It’s Jan. 4, 2013, already, and some hopeful souls have made resolutions to enter this brand new year with a fresh set of goals — “turning over a new page,” it is termed by many.
I once knew a man who turned over a new page almost every Monday after a weekend binge. Talk to the woman whose husband beats her up regularly and “turns over a new page” in the wake of what he has done. Or the unruly teen who just can’t seem to get it all together and finds himself in jail — “I promise — I won’t do it again.”
Promises come easy in the trying — “If I know my heart ...” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start with a new slate with the assurance that it would stay that way? What a relief not to carry guilt and remorse every hour of the day!
The trouble is that a person doesn’ know his heart. Good intentions and plans made so diligently and sincerely just don’t hold up when daily situations come into play. And those high objectives collapse in the face of testing.
God reminded Jeremiah the prophet in 17:9,10, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
The Psalmist acknowledged this truth with humility and contrition: “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm139:23, 24).
Does that not bring us to the rightful conclusion that only God knows men’s hearts? And no matter how hard we try, those glorious resolutions cannot be kept through our own volition. A person just can’t cleanse his heart of sin and ungodly motives. So in spite of good intentions and noble resolutions, if God is not in charge, nothing changes and the guilt keeps getting heavier.
When C.H. Spurgeon was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he had a clear sense of the justice of God, and sin became an intolerable burden. He didn’t fear hell as much as he despised the reality of his own wrongdoing. He said, “All the while I had upon my mind a deep concern for the honor of God’s name and the integrity of His moral government. I felt that it would not quiet my conscience if I could be forgiven without justice being satisfied. But then came the question: ‘How can God be just and yet justify me with all my guilt?’”
Spurgeon finally came to see that substitutionary atonement was the answer. He said, “I believe that the doctrine of Jesus paying for my sins is one of the surest proofs of the inspiration of Scripture, for who would or could have thought of the just Ruler dying for the unjust rebel?”
“Jesus loves me, this I know; For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong” is not just a children’s song — it’s a truth that we can trust. Jesus does know the heart and he loves with an unconditional love. That’s why He died for us.