‘But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:4).’
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).’
One of the purposes of preaching is for people to ‘hear’ the word of God; for without hearing the Word no one can come to faith in Him: ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).’
Another reason for a preacher to preach is to challenge his hearers regarding their conduct, and for them to examine their motivations and affections. Do they obey God? Do they actively seek to do His will?
Crucial in all of this is ‘knowing’ His will, because without knowing His will, how can they attempt to live in accordance with it (Luke 11:2)?
For this purpose God has given us His Word, the Bible. By studying it we can get to know His will and how to live in light of it. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).’” Our sustenance comes from inwardly digesting the Word of God (cf. John 6:51). We must know the Bible so that we can *know God and His will.
God is **omniscient, and as such there is nothing He does not know about us. He knows what we do, and our every thought.
The writer of Proverbs states: ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7a).’
In view of these truths our inner thoughts ought to be pure (15:26) for us to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:14, 15) in accordance with God’s will, but how many of us can claim we only have pure thoughts? None, of course, because although we’ve been saved through faith by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8), we have not yet been perfected. We still sin, and yet we have been enlivened by the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can do good to ***please God (Colossians 1:10), because He has given us spiritual life in His Son, and thus we are able to please Him.
The question that many ask is why do we have impure thoughts? Are they sown by the serpent (cf. Genesis 3:4)? And if they are, do we allow them to germinate – indeed, encourage them to grow?
James wrote: ‘Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone (James 1:12, 13).’
So as Christians we have to constantly be on our guard against sinful thoughts. We know the Commandments of God, and yet Jesus warns, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).”
Jesus warns of the consequences of unforgiven sin (v. 30), i.e., sin that has not been repented of on the part of the sinner (1 John 1:9).
Here’s the paradox: The child of God, born of the Spirit, does not always repent of his sins, and yet he is promised life (1 John 2:25) and an inheritance (Acts 26:18). Because God forgives his sins and forgets them (Psalm 103:12), that does no give him a licence to continue sinning. On the contrary, his desire should be to be more faithful and obedient. He should be ‘even more diligent to make’ his ‘calling sure’ by adding to ‘faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-7).’
We cannot lose our salvation on account of our inner thoughts, although some may have been grievously sinful (Ephesians 4:30). However, God is merciful (Exodus 34:6) loving and forgiving, and His salvation through Jesus is sure. Our salvation is of faith and it is God’s gift:
‘Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16).’
*Knowing Jesus [God]
**The Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of God