Donna and I are planning a trip across the country by car. A few stops here and there and ending up in Phoenix. And…we are considering taking that long drive in our six-year-old Mustang convertible. That might be great fun. It has only a few thousand miles on its odometer and is in perfect condition. I think. But what if its outward appearance is terrific but inside there are problems? How do I know if it needs new spark plugs or injectors or its flux capacitor is broken? What if something important is not right? Hmm. I don’t know enough about cars in general and certainly not this one with its complicated engine. So, I’ll make an appointment with an outstanding mechanic whom I know, and he will go over every inch of the car, especially under the hood. He knows what he is looking at! Then we will drive on! We could take the trip without doing that. But….that would be unwise.
As a Christian, I need to do the same thing. Make an appointment with the One who knows all. Who can see “under the hood.” And as a new year begins…the time seems right. Question: to whom shall I go for a thorough check-up of my spiritual condition? Dare I continue the journey without being sure that I am not broken somewhere inside? Have I become complacent in my Christian walk? Am I quite sure that I am in fine form before the Lord? And is it possible that I have become blind to my own sinfulness because modern evangelicalism rarely speaks of sin? In short, do I need a checkup…spiritually?
The Puritans were particularly introspective when it came to sin and self. Indeed, some of their prayers were shocking. Here is one about “Grace in Trials” …
“Hear me for Jesus’ sake! I am sinful even in my closest walk with thee!”
Now, it is critical that we not fall dead in the dust when we admit to being sinful. The wonder is that God does love those who belong to Christ and He “does not treat us as our sins deserve.” (Psalm 103.10) But…if we are to grow in grace we must regularly hear from God the Holy Spirit about the health of our souls. Someone will ask “Why? What difference does it make? I’m saved, and God knows I’m not perfect! Are you saying I can get unsaved because of my sin?” No. I’m not.
That question misses the point entirely. I will continue to sin as long as I am in the flesh. What this is about is the desire to please God not to get saved BUT BECAUSE WE ARE SAVED! Love of God means a deep abiding desire to please Him. Thus, Jesus, who was without sin, said: “I always do what is pleasing to him!” John 8.29
The desire of the Psalmist was to be shown by God what was needed for his soul. Interesting that in Psalm 139, we find the writer rejoices that God knows everything about him. God knows when we stand and sit…what we will say before we say it. Etc. But notice that the Psalmist, in his prayer, wants God to show him the deeper things…not about his outward behavior but about his inner self. He writes:
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) 23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
So…he is asking for God to look under the hood of his spirit and show him anything that needs to be fixed, changed, or updated. He does not want to be offensive to God. This, for me, is vexing because I struggle to admit to myself that what I read in the rest of that Puritan Prayer…applies to me: “My heart is an unexhausted fountain of sin, a river of corruption since childhood days, flowing on in every pattern of behavior!”
Allow me to encourage you to seek Him that you may be searched spiritually, and I will too. Let me know how it goes. And trust me…God the Holy Spirit is a great mechanic. The best!