The Christian’s Greatest Challenge

June 1, 2013

The Christian’s Greatest Challenge

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”

(Psalm 139:23-24).

David was a brave man.  It took courage to kill a lion that threatened his flock of sheep.  On another occasion he had to face a bear.  We especially admire his courage when he faced and killed Goliath.  His greatest act of courage, however, was when he invited God to search his heart.

It is possible to spend much time in prayer and have the appearance of being spiritual, and still be enslaved by sin.  Some trust that they are being led of God by the events of life and that which happens to them.  God often communicates with us in that way, but there is still another, more intimate way, of letting God speak to us.  Psalm 37:7 says, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.”    We need to be still and let God speak to us.  He won’t do it audibly, but if we give him access to our heart he can and will reveal to us things we need to take into consideration.

We need to have our souls and hearts purified.  I Peter 1:22 says we do that by being obedient to the truth.  “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”  It also says it is by means of the Spirit.  It results in a love for our brothers in Christ.  James 4:8 also tells us that we need to purify our hearts.  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” If we neglect the matter of purity we become unclean vessels that God will not use.

We don’t look with favor on those who neglect outward cleanliness.  Once when I was a child my mother and my sisters went to spend some days with one of my aunts.  My uncle came to get them.  He left his son to stay with my dad and I while my mother and sisters were away.  During those days we were busy about the farm.  We no doubt washed our hands before we ate our meals, but other than that we didn’t give much attention to cleanliness.  When the day came for us to go and get my mother and sisters, my dad told us to take a bath.  I don’t know if my cousin got clean enough or not, but my dad took one look at me and saw that I was still stained with grease from the machinery we were using.  My parents always kept some corn cobs soaking in a can of kerosene to start the fire in the stove.  He grabbed one of those cobs and proceeded to scrub the grease spots on my skin. He left me sore and smelling like kerosene, but I was clean.  Inner purification can also be painful at times.

Research is constantly being done to learn new things.  The United States government spent an enormous sum of money to send men to the moon to find out what is up there.  It is unfortunate that men have   little desire to know the condition of their hearts.  Perhaps the problem is that they would be ashamed of what was found.

The need of heart cleansing is revealed by what comes out of it.  Mark 7:21-23 gives us a list of those things.  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,   Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:    All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  Can you be indifferent about having such things in your heart?  Jeremiah warns us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)  God knows the true condition of our heart.  Such thoughts can be in our hearts without being manifest to those around us.  In fact, they can even be there without us being aware of it.  That’s why we need to let God search our hearts and make us aware of what we have there.

II Corinthians 5:10 says that we as believers will be judged before the judgment seat of Christ.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Sooner or later we will have to face the sad truth about the thoughts we harbor in our hearts.  Mark 7:21 says, “out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.” Our thoughts determine our actions.  Adultery is the first sin mentioned in the list in Mark 7:21-23.  Perhaps a man can say that he isn’t guilty of committing adultery, but it is in his thoughts.  He can fanaticize an
adulterous experience without anyone being aware of it.  Time spent thinking evil thoughts could have been better spent thinking on good things.  At the judgment seat of Christ we shall be judged, not just for the gross sins that those who knew us were aware of, but also for our evil thoughts.

You may think that thinking evil thoughts is innocent, but it tends to break down   resistance to sin.  In the future, if an opportunity presents itself to commit sin, you may not have the strength to resist it.  That’s why it’s necessary to let God search your heart in order that you may cleans it and stop thinking evil thoughts.

God doesn’t need to search your heart to know what’s in it.  He already knows.  When we give God permission to search our hearts, we are giving him liberty to reveal to us what is in there.  That’s why I call it the Christian’s greatest challenge.  We would just as soon not know what is in our hearts.  We can keep busy serving God and feel good about ourselves without knowing what is in our hearts.  It may be that we feel that God is using us, but it may be that he isn’t using us to the extent he wants to because there are things in our hearts that aren’t pleasing to him.  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.   Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:8-10).

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