silently, somberly on their knees at an altar, and in the middle of a teaching—no, a preaching—that was demanding a response, a response came.
A disturbed, provoked cry, “Damn John Burton to Hell! Damn John Burton to Hell! I’m going to Hell! I’m going to Hell!” shocked everybody in that church sanctuary. It was shouted, screamed, from the rear of the room, shattering the weighty atmosphere with demonic shrieks. The voice went on with the tirade while escorted to the foyer and then out into the parking lot to be ministered to by church staff. We all heard this person, a well respected part of this church from what I understand, continue in their manifestation as the Holy Spirit was bringing deep conviction to all who were present.
This type of demonic reaction to anointed, convicting preaching should not be rare in the church today, but it is. Extremely rare.
Jonathan Edwards, the central figure behind the Great Awakening and the preacher of the famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, caused quite a stir at Enfield:
An eyewitness, Stephen Williams, wrote in his diary, “We went over to Enfield where we met dear Mr. Edwards of Northampton who preached a most awakening sermon from these words, Deuteronomy 32:35, and before the sermon was done there was a great moaning and crying went out through ye whole House…. ‘What shall I do to be saved,’ ‘Oh, I am going to Hell,’ ‘Oh, what shall I do for Christ,’ and so forth. So yet ye minister was obliged to desist, ye shrieks and cry were piercing and amazing.” (http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200201/200201_104_johnathan.cfm)
WE NEED HELLFIRE PREACHERS TO RETURN TO THE AMERICAN STAGE
Much of today’s church has been duped into thinking the quickest path to revival is through positive affirmation, encouraging words and happy, middle-of-the-road sermons. The idea is that a non-threatening church culture where God’s goodness and kindness are emphasized will make him appealing and easier for people to warm up to.
This method is woefully inadequate, even inappropriate. The motive of the leaders who employ such tactics is suspect. God’s fearful, weighty presence has been sidelined for a softer, more approachable version.
I recall prophesying over a mother at a service in another church I was visiting. This mom was extremely agitated that her daughter had decided to attend this revival style service and came with both barrels blazing. She wanted her daughter to leave immediately—but God had other plans. She decided to mock the theatrics and jumped right into the prophecy line with her daughter. Big mistake. I prophesied over approximately one hundred people that night, one by one, but something I said to this irritated mother changed her life. I don’t remember what I said (which is usually the norm when prophesying over people I’ve never met before), but after the service she was sitting in the corner, dumbfounded. She called me over and asked me how I knew everything I told her. She explained that nobody has ever known about the things I revealed.
The next night of the week-long event saw this mother and her daughter back in the service. I was preaching a pointed, aggressive message, and right in the middle of it I experienced another interruption. This mother shouted, “What must I do to get saved?!” All eyes darted toward her, and then toward me as she ran to the altar. The enemy thought he was sending her to disrupt a move of God the previous night. This night he lost a disciple to the glorious love of Jesus. The anointing broke her yoke of bondage.
ANOTHER GREAT AWAKENING
During the Second Great Awakening, we saw the following happen:
On the American frontier, camp meetings came to characterize revivals. The first camp meeting revival was in south-central Kentucky. At a meeting in June 1800, Presbyterian James McGready and two other pastors preached for 3 days; on the fourth day, two traveling Methodist ministers officiated and concluded with an emotional exhortation. Many physically collapsed at what they called conviction of sin. People were convinced they were experiencing a visitation of the Holy Spirit such as the early church had known at Pentecost. (https://www.christianity.com/church/the-2nd-great-awakening-11630336.html)
We must see another great awakening come to America! It’s time to shut down the predictable, stale church services and allow the disturbing yet wonderfully freeing messages of repentance emerge!
I was preaching at a regional youth conference, and, again, the message was provocative. Whenever messages like this are delivered, I can discern an intense resistance to it. Sadly, this often comes from leadership. Those who are living compromised lives often walk out. In fact, one person admitted to me that they were indignant and were about to walk out the previous night—until the Holy Spirit whispered to them, “Trust me and stay.” He did, and his life was transformed. He couldn’t stop thanking me and especially God for what had happened in his life.
At this youth conference, I prophesied very directly and precisely that someone was in extreme danger of being separated from God for eternity in Hell. I said this person was involved in sexual sin and I knew who they were, though I told them I wouldn’t expose them. It was up to them to bring their sin into the light. I implored them to repent, and fast.
After the service, the boyfriend of the person God had highlighted to me walked up to me. He revealed he was a youth pastor at one of the attending churches. He admitted that he and his girlfriend were involved in sexual sin and God had broken him that night.
Pastors, do you have any idea how much compromise and wickedness is occurring on your watch? We need to trust the Holy Spirit to lovingly and urgently convict the church. We must see mass repentance and a return to Jesus. Holiness must be preached again. Hellfire messages can no longer be avoided. Revival is an absolute necessity today. Where there is no revival, spiritual death will overwhelm our nation. George Whitefield knew this well:
After a sermon in Lyme, Connecticut, “many had their countenances changed; their thoughts seemed to trouble them, so that the joints of their loins were loosed, and their knees smote one against another. Great numbers cried out aloud in the anguish of their souls. Several stout men fell as though a cannon had been discharged, and a ball had made its way through their hearts.” (http://www1.cbn.com/spirituallife/a-great-awakening-stirs-the-colonies)
We can no longer be silent. Presuming all who hear our preaching to be spiritually and eternally okay is a great mistake. We need a booming shock to the system if we hope revival to come.
“The Christian world is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.” ~George Whitefield
Arguments against the invitation to go deep in God are increasing…and it’s Christians who are leading the resistance.
re·li·gion /rəˈlijən/ Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
Slap the label “religious” on anything that threatens your theology or impacts your definition of freedom. It feels spiritual. It is spiritual. The demonic spirit realm is filled with unholy wisdom, and very often this is the source of such a defense. Today’s rallying cry seems to be fueled by the desire to be free from anything that places restraints, expectations or requirements upon someone. All of that, to them, is religious.
Many of the arguments are coming from those who have been duped into believing an unbiblical doctrine of grace. This false-grace ideology presumes that all has been completed by Jesus, and that nothing remains for us to do in order to be in relationship with him. Simply, his actions on the cross and at the tomb were sufficient. The result, if we only understood, they would argue, is that absolutely nothing can be done by us to increase our nearness to him, and, from the other direction, nothing can be done to decrease his nearness to us.
They argue that our sin is impotent. Our effort is both futile and unnecessary, and actually an offense to the finished work of Jesus. Their proposition is that we simply need a revelation of this supposed truth. When they discovered it themselves, burdens and weights were lifted and they began enjoying God as a good, good Father. They would say they do nothing, except believe and receive and live in that revelation.
The truth is that eliminating every burden (God’s burden is light, not non-existent) just may cost us our lives. If you are carrying a backpack on your three-day hike into the mountains, it’s going to get heavy. If you decided to take it off and leave it behind, it will feel like freedom! You are suddenly relieved of that irritating, uncomfortable burden. However, you will also be without food, water, a sleeping bag and shelter. The elements of the world will overtake you and you may very possibly succumb.
I celebrate with zeal every time someone I know encounters legitimate freedom and the immeasurable love of the Father! However, our experience in God cannot stop there. Those who do stop short need to be awakened to the deeper call of God on their lives.
You see, religion isn’t that which produces a barrier to freedom, it’s the attempt to use God in order to have the most pleasurable experience possible, no matter how selfish that pursuit may be.
Those who wanted Jesus to be their king one day, turned on him and demanded his death the next. Why? They were not set on worshiping Jesus but rather on using him. When he didn’t deliver what they wanted, they decided to eliminate him for a better option. This is religion in action.
9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9 (ESV)
12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Mark 15:12-15 (ESV)
A SIMPLE YET PROFOUND CALL
God is calling us into the deep.
The only way there is through radical surrender, fervent intercession, living in the Spirit and unapologetic holiness.
We must die daily. We must be living sacrifices.
I’m writing this from my hotel room during a ministry trip to Albany, New York, and I’m watching The International House of Prayer’s prayer room live on YouTube. I was on staff at IHOPKC for a couple of years and it was easy to see one specific reality: Most of these people were devoted to God at a level rarely seen in this nation. They weren’t perfect people, but they were hungry people with a level of consecration rarely seen in the church. I’ve known many people who are offended at this. They actually despise IHOPKC and ministries like them. Why? Because their own level of passion for Jesus and depth in God are exposed as lacking. The thought that much is required of disciples of Jesus is contrary to their personal pursuits of undisciplined freedom.
