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Revived Representation

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Revived Representation
2 Corinthians 7:9-11
Take your Bibles and turn to 2 Corinthians chapter seven. This morning we bring our summer sermon series, “Represent,” to its conclusion. Our emphasis has been on our responsibility to act and speak on behalf of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has given us authority to be his ambassadors, and expects us to represent him to a lost world.
Our need to represent Christ is paramount, especially with the direction of our nation. As the church of Jesus Christ we need to realize that the fight for the soul of our nation is won by reaching the souls in our nation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only life-change in Jesus will save our nation. God has called us to represent Christ for such a time as this.
What is our greatest need for such a time as this? What do we need to reach the people of our nation with the gospel? Many believe it is moralism; therefore they focus their strength and efforts on the political system. Laws have no power in bringing life-change. Truthfully, the laws of the land reveal the heart condition of the people. Our greatest need is not a politician.
The supreme need for the church to reach this nation with the gospel is power from on high. We need revival in the church. Revival is an inrush of the Spirit of God into the body of believers that are in the verge of becoming a corpse. It is a gracious outpouring of the Spirit of God upon his people. Revival is an experience that takes place in a church, and as a result, evangelism becomes one of the expressions of a revived church. That is why our supreme need for the hour is revival.
All great revivals recorded in history stared with prayer. God moved a group of people, sometimes as few as two, to start praying fervently for revival. God then responded by opening up heaven and pouring out his Spirit.
Revival begins with prayer, but it does not stop there. When true revival visits God’s people it is always brings about repentance.
In our study of 2 Corinthians seven we see this element of revival taking place within the Corinthian church. Paul was dealing with the conflict between himself and the Corinthian church. He was truthful in his appeal to them, pointing out the sinful behaviors that needed to be repented of. The first letter he sent only made things worse. So he sent another letter to them through Titus. It was a strong letter, but also a tearful letter. Paul was burdened with the church and how they would respond, so burdened that he became depressed.
Fortunately, the news he received was good. They repented of their sins and turned back to Jesus. Repentance is always a part of true revival. Therefore, if we are going to be revived representatives for Christ, we need to understand the nature of repentance. We need to upward realignment of repentance.
1. The upward realignment of repentance
Verse eight, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you though only for a little while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. Paul’s letter was painful, but God used it to lead the down the path of repentance. When repentance takes place, we realign ourselves with God. Three things take place with repentance. First, there is a change of mind.
a. Change of mind
The Greek word for repent is “metanoia.” It means to have a change of mind and heart. When the Corinthians were confronted with their sin it created a godly grief that lead them to repentance; that is, a change of mind and heart about their sin. True repentance takes place when we have a radical change of outlook concerning sin that leads to a radical change in our actions.
b. Change of actions
When we have a radical change of mind and heart about our sin it will lead to a radical change of direction. We will turn to God, not away from him. It leads us to realign our lives with the will of God. When we realign our lives with the will of God through repentance it produces a change of position.
c. Change of position
True repentance always brings you back to God. It does not drive you away from him. It drives you to God for forgiveness. It drives you to God for fellowship. When you turn back to God, and get realigned with his word and will, it will always be a gain, never a loss. Look at the last part of verse nine, “You suffered no loss.” The great thing about upward realignment is that you don’t have to wait until your life has a blowout before you get realigned. Everyday we should realign our lives with God through reading his word, by his Spirit, and through prayer and repentance. This upward realignment only takes place with the inward work of repentance.
2. The inward work of repentance
Verse ten is an explanation, a commentary on verse nine. Verse nine gives the specific instance of repentance; whereas, verse ten gives us a general principle. “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Paul contrasts two types of grief, one that leads to salvation, the other death. Let’s begin with understanding worldly grief. Worldly grief is sorrow over a loss.
a. Worldly grief is sorrow over a loss
Worldly grief is a grief that ignores God. It is self-centered, not God-centered. It is a grief that is produced by the loss or denial of something we want for ourselves. This type of grief does not lead to repentance because it is self-centered, not God-centered. Worldly grief leads to remorse.
1) Remorse
When the rich young ruler was told to sell all he had and follow Jesus, he went away remorseful, but he did not repent. Worldly grief leads to regret.
