Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Inside Out

What’s in your heart? Sometimes we can look good on the outside, but the inside is something else. The Pharisees were experts at this, polishing up the outside to hide the inside (Mark 12:41-44; Matthew 23:23-28; 6:1-18). In the final analysis, though, I suppose I am also good at this, and I suspect most of us are. But God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 2:16; Hebrews 4:12,13). And what is naturally inside us is sin (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 7:14; Isaiah 64:6). The problem is, it is not easy to change the heart. Simply gritting one’s teeth and trying harder does not work. A detailed knowledge of the rules does not do it. Self-help schemes fail. And just faking it is not good enough. We need the gospel.
The gospel says that Jesus Christ paid the whole price for sin (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21) and we are saved through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). This opens the way for God to begin to change us from the inside out (Ezekiel 36:25-27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10). Which is motivated by our love for God for what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Titus 2:11-14), not just to please other people outwardly (Galatians 1:10; Proverbs 29:25; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5). This means that change comes from inside us, rooted in our heart, moved by the love of God, and is not just something we act out externally. Now it does require a response on our part, in being willing to go along with what God is doing in our lives (Galatians 5:16; Colossians 2:6,7; Romans 12:1,2). But this is not something we work up or fake, but something we trust God for (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 37:3-6). Now this is a process that takes place over time and requires our effort (Philippians 3:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 12:1,2). But it is God who provides the power to do it (2 Peter 1:3; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 2:13). Therefore God is at work in us to transform us. And it starts by changing what we set our heart on (Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3:2,3; Matthew 12:34,35).  For where our heart goes, the rest of us will follow.

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