Understand, I know these words I’m writing are provocative. I also believe they must be written so I can most effectively make my point. As obvious as it seems, a growing number of people in this generation don’t get it: we can only experience the deep things of God if we are fervent, radical, surrendered and dying daily to the things of the flesh. There is no other way. There are no shortcuts.
At IHOPKC and other similar ministries all around the world, people are praying 2-4 hours a day or more. They are allowing the groans of the Spirit to erupt out of them. They are devouring the Word of God as they allow the presence of God to permeate them in the prayer room. The Holy Spirit is speaking to them with clarity. The prophetic atmosphere around them is electric. Dreams, visions and a powerful anointing become regular. The chambers of their heart are opened to the searching of the Spirit of God. These people are undone, hungry, desperate and relentless.
Yet, those who subscribe to the unbiblical “freedom theologies” that I addressed above somehow believe that they are as close to God as those who are giving themselves in a more deliberate manner, even if they make no effort in drawing close to him.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10 (ESV)
A POWERFUL ANOINTING
I’ll never forget the time I had a regional prayer meeting in my church. A well known mega-church leader was in the prayer meeting along with several of his friends. I was praying with my eyes closed when I felt this intense wave of the glory of God wash over me. I opened my eyes and this man of God had just walked by me. I waited for him to make another lap, and as he passed by again, the wave hit me a second time. This happened several times.
I knew this man knew God. There was a depth that was uncommon. He was living in such a way that resulted in a very powerful anointing swirling around him. I yearned to do whatever it took to carry that type of glory on my own life.
I’ve experienced similar manifestations several times, and each time leaves me crying out for a deeper hunger and a more resolute life.
Pastor John Kilpatrick was preaching at a Bay of the Holy Spirit remote event in Detroit. I was on the front row during this morning session enjoying the wisdom that John was releasing to us. Suddenly, in the middle of a point, he stopped. He simply said, “He’s here.”
As he gazed toward the rear of the auditorium, I turned my head and looked myself. You could see a wave of God’s glory moving from the back to the front, row by row. Then it hit me. If I had an unlimited vocabulary at my disposal, I would still not be able to describe that experience. Simply, God arrived.
There is no way that manifests except via a radically devoted life, a life that John Kilpatrick exemplifies. There are precious few who live this way.
1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:1-7 (ESV)
As we life consecrated lives, encounters are revelations will increase. The truth found in Scripture will explode off the pages. We will be undone. As with Isaiah, the revelations will result in a declaration of God’s holiness and our weakness and struggle. If there is sin in our lives, it will be instantly evident. Then, the fire will sear us and our redemption and deliverance will be made clear.
We will live with a never-ending burning in our spirits and a tremble that marks us forever.
If we want to experience the wonders of God, radical consecration is the only option.
5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
Not only will we live tepid, powerless lives that are focused mostly on our own personal experience instead of laying our lives down for Jesus, but those who refuse to consecrate and devote in the place of intense prayer and surrender are at risk of eternal separation from God. There is a terror of Hell that the enemy is making ready for them to experience.
My book The Terror of Hell is a sobering message of how intimacy with Jesus and salvation in Jesus are related. In the encounter, I was dragged toward Hell. The terror I experienced was horrifying and fully indescribable. God spoke to me after the encounter and said, “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”
It’s possible that a Christian may be in a good place today, but in the future they may grow apathetic or they may lose their first love. Here’s a portion of an article based on my book:
A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him.
This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves Born Again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.
We need a wakeup call, church. We can’t presume to be in a place of safety simply because we said a prayer, go to church, give offerings and talk about Jesus. An intense pursuit of holiness and intimacy is required.
This is a message that must be shouted from the rooftops.
I can’t imagine multiplied millions of people who are current following Jesus in an unsaved condition crying out in terror one day, “I’m going to Hell? That’s impossible!”
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV)
WE MUST DIVE INTO THE DEEP
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
Unbiblical “freedom theologies” reject the call to the deep. I’ve had people actually tell me that going deep is unnecessary. Others have called people out of the prayer rooms! They argue it’s an unnecessary practice if we truly understand that there is nothing left to be done. They say we just need to rest in our fully resolved position in Christ. Still others reject prayer movements like IHOPKC because their devotion to intercession is a devotion to unnecessary works.
I’ll be honest with you, I never thought I’d see entire movements of supposed Spirit-filled Christians standing in opposition to prayer!
Someone connected with me on Facebook recently and shared her desperation to see a prayer movement emerge in her region. She actually said she’s been involved in a church that’s all about revival, but they haven’t had a prayer meeting in ten years! I simply responded by confirming her suspicions: you can’t be a revival church without a fervent, consistent and supernatural culture of prayer. It’s impossible.
THE SUBMARINE DREAM
My wife and I were in a military grade nuclear submarine following behind a second submarine that contained my Father and Mother-in-law.
I was analyzing the situation, trying to gain understanding on what exactly were were doing while my wife was playfully looking through the periscope. Both submarines were staying at the surface of the water, and they were being used as tour vessels. The atmosphere was playful and carefree.
After a short time everybody was done playing and we decided to park the submarines alongside a long pier. We climbed out and walked down the pier and onto an ocean side boardwalk. There were people everywhere enjoying a beautiful sunny day. The restaurants and shops were full of activity.
We walked onto the sandy beach which was about one hundred yards from the submarines.
As we gazed out over the water, both submarines suddenly began leaving. They headed out toward deeper water.
My in-laws immediately started running into the water giving chase to the submarines. As they did, I was thinking that it was impossible for them to get anywhere near to the fast moving vessels and I didn’t understand why they had tried.
Then, my wife ran into the water as well.
What I saw next can’t easily be described in a way that is true to the emotion I felt. The water immediately began erupting as if a powerful hurricane was upon us. I was terrorized as I frantically tried to devise a plan to help. What I saw next drained every bit of hope from my being. A whirlpool opened up underneath my in-laws and sucked them under. Then, a second whirlpool took my wife.
I was screaming for help. A few people gathered around but could offer no help whatsoever. I called 911 and all I heard was this recording, “We can’t send help for an hour. We can’t send help for an hour.”
It looped over and over. I knew that THIS was the hour. I couldn’t wait! The emergency was upon us.
As I stood on the beach, hopeless, the scene changed.
Only a few days had passed yet it was now bitterly cold and the water had frozen over. There was at least ten feet of snow on top of the ice.
I started moving slowly, though as quickly as I could, through the snow in the direction of where the whirlpools were.
It was my wife, frozen. She was gone.
I ran back to the boardwalk and into a restaurant. I saw someone who had tried to help previously behind the counter of a sports bar. He was a volunteer firefighter in addition to working at the restaurant. I yelled, “Help! Help! I found her! I found her! Come quickly!”
He just casually said, “Sorry man, I’m working.”
What? I couldn’t believe what I heard. I said, “No, you don’t understand! I found my wife! I need help!”
He just said, “Sorry.” and then looked at a customer and said, “How can I help you?”
I ran back to the snow where my wife was buried. I thought that maybe, just maybe, since she was frozen that there was a chance she could be revived. I’ve heard of people freezing and their heart beat is slowed to almost nothing before being brought back.
As I was thinking about this I looked down at her, and there was a piece of paper right next to her frozen face.
I picked it up. All it said was, “Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.”
Then I woke up.
When I woke up I was shaken to my core.
As I started to pray and analyze the dream, the following is what was highlighted to me:
- The submarines: Vehicles represent ministry, and I believe the submarines represented the church. The church is not meant for casual play at the surface of the water. It’s a military weapon of war designed to move into the deep as it advances toward enemy targets. When the submarines left on their own, that represented the truth that the church will most certainly advance on its mission with or without us. We can be left behind as we continue our focus on entertainment and leisure if we so choose.
- My family: Of course, this was a hard core part of the dream. The first reaction is to do everything I can to ensure those close to me are doing well and burning hot for Jesus. Beyond that, symbolically I feel they represented familiarity and presumption. It’s very easy to presume those who are close to us are most certainly doing well in their relationship with Jesus—and then to model our lives after theirs. What happens so often is that we can adopt their pace and their level of passion instead of staying locked in, on alert and advancing in the fire of God. The pressure of maintaining civilities and false-unity can result in a marginalized, lukewarm, casual disposition.
This verse best represents what I am communicating:
…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
We must be careful not to presume that we are alive and that others are alive simply because of the preceding reputations. There are many people with both a spiritual legacy and a name for being zealous who are doing little more than playing—and it’s possible that those people may be some of our closest friends, family, pastors and other personal heroes. Don’t measure your life by their grid. We must calibrate to the truth in scripture that will bring light to every issue of our heart.
Then, we can be true awakeners. If we think people who are are asleep are already awake, then we will have no need to step into our roles as end-time prophetic messengers.