2) Regret
Pilate regretted hid deed. He even tried to wash his hands of it, but it did not lead him to repentance. It leads to reform.
3) Reform
Judas took his 30 pieces of silver and flung it into the temple. He wanted to reform his actions, but he did not repent. World grief also leads to resolve.
4) Resolve
We can resolve to turn over a new outlook on life, but that is not repentance. Remorse, regret, reform, and resolve are all self-centered. When we go down the path that worldly grief leads it produces death. It has a deadly effect. It leads to apathy and hardness of heart. Worldly grief is sorrow over a loss. Godly grief is sorrow over sin.
b. Godly grief is sorrow over sin
In the original language, godly grief literally translates, “according to God.” It is shorthand for “according to God’s will.” It has the idea of a pain and sorrow that God uses. It is a grief that submits to God, not ignore him.
The Greek word that we translate “grief” is “lupeo.” It is the same word used in Ephesians 4:31 where God’s people are commanded to “to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” When we sin, our sin causes pain to the Spirit of God that lives in every truth believer. Likewise, when we sin, the Holy Spirit of God and the word of God grieve us with a grief that is according to God’s will. We are grieved because we are outside the will of God. It is grief over our sin that leads to salvation without regret.
It causes us to turn back to God and submit to God. When the believer returns to God it brings about spiritual vitality, it returns us to spiritual soundness. Repentance that leads to salvation without regret is what puts us in position to experience revival.
The inward work of repentance begins with a grief and conviction of sin, leading us to repent and realign our lives with the will of God. The result is renewal, refreshing, and revival. The result is spiritual vitality. When the inward work leads to upward realignment, it produces the outward expression of repentance.
3. The outward expression of repentance
Verse eleven, “For see what earnestness godly grief has produced in you.” True repentance brings about radical change of attitude that results in a radical change of actions. When you truly repent there will be a revived passion for the Lord.
a. Revived passion for the Lord
The godly grief produced earnestness in the lives of the Corinthian believers. When we repent of our sins we become intentional and serious about the way we live. We become passionate about the will of the Lord. Apathy does not accompany repentance. In fact, apathy is a sure sign of the need for repentance. You become zealous about the things of God, and to do things right. Repentance also revives our hatred for sin.
b. Revived hatred for sin
“What indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!” Their upward realignment with God produced a anger over their sin, a fear of God’s judgment of sin, a longing and zeal to do things right, and to deal with sin drastically. Third, when true repentance takes place there will be a revived desire for purity.
c. Revived desire for purity
Last part of verse eleven, “At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.” Not that they were innocent, but that they came away with a desire for purity of heart and life. Purity means that we seek to be holy in everything we do; therefore we deal with sin in our lives. The great puritan, John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or it will kill you.” When we have a passion for the Lord, and hatred for sin, and a desire for purity; we will be killing sin in our lives so that it wont’ kill us.
The late F. B. Meyer tells the story of a protracted revival meeting he conducted. It took place over a hundred years ago in a church he was pastoring. A protracted revival meeting went on for two weeks. The meetings each night seemed be showing little success, until one night, a deacon stoop up and said, “Pastor, I don’t believe there is going to be a revival as long as Brother Jones and I don’t speak to each other.” He went to Brother Jones and said, “Brother Jones, we have not spoken to each other in five years, let’s bury the hatchet. Here’s my hand.” At that moment a sob broke out from the audience. Soon another deacon stood up and said, “Pastor, I’ve been saying mean things about you behind your back and nice things to your face. I want you to forgive me.” Many more started standing up and confessing theirs sins, and God visited them with an outpouring of his Spirit. Revival swept over the whole community for three years.
Revival never happens apart from repentance. For our church to be revived representatives for Christ, we need God to grieve us about our sin so that we can realign our lives with God. Revival always begins with the individual.
Do you have a grief for what you have loss, or for your sin? Godly grief is sorrow for the sin that gives offense to God. It is a sorrow for the sin that stains your soul within, a sorrow that brings you back to God.
Will you allow the inward work of Godly grief bring you back to God? Will you realign your life with God’s will today? Allow your godly grief to drive you back to the arms of your Father.
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