The Principles of Revival

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, emphasis mine).

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4, emphasis mine).

The primary meaning of the word revival in the Old Testament is “to recover,” “to restore,” and “to return” to God and His standard. The Greek word for revival means “to stir up or rekindle a fire which is slowly dying” or “to keep in full flame.” Before the holy fire can burn in full flame, God’s people must deal with the culprit who has usurped His throne.

The Blood Covers Sin

Adam’s original sin in the Garden cast a long shadow. His transgression brought death to himself and all of his descendants. Sin separated humanity from the Holy God, and apart from divine intervention, humankind would be eternally lost. But God in mercy stepped in and provided redemption. A clear depiction of the Gospel is seen in Abel’s sacrifice (Gen. 3:21). Sin’s price tag is death, so either the sinner or a substitute needs to give his life. Abel’s innocent lamb was accepted by God while Cain’s fruit offering was rejected. Why? Because without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22). The entire Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, Who alone could atone for humankind’s sins. Jesus paid the ultimate price that alone could reconcile sinful humans to God.

Every revival begins with an honest dealing with sin. The revival under Hezekiah required the removal of filthiness from the Holy Place (2 Chron. 29:5). David acknowledged his transgressions and thoroughly repented prior to his restoration (Ps. 51). Manasseh humbled himself and found mercy. Peter wept bitterly after denying the Lord three times. Afterwards, he was filled with the Spirit and mightily used of God for the remainder of his earthly life. Over and over we see that the divine pattern calls for an honest dealing with sin.

When we cover sin it is an act of deceit. But when God covers sin, it is an act of grace. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (concealed)” (Ps. 32:1). The good news is that what the light reveals the blood can conceal. So powerful is the mighty sacrifice that it removes our sin from God’s sight.

But Calvary will not cover the things we refuse to uncover. Honesty is the key that opens the door of grace. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9 emphasis added). “Confess” means to acknowledge or to agree with God. Essentially, it means to say the same thing about our sin that God says about it.

Praise God for the cleansing blood which takes away our sins. But this is just the first step. To stop here is to stop short of victory. We must get beyond the “symptom” to the “source.”

The Cross Crucified the Flesh

Indwelling sin is merely the outgrowth of what the Bible calls the flesh. The Greek word sarx, translated “flesh,” refers to man’s fallen nature in many Scriptures. This bent toward badness was transferred to all of Adam’s descendants. The best way to understand this corrupted character is to take the word FLESH, drop the “H”, and spell it backwards—SELF. There you have an apt description of this culprit.

After the death of William II, his personal servant said, “I cannot argue that my master was a vain and arrogant man. If he went to a christening, he wanted to be the baby. If he went to a wedding, he wanted to be the bride. If he went to a funeral, he wanted to be the corpse.” Is not this self-centered disposition the source of all our misery?

The flesh is beyond improvement. Training cannot eradicate it. Resolutions will not overcome it. Dedication will not defeat it. Vance Havner commented, “In far too many churches it is like we are running an ‘old Adam improvement society.’ People are running down church aisles dedicating something to God that He could not use if it was dedicated a thousand times.” The answer to the flesh is not found in dedication, but death. A converted alcoholic put forth a mountain of truth in a few, brief words as he testified:

“Sin deforms us.
Education informs us.
The world conforms us.
Prison reforms us.
But only the Holy Spirit can transform us!”
The Cross stands central in God’s plan of redemption.

And that which is central in salvation can never be secondary in Christian experience. The Lord not only dealt with the fruit—He dealt a deathblow to the root of sin at Calvary. Paul captured the essence of this mystery, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6). “Old man” refers to that proud, contaminated, selfish spirit that prevents the reality of the Christ-life in the personality of the believer. The word “crucified” means “rendered inoperative.” What Jesus did on the cross dealt a deathblow to indwelling sin.

F. B. Meyer preached, “Next to seeing Jesus as my Sacrifice, nothing has revolutionized my life like seeing the effigy of my sinful self in the sinless dying Savior. I say to myself…God has nailed the likeness of my self-life to the Cross.”

Through our death-union with Christ at Calvary, we are freed from the bondage of a self-centered life. No longer are we slaves to sin because “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24). But how is this appropriated on a practical level?

  • Recognize the fact that “self” was dethroned through our co-crucifixion with Christ.
  • Accept God’s verdict on the flesh and “take up your cross daily.”
  • Renounce all personal rights and yield yourself completely to the Holy Spirit.
  • Thank God for release from the tyrannical self-life. This must be claimed through a conscious exercise of faith, not by feelings. Thank Jesus for providing freedom from the power of sin, self, and Satan as you accept His Lordship over your life. Thanking God is the first step of faith.

The blood covers ours sins and the cross crucified the flesh. While it is essential to deal with the negative, it is imperative to appropriate the positive. It is not enough to “put off,” we must also “put on.”

The Spirit Gives Victory

The only way to be regularly victorious and rarely defeated is through a Spirit-filled life. Decisions, dedications, and promises apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit are doomed to failure. Divine enablement is available to all who choose to rely on the Comforter.

God commands believers in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit.” The word “filled” means “to be under the influence” or “controlled.” People who are intoxicated are under the influence of alcohol, but Christians living under the influence of the Holy Spirit are Spirit-filled. The victorious Christian life is nothing other than the Spirit of Christ having the ascendancy in the heart of a believer—“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Salvation is far more than hell-insurance. Being “saved” concerns not only your final destination, but also influences your direction and the things that dominate your life on earth. Once we comprehend the power of the blood to forgive sins and the authority of the Cross to deliver us from indwelling sin, we become candidates for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. There is no other way to live above sin. This blessed provision is available and accessible to the weakest believer: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Everything you need to go on in victory is at your disposal. We are not working “for” victory; we are working “from” victory. God has given His Spirit to us that we might enjoy a quality of life, which is supernatural in its dimension. Yes, you can live under the influence of the Spirit of God. In this sense, revival is simply waking up to Who lives inside you! “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

Questions to Ponder

  1. Review Question: What does the word revival mean?
  2. How did Adam’s original sin affect humanity?
  3. Why did God reject Cain’s fruit offering?
  4. According to the chapter, what does every revival begin with?
  5. True or False. Calvary will never cover the things we refuse to uncover.
  6. What is the key that opens the door of grace?
  7. What does the word confess mean?
  8. What is merely the outgrowth of what the Bible calls the flesh?
  9. Where is the answer to the flesh found?
  10. What is the only way to be regularly victorious and rarely defeated?

This chapter is from “Revival In Our Time” by Harold Vaughan

CLICK HERE for more information on the book.


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Harold Vaughan

View posts by Harold Vaughan
Evangelist Harold Vaughan is the founder of Christ Life Ministries, Inc. To date, his ministry has led him to preach in forty-eight states and many foreign countries. Click on "ABOUT" in the menu bar to learn more about Harold.
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