The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
It's important to remember that sin isn't just something we do, it's who we are. We are sinful. I know that we all like to think that deep down we are all good people who sometimes do bad things, but we aren't. We are bad people. Not necessarily bad in the sense that we are worse than others, but bad in the sense that we fall far short of God's righteousness. If we aren't careful, we will forget this.
"Is that such a bad thing?" You may be thinking. "Why should I feel bad about myself all the time?" Well, you shouldn't but you should see yourself as you truly are. You see, God doesn't want to just free you from low self-esteem; He wants to free you from the sin in your heart. Look at it this way. A good doctor tells you when you have cancer and prescribes a treatment that can save your life. She doesn't lie to you and tell you that you're healthy and then send you home to die. The lie might feel better in the moment but the truth will be far better for you in the long run. So too, seeing yourself for the sinner you really are allows you to confess and forsake your sin. Over time the act of seeing your sins, confessing them and learning to be free of them by the power of God's Spirit is called sanctification. This is what helps us to become more and more like Christ. But each forward step in this progress begins with you seeing your sin.
Oftentimes we mistakenly think of our sin only in terms of the things we do. But many of our most dangerous sins reside secretly in our hearts where they are hidden safely away from the gaze of our fellow man and, if we aren't careful, away from our own gaze as well. That's why we must regularly pause to search out and confess our sin. You can't confess and forsake sin you don't realize you have.
One last thought, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He didn't respond with any of the many commands restricting behavior or any of the many commands prescribing behavior. Instead, He said that the most important command has to do with the heart. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). So take some time to search your heart. What things do you love that you shouldn't? What things should you love that you don't? Pay attention to your heart. God certainly does.
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