Tag Archives: brokenness

Brokenness is Necessary

Do you like being wrong? Do you enjoy knowing you made a mistake? Do you live for disappointing someone you love and cherish? Most of us would answer all three questions with a simple, “No.” Spiritual brokenness means coming to the realization that we’ve done all three. It’s heart rending. We don’t just come to an intellectual understanding that we’ve sinned. We actually hurt over it. Maybe we don’t ache physically, though that’s possible, but we do feel pain emotionally and mentally. We are more than just uncomfortable. We want to reverse the situation, to no longer feel the trauma that is affecting us. 

So why do I say brokenness is necessary? Brokenness is a starting step for true repentance. Without brokenness, there is no turning away from sin. There is no chance at revival. There is no ability to restore our estranged relationship with Jesus. 

When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.  – 2 Kings 22:11, ESV

and 

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.  – Jonah 3:6, ESV

Two separate examples from Scripture show us how people react when they are confronted and understand the depth of their sin. In the first case, Josiah heard the Law read after it was rediscovered in the Temple. Upon hearing the truth and realizing just how sinful he and the rest of the kingdom was, he reacted in sorrow and anguish. In the second case, the king of Assyria heard the message from God preached by Jonah. The king realized just how wicked he and the rest of his kingdom was (see a theme?), and he threw off his royal robes, covered himself in harsh sackcloth, and sat down in ashes – a symbol of pain and suffering. 

Then, out of both of these suffering situations came repentance. And then came forgiveness. In Josiah’s case, the kingdom experienced revival. In the Assyrians’ case, that kingdom experienced revival. Those who did not know God came to worship Him and love Him. Those who did know Him found themselves back in fellowship with the King of kings. Relationships were established and/or restored. God moved among His people, whether Jew or Gentile. It all started with their brokenness.

If you’re praying for revival, pray also for brokenness. Pray that brokenness starts within the Church, with the saints. Pray that God reveals to us the depth of our sin, and allows us a glimpse of how He views that sin. While brokenness may be painful, it is necessary. We must undergo it if we are ever to see revival. We must endure that well-deserved suffering if we want to see God move in a mghty way again.

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The Importance of Godly Sorrow

If humility before God is so important, how then do we maintain it? We maintain it, or rather, return to a state of humility through godly sorrow. Here the ESV uses the word grief instead of sorrow, but most of the time within the Church we use the phrase “godly sorrow.”

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 while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God.

– 2 Corinthians 7:8-12, ESV

SorrowPaul, in writing back to the believers in Corinth, made a point of saying he didn’t regret any grief he may have caused them for a previous letter. His rationale was simple: if there was grief it was short-lived and it led to repentance. In other words, it led to a turning back to God, a confession of sins, and a desire to be in right relationship with the Father again. Godly sorrow isn’t something to be avoided. Sin is to be avoided. However, since we have such a hard time avoiding sin, then we must deal with our sin. It should trouble us. We’ve let God down. We’ve disobeyed Him. We have broken fellowship with Him. We’ve committed grievous wrongs to the One who loves us beyond our understanding and sacrificed so greatly on our behalf. This is godly sorrow. And this should drive us to our knees to beseech our Lord to forgive us and to restore us.

That’s why Paul said it led to salvation without regret. Worldly grief can’t do that. Longing after the things of the world won’t help us. It doesn’t matter if we have it, we’ve lost it, or we’ll never get it, wanting the things of the world so much that it grieves us draws us away from God and causes us to walk the wrong path. If this is all the sorrow we have have in life, if our sins don’t trouble us, if we don’t yearn to turn back to God at some point, we are on the path to destruction. Paul wanted the believers in Corinth to understand this. He wanted them to see the necessity of godly sorrow. He also wanted them to understand that such a sorrow wasn’t on behalf and benefit of the person or persons wronged. It was for the benefit of he or she who had stumbled in sin. Stop and think about that for a minute.

God isn’t primarily concerned with restoring to us the things of this world. He may do so, sure, but His primary focus is to restore us to Himself and then to sanctify us so that we are like Him. As a result, godly sorrow is designed to work on us when we sin. It is designed to break us down so that He might build us up even stronger. He is removing the weak parts of our foundations, of our lives, and putting into place His strength and His might.