- 911: I was sounding the alarm in a variety of ways including by calling 911. I also ran into the sports bar looking for help. Both rejected the alarm. It’s clear that the hour is now for awakening though even those trained as emergency responders won’t see it. What was the alarm? Those that have a reputation of being alive are dead! Wake up!
- The storm: It was sudden, violent and really out of place. It didn’t make sense, but it wasn’t obligated to explain itself. If we would have been in the submarines AND in the deep, the storm would not have touched us.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; Matthew 24:36-38
So, what’s the call?
It’s simple, and it’s directed to the church, to those who are to be in the deep:
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:4-6
God instructed me to wrestle with Revelation 3:1. I've been burning hot for Jesus for over 20 years, yet, is it possible that my devotion is not as deep as I might think? Yes, it is possible.
God didn't accuse me of being dead. He didn't reveal that my passion was false. He simply wanted me to always consider the possibility that my reputation will always be at risk of being more intense than my reality.
…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1
It's time to go deep, to be awake and alert and then to awaken the sleepers…many who may have a reputation of being very much alive…but are not.
It’s time for revival, not the promotion of selfish “freedom theologies.” This is the hour.
#metoo proponents need a fresh understanding of what love and forgiveness really look like.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34 (ESV)
I’m a holiness preacher. I am feverish in my pursuit of revival that will be marked by purity in the church and mass, glorious repentance in the nation. As is true with many of today’s prophetic messengers, there’s an urgency in my spirit that can’t be shaken. We must see a move of God that both initiates and is a response to tears and mourning over the state of the church and the debauchery of our nation.
The egregious moral condition of America and the entire world is sickening beyond description. Recent news reveals the grotesque and depraved state of our culture.
For example, an abortion doctor recently boasted about her method of murder that ensures baby’s cries can’t be heard:
On Sunday, Leah Torres, a Utah abortionist who is active on Twitter, responded with gruesome detail to someone criticizing her work.
When someone asked Torres if she hears the screams of the babies who she aborts, she replied:
You know fetuses can’t scream, right? I transect the cord 1st so there’s really no opportunity, if they’re even far enough along to have a larynx.
I won’t apologize for performing medicine. I’m also a “uterus ripper outer,” if that’s how you’d like to describe hysterectomy. https://t.co/lng0W3ta5J
— Leah Torres, MD (@LeahNTorres) March 11, 2018
Just today, a suspected mail bomber in the Austin, Texas area died as one of his bombs detonated as police were closing in.
Of course, we have recent mass shootings and other heinous assaults that are becoming normal. Hollywood movies are becoming more vile. Pornography is rampant even in the church. The status of our nation is nothing less than depraved and desperate.
Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
Jesus died so we might have life. He died so others might have life. He died so our very dark sins would not keep us from a relationship with him. He died so other people’s sins, including the sins of murder, abuse and hatred, would not keep them from a relationship with him.
When I watch crime stories or hear news reports about the trials and convictions of murderers, rapists, abusers and others who have committed absolutely horrifying crimes against humanity, I find myself especially grieved when something specific happens. Time and again, I hear the family members and friends of those who were the target of the various crimes say, “I’ll never forgive him.” Those words wreck me. They are sealing their fate, a fate of darkness and despair that will never be escaped without true forgiveness.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
Those who have been abused or who have been affected by the hateful crimes of others most certainly are scarred deeply, beyond what words could ever describe. I’m a father of five and the husband of a wonderful, beautiful wife. If anything ever happened to them at the hands of another, I would experience a range of emotions that would rock me. Anger, despair, fear and other responses would be expected. But, as a Christian, forgiveness and love for the perpetrator must follow. I must shift from accuser to intercessor so both he and I are free, forgiven and healed.
Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. (Matthew 6:12)
A common violation of truth occurs when we presume our sins worthy of forgiveness while the sins of others must result in punishment. The true condition of our heart is revealed as we accuse.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s mandatory. Even though forgiveness is potent, we can’t always expect a perfect resolution to immediately follow. Restitution may not occur. Forgiveness isn’t about us, it’s about setting free those who have wounded us. Jesus could have screamed #metoo and demanded justice. Instead, he shouted #iforgive, as people continued to abuse and humiliate him by casting lots for his clothes. His forgiveness didn’t move them, but it moved Heaven and rocked the planet.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51 (ESV)
Forgiveness will set the abuser in place for freedom should they accept it. Forgiveness will set the abused up for healing. True love does just that. It heals and sets free.
I am so blessed by the courage and true love exhibited by a true victim–Rachael Denhollander, who, instead of shouting #metoo declared #iforgive:
A former gymnast is offering forgiveness for the unspeakable crimes Larry Nassar has been convicted of – and she’s being recognized by the media for it.
“Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you. I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.” (From lifenews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/26/pro-life-christian-gymnast-rachael-denhollander-powerfully-forgives-usa-gymnastics-doc-larry-nassar-for-sexual-abuse/)
Don’t misunderstand me. We need the dark side of our culture exposed. The evil in Hollywood and throughout the fabric of our nation is so vile that most of us would be shocked if we saw it in fullness. Everything from sex trafficking to the porn industry to immorality in movies that fill our theaters to drugs, addiction, murder, abortion and so much more is destroying millions of people. That darkness must be exposed and those who are perpetuating it must be held accountable.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:11-14 (ESV)
Part of the response that the guilty must offer is legitimate repentance. If porn industry leaders, sex traffickers, Hollywood moguls who are abusing women (and men), drug traffickers and others would openly repent and surrender to Jesus, I think the earth would shift off its axis! This must be what drives our intercession, not retribution!
…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)
As we have been forgiven, we must forgive. We pay it forward. Our declaration must be #iforgive.
The heart of the #metoo movement is vengeance. It’s not driven by a heart of love and forgiveness, but on the contrary, one of anger and hatred. The question is simple: Will you forgive those who have abused you? Will you love them? Will you truly decree #iforgive just as you, as a child of God, have been forgiven?
Can you imagine the shockwaves that would have resulted if Harvey Weinstein’s victims looked him in the eyes and said, I forgive you. God loves you. I don’t want you to be tormented because of what you did to me. I don’t want you to experience shame. I want you to know the love of Jesus.
Wow! Imagine the Oscar speeches and news reports that would have followed! What if the #metoo movement truly was an #iforgive movement!
The spirit of vengeance and hatred that is rising up in our nation as a result of a very real darkness being uncovered is also deeply evil. Yes, we must stand firm for holiness. We absolutely must see corruption and crimes and assaults against innocent people exposed. Yes, for those who have committed crimes, there is a very real price to pay. Yes, those who are a danger to others must be apprehended. The darkness must be uncovered. There is no question about it.
What we must ask is, how will we respond to those who are exposed? Will we heap up hatred and vengeance upon them? Will we say, “I will never forgive you.” Will we shame them? Or, will we do as Rachael Denhollander did and extend forgiveness?
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)
Isaiah reveals a powerful strategy:
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:15-18 (NKJV)
God is ready to cleanse all who repent. For both those who abuse and those who refuse to forgive, God is revealing the blood on their hands. When we are clean, we most certainly can seek justice. We can trust God to expose the darkness and judge right versus wrong. We will rebuke oppressors and intercede for the weak, the fatherless, the widows—and I guarantee many of those who sexually abuse others are fatherless. The cry of our heart must be not only for our sins to be washed away, but for the sins of those who oppress us to be as white as snow. Our cry must not only be for justice but for mercy.
…In wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV)
Will we be #metoo accusers or #iforgive intercessors?
Our heart should follow the heart of God:
“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17 (NKJV)
For those who have been abused, my heart is broken for you. I am so sorry you had to endure that. My belief is your healing will rapidly come as you forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean you minimize the pain or what has occurred. It simply means you make a decision to set the abuser free. You learn to love them and desire for them to know Jesus intimately. You let them know Heaven won’t be the same without them. You can’t fathom the thought of them being tormented forever in Hell. You become their greatest intercessor.
You simply do what Jesus did. Instead of focusing on himself by saying #metoo he focused on those who were killing him. He loved them in the midst of the assault. He said, #iforgive.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (ESV)
There’s nothing playful or innocent about these killers.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)
Fear. Lust. Anger. Hatred. Suicide. Oppression. Hopelessness.
Spirit-filled Christians are not immune to overwhelming assaults of the enemy, but we should be victorious at the end of the battle. Sadly, in today’s dark world, even some of the most passionate Believers are experiencing defeat after defeat. Many would admit that they have been unable to break free from strategic, continual, tormenting and demonic oppression. They force a smile on their face for Sunday morning and let it fade away as they walk out the doors at the end of the service. Depression and despair have dug into their soul and refuse to let go. They pray in tongues and stand in faith with no effect at all. It seems that God has abandoned them. The truth about their situation, however, is quite different.
