Holiness, Hype, and Hypocrisy

Posted: May 8, 2009 by Josiah Batten in Christian living, Deeper Life, Revival

Often times when we think of revival we have images of big tent meetings, massive excitement and unbridled passion.  There’s nothing wrong with those things, in fact I think a certain level of excitement and passion is good and necessary.  However, we must avoid equating holiness with hype.

I was born in a place that still has campmeetings every year.  I mean old-fashioned campmeetings with hell-fire preaching, hammond organs, and accordions.  I love visiting the campmeeting when I can (I now live about 1,000 miles south of where it takes place).  The worship is great, there are normally phenomenal preachers, and I see lots of old friends.  And it’s amazing to see so many churches working together.

But I know what goes on behind the scenes.  I know that many of those people who will run the aisles and jump up and down during services are the same ones who vote out their pastor every four years.  As was the case in Nehemiah, it’s often the Tobiah living in the Temple that’s the real problem.  What may, at face value, appear to be a great move of God is often just hype.  That’s not to say the campmeeting is bad, I’ve been richly blessed by it; but we can’t equate hype with holiness.

Thus, it is my belief that revival shouldn’t be viewed as an event.  We need to stop saying “we’re having revival services”.  People may just stand and listen to God in a service and be greatly blessed; and they may live more in accordance with the Word and will of God than anybody who runs the aisles or shouts loud “amens!” during the service (again, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those things).  Revival is seen when God works among His people and His people begin to be made perfect.  It involves not hype, but deep repentance and a turning away from sin; it involves a personal dedication to the purposes of God.  I believe there may be a whole generation alive today that is living in a state of revival, but is ignored because this hasn’t produced the excitement common in the past.  Trust me, the excitement is there; but it’s manifested in a personal and passionate pursuit of God rather than in shouting from pulpits and storming across stages.

The passion of God’s people is not measured by the movement of their bodies, but by the work done in their hearts and through their lives.  I’ll take one person dedicated to pursuing God over 1,000 people who are simply pew jumpers any day.

Inevitably, among those dedicated people there is theological growth.  As A.W. Tozer often said, nothing less then a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.  Among the hyped up hypocrites there’s an imitation of theological depth.  Don’t get me wrong, they may have “deep” Bible studies and the preaching may be accurate; but when it comes to living it out it doesn’t happen.  In fact, it’s the theological knowledge coupled with an inconsistent life that makes such people hypocrites.  Now the dedicated may not be able to define prevenient grace, and they may not know how to conduct a word study; but they get into the Word and they live it out to the best of their understanding, trusting that God will work in them to will and act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13).  Perhaps such believers are the generation of those who seek God.

“Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.

He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
Selah”  -Psalm 24:3-6, NIV

God bless!

Josiah

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