You Want To Be Used By God In A Mighty Way? You Need Deep, “Fall On Your Face” Repentance.

You Want To Be Used By God In A Mighty Way? You Need Deep, “Fall On Your Face” Repentance.

Kevin E. Jesmer                                                                                    2-9-15

Genesis 17:1-3a, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. Abram fell facedown,…”

I was in a men’s group in my church and we discussed how God revealed the gospel and the promises of the coming Christ, through the lives of several people. The people included Eve, Abraham, Judah, David and Isaiah. We discussed the great and wonderful promises that God gave to each of them and found “Jesus” in them.

I thought about the last four men, especially Judah. Why did God use him, when he didn’t seem to do much? In fact, many of the things he did were quite godless, even selling his own brother Joseph into slavery and sleeping with prostitutes. I realized one common denominator in these four men’s lives… they all experienced deep, “fall on your face” repentance and were changed through it. I even discovered some things that pointed to repentance in Eve. Let’s see.

It is necessary to experience this type of repentance in order for God to work through a person in the way he worked through these spiritual giants in the Bible. It requires more than being knowledgeable in the Bible, being correct with all our theology, being a good and faithful person in the church and possessing an upright and moral character. It is something that only the Lord can procure in peoples’ hearts. A person needs to have a convicting and humbling experience with the Holy Spirit to have this “fruit of repentance” born in and through them.  All the other qualities we are somehow involved in procuring. But the last quality is only from God himself. No one, on their own, can generate the testimony that Peter had when he saw God in Jesus and he declared, “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man.” Look at Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from meLord; I am a sinful man!” (NIV)

i am a sinful man

This is the type of person that God uses to reveal Jesus’ glory through. God works through ministries and Gospel movements that are marked through this type of repentance. Those who experienced the convicting work of the Holy Spirit also taste springs of living water full of amazing grace.


Think about Abraham.

abraham falls prostrate

In the Book of Genesis, we see that Abraham had Ishmael through his compromise with Hagar. Ishmael was his attempt to procure a child, not by faith in God, but by his own human planning. After Ishmael was born, there was ten years of silence in Genesis. Abraham was working hard, raising his family and taking care of his flocks and herds and his household. He was spending time with his growing son and worshipping God. But God found some fault in him. In Genesis 17:1-3a, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. Abram fell facedown,…” Why did he fall face down? I propose become he was not living a life in keeping with his calling. He was doing a lot of good things, but he was not walking before God and he was not living blamelessly. God was calling him to repentance. The spirit of God convicted his heart and he fell face down. When Abraham repented deeply God then restored him, planting the promises of God. Abraham accepted these promises and entered into a convent of circumcision with the Lord. (Genesis 17:1-27) God was glorified in Abraham’s life through his repentance and this repentance is nothing Abraham could produce on his own. It was through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.


Think about Judah.

 judah pleads

Judah and his brothers sold Joseph into slavery. He slept with prostitutes. Why did God work through him? One reason is that he repented of his sins and he was fundamentally changed by God. When Joseph was telling about to keep Benjamin in jail, Judah suddenly sincerely cared about Benjamin and his father Jacob. He repented and offered up his own life for the life of Benjamin. He said to Joseph in Genesis 44:34-35, “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.” (NIV) At this point Judah was a broken, yielded man ready to offer his own life up for another. He was changed and humbled. God granted him many great and wonderful promises.


Look at Genesis 49:8-12, “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. 9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? 10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. 11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,    his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine,    his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.” (NIV)


Again, Judah could never change himself. He could never humble himself to the point where God could work through his life. It happened only by the Spirit of God.


Next, let’s think about David.

nathan convicts david


David was the greatest King of Israel. He was a man after God’s own heart. He wrote many prophetic things. The promises of God were revealed through his writings. But how did God work so powerfully in his life. It is because he was repentant and broken because of his sin. He was made humble by God himself. One day King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. In order to cover up his sin, he had her husband Uriah killed on the front lines of battle. These are horrible sins. David was not able to repent on his own. God sent Nathan the prophet to assist in convicting him.


2 Samuel 12:7-13 reads, “7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”


This was David’s, “fall on your face” moment of repentance. He even pled with God to create in him a clean heart in Psalm 51:10-12, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Actually a complete, slow read of Psalm 51 would be very beneficial. King David was truly a broken man, ready to allow the Lord to grab his feeble hands, lead him and restore him by grace.


