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Begin at My Sanctuary - A Call to Repentance in the Church
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
We have come together to cry out to God on behalf of our nation. In setting aside these days, we are acknowledging that there are no human solutions to the tidal wave of evil in our land, and that nothing short of divine intervention can overcome the darkness and the lostness of our world.
But I believe we need to remind ourselves at the outset of this gathering, that there are some prayers God will not hear; there are some solemn assemblies He will not attend; there are some fasts that are not pleasing to Him.
When the children of Israel came to fast and pray with unclean hands and hearts, God said, Though they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them . . . . though ye make many prayers, I will not hear (Ezek. 8:18; Isa. 1:15).
In fact, the Scripture goes so far as to say that our prayers and our fasts are actually an abomination to Him if they are not accompanied by humility and repentance.
We would all be quick to agree about the need for repentance outside these walls. But are we as quick to recognize our own need for repentance?
We can readily identify the sins of the White House. But have we become blind to the corruption in our own house?
We decry the sin of our world. But have we not tolerated virtually all the same sins in the Church?
Tonight we face a danger of feeling that the problem is somewhere out there--in Washington, San Francisco, or Hollywood, on our college campuses, or among nominal church members.
But as we read the Scripture, we see that the sternest words of reproof were issued, not to the pagan world, but to the people of God.
The prophet Isaiah calls out, Hear, oh heavens, and give ear, oh earth, for the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. . . . they have forsaken the Lord; they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger; they are gone away backward. . . . the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores. . . . How is the faithful city become an harlot! (Isaiah 1:2, 4-6, 21a).
Throughout the Old Testament, the Father/ Husband heart of God grieved over the waywardness of His chosen people. Time after time, He begged them to repent. And when they refused, the Hound of Heaven pursued their stubborn, sinning hearts with painful discipline.
In the New Testament, we hear Jesus indictment against the spiritual leaders of His day--men who were renowned for their much fasting and praying: These people honor me with their lips, He said, but their hearts are far from me.
The opening words of Jesus ministry here on earth were not, Fast and Pray! but Repent!
And when the ascended Lord Jesus looked down from His throne in heaven, His final message to the churches was not, Go and preach the gospel, but, Repent! For an unrepenting church has neither the motivation nor the capacity to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord.
To the first of the seven churches He said, You have committed spiritual adultery . . . . You have left your first love . . . . Repent!
To another, You have a reputation for being alive, but you are really dead . . . . Repent!
And to the comfortable, complacent church at Laodicea, He said, You dont think you have any needs, but the fact is, you are wretched, naked, miserable, blind, and poor . . . . Repent!
And still tonight, the Lord Jesus pleads with His beloved Bride: Be zealous, and repent, or else I will come and remove your light from its place.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon