A Matter of the Heart

In my quiet time yesterday I was reflecting on Proverbs 21. I read verses such as:

2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
8 The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.
16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.

And I just kept thinking “it’s all about the heart”. A couple other verses that I read a few days ago also came to mind:

Proverbs 17
3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
16 Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

It seemed to me, as I read and prayed through Proverbs 21, that there was something significant just beyond my grasp, and I had no idea what it was.

I kept praying “God, try my heart. God, make me pure. Give me understanding. Teach me to pursue righteousness.” But I wasn’t getting the response in prayer that I expected to get. Instead, Romans 12:2 came to mind and I thought “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind“. It was as though God was telling me “It’s not your heart that needs work” but I was reading “the LORD trieth the hearts”. I just didn’t understand it.

Finally, I understood. The thought came into my head “Robert, you’re already saved. Your heart is already pure.”

Wow. Of course! I’m not a “rusted out shell of a car” trying to discipline myself into spiritual life. It’s not my heart that needs work. God’s already given me His Spirit! I can trust that I’m not a fool. God has pondered not my heart, but Christ’s heart. I am pure, because of Christ. I am not wicked, and my sacrifices are not an abomination to the Lord. When He looks at me, He sees Christ and not me.

That changed my meditation from one marked by anxiety and doubt, but one based on gratitude. I no longer prayed “God, try my heart. God, make me pure. Give me understanding. Teach me to pursue righteousness.” Instead, I prayed “Thank you that I have the Holy Spirit. Thank you for making my righteous. Thank you that my sacrifice is not an abomination to you. Thank you that I’m accepted. Thank you that I’m a saint in your eyes.”

Now that is a transformed mind, one that keeps in mind my own changed nature, and the changed relationship I enjoy with God.

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One Response to A Matter of the Heart

  1. dalton says:

    Hey, I dont know how I stubled on your site, but this post was speaking where I needed at at this moment. On this same subject, read what Tozer says:I want to be fair to everyone and to find all the good I can in every man’s religious beliefs, but the harmful effects of this faith-as-magic creed are greater than could be imagined by anyone who has not come face-to-face with them. Large assemblies today are being told fervently that the one essential qualification for heaven is to be an evil man, and the one sure bar to God’s favor is to be a good one. The very word righteousness is spoken only in cold scorn, and the moral man is looked upon with pity. “A Christian,” say these teachers, “is not morally better than a sinner; the only difference is that he has taken Jesus, and so he has a Savior.” I trust it may not sound flippant to inquire, “A savior from what?” If not from sin and evil conduct and the old fallen life, then from what? And if the answer is, “From the consequences of past sins and from judgment to come,” still we are not satisfied. Is justification from past offenses all that distinguishes a Christian from a sinner? Can a man become a believer in Christ and be no better than he was before? Does the gospel offer no more than a skillful Advocate to get guilty sinners off free at the Day of Judgment?

    I think the truth of the matter is not too deep nor too difficult to discover. Self-righteousness is an effective bar to God’s favor because it throws the sinner back upon his own merits and shuts him out from the imputed righteousness of Christ. And to be a sinner confessed and consciously lost is necessary to the act of receiving salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. This we joyously admit and constantly assert, but here is the truth that has been overlooked in our day: A sinner cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The Bible passages that declare this are too many and too familiar to need repeating here, but the skeptical might look at Galatians 5:19-21 and Revelation 21:8. How then can any man be saved? The penitent sinner meets Christ, and after that saving encounter he is a sinner no more. The power of the gospel changes him, shifts the basis of his life from self to Christ, faces him about in a new direction, and makes him a new creation. The moral state of the penitent when he comes to Christ does not affect the result, for the work of Christ sweeps away both his good and his evil, and turns him into another man. The returning sinner is not saved by some judicial transaction apart from a corresponding moral change. Salvation must include a judicial change of status, but what is overlooked by most teachers is that it also includes an actual change in the life of the individual. And by this we mean more than a surface change; we mean a transformation as deep as the roots of his human life. If it does not go that deep, it does not go deep enough.

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