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  • Laurel Appel

Check Your Heart

Is everything checking out okay for you these days? Have you taken your vehicle into the shop lately or checked the air pressure in your tires? Have you been checked out by a doctor recently? How about your finances or your house? Have you had them checked out by a professional as of late? You check your schedule, you check off items on your to-do list, but what about your heart? Have you done a heart check lately?

I recently heard a mainstream Christian teacher being interviewed by a woman who asked her an interesting question from a listener to her show. The man asked how Christians can consistently keep their hearts right with God. This teacher responded first by saying that Jesus says that if you love Me, you will keep my commandments, referring to John 14:15, I’m sure. The teacher implied that we better clean up our sin if we love Jesus.

She went on to say believers should do a heart check every time they pray. She had a conversation with the interviewer, and they discussed that we need to check what is in our hearts so we can keep it right and pure to please God and so we can hear what He wants us to do. If you check your heart and find things like anger, frustration, and impatience, you need to clean that up so God will be happy, and you won’t be distancing yourself from God.

I have often heard Christians say this very thing, “Check your heart.” What do you expect to find there when you “do a heart check?” Do you really think you will check it one day and not find any sin? God tells us in Genesis chapter 8 that man’s heart is evil from youth and the Bible is clear that we continually fall short of God’s glory. We will always find yucky stuff in there. So why bother looking? I can tell you right now, before peering into your heart or mine, darkness dwells there. That is, in the heart of your flesh, who the apostle Paul calls your old man. And what are you going to do about it? It seems as we try to bail that dark sludge out of our hearts more seeps in through a crack we didn’t know about.

Often, we hear that the solution to the sin in our hearts is to be obedient and work on emptying out the sin by striving to be better, do good, be more like Jesus. But how is that working out for you? I gave up on that solution because it didn’t work for me. That’s because it is man’s solution. Like the Pharisees, that was their solution; obey the Law and try to obtain righteousness through behaving right. But that didn’t fix the problem for them, and it won’t fix the problem for you or me. That’s the self-righteous attempt to fix the problem.

Jesus has a different solution, and His solution works. He didn’t patch up that old heart, He gave you a new heart and a new nature that is righteous and holy, your spirit has been renewed and then He piled on the good stuff with allowing you to partake of the divine nature, the Holy Spirit. The word, partake, in 2 Peter 1:4 means partner. You get to partner with the Holy Spirit! Jesus did all this when you were born again. Paul calls that new part of you your new man. You are altogether righteous and holy in your new man and unrighteous and unholy in your old man. You are both. And that new man is how Jesus fixed the problem. That’s the Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to you solution. And when you are reminded by your new partner that you are walking in the unrighteous you, you can switch to the new you and walk in righteousness. I’m not claiming that is easy to do sometimes, but you can do it. And that way, you skip the step of looking at your evil heart first, that’s a waste of time.

But do you have faith that He really did those things for you? Instead of checking your heart for sin, check it for faith. You know you will find sin when you peek in there, but will you find faith? Will you find a solid acceptance of God’s grace? Will you discover that God’s grace is so radical that it extends beyond the outer limits of your evil heart? Go ahead, do a heart check now. Do you have faith that Jesus cleansed you from all unrighteousness? That He gave you the Holy Spirit as a partner who gives you the power to do amazing things in love? How does your heart check out regarding faith?

The problem is the man was asking a question based on false and confusing teaching that is common in today’s Christian culture. Rather than wondering how Christians can maintain a right heart, we should understand that we have a new heart that has already been made right by Jesus. We just aren’t told this, so we keep trying to fix what Jesus already fixed. We just need to believe it! We need to understand the beauty and magnitude of God’s radical grace! No spiritual pushups, excavating for evilness, or overburdening ourselves with obedience to the Law. Simply, walk and live by faith, and by the power of our new BFF, the Holy Spirit.

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