I had a significant dream last night. It's a call for Christians to awaken and to repent and break alliance with unholy things.
Standing in the corner was a terrifying form. It was watching, threatening, alive though death screamed through it’s countenance. This being was so grotesque and evil that no true Christian would ever consider for a moment that it had anything of worth to offer. Quite the opposite. The terror that accompanied this otherworldly entity would make anybody franticly run while crying out for God to save them. No, there was nothing alluring about this beast whatsoever, until…
In the dark, haunting room that both the demon and I were having our silent confrontation was a dog. It was a fairly large dog, very possibly a German Shepherd. It was peacefully resting, curled up on the floor. It looked up at me, and I wanted to move over and pet this new friend. I could tell he was gentle and playful and would make a great new addition to my family. It was a bit strange to be thinking along these lines with manifested evil standing just a few feet away, but strangely the thought of having a new, furry friend brought some comfort. This made the evil force in the room happy indeed.
The demon suddenly took on the form of a wispy spirit. What looked like a misty cloud flew around the room and then entered right into the dog. It knew it would never be received in its previous terrifying form. It had to become familiar, alluring, and convincing instead of repulsive.
The animal that was moments ago wagging its tail, almost smiling at me, as excited as I was to have a new friend, was possessed by horrifying evil. No longer an innocent pet, this hell hound arched its back, fiercely growled and exposed its razor sharp fangs, ready to devour me. I could smell the stench of darkness emanating from this demon possessed animal. Destruction was its assignment and death was sure.
As a Spirit-filled Christian, I was well versed in the truth that “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” I understood that I have been given authority over the domain of darkness. In that moment, boldness rose up within and I lunged at the beast. I grabbed its upper jaw with one hand and the lower with the other, risking slicing my flesh on its teeth. Just like a lion tamer, I put my face right in its mouth. Just like a warrior in prayer, I started intensely and loudly praying in tongues, right down the throat of that dog.
The prayer had power, and it had effect. The animal settled down and I backed away.
No more than ten seconds later, evil manifested again as the dog arched its back, opened its jaws and prepared to attack.
Again, I aggressively ran toward the dog, grabbed its fangs, prayed in the Spirit and watched it again settle down.
This cycle repeated itself over and over again. It was exhausting. It was ineffective. True victory never came and momentary relief was brief.
My new family pet, furry, playful, innocent, was anything but. I wanted to enjoy my new friend, presuming I had enough spiritual strength to deal with the evil that came with it. I did not.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14 (ESV)
FINDING RADICAL FREEDOM
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (ESV)
Do not be deceived. None of us are strong enough to resist the onslaught of a very evil, demented and deadly spirit if we entertain that spirit. Not only must it be cast out, it must be rejected in every form, in every area of our lives.
As I stated above, innumerable Spirit-filled Christians find themselves bound up, oppressed and without strength for a permanent deliverance in their lives. Yes, they are spiritually minded. They understand the power of prayer. They believe in the authority granted to them by Christ. They do their best to function as spiritual warriors, but at the end of the battle, they are beaten, desperate and hopeless. The enemy wins time and time again.
We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that evil is less threatening just because it takes the form of something familiar.
Many are in a cycle of warfare with the enemy, attempting to function spiritually, appearing to be bold and fearless as they engage him. However, they can never win unless they completely cancel their agreement with evil.
Both the spirit and the dog must go. Both the enemy and whatever vehicle it’s using to entice us must be eradicated from our lives. Now.
I have heard pastors, leaders and seemingly solid Christians tell me that cussing and violence in movies doesn’t bother them. Occasional nudity doesn’t either. They refuse to watch sexual situations, however. That’s where they draw the line.
They wonder why they can’t live free from lust. They can’t imagine living a life with no unrighteous sexual images (which would be anybody real or imagined other than their spouse) dancing through their minds.
They are watching the movies, they are entertaining the dog. The enemy is manifesting through unrighteous forms of media, something that seems so common, so familiar, so innocent, playful, something that’s a part of American culture.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)
Others continually wrestle with anger and hatred while playing violent video games. The spirit of hatred is nicely packaged along with the dog, the video game, a familiar part of most people’s lives.
The truth is clear. We cannot keep the dog and eliminate the spirit. We can’t watch nudity in media and stay free from lust. It’s more than cause and effect. The enemy chooses certain vehicles and methods to anoint as he works to facilitate his plan of destruction in our lives.
We need to cast the spirit completely out of our lives and never allow ourselves to be deceived into enjoying what they have to offer again.
Discernment must increase. Holiness must increase. The dog must go.
Only then will we find true freedom.
…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:8-14 (ESV)
The enemy is looking for a back door into the church—through worship teams.
Both in Colorado Springs and Detroit I had the privilege of giving some leadership to remarkable prayer movements. Every Friday from 10pm until midnight we would gather hungry people from the region to pray in tongues. We’d spread out and pray boldly through the sanctuary, on the platform, in classrooms and outside. The roar of intercession was intense.
The focus each week was to bless the ministry and to partner with them in their mission. At times we’d have over 200 people squeezing into a property designed for 30! I was always thrilled when the pastor and his core team would show up in force. I was always confused when a secretary or janitor would unlock the door for us and then disappear into another part of the property.
The night of the experience I am about to share with you, from what I can remember, included nobody from the host church. However, scores of fiery zealots from all over the region were praying with passion.
In the midst of pacing and praying, one of the other leaders called me over. He said, “John, go walk through the baptismal.” I was perplexed and asked why. He encouraged me to just do it. The baptismal was empty and positioned behind the platform. While praying in the Spirit, I walked down into the vessel designed for introducing people into a life-altering eternity with Jesus. I gagged. I felt sick. The swirl of demons in that very spot was so overwhelming that I was shocked. I Slowly walked through, praying and attempting to analyze what was happening in the invisible realm. I emerged on the other side and approached my friend. With my eyes wide open and shock on my face, I said, “What in the world was that?” He smiled (not a happy smile, but one that indicated bewilderment) and said, “I told you something was going on there.”
We didn’t share the experience with anybody there and simply prayed and took authority.
Very shortly after that night, it was discovered that the worship leader of that church had been involved in homosexual relationships. The memory of my walk through that baptismal tank caused me to grieve.
WORSHIP LEADERS MUST MAKE THEIR POSITION KNOWN
Its expected for today’s righteous pastors and leaders to take a stand and to oppose all wickedness, including homosexuality. Sadly, fewer and fewer are, but that’s an article for another day. Today we need to talk about the responsibility of worship leaders and those on worship teams to stand for truth.
It’s quite uncommon to hear from worship leaders regarding their doctrinal positions. They are a vulnerable vehicle for the enemy to deliver his next assault in the church through.
On one of the largest stages in the nation, Carrie Underwood was invited to participate in the latest Passion Conference. She belted out Amazing Grace along side Crowder in front of thousands of worshipers. What many didn’t realize is Carrie is a supporter of homosexual rights.
From a recent Charisma News article:
“The controversy is why would Louie Giglio put someone in front of millennials—who are struggling with this issue—who is basically saying that the Bible is not true in what it says about homosexuality,” American Family Association Ed Vitagliano says.
“[There is a] growing strain within the evangelical community that is denying the truth of Scripture,” he continued.
“Our church is gay friendly,” she explains. “Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or ‘everyone has to be like me.' No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody.”
She also said:
“As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
ETERNITY IS AT STAKE
This isn’t about debating about differing theological viewpoints. This argument isn’t even an argument. It’s settled. The Bible is clear. Eternity is at risk.
It goes down like vinegar, but the truth remains, those who support homosexuality can’t presume to be saved. They will experience horrifying torment in Hell forever. We have to let that sink in.
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Rom 1:32
If we are allowing worship leaders to minister in the name of God while endorsing homosexuality or other wickedness not only are we aligning with extremely powerful demonic spirits at they ramp up their assault on millions, we are stepping aside, allowing people to be put at extreme risk of Hell.
Entire churches risk having Ichabod posted above the doorposts because of leaders, including worship leaders, who are inviting unholy spirits to take residence through their alliance with them. Simply, when we agree with a doctrine of demons, we become a partner with them. We align ourselves with them and give their evil war power and strength.
THIS IS A PROPHETIC MESSAGE FOR TODAY
I sense strongly that God is attempting to awaken worship leaders who are toying with spiritual death, and he is also attempting to strengthen his holy army of worship warriors. He’s looking for those anointed men and women of God who are partnering with him in holiness and who are taking their call to lead people in worship of a fearful, holy God seriously and soberly.
