“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” –John 2:24-25 (ESV)
Often times we hear preachers tell us to examine our hearts. This typically happens during the confession session, in Sunday worship.
But what does ‘examining our hearts’ mean? It means to look inside us for the sin that grieves God and then repent that sin.
What does it look like to ask a sinner to examine their heart?
You see the tragedy of the fall is that it didn’t just separate us from God, it also made us our own god. It made our hearts “idol making factories” as John Calvin would say.
We have ideas that we believe about ourselves. There is an image each one of us has about himself or herself. And these ideas and images are overly hyped. For example, it’s a commonplace to hear church people say they are victorious, rich, well, stable, walking in miracles, powerful, and all those hippy phrases they throw around.
Even when we come into a sermon, we come in with these preconceived ideas about God and us. When a sermon starts to crash them before our eyes, we turn defensive with charges like antinomianism, universalism and even blanketism!
On the whole, we think we are good people and the world ought to give us recognition for it. To go deeper, we believe in ourselves more and what we think we are than God and what He knows we are.
We define what is good and acceptable and then move in at the speed of light to crash anyone who would, at a smell of suspicion, threaten the little sand castles we have built for ourselves. In short: we are our own master.
How then can such people do a proper examination of their hearts and come up with proper, accurate diagnosis? The shorthand answer is that they can’t.
We hide our sin, minimize it, and lie about it. We do this all the time. We get our filthy sin, dress it up in a little bright dress and then decorate it with multicoloured flowers. Or, we will just hide in the closet.
When the resources of heart examination are placed in our hands, we will never do a good job, because we don’t know what a good job looks like when it comes to matters like these.
What then shall we do?
Look up. The Psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24 says: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
God knows you; He knows the darkest parts of your life that no one else knows, even your spouse of 42 years. And in the entire bible, He diagnoses us as sinful, rebellious, idol worshippers, children of wrath. It’s only Him that can examine our hearts.
The major reason we hide our sin is fear of rejection. But God has embraced us in our sin. So there is no rejection in God when He meets our sin, He just punished it in His Son.
The other thing, through proper diagnosis, our real need is revealed. And when God shows our need, He surely meets that need in Jesus Christ. And He has!
Therefore, what we need is not self-examination but God-examination. We need to have God examine us and also offer us the antidote.
Will you ask God to give you a humble heart so that you will accept His diagnosis of your spiritual condition which He has laid out in scripture?
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.
Genesis 6: 1-8; Jeremiah 17:1-13; Mark 7:14-21; Romans 1:21-32; Ephesians 2:1-10