I am convinced, over and over again, that God has utmost concern for the status of our heart. Yes, he loves to heal us and to free us from bondage. Yes, his deepest desire is that we all come into an experiential knowing of his Son, Jesus Christ, through saving faith, and therefore be reconciled once again with himself. There are many other aspects of our being and our lives that God cares deeply about.
However, it seem to me that the core of our being, our heart, is his deepest concern as he works to transform us into likeness of his Son.
Recently I came upon a reflection in my journals from December 10, 2009, about Mark 7:6, 15 (NRSV, clarification added), which I include below:
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me”… There is nothing outside a person which going in can defile; but the things that come out [of the person] are what defile [the person].”
These two verses, together, make it clear that God is most interested in the state of our heart. What resides in our heart is what comes out of us. You can often tell the true state of a person by what they say and do. Is it possible to pretend to be holy by saying and doing the “right” things? Yes. But God knows the truth. When we speak and act in a manner that is different than the true state of our heart, we are hypocrites.
God is seeking to change our heart so that we will not be hypocrites. Our God is a God of truth, and His people are to be people of truth. Believing one thing in our heart, and speaking or doing something contrary to what is in our heart is not honest, it is dishonest – it is hypocritical.
We often ask God to change our circumstances, and to change others. How often do we invite God to us, to change our heart? The Psalmist prayed, Create in me a clean heart, o God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10, NASB). This, indeed, is the prayer that God waits for us to pray. And when we earnestly pray this prayer – not as a way of manipulating God, but because deep within us we want the unholy in our hearts to be removed – then God goes to work transforming us into the likeness of Christ, from the deepest recesses of our heart.
Only when this transformational work is accomplished will we truly be like Christ.