I don’t know about you, but it is important to me to know just what a worship leader believes. I’m often troubled with the doctrine that’s coming through in the lyrics of much of today’s popular worship music. However, this prophetic call takes us down a very specific path. We have to understand the enemy is attempting to normalize homosexuality in churches. What better strategy than to anoint those who are leading people into a spiritual/emotional place. I’ve heard people support homosexuality by saying, “Don’t you feel God’s presence when we worship? We consider that his endorsement of our position on homosexuality.”
Respectfully and with great honor, send this message to your worship leader and your pastor. Pray for them. Collectively lets encourage worship leaders to make their positions on morality and biblical truth clear.
The church, revival and eternity are all at risk.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10
Donald Trump revealed some issues that demand discussion.
There is a spirit of euphoria spreading through much of the church thanks to the overwhelming and unprecedented election results. As many of you know, I was one who wasn’t sold on the idea of a Donald Trump presidency, but as it stands now, we must all honor him as the soon to be inaugurated President of our nation. Many are saying he was God’s choice. I don’t know that any of us can know that for certain, but what we do know is that God has established him, just as he does with all leaders, be they good or evil.
That being said, we must contend for God’s purposes as Donald leads us from one national experience into another. We have to pray that his steps are ordered and refuse to complain no matter how vexing his leadership may be.
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4 (ESV)
We do not want to go back to Egypt. And, no, at this point, we absolutely do not want a new leader.
No more cries, no more tears, no more grumbling.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
Donald Trump is our authority and he has been instituted, established, by God. Resisting and complaining can only result in judgment. It’s time to serve, honor, love and contend for revival in America, and we must do so with Donald Trump at the helm of our nation’s government.
And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the LORD. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive. Numbers 14:36-38 (ESV)
Joshua and Caleb determined they could advance under the leadership of Moses into very threatening territory. The others? They grumbled and died on the wrong side of promise. This same scenario is before us today. How will we respond? We need people who will spy out the land, who will view into our prosperous future with Donald Trump in leadership, and bring back a good, confident report. We need pioneers, apostles, warriors who will advance in the face of any enemy, without excuse, without fear.
Now, before you accuse me of equating Donald Trump to Moses, please bear with me. We all know that Donald has some serious personal issues that must be dealt with, but we must also serve him in intercession and by refusing to speak evil of him. We must be his advocates.
That’s my clear message of how we must respond to Donald Trump’s Presidency. Now, at this point I must switch gears. Having an appropriate attitude towards Donald Trump is but the beginning. There are some very real issues to be discussed. There is an issue with the church that must be addressed.
You see, Moses and Joshua were not only focused on taking new territory. They also called for the consecration of the people. Success depended not only on the leader and on the support of the people but also the consecration and continual refining of the people. This is where we must now focus. Attention now shifts from Donald Trump to you and me—the church of America. Repentance and consecration must come. Our tomorrow depends on it.
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
TROUBLING ISSUES THE CHURCH MUST DEAL WITH AFTER THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP
The reason I was disturbed with the wholesale support of Donald Trump by many Spirit-filled Christians was not because I didn’t believe God could eventually move through his Presidency. The trouble in my spirit, which is still there today, has to do with violations by the church that put our nation at risk regardless of who the President is. In fact, Donald Trump could have a Damascus Road encounter and become a revivalist in the White House overnight, but that wouldn’t resolve the national issues that have been created by American Christians this election season. The enemy is not those who didn’t support Donald Trump. The enemy is a segment of the American church that dipped into corruption in its efforts to elect the President of their choice.
SHRUGGING OFF IMMORALITY
I wish it was possible for me to express to you my thoughts and emotions every time I witnessed Christians shrugging off immoral behavior by Donald Trump. While I didn’t engage with as many Hillary Clinton supporters, the same confusion would have resulted had I heard people defend her indefensible immorality.
The immediate, almost scripted and prepared statement I heard time and again from legitimate, God-loving, Spirit-driven Christians was, “That was in the past,” or “It was only locker room talk,” or other similar verbal and written shrugs of the shoulders. Others often argued that nobody is perfect and therefore we couldn’t hold them to any standards whatsoever. I was stunned!
Further, it was determined that anybody who didn’t sin greater than King David was approved for leadership. This extreme biblical illiteracy is shocking. When a corrupt, indecent politician writes some psalms revealing the cry of their heart for intimacy with God, I’ll listen to you.
Many were defending Donald Trump by reminding us that he’s a baby Christian and that he needs time to grow. The problem? Nobody actually knows if he’s truly converted or not. At the time of the election, the fruit hadn’t started to show. My argument is not that Donald is not saved. It’s that we don’t know if he will or will not continue in the extreme immoral behavior that he has exhibited his whole life. It’s an immature, desperate person who will ignore warning signs in the hope that all is well. We simply cannot minimize immoral behavior. I don’t believe politicians must be Christians, but I do believe they must adhere to a moral code.
Remember, I’m not talking about our new President now. I’m talking about the failures of the church to support righteousness.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2 (NKJV)
I was legitimately concerned that we were risking four years of national groaning by closing our eyes to indiscretions. But, cries for righteousness in our leadership fell on many deaf ears. That is an indictment on the church, not on Donald Trump.
For the life of me I couldn’t find many who would honestly acknowledge how serious the violations and accusations of racism, hatred, sexual indiscretion and other behaviors were. I’ll admit, it was strange. The reaction felt like a well rehearsed political script. The church’s extreme support of a man has, in my opinion, resulted in opening the door to conditional morality and an increase in sexual deviance in our nation. I’m not saying we can’t fight against that tide, but it’s a situation we should not have initiated. If those who supported Donald Trump would have at least admitted the controversy exists, and that they are grieved about his demeanor and behavior, whether its past or present, righteousness could have prevailed.
In 1988 I was at the epicenter of a global, spiritual moral crisis in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was near the front of the auditorium at Family Worship Center as I, along with countless news reporters and thousands of other people, watched Jimmy Swaggart famously repent for his sexual sin. The world lost trust in Christianity, and especially in popular evangelists and ministers, that day. The moral code was violated and it should not have been shrugged off. It was devastating.
Years later I had the privilege of leading regional prayer meetings with Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Ted also preached in my church twice and, like Jimmy Swaggart, I experienced his tangible, powerful anointing. Like Jimmy, Ted was a true general in the faith. I also felt the impact of failure when Ted gave in to sexual sin. Again, people were shocked, in tears and grieved. They had a right to be.
I also had the opportunity to meet personally with Todd Bentley in Lakeland, Florida during the outpouring. I experienced the power of God on his life too. Then, his failure became known and it rocked many. The outpouring was suddenly over as people lost trust in Todd.
Years and decades later there are many Christians who refuse to support these men of God or even watch them on television. Many of these same Christians were lining up to vote for a man who probably violated the moral code exponentially more than Jimmy, Ted and Todd combined.
Please remember, I’m not talking about whether Donald is forgiven or not. I’m not pointing my finger at him. This segment of the article is aimed at the church.
I’m calling out a permissive, passive church that was so afraid of one leader in Hillary Clinton that they were willing to sell their birthright for another.
No, Donald Trump isn’t a pastor or a spiritual leader. I’ve heard that excuse too. It seemed that people were looking for any loophole to excuse immorality. The argument has resulted in a new standard: give us what we want and we will overlook crimes, lies, sexual deviancy, hatred and anything else necessary.
I’ve asked the question more than once, “What must a candidate do in terms of morality that would make him or her impossible to vote for?” Believe it or not, I never received an answer! What if both candidates in the next election are pro-abortion, but one would limit it to the first trimester while the other supports partial-birth termination? Would situational ethics give us license to vote for a pro-abortion candidate if they were the lesser of the two evils? Truthfully, I believe many Christians would actually cast a vote for a murderer—the lesser of two murderers.
This is what happens when biblical truth and core values are placed on a sliding scale. Those values have been constantly moving in this election and we must repent and react to the new immorality that was introduced as nothing more than locker room talk this year.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. Proverbs 21:4 (ESV)
Pride and arrogance reared their ugly heads during the election season, and much of it in the name of prophecy. “God said to vote for Donald Trump so I’ll assault you until you see it my way.”
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers… James 4:11 (ESV)
I value prophecy highly. I teach on it and one of my signature teachings is on living a prophetic life. We need more prophecy, more people activated in the prophetic, not less. I also value many of today’s prophetic leaders who live in the prayer closet and do their best to communicate the heart of God.
That being said, I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a prophetic Believer today. The rate at which mature Christians are dismissing biblical truth in favor of the apparent word of God of the hour is appalling. We must have a reformation in the prophetic culture of the church if we hope to give true leadership in the trying days to come. The Bible must return to center stage. Logos must be given priority over Rhema. It must again become the plumb line.