Godly sorrow is crucial to our growth and development as His people. When it comes upon us we must remember that its presence means God hasn’t given up on us. He is still working in us. He is restoring us to a position of humility so that our relationship with Him might be restored. He is changing our hearts, cleaning up our lives, and developing in us the characteristics and passions of His Son. He is blooming within us an abhorrence for sin and a burning desire for righteousness and holiness. We should not go looking for sin, but we should not flee from the godly sorrow that should come when we have mucked around in disobedience. Let us remember the importance of godly sorrow. Let us seek to allow it to have full effect on us, so that God might restore us and benefit us. Let us not flee from it, but humbly accept His discipline. After all, the Lord disciplines those whom He loves (Proverbs 3:12, quoted again in Hebrews 12:6).

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Weeping Time

BrokenBy just about any main-line statistic you could choose to use, churches are dwindling here in the United States. The reasons are myriad. We can discuss the reasons, but let me we put that aside and first suggest we do what we’re called to do about it. As Christians we are a “royal priesthood” are we not? Do we not have the power to go before the Father unlike the priests of old? Absolutely we do. And thus this applies to us:


Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

– Joel 2:17, ESV

With our churches in decline, we are in a similar situation as to what Israel faced during Joel’s time. Joel 1 talks about devastating famine due to locusts and drought. It reminds the people that such a delivery is due to the sinfulness of God’s people. As a result, there is a call to repentance before the coming day of destruction. This passage happens after that destruction, when the Lord Himself calls His people back. These are the prophet Joel’s words, telling us how to act, how to return to God again.

If we look at how ineffective our churches are, if we consider that we are in the longest drought in this nation’s history with respect to revival, the question is, “How do we get to where we should be?” Joel says we should weep. We should weep for what we’ve become and for what we’ve lost. And then we should petition the Lord to remember His people, to remember His Church, to let us not be a reproach and to let it not be said of us that God is not with us. Things are not okay in our churches. Let us stop pretending that they are and instead turn to the Living God for restoration and, hopefully, revival.

Here’s what we need: Humility and surrender; an acknowledgment of our sinfulness and disobedience; and a desire to be forgiven and be right before a holy and righteous God. We need to have a brokenness over our lack of effectiveness, over our lack of desire to reach the lost, over our lack of effort to help those in need, and our disobedience of being loving and edifying towards one another. When we, the Church, are broken they the conditions will be ripe for revival. This is historically what we see. But that means we need to be broken to the point that we can’t help but weep for our current deplorable state and we call out to God to restore us and to show Himself mighty among us again. Think about what your church could be doing. That about what you personally should be doing. Is your church making the most of its resources and opportunities? Are you measuring up as a good steward of your own? No? Then come with me among those who have found that we are so far from what God wants us to be and let us weep together.

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Holiness Is from God

Broken crossThe fact that our holiness derives from God is something we’re all likely taught in church. However, while it is “head” knowledge, it often isn’t heart knowledge. What I mean is while we might be able to give the correct answer if someone were to ask, “Why are we holy?” the truth is we don’t live and act like the answer we’ve been taught. Instead, we’re trying to be holy on our own efforts. We’re trying to be holy based on what we accomplish, what we sacrifice, what extra effort we put in. This is nonsense. None of that makes us holy.

You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.  – Leviticus 20:26, ESV

We are holy because God chose to set us apart. That is the only reason we’re holy. That is the only way we can be holy. I’m not saying to abandon missions projects or service to the needy or giving of your tithe. Those are important. However, the point is that we shouldn’t be doing them because we feel like that’s what makes us “better” or “more good” or “less sinful.” We should do them simply because we’ve been asked to by our Lord. I know we can’t always do them with full gratitude, but that should be the heart we strive to have when we do the things we do.

Without God, none of us are holy. So without God, none of us are any better than the worst of sinners. As a matter of fact, if Paul referred to himself as the worst of sinners, what does that make us? It makes us sinners in need of forgiveness and redemption, the same as we always were. Just because we’re saved doesn’t mean we are suddenly elevated above anyone else. If we start to think that way, we’ve fallen into an insidious trap. We aren’t any better. Our sins aren’t any less than someone else’s. We’re just as wretched, just as wicked, and just as feeble. Feeble? Yes, feeble to save ourselves. Feeble to make an eternal difference. Feeble to change our destination from hell to heaven. Feeble is probably giving ourselves too much credit. A better word would be helpless. We are helpless just like the person we may look down upon – the person we think doesn’t get it because he or she doesn’t come to church or lives a life we personally find unacceptable or distasteful.

