Joshua 3:5 “Joshua told the people, “Sanctify and set yourselves apart, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” The Body of Christ is coming into a time where the Lord will do great things in our midst – in us and through us. It is not the desire of the Lord for the church to remain side-lined in the world, mocked by unbelievers and achieve minimal impact which is the reality of where we are. We hear more of scandals, falling away and embracing of doctrines of demons, than testimonies of Revival, outpouring and regional transformation.
This clear lack of impact is due to the spiritual state of the church. Not the government, the world or the enemy. The government is not the answer and at a time like this, we see this clearer than ever. While some still put their hope in man – Jesus is the only true hope and His gracious work through His Body in the earth. The church has been given the authority and mandate to transform nations through the Great Commission and victory obtained through Jesus at the cross. Due to the condition of the church, the Gates of Hell will appear to be prevailing. However, it will not remain that way forever.
This bruising appraisal of the current state of the church is likely to sting and bring conviction from the Holy Spirit, but without honesty and repentance there can be no change or Revival that many desire. Before we can see the manifestation of the Great Commission mandate to disciple and transform nations – we must first be sanctified and set apart for God’s purposes. If we are not, we go into spiritual battles ill-prepared and the bible is full of examples of those who went into battles unprepared and suffered great losses.
Without Holiness & Righteous Living Believers Will Live in Spiritual Defeat
Sin and unrighteous living gives legal ground to the enemy to exploit and this disqualifies us for victory – yet some run headlong into defeat. One such example of the clear spiritual consequences of being unprepared is in the book of Acts. The 7 sons of Sceva attempted to cast out a demon – but were spiritually unprepared. Acts 19:15-16 “One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you? Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” These men were left beaten, naked and embarrassed as the demon recognized Jesus and indeed Paul – but these men were counterfeits. The unseen realm of the spirit can clearly identify who has authority and who stands in righteousness before the Lord and will defeat those who attempt God’s work in the flesh. Modern believers may not often encounter this level of open spiritual defeat – but many believers are currently experiencing unseen spiritual backlash and struggles because of this issue.
Therefore, victory in this season requires believers to prepare their hearts and lives just like the people of Israel were instructed to by Joshua before they crossed over into the Promised Land. We must ensure we can say like Jesus – John 14:30 “For the ruler of this world comes, and in Me he has no hold or access.” – Jesus was telling us that in order to have complete victory over the enemy – we cannot have any agreement with the enemy or allow any aspects of sin and unrighteousness to give the enemy access. Therefore, holiness is essential for believers.
“You must be holy because I am Holy.’ – Hebrews 3:4. The holiness of God requires believers to be holy just as He is. While this will sound difficult for believers, holiness and sanctification are an essential requirement of the Christian life and God has made everything available for us to achieve this. “All those who confess the name of Christ must depart from sin.” – 2 Timothy 2:19. God has placed an expectation on believers to actively seek to separate themselves from sin, unrighteousness and lifestyles associated with our pre-Christ life.
Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God’s plan for every born-again believer is that they are conformed or transformed to become like Jesus. Intentionally seeking to be holy and allowing the Lord to take us through the process of sanctification is how we become like Christ in every way. Our thoughts, words, actions, beliefs and every aspect of our lives should become aligned with Jesus and His word. Although it is a lifetime process, there should be tangible changes that reflect we are truly born again.
Despite the significance of holiness and sanctification, this generation has largely fallen short of this call to holiness. Believers are not often taught on repentance, holiness, sanctification and to take up their cross and deny themselves. This has allowed compromise and luke-warmness to creep into the church. Consequently, this issue of holiness is one of the biggest issues in Christendom. There is a significant imbalance in the body of Christ and it is going to lead to shocking numbers missing out on salvation, which will be explained here. Such a serious issue cannot be watered down in any way so the truth about the condition of the church regarding this has to be shared in order for more believers to be aligned with God’s word on this.
Without Repentance & Separation From The World Our Lives Have No Impact
A number of key issues will be touched on here that need full sermons in themselves but by highlighting them, believers can do further study and indeed share vital truths with other believers. One of the biggest problems we have in Christendom is unbelievers labelling Christians as “hypocrites”. This is a common attack on believers, and it is due to this issue of a lack of holiness. Romans 2:24 – “As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” This scripture tells us believers can have such a negative impact if they are not Christ-like.
One major discovery from 2020 is the impact a storm has had on believers and the church as a whole. Many believers found themselves staring at the 4 walls of their house wondering where their faith is and some even wondering if there is a God anymore. There are even stories of people walking away from faith. Jesus tells us plainly there will be storms but the storm of 2020 revealed many had not built on the Rock of Christ and sandy foundations were exposed. Some experienced genuine tough situations that would test anyone’s faith. However, some of the struggles were also the result of false conversions, unrepentant lives and lives built on the sand of religion instead of on Christ. These are harsh truths that many will not want to hear, but if we want to be real about representing Christ and also building enduring faith we have to look at these issues. Lives built on religious or church dependencies and devoid of real relationship with Christ have struggled. It is not about a church – it is about Christ and our lives must be built on Him.
