“I just can’t seem to stop the cuss words completely” a friend of mine was telling me. “No matter how I may wish otherwise or how hard I try, I just keep failing”.
All of us have had challenges dealing with the sin in our lives that the Holy Spirit has called out. When we are first introduced to Jesus’ teaching that sin is more than just the act, that it goes deeper than that – all the way to the intent, the revelation of such is stinging! Matthew 5:28 is a good example, when Jesus, speaking on this subject tells us “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
OUCH! Just the idea is all it takes, and without ever having committed the act, we have already sinned. Anyone who might have ever thought their good deeds were enough to buy their way into heaven would strike out right then and there, because we all know there are certain thoughts in our hearts we would never want shouted from a roof top!
So we move forward with the will to commit, and with a heart to not only keep far from the action but also the intent behind it as well. Then somewhere along that journey, as those of us who believe and accept Jesus as their Savior begin, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to work out the salvation that God has placed within , we find ourselves in the same position as the Apostle Paul found himself within in Romans chapter seven, committing the sins we know we shouldn’t (verse 15 says “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate”). We become grieved at how we can commit the same sin outwardly over and over, and just like my friend we find ourselves questioning our commitment to God, asking “what is wrong with me, why can’t I get it right?” We, having forgotten all about the powerful revelation that sin is born of intent, and begin instead to somehow imagine a face of God that is displeased with our actions each time we fail. What we often may fail to see is that in that moment our intentions no longer match our actions!
In the book “Passion for Jesus”, Mike Bickle recalls his personal story, and had this to say on this subject:
I had been living under crushing condemnation, struggling under the painful misconception that God had judged me by my attainments and thus rejected me. Yet while I had been focusing on my lack of mature attainment, God had been looking at my sincere intentions. He hadn’t been pacing impatiently back and forth in front of His throne, moaning and covering His face in despair or throwing up His hands in frustration every time I stumbled. He had been looking at my earnest desires and my responsive heart that said, “I want to do Your will,” and He was delighting in me. I was beginning to understand His overwhelming affection for me, even in the midst of my spiritual immaturity.
What a beautiful picture of the heart of Father God that is! What a revelation to understand that before we knew Christ, our intentions matched our actions, but now that we have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us to help us work out what He has placed within, we can realize that our actions no longer match our intentions. It is the thoughts and intents of the heart that God sees. We have to trust through our willingness to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit that it is only a matter of time when our actions catch up, and we are walking in the spiritual maturity that we might expect. So be encouraged, our God is for us!
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
‘”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30