Why am I making a big deal out of the obvious? I am because though its obvious, we don’t live it. As a group of believers we don’t live it. Not as individuals, either. Sorrowfully, I must find myself guilty of this charge, too. I then must remember that holiness comes from God and therefore my actions don’t change that. I am completely reliant on God to fulfill His promise through His Son. The times I get this in my heart, when I seriously and soberly consider this simple fact, I find that I respond to people differently. I start to see them the way God likely does. That means I need to more frequently dwell on the fact that my holiness is due to God alone. I need to do this so I can better see the people around me. I need to better see the people around me so I can respond with His love through me. We all do. There are too many hurting around us and our churches aren’t doing what they could and what they should. We need to change that. We can’t make anyone else change. However, we can choose to allow God to change us. One person can make a difference. Even if it’s only to one other person, it makes all the difference to that person. Let us remember that we are holy only because God has chosen to set us apart. And let us then lead the humble, serving life He has called us to.

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What About When I Fail?

Last week we looked at the expectations God has for us, the expectations we should have for ourselves, and how we should stand out (in a good way). But God’s expectations are incredibly hard. He desires perfection. And only the craziest fool would stand up before God and say, “I’ve met what you expect.” None of us are perfect. Most of us are far from it. Even the Apostle Paul wrote this to the Romans:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. – Romans 7:14-15, NASB

This is coming from Paul, writer of most of the New Testament. This is the same guy who wasn’t afraid to go before the emperor in Rome and share his faith, though he knew it would lead to his death. This is the same guy who should have died at least twice that we know of, yet Christ preserved his life. And he said that he caught himself doing the very things he hated. In other words, Paul sinned. Paul didn’t live up to the perfection that is expected of us as believers. This makes it pretty clear that we’re not going to do it right all the time. We’re going to fail. That’s not an excuse, but it is a fact that we have to face up to. And the reason I say it’s not an excuse is it is very easy for us to say, “Well, I couldn’t be perfect, but I’m good enough. After all, Christ died for my sins, whether I sin a little or sin a lot.” Now, we might not be so explicit with our words, but that’s the attitude inside of our hearts. We must guard against that attitude. It makes all the difference.

See, the big test isn’t whether or not we can be perfect. We can’t be. The big test is how we respond when we realize we’ve failed. When sin is upon us, what choices do we make? We can choose to keep on sinning, ignoring the state we’re in, or even escalating the sin. That’s one option. Or we can get right before God, be ready to accept His discipline, and acknowledge that we have failed, and then we move on, walking again by God’s side. That’s the second option. I suppose there is a third option, where we get all down about our sin and we don’t move on. But that’s not what God wants, so that’s similar enough to the first case, I’ll lump it in with it. After all, we haven’t learned from our sin, as we continue sinning, just in a different manner. An example of that first case is with Cain. God made sure Cain knew what was going on and why He was displeased with Cain. He gave Cain a choice to redeem himself. Cain chose to kill his brother instead.

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
– Genesis 4:6-8, NASB

Obviously there is no brokenness and repentance here. Cain just escalated the issue by ignoring God’s warning and committing more sin. This is the perfect example of how not to respond when we fail. A better example was shown by David.


Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD ” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”
– 2 Samuel 12:13-14, NASB

David admitted his sin. And he accepted the punishment delivered by God. He attempted to persuade God to save the child, but God would not be moved on this one. Once the child had died, David got up and began walking with God again. He knew he couldn’t bring back the child. And he knew dwelling on all that had happened and not moving forward was just going to make things worse. So David began to “live” again. He faced up to his failure. He confessed it. He dealt with the consequences. And then he willingly chose to get back in step with God.

Examples like this one show why God called David a man after His own heart. David did some mighty deeds because of his faith. But David also committed some great evils. He failed God just like we fail God. The key is how David responded. He always turned back to God. That’s how we’re to deal with the situation when we realize we’ve failed God. Maybe we can’t undo our failure. Maybe it’s going to be very painful for us or those that we love. That’s the price of sin. And while it will weigh heavy on our heart, ignoring the issue doesn’t do any good. So we must confess our sin, face up to God, take the punishment, and begin to walk with Him again. That’s what a man after God’s own heart did. And that’s what we, who proclaim to follow Jesus with our whole hearts, should do also.

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