God’s Daily Word – by Steve Troxel
From August 4, 2006
Rend Our Heart
Every prophet in the Bible proclaimed a message which called the people to repentance. From Moses to John the Baptist, Jesus and the Apostles, the message was consistent: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Repentance is essential to a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father – essential to Salvation. Repentance is a condition of our heart whereby we recognize our sin and, in desperation and sorrow, turn and cry out to God for help.
“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.'”
In the Old Testament times it was common for someone to tear (or rend) their clothes when they were expressing great sorrow. For example, when Jacob thought that Joseph had been killed by wild animals, he “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days” (Genesis 37:34). When the Israelites were beaten when attacking the city of Ai, Joshua “tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord” (Joshua 7:6).
Tearing your clothes was an outward expression of sorrow. But all through Scripture, God makes it abundantly clear that He looks deep into our heart; “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13). Jesus referenced this exact passage when He confronted the hypocritical worship of the Pharisees (Matthew 15:7-9).
We must never even hint that repentance involves “right” outward behavior. We have no ability to do right in the eyes of God without receiving, by faith, His gift of Salvation and allowing His Spirit to transform us into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Only through His power can we be set on a path of being “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29) – only in His strength can we ever do “right.”
God has more grace to forgive than we can possibly imagine; but our loving Father expects – even demands – true repentance. He’s fully aware of the many ways we sin and fall short of His glory; but until WE understand how far we have fallen and genuinely desire to change, we will never appreciate His grace in making us clean – never experience His “times of refreshing.” Let’s seek His forgiveness and walk in closer harmony with our Heavenly Father. Let’s confess our sins and, with repentant sorrow, stand before Him today and rend our heart.
From August 7, 2006
Clean From Within
In the message “Rend Our Heart” we saw how God commands us to recognize our sin and tear our heart in sorrowful repentance as we cry out for His gracious and abundant forgiveness. The instant we first place our complete trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are born of the Spirit and released from the bondage of our sinful nature. Sin may still war within us and sometimes cause us to stumble, but it no longer has dominion and control over our lives – we have been set free!
Jesus often taught of this radical transformation in terms of our need for a clean heart.
“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'”
Our heart pumps life into all the other parts of our body. If our heart is made clean through the forgiveness of Jesus, the rest of our life will also become clean as His life flows through us; “First clean the inside…and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:26). But if our heart remains soiled by an unrepentant sinful nature, no amount of outside scrubbing and polishing will ever make us clean.
Jesus presented the above list of “evils” for our self evaluation – as an outward test of inward cleanliness. Our lives may be free from the obvious stealing, murder, and adultery; but the rest of the list requires us to look a little deeper. Folly is the lack of good sense. Arrogance is an overbearing confidence. Slander is making false statements against someone. Envy is discontent due to another’s good fortune. Lewdness is indecent language or action. Deceit means to conceal the truth. Malice means to cruelly tease, and greed is excessive desire.
A transformed, “circumcised of the heart” (Romans 2:29), believer in Jesus Christ should never be characterize by this type of behavior. As the Spirit of Jesus makes us into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and begins to flow through our life, these old sins ought to slow to a trickle and eventually pass away.
Is the cleansing power of Jesus flowing into all areas of our life? Or are there areas we still claim as our own? If we desire to offer our lives as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1), then we must allow our sacrifice to be completely cleansed – we must place our heart more fully in His hands. Let’s come before our Heavenly Father, confess our sins, and allow the transforming forgiveness of Jesus to make us clean from within.
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