     Let’s think about Isaiah.


Isaiah was a prophet. He was sold out to God in all ways. But he, himself, had to experience a “fall on your face in repentance” moment to fully be used by God. This happened in Isaiah 6. Isaiah had a vision of God in his temple. He saw the Lord high and exalted. He beheld the glory of the Lord. He was overwhelmed by the holiness of the Lord and seeing his own sin and the sin of his people, he deeply repented. Look at his experience in the following verses…


Isaiah 6:1-7, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;    the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (NIV)


Isaiah was a great man, but he needed to be broken and restored by the grace of God. This happened by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. With God’s help, Isaiah could see himself, and his people, before the Holy God. Look at verse 5 again, ““Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Through this experience his heart was made right before God. He was ready to accept the mission that God had for him in verse 8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  God spoke prophetically through Isaiah in so many ways. (Read Isaiah 53) Jesus is revealed through these prophetic words 800 years before he came into this world. Isaiah was a conduit of the promises of God because his heart was made ready by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.


Think about Eve.


Eve was mentioned in this men’s discussion. The promises of God were given to the world through Eve’s life. In Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  Though this is a curse to the serpent, it is the first prophecy of a Savior. God spoke through Eve’s experience in the Garden, about Jesus, who would later come into the world.


There was no record of a “fall on your face” moment of repentance on Eve’s part. But maybe there is?


In Genesis 3:7, Adam and Eve realized their sin. They attempted to cover up their shame by dressing in leaves. “7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” This could be their “fall on your face” moment of repentance. In Genesis 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve because she became the mother of all the living. That means they had renewed hope for the future, despite of their sin. God forgave them, even sacrificing an innocent animal to cover them.


There are so many other influential servants of God in the Bible who experienced this type of conviction of sins and repentance. I am thinking of Peter who fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  (Luke 5:8) and Paul (Acts 9:4-6) who declared in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, “9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”  I think every Christian, and every ministry, whom God is working through in powerful ways, has been convicted of their sin, broken, forgiven and raised up by God to serve a great and glorious purpose.


Yes, God can use our education, our training in righteousness, our training in ministry, our correct grasp of Christian theology and scriptures, our uprightness, morality and human discipline. Yes he can. But these can so easily be linked to our limited human efforts. But to be used by God, to the degree that servants of God in the Bible were used, we need to be convicted of our sins, broken, forgiven and restored by God. This is nothing we can ever do on our own. It is all from God. It comes from standing before the holy God and allowing the Spirit to work within us. We will be broken. But God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) God’s grace is made perfect in weakness.  Think about the testimony of the great apostle Paul.


2 Corinthians 12:8-10, “8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NIV)


We want to be used by God. Maybe we are not equipped with the right heart. We think we are “all that”, but we need to be humble and broken and fully dependent on Jesus. The grace of God must be overflowing through our lives, not our human self discipline and credentials. God works through hearts made humble by his grace. He works though those broken and restored by his love and power. This is nothing we can procure on our own. You can’t sign up for a course at college. You cannot read the right book.  It is a gift from above.


How then should we respond?  I can think of three ways.


  1. Fix your eyes on Jesus and study is word, focusing on who Christ is.
  2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict your heart. (This takes faith and courage.)
  3. Turn to Christ for forgiveness and grace and be restored.
  4. Allow God to work in our lives, through our brokenness.


We need to see the glory of God in Jesus. John 1:29, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The shepherds in the field, on the night Jesus was born in a manger, beheld the glory of God and were afraid. They were the first ones to behold the baby Jesus.


Luke 2:8-10 reads, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (NIV)


We need to fix you eyes on Jesus.


Hebrews 12:1-3 reads, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”


We need to pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the great convictor of sin.


John 16:7-11, “7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”


When I think about the fruit born out of repentance, on a ministry and national level, I am reminded of the Great Revival Movement of 1907 in Pyongyang Korea. American, English and Canadian missionaries sowed the seeds of the gospel. Increasing numbers of people came to Christ. Reveal meetings increased as were prayer meeting and Bible study groups. People walked hundreds of miles to join prayer meetings. The revival was a big turning point in Korean church history.


