A. INVITE A SEARCH
Along with our bodies, we need to offer our hearts to God. David is a man who experienced both great victories and great failures before God. Yet through it all, he is an unsurpassed example of one who desired earnestly to walk before God with his whole heart. (Deut. 6:5)
David prayed these words: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try [test] me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23,24).
This Psalm is a picture of a man living in close fellowship with God. Yet he is asking God to search his heart, and test his thoughts for anything wicked that he might not know about.
This Psalm also tells us that God knows us better than we know ourselves. The purpose of having God search our hearts is to discover sin: to allow Him to point out anything He sees as danger areas in our lives that might bring hurt or harm to ourselves or others. We must accept His dealings with us – without excuses – and freely confess our sins to God that we might be set free.
GUARD YOUR CHRISTIAN WALK
There are many believers who are caught up in unworthy practices or sinful habits that they may not recognize as such. These might involve relationships, employment, entertainment, or practices carried forward from a time before knowing Christ.
Usually such conduct is acceptable to the world, but the searching eyes of the Lord will reveal it as unworthy of His sons and daughters. The Lord wants to free us from all sin or bondage – because if it is not dealt with, it will eventually result in a harvest of pain and destruction in our lives and the lives of others.
Very few people just decide one day to turn their back on God, and live a sinful life. Most of the time, we make lots of small compromises over time, and participate in more and more worldly behavior. Eventually, we end up far away from God and His ways.
We must learn – and teach others also – to invite the Lord’s daily searching of our heart and thoughts. We must learn to wait in His presence, to hear His voice, and to respond to what He tells us. If we ask the Lord to show us our hidden sins, He will help us to see them.
As we listen for His voice, and seek to obey His Word, we will learn to follow His directions to freedom! “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me” (Ps 25:4,5).
B. DON’T BE DECEIVED
Deception means to believe that something is right when it is wrong. The prophet Jeremiah warned us how easily the human heart is deceived: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jer 17:9).
It is possible for anyone to be deceived – even a Christian. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins [to God], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8,9).
- Three Areas For Deception
The Apostle John shows us three possible ways a person can be deceived:
- Thinking that we don’t need to confess – that if we do sin, we aren’t required to do anything about it; that God will either overlook it, or forgive us even if we don’t face it or tell Him about it.
- Thinking that we have no sin – and thus do not need God’s forgiveness.
- Thinking that we won’t be forgiven – that God will not really forgive us even when we do confess our sin.
- Deception Spoils Fellowship
If we are deceived in any one of these three areas, our fellowship with God will be spoiled. We will find it hard to pray, praise or worship the Lord. We will not be able to find joy and peace in God’s Word. It will be hard for us to turn our hearts completely toward the Lord.
- Those who believe they never sin at all will keep having problems caused by their sin. But they won’t know why they have the problems – or why their lives are in constant turmoil.
- Those who sin but do not repent or confess their sin to God – thinking He will forgive them without repentance – can become hard of heart (Heb 3:13). Their sin is never dealt with, even though the Holy Spirit may be convicting them (John 16:8). They will, in time, no longer hear the Lord warning them. To walk so far away from God’s ways is very dangerous.
- Some people believe that even though they tell God their sins, He will not really forgive them. The burden of this deception will give them a heavy heart. They may live under a dark cloud of shame, guilt and condemnation.
The Bible tells us the truth: “If we confess our sins [to God], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8,9). How good it is to be open and honest and confess to God that we are sinners, and to repent before Him of our specific sins. God is ever ready, then, to forgive, restore and strengthen us.