The reality is many unbelievers know what is in the bible or what is or is not Christ like. Some unbelievers have better judgment than people expect and many times they can see through the façade and pretence. The problem here is that it stops some people believing in Jesus and they could end up lost for eternity due to the poor witness of believers and their lack of Christ-likeness. None of us are perfect of course, but few could legitimately argue that as a whole, Christians have set a good example for the world to follow. Every week there is new scandals within all parts of Christendom and the world mocks and turns their back on the truth because of this.
The Gospel message preached in many places these days is so watered down that we end up with false converts. If we do not think this is possible, look what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of Hell as you are.” So Jesus is very clear that religious people can create false converts who end up going to Hell. The faith of these new converts is not established on the full truth and some quickly backslide because Jesus said repent and take up your cross but they only got half the Gospel message. Jesus tells us: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” – Matthew 3:8. Jesus expects a life that has truly repented to be demonstrated in our lifestyle. New believers need to be aware they need to take up their cross and deny themself.
All past revivals were built on and marked by repentance. It would not just lead to large numbers attending church. It would lead to tangible societal change as people would genuinely repent of sin and unrighteous lifestyles. Clubs and bars would be so empty they would close, police would be idle due to such a reduction in crime and streets would be safer. Generosity would increase and the poor would be looked after. All these are clear fruits of genuine repentance of new converts who had experienced Jesus and had their faith built on the full counsel of God, rather than a feel good message that is often shared today.
Exodus 8:23 “The Lord says: I will make a clear distinction between my people and your people.” From the beginning of the bible to the end the Lord is clear there must be a difference between His people and unbelievers. However, many believers live with one foot in the world and one in Christ. There is compromise and carnal living that God forbids. 1 John 2:15 – “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” In addition, we read in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the patterns of the world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Paul tells us about a disciple who could not separate from the world: “Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world.” – 2 Timothy 4:10. When we do not separate from the world in our hearts, this is what begins the process of backsliding. If we truly love Jesus, then we should not love the things of the world – Jesus tells us the 2 cannot co-exist. Yet there are many who are filling church pews who still have worldly mentalities, world views, behaviours, attitudes, agendas and lifestyles.
Christian leader Stephen Arterburn highlights this and the current state of some parts of the church. He did a story of his own struggles and made this statement.
His full story is worth reading and is available here: https://churchleaders.com/news/379931-stephen-arterburn-porn-death.html?fbclid=IwAR0Zrjd6HAXfGxw0aTV_9pBGxAPbtzCyi6TtFL5SQ7l_ubbDy8e6w8zpgf0
The Need for Correction & Denying Of Self In Our Lives
One increasing problem within the body of Christ, especially if the love of the world has not been resolved, is the rejection of correction. More and more believers do not want to hear correction, it is not only an issue of pride, but one that leaves a believer open to falling away from faith completely. Proverbs 15:10 “He who hates correction hates life.” A hatred for correction is a clear sign that a believer’s heart is beginning to fall away as the bible is clear correction is needed. The word of God tells us in 2 Timothy 3 that in the last days people will despise correction and not listen to sound teaching.
Hebrews 12:6 “For the LORD disciplines those He loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as His child.” One of the most important realities of the Christian life is that correction and discipline is essential for our Christian life as the Lord tells us here. The Lord tells us that parents discipline and correct their children out of love and any parent that does not teach a child to avoid danger would be considered cruel. The Lord today uses many forms of correction including life’s circumstances, ministry leaders, His word or other believers. A vital test for every believer is how well they take correction. A humble and teachable heart is ready for God’s use – but pride and rebellion says: “No I am fine I do what I like.” Those are the first steps of a slippery slope to rebellion and backsliding.
There is a price and sacrifice in following Jesus. When we think of the Rich Young Ruler, Jesus told him to sell all he had because he still loved money more than God. There was a sacrifice needed for him to truly follow Jesus and believers have to realize this also. The disciples had to leave behind their careers and livelihoods to follow Jesus. There was a cost of following Jesus – this is largely lost in the Body of Christ today. Some are called to follow the steps of the disciples and drop everything to follow Jesus into ministry – but like Jonah they run in opposite direction to the call of God often because they have never been taught that the call of God is not easy. The life of Zacchaeus is a perfect example of bringing fruit worthy of repentance. He was a notorious tax collector who stole money and cheated people. After he encountered Jesus he instantly went from stealing, fraud and dishonesty to honesty, sharing and integrity. He showed instant fruits of repentance. It is not enough for believers to say it will take time to change and leave behind sin. We are all a work in progress but Jesus expects transformation – 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If any man is in Christ he is a new creation, old things pass away and all things become new”. Saying we are a work in progress is not an excuse for years and years of consistent, willful sin and unrepentant lifestyles masked as “grace”.
