A Perfect Heart Toward God
April 13, 2010
It is imperative that we understand this matter of being perfect in God’s sight. For it is God’s top priority for us. Because then He can have His desire to have unbroken fellowship with us, while our willing hearts –desiring to be perfect before Him– bring Him glory.
Does God have fellowship with the Godhead? Yes. Can God have fellowship with the angels? Yes. Do angels glorify Him by their songs of praise and their service and obedience? Yes. So it is not the praise itself that brings God the most glory. For we know that Jesus said that if no one else wells up with praise, even stones would cry out. (Luke 19:40) And we know that the angels already do His bidding. So it’s not that either.
What about relationship? Does God need our fellowship –like He’s lonely? No. He is sufficient in Himself (Father, Son, Spirit), and He has hosts of angels He can commune with also. What God desires is a relationship with a faithful, willing heart –one who loves Him, adores Him, reverences Him, worships Him, communes with Him, is grateful to Him, and who serves Him willingly. This IS what brings Him glory. The most glory. And this willing whole-hearted desire of ours for communion with Him is what God initially made us for, and of which He provides the restoration of, in spite of earth’s fallen humanity, for all who walk into His Son. (“Walk into” meaning: Believe in, repent of the sin-life, and live in / walk in / abide in The Vine.)
Contrary to what many “Christians” (such as Calvinists) claim, it IS about the will. God wants our will. He wants our heart, our whole-hearted affection, love, worship, and obedience. He wants us to choose Him, to choose repentance, to choose faith in His Son’s provision, and to choose life (–”life” meaning, true life for the present and for eternity, as opposed to the spiritual death we all remain in without Him.) God does not want robots. He does not want to force us. Just as any loving father or teacher or coach, He wants us to choose –to choose correctly– for our own good and the good of others, and so that His ways are upheld and He is given honor as rightful King of the universe. And just as any friend or lover would, He wants us to choose loyalty and faithfulness to Him –willingly and joyfully.
God is a good God. Abundantly good. Our training by Him in the school of “Faith and Perfection” is not to hurt us, but to strengthen us. And this is so that we will be conformed to the image of His Son and thus be skilled and powerful in bringing His help and instructions to a hurting world; and that we might teach them how to also have that reconciled relationship with their Creator. We do live in an evil world. A very evil world. With an evil enemy. Relaxing in luxury, sin, and self-indulgence is not going to make us anything close to a match against this evil. So, we must be disciplined, taught, and trained. This is why we must believe in Christ’s command to “Be perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)
But this command is not unattainable. God does not give us a command and then not give us the ability to carry out His commands. So how do we do it? Well, I discussed this in yesterday’s post, but the short answer is this: Rest in Christ. Just rest. Draw from Him as a branch does a vine. Soak Him and God’s Word up as a flower does the sun and the rain. The rose bud does not need to fret or pry herself open. She has a heart to become perfect, so she just abides. She just lives… exists… happily… trustfully… trusting in the sun, rain, soil, and air to enable her growth –her growth into perfect beauty. She does it naturally.
When we are born anew of the Spirit, we should grow naturally into perfection –for His Spirit in us is the One “who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13) God does this for the willing heart. Therefore, He is always watching the heart. As 1 Sam. 16:7 says, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” The heart (the will) is what matters to Him because He knows that it is out of the heart that deeds come. (Matt. 15:18) So if there is truly a new heart, there will be a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26), and His Spirit will move that one to follow Him and His ways. (v. 27 & Rom. 8:5)
Just as a coach, teacher, or father sees the willingness of the learner, her desire to please, her desire to be the best she can be, the term “perfection” is used for the one who is on target for the level. Let’s take a man studying to be a brain surgeon. His instructor, seeing top notch effort all along the way, says, “You are doing perfectly.” This encourages the intern to apply himself to perfection, and as a result, he does become very skilled. Then later, when the man has been a practicing surgeon for a long time, his old instructor comes to him and says, “You are a perfect surgeon.” It doesn’t mean the doctor never did one slight thing wrong; it means he applied himself to be the best.
This is what God wants and expects of us. He has given us Christ, who came to ransom us from sin and set us free from it. He gives us His Spirit to abide in us. He gives us His Word to comfort and instruct us. We can grow into perfection through all of this provision. And until our performance is perfect, we are to keep a perfect heart before God. For if we believe God means what He says –that He really does demand perfection– then we will immediately set our hearts to walk perfectly in His sight, and then the perfection in performance really will come.
God will strengthen us to obey Him when He sees that we have chosen to obey Him –when He sees that we have set our hearts to totally and completely obey Him. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” (2 Chron. 16:9) –Fully committed. When He sees that kind of heart, that is the person He makes strong. And as the KJV puts it: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” –Whose heart is perfect toward Him. That is the person He shows Himself strong on behalf of. That is the person He will assist, protect, and commune with. That is the person who He can use for the furtherance of His Gospel, the salvation of souls, and for the exaltation of His Name. He will be pleased to fellowship with the person having this heart.
So… God does demand perfection. And what does the walk of perfection require? It’s this: Having a perfect heart toward God.