Psalm 139:23-24 KJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
If we were to pray that prayer, would we mean it? Do we really and truly want God to search our hearts and minds and to reveal to us any wicked way (habit, patterns of behavior, idolatry) that might be within us? And, if he did, would we truly be surprised by what he found? Or, do we already know what he will discover? And, thus some might not want that revealed?
Well, actually God doesn’t have to search us, for he already knows us. So, it isn’t that he needs to search us in order to know us and to learn about us, or as though he is going to find (discover) something by searching us that he didn’t already know about us. And, it isn’t that he needs our permission to do so, either. For, he already knows us completely, inside and out, because he is the one who made us (see Ps 139 – the whole chapter).
The searching, thus, is more for our benefit, for him to show us what can be discovered by a careful search of our hearts and minds. Thus, it would be kind of like a doctor putting some kind of scope down or up inside of our bodies, while we are awake, to where we are able to watch what he is doing, and while he explains to us what he sees inside of us.
Would we want to watch this procedure if God were to put a scope inside our hearts and minds to show us what is going on inside of us? Or, would we be hesitant about having such a procedure out of fear of what we might see is going on inside of our hearts, and inside of our minds (our way of thinking)? And, would we be fearful that someone else might learn the truth about us?
The object of this search is first of all to see if there is any wicked (evil, immoral) way (patterns of behavior) inside of our hearts and minds. Its purpose is to identify anything in our lives, such as any habits or addictive behaviors, that might still be lingering in the recesses of our hearts and minds and that might be hindering our walks of faith with Jesus.
But, the object is not just to identify them, but it is so that we can forsake those things, so that we can be led in the way of God’s righteousness, for this is the purpose for which Jesus died (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Co. 6:20; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 2:10; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
Any Wicked Way?
So, if God did such a search of our hearts and minds, what do you think he would discover, i.e. what would he reveal to you or to me that is there? What would you or I see lurking within? Would there be something lurking?
Would he reveal to you that you are irresponsible, self-indulgent and foolish? Would the search reveal that you are living a wicked and immoral life, evidenced by the works of the flesh, i.e. by acts of sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, lying and selfish ambition, etc.?
Would it reveal that, regarding the fruit that you are supposed to bear as a follower of Christ that you are fruitless? And, that the fruit that is coming forth from your mind and heart is of the sin nature, instead? And, that the authority over your head is not God, but it is Satan and your evil flesh?
What would he show you regarding your bond, your union with Christ, with the body of Christ, and/or with your marriage partner? Would those bonds be pure of heart, faithful, honest, obedient to Christ, and submissive to Christ as Lord? Or, would they be unfaithful, dishonest, insincere, adulterous, dishonorable, not trustworthy, and hypocritical?
What about your habits? Your patterns of behavior? What about your walks of faith? What would those look like? Would it be revealed that you are a hypocrite? That you fake righteousness as a cover-up for evil? That you pretend you are living for the Lord while you are secretly engaged in what is evil, perhaps in extramarital affairs, or in willful slander against others?
Would it be revealed that you aren’t double-minded, vacillating between good and evil, but that you are actually single-minded, but your true devotion is to self, the flesh and to Satan, and not to God at all? Yet, you give the impression that you are battling evil on one side while you are trying to live for God on the other side? But, the truth is that the battle is fake, and it is false righteousness on the other side, so you are fully evil?
Are you one who professes faith in Jesus Christ while you lead others into sin by spreading a false grace gospel message that requires no death to sin, no living to righteousness and no submission to the Lordship of Christ? And, so you lead them to believe that faith in Jesus Christ gives them freedom to continue in their slavery to sin, while you lie to them that they are going to heaven one day, which is a false hope?
Have you taken on the character of the world? Do you live for self-pleasure? Is entertainment what you seek after when you have free time? Do you tell crude jokes? Do you mock the Bible or those who are serious about their walks of faith? Do you fill your eyes and minds with the filth of this world? Or, do you try to ride the fence between righteousness and wickedness?
Does your pride get in the way of you surrendering your all to Jesus? And, so you are not willing to let go of control over your own life? But, do you fake that you are giving God control while you and your flesh and your own human strength and wisdom is what is trying to “be better”? And, this is because you don’t want to have to admit or change your own failures?
And, what about your conversations? What do you talk about with others? Do you have private conversations with others of interest which your spouse doesn’t know about? Do you have a friend who is more than a friend who is a threat to your marriage? But, you hold on to that friendship anyway, and you don’t want to let go? Or, are you having a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone other than your spouse, or even with yourself?
From God’s Perspective
God hates sin. He hates wickedness because of how it hurts us, because of how it damages us and those we are close to. He doesn’t want us to go down a path of sin, a sinful (addictive) course, because he knows it will destroy our lives, our relationship with him, and our relationships with others. And, it will end in death (Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).
So, if we want to be led in the way everlasting, then we need to let God show us the wickedness in our own hearts and minds. And, then in his strength, by his grace, and in his power, we are to forsake these sinful and addictive behaviors so that we can follow our Lord in obedience to his ways.
There is an old hymn called, “Is Your Heart Right with God?” It asks several pointed questions that would be good for all of us to honestly answer here, after we have allowed God to examine our hearts and minds. It asks us,
Have your affections been nailed to the cross?
Do you count all things for Jesus but loss?
Do you have dominion over self and over sin?
Over all evil without and within?
Is there no more condemnation for sin?
Does Jesus rule in the temple within?
Are all your powers under Jesus’ control?
Does he each moment abide in your soul?
Is your heart right with God?
Master, The Tempest is Raging!
Lyrics by Mary A. Baker, 1874
Music by Horatio R. Palmer, 1874
Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?
Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
Oh, hasten, and take control.
Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.
The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!
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