I’ll tell you this. The Bible demands that we love one another, but I experienced such nasty behavior from mature Believers just because their candidate was opposed. Shaming, accusations, arrogance and a ridiculous presumption that they were hearing God perfectly, and others were missing God completely filled social media. Friends were lost. Pride drove many of those who were supposedly promoting God’s prophetic word about Donald Trump.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (ESV)
We must honor those who didn’t hear God the way we did. We must also promote the Scriptures ahead of prophetic revelation, and value people who are doing their best to rightly divide the Word.
During this election season it was non-negotiable that I give my energy to hearing God through the Word, which also resulted in supporting Rhema revelation. What I mean by that is I believe it’s important, actually critical, that we start with the Bible when making key decisions and then allow the prophetic to bring clarity and to highlight specifics. Instead, many, many people that I talked to were relying solely on dreams, the revelation of other prophetic people, inner senses and other insight instead of hearing what the Word says about the matter. Biblical truth was regularly discounted by many or ignored at any point their prophetic revelation was threatened.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
This verse was commonly ignored almost every time I shared it. Ears were shut and eyes were closed out of fear that something in the Word would create a conflict in their support of their favorite candidate. My passion is to see righteousness reign in the church even if that means a less desirable leader is in office. Time and again the response I heard was simply that “God said Donald Trump is his man. He’s a Cyrus. God will deal with his heart later.” I’m trusting that God will do that too. But, again, I’m not dealing with Donald in this portion of the article. I’m talking about the many Christian’s exuberance in dismissing clear, biblical truth in favor of pipe dreams in the name of prophecy.
Please understand, I’m not saying that God can’t use Donald as a Cyrus. He absolutely can. Those prophecies may prove to be true. What I am saying is that we were too quick to ignore the Bible in favor of prophecy.
Prophecy is conditional. We see in part. The Bible is unconditional. We absolutely must move in great humility, admitting that we may not be hearing clearly and ensuring we remain teachable and flexible, ready to admit we were wrong at any time.
In a recent Charisma Magazine article I expressed the need for a pastor as President now more than ever. I wrote that when many were using yet another excuse for immorality by saying that we weren’t electing a pastor. Many Christians were laughing at that idea, declaring that we are electing a secular business man, a leader, and not someone who has righteousness as a mandate. Again, I was grieved. Apparently the prophecies trumped (yeah, a pun) the biblical call for righteousness.
Stands for holiness and calls for righteousness actually resulted in attack after attack by Christians who were guarding their prophetic revelation. Prophetic assaults were constant. I’ve heard from many who can attest to this fact.
Add to the unloving, prophetic assaults the increasingly bizarre “prophecies” that people are putting God’s name on, not only in the election but in the Charismatic experience in general, and you have a very strange, contentious situation indeed. Too many in the prophetic community are reaching for little more than coincidences and slapping God’s name on them. This is truly quite dangerous. It’s taking God’s name in vain.
I’d encourage you to read my article titled: Stop the Madness! A Prophetic Reformation is Needed. We must simply put an end to the strange prophecy that isn’t from God, but from the soul. The witchcraft that’s behind that is stronger than we may understand.
PUTTING TOO MUCH TRUST IN MAN
I value leadership and I acknowledge that we want the right leaders in position, whether they are pastors, bosses or politicians.
What we experienced in this election season, however, is trust in man going way too far.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9 (ESV)
As I write this, protests and riots are taking place all over America simply because Donald Trump was elected. People were crying, angry, fearful and vengeful after he was voted in. Others were euphoric, rejoicing and overly celebratory. Both sides are putting way too much trust in a mere human being.
When those who lost are attacking and hateful toward those who won, that is evidence that God does not have the supreme place in their lives. The same is true on the other side. Too much relief, happiness and an elevated sense of victory can be evidence that they are putting too much trust in a human being. I’ve seen this result in a nose up attitude that creates division. Pride and arrogance seem to be leading the way for many.
Further, I’m still disturbed at those who were so angry and abrasive toward people who decided they couldn’t support either candidate.
I’m hoping Americans will truly respect the freedom to vote next election by honoring those who search their hearts, pray and decide to vote third party. There has been so much ungodly shaming, attacks and disrespect this election season toward those who exercised their right to vote for whoever they felt God instructed them to. That couldn't be more un-American or un-Christian.
My wife posted this on Facebook:
I certainly agree that we must be obedient to the Lord when deciding for whom to vote, which is the reason I felt I couldn't vote for Trump. I have been called selfish, proud, rebellious. I've been told I don't care about my country, that I can't hear God simply because I felt I needed to stand for righteousness in this matter according to the Word. My liberal friends have treated me better than some of my evangelical friends and that is truly sad. I voted, but not for Trump, Hillary, Johnson or Stein. I shouldn't have gotten flack from Christians for trying to vote as the Bible would prompt me.
I understand why some felt they had no choice (but to vote for Trump). Many times, I almost decided to vote for Trump for the reasons (many have) stated, but in the end it just didn't feel right to me. I was told I was sinning for following my conscious. How did that even make sense?
God fearing Christians were actually more afraid of Hillary being in office. The judgments and criticism was at historic levels, and towards true Christians who were doing all they could to vote according to biblical values.
IT’S TIME FOR REPENTANCE
This election brought out the worst in the church. Is it possible the prophetic revelation that Donald is a Cyrus, that he was God’s choice, is true? It absolutely is possible. However, this message isn’t focusing on that. I’m bringing attention the the ugliness that the church exhibited for all the world to see. From immature prophetic people assaulting anyone who departs from their point of view to minimizing immorality to nearly idolizing a human leader, the church should be licking it wounds. It definitely should be repenting.
We must have a prophetic reformation. We need a movement of holiness. We have to trust God like never before.
With that in mind, let’s join together to display the love of Jesus, pray for God’s established leader of America and contend for reformation in a spirit of repentance.
Our nation’s future depends on it.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
It’s becoming rare to find prophetic voices who are calling the church into holiness.
If we truly believe in the power of the blood of Jesus we would not be anxious about focusing on—and dealing directly with—sin.
Sometimes I have to slap myself to make sure I’m not dreaming about the current state of American Christianity. It’s actually a very real nightmare. Are Christians really campaigning against holiness preaching and a radical devotion to righteous living? Yes, they really are. Calls to obedience are a threat to their faux freedom and their independent spirits.
Any call to renounce immorality is firmly rejected as legalism or evidence of having a religious spirit. Now, some in that camp would agree that the goal is to live a righteous life, but according to them the way to get there is to ignore sin and to focus on Jesus alone. That sounds spiritual, but it’s not biblical.
2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:2-3 (ESV)
Others, however, are outright proclaiming that sin is no longer an issue—that we can live freely without concern for our salvation. Instead of freedom from sin these false prophetic voices are teaching on freedom in sin.
I received an email this week from a distraught person who is in the middle of a situation in what very well may be an Ichabod church.
She was grieved, as she should be, by the casual approach to sin by the church’s pastoral staff. Foul language, except, according to them, the “F” word and using God’s name in vain, is actually celebrated from the pulpit and in practice as proof that they aren’t perfect and they aren’t religious. Joking about sexual immorality has taken place just prior to entering into worship. This was just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s enough to cause even the least discerning true Christian to be troubled.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; Ephesians 5:3-7 (ESV)
Do not allow deception to cause you to partner with those who are promoting sin and immorality! It’s time to expose the deadly darkness!
Others are trumpeting their freedom to be entertained by immorality in movies and on television. I was shocked and angered when I found myself in the middle of a thread on Facebook about R rated movies. I simply said:
If the world deems certain movies immoral by rating them R, how in the world can some Christians deem them OK? #lukewarm
The uproar was stunning. Somehow it’s more immoral to call people to purity than embracing immorality itself!
Many are deceived into believing their freedom in consuming alcohol proves they are not religious. We are in the midst of a spiritual generation that is calling evil good and good evil!
20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! 22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, Isaiah 5:20-22 (ESV)
Again, I’m slapping myself, shocked this issue even has to be addressed. Christians and even pastors and church leaders are minimizing the deadly power of sin, and many are playing with that serpent without realizing they are moments from destruction. When leaders endorse sin as harmless, the consequences are extreme.
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! Matthew 18:6-7 (ESV)
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. 1 Samuel 2:12 (ESV)
34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. 1 Samuel 2:34-35 (ESV)
19 Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. And when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:19-22 (ESV)
God is looking for faithful priests, faithful men and women of God, faithful prophetic voices who will do what is right in God’s heart and mind. The American church is at risk of having Ichabod nailed above the doorposts.
