Psalm 139:23-24. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
In yesterday’s reading we saw from Psalm 103 that God does not deal with us according to our individual sins. God doesn’t keep score, or keep track of our individual sins and then give us corresponding trials to punish us for those sins – “You committed three sins yesterday, so you get three curses today. OK, try to do better tomorrow.”
But if we’re being honest we might say that at least a one-for-one sin and punishment system like that would be easier to understand and control. All we would have to do is simply keep track of our sins like God does, and then make sure we confess them before God gets around to punishing us for them. So, if you’re a Protestant, a nightly confessing of sins would do. Or, if you’re Catholic, going to a confessional booth every few days to receive absolution, pay your penance, and then move on with your life should do the trick.
Such a system might give you more control, but it won’t give you more Christ-likeness.
David’s prayer in Psalm 139 is the opposite of control. It is the ceding of all control over to God. It is a daring prayer. A prayer that I would imagine very few of us ever pray. It is not your typical prayer of confession, not a single individual sin is listed. It is a prayer that can only come from a deep faith in God. A trust in the Father’s compassionate and infinite love. This is a prayer that you can only pray when you know that all your individual sins are already all dealt with by the cross.
David’s prayer is a prayer for self-awareness – know my heart, know my thoughts. He wants God to get to the real David. It’s a prayer giving God permission to tear his heart and mind apart brick by brick. To search his innermost being. Even if it means uncovering the grievous ways or idols inside.
Have you given God this kind of permission, this freedom to expose you to you? Are you actively asking God to reveal your indwelling sin, your fears, your self-righteousness, your pride, your idols? Or are you still relating to God sin by sin by sin. Or maybe worse, you’re just going through the “Christian” motions? Read some verses, say a prayer, go to church, listen to “positive and encouraging” Christian radio. Check. Check. Check. But no self-awareness. No revealing of the dark parts of yourself.
Union with Christ means that the kind of exposure that David is asking for here should be the normal Christian life. Christ is IN you. You share a mind. You share a heart. You share a life. In Christ, Jesus has access to your heart, thoughts, and ways. In Christ, the Spirit is battling your flesh. In Christ, God is exposing the idols of your heart. What David begged for in Psalm 139 is happening to the Christian naturally through the indwelling life of Christ.
But why? Why do we need Christ to search us and try us? Is it to condemn us? Or to cleanse us? No. Both of these have already happened in Christ. God is exposing us so that we might be led in the way everlasting.
David’s prayer is true Christian confession, true repentance. It is how the Spirit of Christ always leads us – from death into everlasting life. The searching and trying, the exposure of the heart and thoughts, the revealing of the grievous ways, are meant to produce in us a death of the way of the sinful self and a resurrection to the way of the new self in Christ.
This death of the old self and resurrection of the new self has already happened to us on the cross. But now we must depend upon the resurrection of Christ’s life in us each day. Not the pride of my own self-righteous efforts. All of that must be exposed by Christ and put to death in him. And in its place Christ’s imputed love and righteousness must be raised.
Now we are ready to truly live in the way everlasting. The way of the Spirit. The way of love. When we know that we have all we need in Jesus. That every desire of the heart is satisfied by the omnipresent and omnipotent God (read the rest of Psalm 139). When we are freed by the love of God for us so that we can fearlessly ask to be exposed by God, now we are ready to live. Now “to live is Christ.”
Have you prayed for God to search you and expose your heart?
You in Christ
How can knowing that you are fully loved and accepted in Christ allow you to pray this daring prayer?
Christ in you
How can you move forward today in the “way everlasting,” bringing to life the love of Jesus for others?
Playlist: Search My Heart
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