“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”Matthew 19:14
Last night, the Lord reminded me of this verse through an experience with my seven-year old son. Our family’s nightly Bible study and prayer is usually uneventful, with a few groans from the peanut gallery at the start. It has been that way for about a week, but faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), so we continue it religiously. Last night I read from Nahum, and in it there are verses about both God’s wrath and goodness, including that He is slow to anger.
Upon hearing this, my son solemnly said, “I get angry almost every day. I’m not a very good Christian.” Yes, my heart broke. And, yes, I used this as a teaching moment. I told him how great it was that he knows his flaws and seems sad about them, and how he could ask God to forgive him and help him not be angry every day. He prayed a prayer of repentance and asked God to change his heart to be less angry.
“And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:3-4
My son’s immediate conviction after hearing the Word struck me. A child wants to please, is honest enough to confess their sin (most of the time – or at least very young children are that way), and is humble enough to recognize when they’ve done wrong. Oh, that we all would have that honest humility and fear of the Lord!
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou shalt not despise.”Psalm 51:17
God wants us to respond to His Word with truth. He wants us to look into the perfect law of liberty and see our depravity and need for Him. That is our truth, and coupled with the truth of Jesus Christ, we will be set free and be free indeed. But, we must be honest with ourselves and with Him, and confess our sin with an fear and trembling, not a prideful or nonchalant attitude. Being honest (truth which comes from humility before God) allows for real transformation and purification. Here are a few verses to back up this truth:
1. Psalm 15:1-2 – “Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle? Who shall dwell in your holy hill? He that walks uprightly and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.”
Actually, all of Psalm 15 is good for introspection. We can’t expect to stand before God and gain entry into heaven with unrighteousness in our heart. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10.) This is no joke! Habitual (continual) sin will not be allowed in heaven. If you’re not sure that’s true, read Hebrews 6 (actually, just read all of Hebrews and Romans, and hit up Matthew 5-7 while you’re at it. Heck, just read the whole Bible.). We must repent and turn from our wickedness.
2. Psalm 51:6 – “Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom.”
David wrote this Psalm in the midst of realizing his sin and begs God to forgive him. We need to have the same attitude. “Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:9-10. How can we think we will ever receive anything, including eternal life, without first knowing our deceitful and desperately wicked hearts and confessing our sin to the One who can forgive? My son says sorry at the drop of a hat (no, literally, he apologizes if his hat falls). We shouldn’t be unfeeling about repentance, but it should be an instantaneous action like that. And it should happen daily, if not moment-by-moment.
3. Proverbs 16:6 – “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”
His mercy and our truth. Purging is part of purification and comes from an honest look at our lives through the lens of the fear of the Lord. By it, we learn wisdom and resist the devil (and our own desires).
4. 1 John 3:19-20 – “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says this, “If conscience condemn us in known sin, or the neglect of known duty, God does so too. Let conscience therefore be well-informed, be heard, and diligently attended to.” God knows it all. He sees all and knows all and will judge all. We should rather confess the truth and deal with our sin forthright with Him than hide it and have to give an account for it later.
We are responsible to purge ourselves of our sins, so that He can forgive them and cleanse us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
5. Finally, Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. He tells her “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit annd in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (v23-24) Worship in spirit and in truth is in the fear of the Lord, in awe and reverence, and in total honesty of heart, opposing the self entirely.
We must become as children – full of faith, brutally honest, completely in awe of God, and in total surrender to His work in us.
Prayer: God, teach me to worship You in spirit and in truth. Help me to hide Your Word in my heart so I don’t sin against You. But if I do sin, help me to confess earnestly and honestly to You what I’ve done. Teach me to live by the Spirit, lead me away from the flesh, and help me to become childlike in my desire to honor You and not disappoint You. Search my heart and know me, and help me know myself and my habits so I can surrender it all to You. In Jesus’s name, Amen.