Musings 69

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

Jer 12:3 But You know me, O LORD; You see me; And You examine my heart’s attitude toward You.

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.

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

The very hard job of examining the heart is necessary if we are going to see pride and self that remains in our hearts. If we never take the time to look at the intents, purposes, and attitudes of the heart we will never take time to know our own hearts. The scribes and Pharisees were satisfied with the externals, but they never went to the depths of their own hearts to understand that they were hypocrites. As Jeremiah 12:3 points out, our attitude of the heart toward God is vital. After all, the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength. If we don’t examine our hearts, then how are we going to know if we are loving God at all? If we are simply satisfied with a good feeling about ourselves as we do external duties, we will never know if we love God from the heart (to any degree) in what we are doing. That is simply dangerous.

It is easy for professing believers to simply be satisfied with an external study of the Bible and of the historical creeds. It is easy for professing believers to read books and think that they know what they have read. It is easy, regardless of what we read or study, to become convinced that we are believers and growing Christians based on the things we know about or the degree or level of information that we have. The Scriptures (I Cor 8:1) are quite clear that knowledge alone can simply puff us up or make us arrogant. Are we ever warned about that? Are we ever warned that Bible Study can make us arrogant? Instead of that, however, we are told that we should study or read the Bible each day as part of our devotion. But what if all we are doing is making us more proud and arrogant each day as we gain knowledge? What if we are given to memorize Scripture and do so with great success and people notice this and praise us? Have we thought that if we don’t interpret what we have memorized that we are memorizing error? If we don’t love God in truth as we memorize we are simply puffing ourselves up with more information and knowledge?

Some have started book reading clubs (of various sorts) as a way of spiritual growth. But even if we read the older authors, and admittedly they are far better, do we realize that apart from “spiritual digestion” we can simply be growing in arrogance and pride? Apart from examining the heart, which can also become a means of growing in arrogance and pride if we don’t examine the heart in dependence upon Him, there is nothing that we do that cannot be a means of our being puffed up in pride. All the spiritual disciplines (so-called) can be a means of our growing in arrogance and pride. Seeking humility can be a way of growing in arrogance and pride if we are not careful. That one phrase in I Corinthians 8:1 (Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies) should drive us to an examination of our hearts.

It must also be said that examining the heart and various methods of doing that can also become a way for the heart to grow in arrogance and pride. We must be taught of God to examine our hearts and seek Him for light in what is being done. We must ask Him to open our hearts to us and for Him to make us willing to accept His verdict and the verdict of Scripture on our hearts. God alone can show us the nature of our pride toward Him at all times. It is true that this can be very painful as our self-righteousness is crushed and all of our supposed ability is seen to be a mirage, but this is necessary to see how Christ is all at all times. It has been said that the human heart is an idol factory, but it is also a factory that is incessantly given to arrogance and pride before God and man. The heart that is always leaning toward pride must have the grace of God in Christ Jesus to protect it from that or all it will do will puff it up with pride. Religious activities will not protect from pride alone, but instead they seem to be what makes pride grow faster than anything else. Bare knowledge and study, whether at home or in a seminary or school, will make one arrogant. Only the humble Savior can teach us humility in the inner man. Anything else we do apart from the work of the Savior in the inner man puffs us up. Indeed, we can do nothing apart from Him.

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