This verse is a summary of the many, many verses found in Proverbs that discuss the condition of the heart and the necessity of keeping it pure and clean (just do a search for the word "heart" in the Proverbs, and you'll see what I mean). From the heart springs the motivations of our actions; and in fact, the heart is what is changed when a person is regenerated or quickened by the Holy Spirit to new life: Ez. 11:19-20 - "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."
Thus, it is vitally important to focus on the heart in our duties of watchfulness and examination (Matt. 26:14; 2 Cor. 13:5).
Sadly, as a result of the fall, the heart of man has a real problem: Jer. 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" This should cause us to put forth that much more effort, with God's help, in our duties in guarding the heart.
When Christ was here on earth, He was concerned not so much with an outward show of religion as He was the inward motivations of the heart. Here are a few examples:
- In Matt. 5:27-28, Christ says, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
- He chastised the scribes and Pharisees for their dark hearts amidst a show of religiosity: Matt. 15:8 - "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
- In Matt. 19:16-24, Christ lays open the heart of an outwardly obedient professor of religion: "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
Webster's 1828 dictionary defines idolatry one way as "Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration." Modern "Christianity" doesn't look much different in any way than the world, in dress, behavior, talk, etc. In fact, most churches TRY to look like the world, to be attractive to it!! But Rom. 12:2 says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." And so, why would modern "Christianity" be this way? It's because it is operating according to the rudiments of the world, because inwardly they have excessive attachment and veneration for the things of the world; otherwise, they would reject them and operate according to Scripture and the commands exemplified in Rom 12:2 verse above, among others.
Theirs is idolatry...of the heart.
Our teacher, Mr. Michael Bunker, has just finished a new book examining the heart-idolatry that pervades modern Christendom, called Modern Religious Idols. In it, Mr. Bunker dissects the heart-condition prevalent amongst professing Christianity, diagnosing the symptoms of its apostate condition by revealing its wide-spread idolatry. While many Christian professors might not bow a knee to Baal, they do place as god in their lives what they think to be truth as truth, peace and comfort in their lives, upward mobility in the economic and social systems of the world, liberty, feminization, and other things to which they ascribe worth-ship (worship). This is nothing other than idolatry; and in his book, Mr. Bunker names several of these idols, how they operate in people's lives, and he prescribes remedy for them.
Given the importance of the heart-condition, and the requirements of the Bible to examine ourselves, for the eternal good of our souls, this book is a necessary addition to the library of the attentive follower of Christ, especially in this time of general religious apostasy. Get the book, read it, pray about it, and ask God to reveal your heart to you (Psa. 139:23) and grant you repentance (2 Time 2:25) as necessary that all idolatry in your heart might be done away with, as the children of God were commanded to do in the Old Testament with the shrines to the idols of the land (Deut. 12:1-4). Think it couldn't happen to you? Do you think know your heart? Use this book, with God's guidance, as a test to see if perhaps there are things there that you didn't even realize.
1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
For more information about Mr. Bunker's new book, see his Facebook site for Modern Religious Idols. Examine your heart on July 8, 2011!
May the God of all graces and mercies grant those to us, in accordance with His will, that we might serve Him and Him alone in purity of heart.