Musings 68

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.

Jeremiah 12:3 But You know me, O LORD; You see me; And You examine my heart’s attitude toward You. Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter And set them apart for a day of carnage!

Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.

1 Cor 11:28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

One of the reasons that so little respect is given to Christ in our day is because people do not examine their own hearts in our day with any seriousness. Unless we can see our helplessness in sin, we will not look to grace alone to deliver us from sin. Until we see that sin is with us in the depths of our soul in terms of power, motive, and intent, we will not understand our great need to have Christ as our Mediator Who is Prophet, Priest, and King. Until we arrive at a deep conviction of our need to have Christ work in us in order for us to do one good thing, we will not understand our great need to have Him as our life.

In terms of church people, so to speak, Jesus is thought of as one who did miracles and died on the cross. But there is very little understanding of that. Even in Reformed circles the need to examine the heart and then to think of the sins of the heart as needing to be cleansed by the blood of Christ and to have Him as the life of the believer seems to be largely ignored. In Reformed circles the stress is put on expository preaching which basically amounts to an academic study of the Bible with information about things given out. In Reformed circles there can also be a stress on doctrine or the creeds, which are important, but those things can be studied and stressed in a way where it is nothing but information given out. There is also a stress on morality in Reformed circles, but morality is not the same thing as living by Christ and it is far from examining our hearts to see where there is sin and how to have Christ as our Savior from present sin and how to have Christ as our life now.

As Lamentations 3:40 (above) states, “Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.” Can there be a returning to the LORD without examining and probing our ways? Could it be that far too many are simply satisfied with outward doctrine, orthodox creeds, and external morality and so they will not return to the LORD because they don’t see themselves as far away? Could it be that apart from a true examination of our hearts and ways that we will not see how far off we are from the LORD? I Corinthians 11:28 (also above) is quite clear. We are to examine ourselves before we take the Supper. I would argue that the text is meaning something more than spending a few minutes with our head bowed and thinking about our lives and state of commitment or something like that, but instead we are to examine our hearts thoroughly and its intents and motives in what we do and why we do what we do.

In centuries past people would come to the Supper with days of preparation. They would have a special speaker come in and they would start with sermons about preparing the heart and examining the heart. These would last for three to four days with a day of thanksgiving and praise after the Supper. The people in those days did not take the Supper lightly, but instead they were very serious about examining hearts before they took it. They were serious about examining the heart because they took the Scriptures seriously which teach us that when people then did not take it seriously God judged them with illness and death.

While it is true that examining the heart sounds so negative in one sense, it is also the path to the presence of the LORD. This is not to say that it is a path of works that lead us to the LORD, but it is a way of using Scripture and prayer to seek the LORD Himself. It is a way of dying to self and a true renouncing of self that we are opened to the depths of the soul and we see how much we need to grow. We need to grow in our dying to self and being a complete and utter sacrifice to Him. We need to grow in holiness of heart and mind. We need to grow in joy. We need to grow in love for God and man. We need to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. It is in the deep realization of the true status of our hearts that we die to our own abilities and look to grace alone. It is in this inability that we can see for anything good to come from us it must come as fruit from Christ. It is in this way that we begin to take joy in the Lord as we grow in brokenness, humility, and contrition. The emptier we are or self, the more we have room (so to speak) for more of Christ. Yet this comes by way of self-examination and probing if we seek those things by the Spirit out of love for God.

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