Some of the most sobering and frightening passages of Scripture reveal to us that God does not see the way we see. And more to the point, those passages reveal to us that God's holy and searching gaze falls upon our hearts.
So we read in Gen. 6:5, just before the universal flood that wiped out all but eight souls, "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."
And afterwards, we learn that the soul-destroying infection of a corrupted heart was not removed by the flood waters. Rain could not wash away this defilement, nor could a murky flood shield the human heart from God's penetrating stare. So we read in Jeremiah 17:9-10, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what he deserves."
Even in the days of our Lord, religious men had their hearts laid bare before the searching eyes of God. "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight'" (Luke 16:14-15). Had they known the penetrating character of God's sight, they surely would have trembled in their sandals. Their loves--their highest loves--was detestable to the One who tests men's hearts.
King Solomon understood the importance and the implications of this. In his prayer of dedication for the temple, Solomon spread his hands toward heaven and said, in part, "Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers." The knowledge of God's searing insight is to drive men to their knees in pleas for forgiveness and stir reverence and abiding awareness of the presence of God in daily living.
To grasp this puts a person on their face, trembling before the God of the universe. It's a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a holy God. If there were nothing covering our distorted and defiled hearts from the eyes of God, we would perish in the brilliant blaze of His glory and holiness. We would run into the caves and cry out for the rocks to fall upon us! And we may feel the awesome terror of this merely reading the words, "God knows your heart." It's only those who are unfamiliar with their own hearts who don't shake and tremble at the thought.
But there is a covering; one that draws the eyes of God to a sight more glorifying and pleasing in His sight than we can imagine. There is a covering that averts the gaze of justice and evokes the longing look of love. There is a covering that makes God's searching of our hearts a glad and welcome experience.
The blood of Christ covers us. And in God's sight beats the pure heart of His Son. Indeed, it's His heart we now have if we are His. A new heart with new desires and the law of God written on it (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 10:15-18). Where this new heart beats, God says, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
Now with exceeding joy and no cowering fear we can pray with the psalmist, "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
And we can now rejoice and take confidence in the promise of reward in Jeremiah 17:10, "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what he deserves." In Christ, the prospect of God's reward for our conduct is no longer thunder and lightning but eternal joy. The reward that follows the searching of Christ's heart... is... well, unimaginably glorious!
And in our daily living as well, the searching of the Christian's heart leads to supernatural, divine help. "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" (Rom. 8:26-27).
The search that once only revealed a disgusting depravity, now turns up reward and intercessory help from the Holy Spirit. The old heart caused us to tremble in guilt and fear; the new heart propels us upward and higher in Christ with great rejoicing.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24).
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