We must be sick and grieved at the state of today’s preaching. Consciousness of sin must return to our churches! Pulpits today are lulling people into slumber with soft spoken sermons devoid of anointing—or into a frenzy as they seek out enhancements to their lives.
Enough! Where are the preachers with fire burning through their veins—those who refuse to build their ministry by promising fringe benefits to those who have a mere appreciation for Jesus?
The state of today’s preaching must be addressed with tears in our eyes and rage in our gut.
“If Jesus preached the same message minister's preach today, He would have never been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill
Preacher, stop forming your messages to draw a crowd and to keep people in the seats! Stop avoiding controversy! Stop worrying about who will stay or leave if you preach the Word in power!
Preach on sin! Preach on obedience! Reveal the extreme, costly lifestyle that is required if people choose to follow Jesus. I believe we should preach our churches nearly empty, leaving only a remnant—those who are true disciples.
A consciousness of sin must return to the church! We must call people to a standard of living that God has enabled—and mandated—us to adhere to. If we don’t, their blood will be on our hands.
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 3:17-21 (ESV)
Understand, this isn’t a call to be conscious of past sin. It’s a call to be conscious of sin that is alive and active, unrepented of and poisonous to our eternities.
Let’s look at the verse that many use to renounce sin consciousness:
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV)
The truth presented here is that offering bulls and goats cannot eradicate sin. If it could, those who lived prior to the cross would have not had any consciousness of sin. It would be gone. It would have been automatic.
What the passage isn’t saying is that we are to ignore sin in the New Covenant as if it wasn’t there. It’s not saying to be unconscious to active sin in our lives.
17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:17-18 (ESV)
Sin that has been covered by the blood of Jesus, the perfect offering, is eradicated. This is glorious!
However, it doesn’t eradicate sin that we willingly embrace.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
We must not become numb to sin in our lives, falsely presuming that it is harmless. No, no, no! Sin that is active in the lives of anybody, Christian or heathen, puts eternities at risk.
How many conferences can we continue to have that highlight the goodies of the Kingdom while calls to repentance go silent?
We must have an awakening! The closer to Jesus we get the more we are aware of our own depravity—and it’s wonderful! It’s deep love that results in a revelation of our own sub-standard living so we can eagerly repent and fall more deeply in love with Jesus.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23 (ESV)
And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6 (ESV)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 (ESV)
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 (ESV)
“You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. Deuteronomy 11:1 (ESV)
Pastors, conference speakers, leaders, writers—please shift your message in this dire hour. Let the conviction of the Holy Spirit overtake your meetings. Allow some tears to be shed. Let the fear of the Lord overwhelm you. Awaken the sleepers. Expose the darkness. Call people to repentance in our land once again.
We can’t afford empty, soul-pleasing words in our pulpits any longer. It’s time for mighty, broken men and women of God to prophetically decree the word of the Lord with boldness.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:6-14 (ESV)
God is love. God is judge. There is no conflict and we can expect him to manifest according to his true nature.
I was first introduced to the concept that God only moves and functions positively when I was planting my first church in Manitou Springs, Colorado. What I was hearing was a strange doctrine that didn’t set well in my spirit, but I endeavored to allow God to change my theology if I was unbalanced or incorrect even slightly. Was it possible that God was more relaxed and carefree than I understood him to be? Was his method of Kingdom advance simply a revelation of how good he his?
I noticed quickly that those who were buying into this philosophy were living without a contending spirit. If the unction for prayer was there it was mostly to enjoy God’s presence (which I highly value, of course) but not to interceded with passion and fire. Desire for experience was there, but fervency in mission was lacking.
The second time I dealt with this fast growing doctrine that exclusively promotes God’s happy nature was in Detroit. After a season of truly amazing encounters in the glory of God I was stricken by the Lord with a severe, weighty message—that season needed to give way to a focus on the blood, the cross, brokenness and repentance. Those who were sold out to a culture of positivity found themselves outside of the “happy sauce” they so enjoyed as they were being called into the depths of God’s heart. Those depths include clearer revelations of God’s mission, of his response to the infection of evil in the land, the cost of his Son’s brutal slaughter on the cross, the horror of Hell and the disease of apathy in the church. The reaction of many was to pull back and dream of the good old days as if God had somehow left the room. He never left. He actually intensified and the way he manifested changed. He was inviting us into the deep realities of the age. He was looking for a remnant army to carry this light but troubling burden.
While I always want to grow in understanding of God’s more positive characteristics, I can’t allow myself to stop my learning at that point. I crave to understand God as he is—in fullness—whether it’s positive, negative, encouraging or troubling. Further, I can’t presume he will only move on the earth in a positive fashion. Honestly, you have to be quite lacking in biblical knowledge to presume that he would be restricted to functioning in that manner. God always has, and still does, move in both revival and judgment. They aren’t competing ideas. They are intentionally intertwined. They go together.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. Psalm 9:7-8 (ESV)
WE SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR JUDGMENT
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:33-34 (ESV)
We should be singing for joy regarding his judgment!
Let me make something clear right up front—judgment isn’t the result of an evil God doing evil things. Judgment is a vehicle used by a loving God to positively impact those who will respond (though the impact will certainly be negative for the rebellious). Judgment is an act of deep love. It has to be as God is love just as he is judge. He doesn’t lay down love when he moves in judgment and he doesn’t forsake justice when he pours out his love.
We as end-time Christians should be ardent supporters of God’s judgment, of his act of love.
In America, we have a justice system. It’s a good one. I can’t imagine anybody reading this wanting to eliminate it in favor of anarchy. When someone murders, that person should be tried and judged—not because we hate that person but because we want them restored and because we love the others who are in harm’s way if they were to go free. We agree with the judge’s verdict of guilty and with the sentence of prison for the sake of both the murderer and the general public.
If we can trust our nation’s justice system, even with all of its inadequacies, we certainly can trust the judgment of a perfect, loving God, right?
People need to know this! It’s critical that we preach about Jesus as the judge. We can’t eliminate that from the gospel message!
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42 (ESV)
I often pray that God will judge me. I actually crave it! I trust him. He loves me and I know that. He’s not evil. He’s not out to destroy me. I need his judgment in my life so any and every issue of my heart is dealt with. I can’t let it fester. It needs to be addressed so I can repent and shift into a life of greater consecration. I know a life that’s compromised by sin can do great damage to me and others. God’s loving judgment in my life will resolve that.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV)
The whole duty of man is to:
- Fear God
- Keep his commandments
Do we understand how critical both fear of the Lord and obedience are?
8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (ESV)
If we don’t obey, judgment will come to us. God will deal with our nation in similar fashion, and we should embrace that—because the judgment that comes after we leave the earth is permanent. Our fate is sealed.
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
This should result in the fear of the Lord returning in full force to the church!
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
The Bible tells us that judgment begins in the house of God. This is good, not bad—though the results can be quite terrible if repentance isn’t the result. If we plan on continuing in sin, I can understand why we’d be anti-judgment. That makes sense. However, whether you are opposed to judgment or not makes no difference—it will come to you if you don’t repent.
Those in the church are most definitely at great risk if repentance doesn’t come. Hell is their future.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
Are you starting to see why judgment now is so glorious? It’s a part of God’s divine plan of redemption. In fact, we as Christians are called to enact judgment in certain situations.
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 (ESV)
For example, if someone continues in sexual sin the church leadership is to turn them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh! When is the last time you saw this happen in a church? Why is such harsh judgment necessary? The Bible tells us its so their spirits might be saved.
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
Additionally, we can’t even eat with supposed Christians who are sexually immoral. That type of judgment is mandated. We have no option but to exercise it.
11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (ESV)
Again, the reason we do this is not because we hate people—but because we love them! Judgment now is restorative. The final judgment is not. Judgment now should be celebrated and welcomed as a way to avoid eternal judgment in the end.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50 (ESV)
EVIL MUST BE ADDRESSED
When revival comes, that will be the first invitation to the world to surrender their lives fully to Jesus. Those who reject that call will be visited by more direct, negative, persuasive measures—judgment. Again, this is an act of love that will encourage the greatest number of people to respond to God as possible.
Completely different from judgment, however, is God’s wrath. This is what we should be trembling about. When we understand the potential of God’s wrath, and that those who are not in Christ are living under threat of the outpouring of his wrath every second of their lives, judgment will actually be cried out for! We need God’s wise justice to deal with every situation on the planet so his wrath hits as few people as possible.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 (ESV)
12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12 (ESV)
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)
God is much more severe than we often realize! We must address the evil in the land and trusting both revival and God’s judgment are necessary. If judgment doesn’t come, more people will go to hell and evil will overtake the earth. It’s as simple as that.
