“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
When we go camping, my husband knows that the main criteria for choosing a campground is that it has to have a bathroom with a shower nearby. I can’t go more than 2 days without taking a shower. I can tolerate it if I have to, but I don’t necessarily enjoy feeling grimy. My kind of camping is staying a 2-star hotel. 😉 How about you?
Just as we get dirty on the outside, we get soiled on the inside as well. Wrong thoughts, ill motives and attitudes, doing things we know we shouldn’t… not doing the things we know we should. It happens to all of us; it’s part of our human nature and not one of us is immune. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
I’ve been noticing that the times that I feel distant from God or don’t sense His presence are the times that I forget to bring my heart before the Lord. It’s not intentional, it’s just a numbness that sets in that dulls the sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. But it has the potential to slowly but surely lead us far away from God if we let it. And we have the power to do so; it’s called free choice. I pinned this a while back and there’s so much truth in it: “If God feels far away, guess who moved.” It’s not God that moves away, it’s us.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: one of the main things that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions is Christ’s ability to forgive sins. That is why I drew the nail scar on the hand with the sponge cleaning the heart. He very gently and lovingly washes the dirt from our hearts so we can be clean once again and come close to Him. I’m so thankful that we don’t need a high priest to offer sacrifices on our behalf like in the days of old; we can come directly to Jesus and ask Him to forgive our iniquities and wrong doings. I’ll be the first to admit that I need to come to Him several times a day. I don’t want anything to get in the way of my relationship with Him. I want my heart to be soft and sensitive, not hardened… I want to feel His presence. I’ve often been told that I beat myself up a lot. This is true. When I feel I’m in the wrong, I take on more guilt than I should. There’s a balance though, and too much self-condemnation isn’t good. (I’m working on that.) I have a sensitive spirit and it makes my heart mournful to cause grief to my Savior. I think about what He’s done for me on the cross, how much He loves me and wants the best for me. It causes me pain to grieve the Lord. The tears I shed are cleansing to my heart. I’d rather feel the pain of remorse than the numbness of apathy and distance from God.
So then why is it so difficult sometimes? We have a war waging inside of us. Paul says in Romans 7:22:
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
But the Bible says that where we are weak, He is strong. Oh how we need Him. We need Him to replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. We need Him to pinpoint the very area we need transformation in our lives. We need to acknowledge our sins and repent so we can have a right relationship with God. We can’t do it on our own. If we could forgive our own sins just as we clean our bodies, we would have no need of Christ. We need Him daily. Hourly. Constantly.
Think about the life of David… he committed adultery, then he essentially murdered the husband of the wife he committed adultery with. But he later repented and God called Him a “Man after His own heart.” He penned these words:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
God doesn’t care about the severity of your sins. He wants your heart. He takes sinners and transforms their lives into something beautiful for His namesake. He gives beauty for ashes. The Bible is full of life transformations. There’s hope for us all.
He makes us clean and new!
Hebrews 9:14…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
1 John 1:7…but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Titus 3:5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 10:22…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
John 15:3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
1 Corinthians 6:11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Ephesians 5:26…so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…
If you’ve never asked Jesus to forgive your sins, all it takes is a simple prayer: “Dear Jesus, I’ve made mistakes. Wash me clean. You know my heart; there is nothing hidden from You. Make me new and help me to live for you all the days of my life. Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, please seek a local church and a pastor to help you understand the life changing prayer you just made. I would be overjoyed to hear that someone somewhere prayed the sinner’s prayer after reading this. But it’s not me, it’s the nudging of the Holy Spirit that brought you here to read these very words and harvest the seeds that have been germinating in your life. I pray blessing upon you and your walk with Jesus Christ.