Many years back, more than I like to admit, I went for the driver’s road test. The test would show whether I was ready to drive alongside other drivers on the road. I failed on my first attempt, but it revealed to me I needed to sharpen my driving skills.
The Bible teaches us that God tests the heart and mind of the righteous, for He knows the secret of our hearts. In Psalm 7:9 (TLB) it states - “… for You, the righteous God, look deep within the hearts of men and examine (tests) all their motives and their thoughts.” In testing the motives of our heart and our mind, God exposes the sin hidden in our hearts using the truth of His word as written in Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) - “For the word of God is alive and active. It is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Not only does God use His word to expose our sin and bring change in our lives, but will also use times of hardship in order to get our attention and get us back on track. He will often apply pressure until we see ourselves in the light of His truth and turn to Him. (Hebrews 12:5-11). I must confess, for me it has been a painful unveiling. How humbling it is when the Holy Spirit reveals what I’ve dismissed or refused to see of the sin in my life, even though it’s been apparent to others. Sometimes we are the last ones to recognize what everyone sees about us.
God’s desire is not to condemn us, because, according to Romans 8:1, those who have come to faith in Christ are no longer condemned. God longs for uninterrupted fellowship with us, and therefore reveals sins so we could make it right before Him. Unfortunately, pride gets in the way, and we choose to look around at others who are worse off, to justify our wrongdoings. It is easy to deceive ourselves into believing we are in a good place with the Lord when in reality the opposite may be true. The prophet Jeremiah stated in Jeremiah 17:9 that our heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Since our heart can deceive us, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to help us recognize our sins. We are in desperate need of His cleansing that goes deeper than any sin that may surface in everyday life and in our interaction with others.
All of us are sometimes guilty of self-deception, such as when we take great pride in our own successes, especially in Christian service. We believe there is nothing wrong with feeling a sense of pride in all our hard work. But buried deep within our hearts lies the pharisaical attitude that loves to receive the praise of others as we tout of all we have done for the Lord’s work. If we have come to faith in Christ Jesus, it is at that moment the Holy Spirit will reprove us of the sin of pride. But, if we refuse to admit it or turn from it, our hearts will become hardened, resistant to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit further hindering the work of God in our lives. We have the choice whether to dismiss and ignore the Spirit’s prompting or agree with Him and confess our sin to God. We must realize that in our pride, we steal the glory that rightly belongs to God and take it for ourselves. It also causes us to live independently of God. In our service to the Lord, we must see that we are inadequate of ourselves to do anything for Him, apart from His help. (2 Corinthians 3:5)
However, our sins and failures can teach us not to depend on ourselves but to depend on Him all the more. We will receive all the resources we need from Him to walk in the light as He is in the light. God has provided a way for us to return to a right relationship with Him when we have sinned. In 1 John 1:9 it states that if we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all righteousness. The word “cleanse” is in the present tense, meaning that it is an ongoing work He will do for us each time we confess our sin to Him. We receive forgiveness when we sin, even though we should not continue in the practice of sin.
Therefore, as the Lord reveals the sin you have committed against Him, don’t move away from Him. Instead, move towards God in humility, submitting yourself to Him by turning to Him in repentance. God will restore your fellowship with Him when you draw near to Him, and He draws near to you. (James 4:7-10)