The following are some quotes from a 10 minute video on the revival. These quotes point out how essential repentance by spiritual leaders is in igniting the fires of revival.



0032:  “He is the one who stoned my father.”


Note by Kevin Jesmer: This comment was made of an early Korean convert who became a church leader. Apparently, before his conversion, he stoned an American missionary during an independence rally. But later he was standing with the American missionary he stoned, as a fellow servant of God. Truly, his life is a testimony to the power of the Gospel.


0145 “Among those deeply touched by the Holy Spirit in this meeting was Robert A. Hardie, a medical missionary from (?)Canada. After arriving in Korea, Hardie dedicated much effort providing medical treatments as well as spreading the gospel, but hardly bore fruitful results in the latter. He was greatly disappointed particularly by the failure of his missionary works in the First Church of Kongwon province, blaming the results on the residents. One day, during the prayer meeting of missionaries a mighty wave of confession and repentance moved his spirit. His true repentance, as a leader, awakened believers from a deep spiritual slumber. It was not until this time that Korean believers realized their sin and understood the true meaning of the Bible before God.”


0450     “Everyone started praying very early in the morning and out of that, they say, they think, came the work of the Spirit that finally broke out as at Pentecost. Repentance with tears did not end there. People who repented atoned for their sins. Stolen money and goods were returned to their owners. Those who hurt others visited the broken hearted and begged their pardon. Things perverted and distorted were corrected in God’s grace. “


A past president of American Intervarsity Christian Fellowship was a speaker at a UBF staff conference. I will never forget how he opened up his discussion. He sat on a stool, in front of the all the leaders and calmly and quietly began to speak. In a very personal way, he started to list all of the sins of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. The whole room went silent, hanging on his every word. I saw humility. I saw repentance. I saw why God can work through IVCF in such powerful ways. Christ was glorified in his discussion, not him and not IVCF.


Have I ever experienced this level of repentance, where I was compelled by the Spirit of God, to “fall on my face”, with nothing more to say except, “go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man”? and “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner?” Maybe it happened a couple of times. I have been convicted of my sins, feeling bad about things. There are times I have cried. But this conviction has not produced the devastation that it caused in some peoples’ hearts in the Bible. My reaction would always be like, “Ok, I agree I sinned. I am sorry about that. I definitely will try to change and try again and teach others to do the same.”  Very seldom were there tears of repentance, where I felt that I could not even lift my head. In so many ways my heart is calloused and insensitive to sin. Even at my conversion I cried tears born out of an epiphany of truth about Jesus, not about conviction of sin. But, despite of my calloused heart, God accepted the times of repentance that do occur. He has been transforming me and working in my life and family.


But there was one event that I remember, where I was truly cut to the heart. I was asked by a Pastor to be a speaker at a conference. It would require a lot of preparation. I denied the opportunity, though it was a blessing from God. The basis of the rejection was only self preservation. I refused to pick up my cross. I really felt bad because I knew that it was an opportunity given to me by God. I walked around the neighborhood feeling like I wanted the “Hills to cover me”. God brought me through it and I grew spiritually.

I remember a story about St Francis of Assisi. He was a ministering to the poor in Assisi. The flock he was called to serve were so poor. They could not even eat meat. Eating a mouse and a rat was a something special. But one day St Francis was given a chicken to eat. He ate it and then he was totally convicted of his sin. His conviction of sin was custom made for him. He felt totally bad because he was eating chicken, when his congregation was starving. He repented so deeply that he had himself dragged around town by a horse crying out that he was a miserable chicken eater. (or something like that.)

Maybe God does not reveal to us all of our sins in their entirety because we just couldn’t handle it. We would be crushed. We would call on the hills to cover us. God reveals to us our sins in increments, amounts that we can bear and respond to grace.

Can we invite God to convict our hearts to this degree? Can we embrace this level of repentance and humility? Dare we pray for this gift of conviction and repentance? We can never change our own hearts. But God through his word and Spirit can.  It is never easy to experience this transforming work born out of repentance, but it is from God and a great gift. But this gift is never easy to bear. After all, servants of God of the past were compelled to fall on their faces with nothing to say. It is never easy. That is one reason people avoid repentance. Whole ministries avoid repentance. It is too painful to repent. But it is “oh so sweet” to those who have experienced this transforming work of God. They can give testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Jesus hugging a man


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