I remember reading Steps to Christ and thinking: I didn’t get anything out of it – I don’t understand. Years later, I was stuck. I wanted to reform the things which were messing up my life. I saw the effects and was acquainted with the warnings of eternal death for sin. I tried all the mental algorithms which could be mustered against them. Many of you have also tried them and have been using them all your life. It’s the basic component of problem solving. It goes something like this: if something goes wrong, think this way, try it this way….and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again. Yet, how many times have you become angry at someone? One can use this seemingly quite effectively but you’ll never fix the true problem in this way. The problem is much deeper.
There are others however who look back at their life and think, “I don’t have many problems or faults!” Think harder, try to find the faults – they are there! Yet know that only the Holy Spirit can reveal them to you. The little mistakes which don’t seem so bad are more grievous than you think.
Psalms 33:13-15 states: “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” All of us have that deceitful heart that Jeremiah 17 declares. None can escape this. But what is the heart you may ask. It is the source of all actions. When the Bible speaks about the heart, it’s really speaking about your motive. Why do you do what you do? Consider deeply. This is a life and death matter.
The reason why we fall into sin so easily is because we want it – we like it. The questions is often all about us and what we want (selfishness). This is the deceitful heart. However, the clean heart that Psalms 51 speaks about is one that considers all things in accordance with God’s will. What is the motive behind the simplest action in a single day of your life? Have you considered if you would be honoring God in each one of them? You might think this is extreme, but I assure you that it is not. There can’t be any room for self to be considered for if this is allowed in heaven, it can flare into a rebellion again. The pen of inspiration states that Satan is the exact opposite of God (see quote below). Thus, there cannot be any room for consideration of self. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The principle of heaven is others (God included) and not ourselves. While we seek other’s good, they will seek ours and thus the circle of love and beneficence will continue throughout eternity.
“The Lord allowed Satan to go on, and demonstrate his principles. God did reveal that his principles were right, and he carried the worlds unfallen and the heavenly universe with him; but it was at a terrible cost. His only begotten Son was given up as Satan’s victim. The Lord Jesus Christ revealed a character entirely opposite to that of Satan. As the high priest laid aside his gorgeous, pontifical robes, and officiated in the white linen dress of a common priest, so Christ emptied himself, and took the form of a servant, and offered the sacrifice, himself the priest himself the victim.” ~Review and Herald, September 7, 1897.
God alone can give a clean heart. You cannot change your motives. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that he needed to be born again. The change that is wrought in our heart is something that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit which is why repentance is the gift of God. We are unable to make ourselves sorry for sin itself (we’re often sorry for the results of our sins) and we cannot change the motive of our hearts. When this change is accomplished for us in our life, we will be seeking God more because we realize that unless He keeps us, we will fall into the same sin again. This is what true repentance looks like and this is what Psalms 51 records. In this prayer, David was seeking to draw closer to God and for a clean heart. Once the heart is made clean by God, then good actions result just as easily as it is for wrong actions to occur-but, this change must be made every day, moment by moment. True repentance is a turning away from sin, from considerations of self, and seeking a closer walk with God. As you draw closer to God, many more defects will appear and you will begin to see that your life is riddled with mistakes and sins even in a single day.
Yet you may ask: how do I know that this will happen in my life? Believe. Don’t consider any “what ifs” – these are doubts. Believe no matter what because God’s word is true and it will surely come to pass.
In short, ask God to change your heart and draw you closer to Him in order that you will want to do that which is right. Thus, we may learn to do well who are accustomed to do evil. The good news of the gospel, the gospel itself, is that Christ can save us from sin and change our hearts in order that we will want to do what is right in love for Him.
Homework for you: find in the Bible the answer to the question: how do I know I am saved? You should know this. Search earnestly to know for sure the answer.