INTRODUCTION: The biblical word contrite is only found in four Bible passages (Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). Yet, the concept described by this word is the key to revival in our hearts and in our churches. When we preach of revival, we tend to point out the actions that God uses to bring revival: repentance, confession of sin, prayer, Bible study and commitment to the house of God. None of these are wrong answers. However, they all require something else. They require a change in our hearts known biblically as contrition. As the scriptures teach, God will “revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).
To be contrite is to be broken, crushed into little pieces, free from rebellion or resistance. In scripture, a contrite heart or spirit is related to a broken heart (Psalm 34:18) or spirit (Psalm 51:17) and a humble spirit (Isaiah 57:15). Contrition is that humble spirit that says, I am nothing and He is everything. It is that inner brokenness that weeps over sin and sinners. It is the absence of personal pride and the absolute exaltation of God and His will. It is expressed by a poverty of spirit and a trembling at God’s word (Isaiah 66:2).
To be contrite is to be broken into little pieces; to be crushed into fine powder. In our pride and self-determination we take a rigid form that refuses to be moved. We are like a ceramic statue—hard and cold. As such, we do not easily fit into our container. We only stiffly abide in Christ and refuse to be conformed to Him. But when our pride is replaced by brokenness, we no longer hold our stubborn form but are broken into pieces and transformed into the shape of our container—Jesus Christ. Of such is the power of contrition.
- THE POWER OF CONTRITION
- To Bring Heaven-Sent Revival (Isaiah 57:15)
- To Bring God Near (Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 34:18)
- To Bring Divine Deliverance (Psalm 34:18; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11)
- The deliverance of salvation
- The deliverance of personal renewal
- To Bring Divine Favor (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 66:1-2)
- THE PATH TO CONTRITION (Problem: a contrite heart does not come by force of will. How then do we seek this brokenness of spirit?)
- By Reverence for Gods Word (Isaiah 66:2)
- Noah was moved with fear because of what God said! (Hebrews 11:7) He had never seen rain but took God at His word.
- The Egyptians who feared the word of the LORD saved their cattle and servants from the plague of hail (Exodus 9:20).
- If we would have a contrite heart, we must once again tremble at the word of God and allow it to move and change us.
- By Sorrow of Heart (Psalm 69:20; Proverbs 15:13)
- Allow sorrow of heart to draw you close to the Lord
- Warning: Do not let sorrows come between you and God or they will destroy you (Proverbs 17:22). Which way sorrows lead you depends on your attitude toward the trials you face.
- By Weeping Over Sin (Jeremiah 23:9-11)
- We do not know the heart of God if we are not troubled over sin
- Allow God to reveal your own sins to you first (Psalm 139:23-24). This will keep you from pride over the sins of others.
- Then weep over the sins of others as Jeremiah does in this passage (Jeremiah 23:9-11)
- By Sincere Prayer (Psalm 34:17-18; 145:18)
- Ask God to break your heart for Him
- Make this a regular prayer request
- Expect Him to answer this prayer
- By Hunger for God (Psalm 42:1-4; 63:1-3; Matthew 5:6; Philippians 3:10)
- Since brokenness brings you near to God, this brokenness comes to those who are hungry to know the Lord and to be near Him.
- This also should be a matter of prayer. Ask God to make you hungry for Him.
CONCLUSION: We get caught up in so many detours today. We speculate over the possibility of revival instead of seeking it. And, when we seek revival, we seek it for the nation instead of ourselves. We want to bring the world up to our standards and would count that as revival. God wants to bring you up to His standards. Then He will use you to touch the hearts of others.
Revival begins in the individual heart and starts with a broken and contrite spirit. Would you be willing to open your life up to God? to allow Him to break your heart? Then pray for a contrite spirit. Ask God to make you hungry for Him. Confess your pride and coldness and trust God to accept your living sacrifice. Do it today. Do it right now.