We can’t fall in love with a God who manifests positively and reject him when he manifests in judgment or wrath.
5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5 (ESV)
In fact, I believe the rejection of God’s negative traits, of his judgment and wrath, is setting up millions for destruction. How many current Christians will reject God when they see him destroying a fourth and then a third of the earth? How many cursed God when he brought the floods of death to the entire world, save 8?
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8 (ESV)
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. Revelation 9:18 (ESV)
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13 (ESV)
How will you react when a holy and just God moves in severe and fearful ways? When God moves negatively, will you presume it’s actually Satan doing it? Or, will fear of the Lord result? This is a critical question!
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Acts 5:10-11 (ESV)
Will you commit the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by attributing an act of God to Satan or will true fear of the Lord come upon you?
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:29-30 (ESV)
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
Christian friend, we should be sober, but we can be at peace!
If we are obedient and serving God in love, the Bible is clear—we are in a very good place!
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:13-20 (ESV)
There is no fear of eternal judgment if we are in the love of God.
However, please take note of the warning that follows in that passage:
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)
Your theology doesn’t save you. Your surrender to Jesus and obedience to him does. We can attempt to rest on the encouragement in the passage shared above in 1 John 4, but actually be unsaved, unprotected from final judgment, if we are haters and liars. If we say we love God but hate another we can’t presume to be exempt from judgment—temporal or eternal.
This is why we must live our lives consecrated and surrendered, fueled by the supernatural grace, the power, of God. If we do, God is well able to keep us.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
Jesus is coming soon as King and Judge. His Spirit is moving on the earth now. Judgment is here and wrath is coming. Love will win and our eternities hang in the balance. I encourage you to trust God’s judgment in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance.
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:12-17 (ESV)
The god of sex is overtaking our nation—and the church—and it must stop now.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 (ESV)
Does anybody still believe that passage of scripture? The message is so abundantly clear that it would require a delusion to come over the church for us to miss it. Yet, in so much of the church today lust is treated as mostly benign and as an expected part of our humanity. The idea that we can live free from any form of sexual lust seems to be laughable.
I’ll never forget the time I was encouraging someone who was struggling with lust. I excitedly shared that they can live absolutely free from impure thoughts. His response was troubling. He unabashedly rejected that truth as unrealistic and absolute nonsense. To his credit he voiced what so many Christians feel—sexual lust cannot be avoided.
That deception is a brilliant plan of the enemy. Convince Christians that they are not expected or able to be free from the sin of lust (and pornography, pre and extra-marital sex, etc.). Create Matthew 5:27-29 casualties that result in an increasingly expanding eternal hell.
Do we even understand that those who willfully and continually surrender to the lusts of the flesh are living under the wrath of God?
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)
I’m not talking about those who are honestly wrestling with their sin nature, surrendering to Jesus, living a life of repentance and rejecting unrighteousness. They are in a good place being graced by God to have victory over sin. I’m referring to those who have given up or those who presume a life of sexual sin is to be expected. Those supposed Christians are in a very dangerous place.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Romans 6:12-13 (ESV)
THE SEXUAL FRENZY MUST STOP
a state or period of uncontrolled excitement or wild behavior.
It’s time for the barrage of satanic, unholy and deadly focus on sex to stop. I’m talking to you, Christian.
The only reason impure sexual thoughts parade through the minds of Christians is because they aren’t fully satisfied and deeply intimate with Jesus. The very real, passionate, joyful encounters with a holy God are absent. It really is that simple. When we are fully satisfied in God, anything that threatens that relationship, including lust and other sins, is soundly and immediately rejected.
We must put on the Lord Jesus Christ:
13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:13-14 (ESV)
Contrary to what most believe, impure sexual responses to the myriad of triggers that flood our senses every day are not normal for Believers. What I mean is this: for a Spirit-filled, blood-bought Christian who is on fire for Jesus, the expected response when seeing an attractive person is not sexual. Further, if one should accidently see something that would be an obvious sexual trigger (like soft-porn Victoria’s Secret murals at the mall), the immediate reaction is not arousal but rather a grieved spirit. If temptation is the initial reaction instead of a grieved spirit, we can know we lack in intimacy with Jesus.
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:19-24 (ESV)
The preceding passage of scripture reveals two important truths:
- We can’t presume everyone who names the name of Christ actually knows him. Verse 21 makes that clear.
- Sexual desires (and other sins) that exist outside of the bounds of Scripture are deceitful. When we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, our reactions to those triggers become completely different.
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 1 Peter 1:14 (ESV)
Pleasures that exist outside of the bounds of the Word of God are deceitful. According to 1 Peter we are only passionate about such pleasures when we are ignorant of the truth of God. When we encounter God, past pleasures are exposed as distractions, threats and are disgusting to our spirits.
Christian’s reactions to opportunities to sin are to be fully different than those who are lost. Don’t be at all surprised when those in the world are pushing the envelope further and further. Miley Cyrus’ actions shouldn’t surprise us. The homosexual’s sexual addictions aren’t shocking. Their grid is different than ours. They are living fully in the flesh and when that happens the demands of the flesh become more intense as dissatisfaction grows. It can’t be fulfilled. The only answer is to dive deeper into the only way they know to experience pleasure. 1 Thessalonians 4 makes this distinction clearly:
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (ESV)
The risk of anybody surrendering to the lust of the flesh is extreme. It’s deadly:
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:24-32 (ESV)
If that doesn’t put the very real fear of God into us, nothing will. This describes our culture, and nobody is exempt from being given over by God to a debased mind! If we are unrelenting in our pursuit of evil, including sexual lust, we risk becoming unable to discern righteousness. We will embrace the very sin that brought us down, not only for ourselves but for others.
This is one reason pastors are starting to agree to marry homosexuals. Their minds became debased and they eventually gave approval to others who practice the sin they embraced.
Just this week I heard about a pastor in Michigan who led a Spirit-filled church that had been vibrant and biblical for many years. That church closed after he aligned with emergent philosophies and affirmed homosexuality. His debased mind brought destruction as he gave approval to others who were practicing sin.
We need pastors who will boldly preach truth and communicate to their congregations that living in sexual lust, according to Scripture, will cost them their eternities!
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15 (ESV)
These verses are powerful!
Unbiblical sexual desire results in death. But, lets turn it around. I believe we should be enticed by desire for intimacy with Jesus! When it is conceived it gives birth to righteousness, and when it is fully grown it brings forth life!
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 (ESV)
A determined resistance of sin and a passionate pursuit of God go together. We can’t resist sin if we aren’t intimate with God and we can’t discover intimacy with God if we don’t resist sin.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (ESV)
A life of praying, walking and living in the Spirit is mandatory if we desire to be free from the desires of the flesh. There’s simply no other way. We will be satisfied supernaturally or we will be satisfied naturally. To live a supernatural life, and to be free from the desires of the flesh, we must pray in the Spirit as a regular part of our day. Our prayer life must be hot. Our faith must be alive. Our passion for Jesus must be ever increasing. It is, without question or argument, the only way.
Consider the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve were experiencing intimacy with God at a level that would overwhelm you and me. Then, their sin resulted in shame. Previously they were naked and innocent. After the fruit they covered themselves as guilt stole away their childlike freedom.
The answer to the shame is not to embrace it. Today the fig leaves have been removed as a celebration of the original sin of independence and rebellion. People like Miley Cyrus are making displays of decadence in a strategy of eliminating shame from ungodly sexual desire.
Her desire is for love and intimacy, but it will not be found the way she’s going about it. Destruction is her guaranteed end unless she surrenders all. (We should be praying for Miley. God’s passion for her is intense.)
The only answer is intimacy with Jesus. That’s it. True, immersive, indescribable, supernatural intimacy with Jesus will result in immediate rejection of anything unholy. Going back to the Garden of Eden experience only comes through repentance and cultivating a life of never-ending, love saturated intimacy with God.
We are being deceived by the god of sex. Listen, all the hype surrounding sex is artificial. Can I just say that sex doesn’t deserve all of the attention it gets? Yes, within the bounds of marriage it is a wonderful, bonding, playful and intimate experience. It’s holy. But even that can’t compare to the relationship and experience that comes when we are passionately in love with Jesus.
Nothing compares with intimacy with God! One moment in his presence and Miley Cyrus would be undone for eternity! She would soundly reject her previous belief system and behavior and be more satisfied than she had ever imagined!
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)
17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17 (ESV)
Yes, God is better than sex and it’s time he gets the worship and adoration that the god of sex in our nation, and even in much of the church, has attempted to steal from him.
This will rock you…it’s time for HOLINESS!