Some receive Jesus but continue on in willful or intentional sin and ungodly lifestyles while expecting to go to Heaven – but the bible tells us something very different. Hebrews 10:26 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging Hell fire that will consume the enemies of God.” This scripture is as clear as it reads – if a believer continues to willfully sin after being saved – they will end up in Hell. We have a simple choice of believing the bible or our own opinions or church doctrines. Such truths are rarely preached these days, so such heavy truths become strange and almost offensive even though it is simply what the bible says. 2 Corinthians 6:1 – “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” If Paul is warning the church about this – it is because it is possible for people to receive God’s grace in vain and it happens much more than we think because believers do not heed these warnings.
A Time For Believers To Turn From Personal Sin & Pursue Holiness
It is widely known that some believers engage in online & offline hatred, abuse, ungodly communication and violence while the world looks on silently questioning the validity of the “peaceful” Christian faith. Un-forgiveness, anger, bitterness and worldly desires occupy the hearts of some. While others engage in immorality, pornography and other unholy practices not realising their conscience is seared. Believers then wonder why they struggle to feel Gods presence and live in perpetual defeat, when Christ paid for their victory. All these things make believers unholy, give the enemy access to destroy their lives and distance believers from God. Others spend their time listening to and watching ungodly things and then wonder why they are not spiritually sensitive or have accurate discernment. The word tells us “By their fruits you will know them” and this is not just for leaders, it is the standard for all believers to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. Believers should ask if people experience the fruits of the Spirit or works of the flesh when they come into contact with them. This is what sets us apart as believers. Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you” how do you respond to abuse, attack or negativity – with attack, defense and anger? When the bible tells us in Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away anger.” The real life issues highlighted here are all signs of carnal and fleshly living and most of the Epistles warn of these.
The prayer in Psalm 139 is key for believers at this time – Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the path of everlasting life.” Some believers should desperately pray this or they run the risk of hypocrisy and living defeated Christian lives or worse still become one of those who in the long term fall away and miss the grace of God completely. If anyone feels conviction it’s the work of the Spirit and the response should be repentance and lifestyle changes.
People often try to cover sin with grace but Paul tells us how the grace and sin dynamic really works. Romans 6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Grace empowers us NOT to sin and to live holy and pleasing lives before God – large sections of Christendom have missed this critical point. There is an expectation that there should be a reduction of sin and self. A gradual or in some cases a rapid change and difference over the years to become more Christ like. Our mind should be renewed, lives changed and begin to have a biblical world view and lifestyle. Romans 6:22 “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become servants of God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life.” The fruit of being set free from sin is holiness which leads to eternal life – the biblical pattern is clear for us to follow if we are serious about God’s will and eternal life when passing from this life.
The message given by Joshua to the children of Israel is being given to the church now – sanctify yourselves in preparation for what the Lord is going to do. Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” We must pursue holiness by making the right choices in our lives to leave behind sin and live righteously in accordance with God’s word. Then our lives will be a powerful testimony and we will do exploits for God that will bring many to salvation. David Wilkerson was one of the greatest men of God of our time and the short sermon clip below called “A Call to Anguish” is a powerful summary of the state of the church and echoes what is said here and highly recommended.
I conclude with the most sobering passage in the whole bible. Jesus warns us that the majority of so-called believers – will end up in Hell. If that does not get our attention and sound the alarm for holiness in our lives, churches and ministries then nothing will. This means the majority of those currently sitting in church pews around the world are heading for hell fire. These are not the words of man – these are the very words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and in Your Name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me into Hell, you evildoers!”
The word “many” here is translated as majority. This majority claimed to have done great works in the name of Jesus – so these are not unbelievers – yet they end up in Hell. For the very reasons that have been explained in detail here. Yes the shocking and unthinkable reality is: there are millions of so called believers in Hell right now – we all need to let that sobering thought sink in… Those are the words of Jesus so they are 100% true. May we as individual believers, churches and ministries take this stern warning from the Lord to sanctify our lives so that we can be used by Him in the season ahead and avoid being one of those Jesus warns about in this scripture…
*HIGHLY RECOMMENDED SERMON CLIP* BY DAVID WILKERSON: A CALL TO ANGUISH
Author: Thomas Harry
Thomas Harry is the Senior Leader of Falkirk Full Gospel Church in Scotland, UK. FFGC is an Apostolic Hub with a heart to equip the saints for the works of the kingdom and the church has a strong calling towards community transformation. Thomas has been born again for over 20 years and has a heart to see believers rise into destiny and see nations discipled.
In previous years Thomas had roles in Pastoral, Teaching and Evangelism in various churches before leading FFGC. He is a kingdom connector and believes in the importance of working in unity to see the Kingdom of God advanced in the earth. Thomas and other kingdom minded believers share more teachings via FFGC’s Prophetic Perspective Bi-Monthly Newsletter available at the church ministry website Falkirk Full Gospel Church.