If we are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is within us. And if the Holy Spirit is within is, one of the main jobs of the Holy Spirit, is to motivate us to become more like Jesus.
Most of us know the scripture found in 1 John 1:9, NIV – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
And we know that if we do that, we will become more like Jesus.
But what exactly should we be confessing, especially knowing that the word confess simply means, “to agree with God”? What are we to be agreeing with God about, so that we can be purified? How do we know what is wrong with us, that needs to be confessed?
- God Will Examine Our Hearts And Minds
Jeremiah 17:10, NIV – (10) I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.
God says that He will search our heart and examine our mind.
Our heart is our core, our centre, where our core values are. It is the centre of our spiritual life. It is the seedbed for our garden, the place where our values and convictions grow and bear our life’s fruit.
The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23, NKJV – “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”
What comes out of our hearts determine the fruit of our lives.
Our mind is the place of our intellect, our plans, our intentions, our thoughts, our judgements. It is the place where we plan our life’s course.
God says that He will search our heart, and examine our mind (our internal issues), with the purpose of rewarding us, according to our conduct and deeds (our external issues).
You see, all of our conduct is in response to the core values of our heart, and the core intentions of our mind. What is in our mind and heart will eventually become our conduct and deeds.
So if we allow God to search our heart and examine our minds, we can allow God to transform us, to ensure that we are rewarded for our conduct and deeds, and not disciplined.
- We Should Invite God To Test Our Hearts And Minds
Psalm 26:2, NIV – (2) Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
David didn’t wait until God choose to test his heart and mind. David invited God to test and try his heart and mind, because he wanted to be transformed, so that his conduct and deeds would be pleasing to God.
What was He asking God to test and try him for?
Psalm 139:23-24, NIV – (23) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (24) See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
David wanted God to test him and see if there was anything in his heart, or in his thoughts (mind) that would be offensive to God. Why? Because every offensive issue in our heart and mind, will eventually become an offensive conduct or deed. David instead wanted his conduct to please God and lead him into the way everlasting (the way of life).
- We Should Examine Our Ways And Test Them
Lamentations 3:40, NIV – (40) Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.
Solomon encouraged us to examine our own ways and test them, to discern the core issues in our hearts and minds, so that if need be, we would turn our heart and mind back to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 13:5, NIV – (5) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to examine themselves, to test themselves, to see if they were “in the faith”. Were they “in the faith” in their beliefs? Were they “in the faith” in their values? Were they “in the faith” in their motivations? Were they “in the faith” in their thought life?
- The Process Of Testing Our Hearts And Minds
In my experience, the process of testing our hearts and minds looks something like this:
a) If we are wise, we will do regular checkups to test our hearts and minds, to ensure that they are pleasing to the Lord.
b) Then, we should invite the Lord to test our hearts and minds, to see if there is anything that we missed.
c) However, if we do not test our hearts and minds, and invite God to also, He has already told us that He will do it anyway, but He might be a little more confrontational with us, than we would be ourselves.
d) If we resist the testing of the Lord, God will usually send us a friend or friends (those who love us) to test us and challenge us. Although they love us, their testing can still somewhat “hurt”. (Proverbs 27:6, NIV – Wounds from a friend can be trusted …).
e) If we resist the testing of our friends (who love us), God will usually send us an enemy or enemies (those who do not love us) to test us and challenge us. Obviously, they will not be so gentle or have our best interests at heart. And sometimes, they will even expose our faults to hurt us. But through this, the issues of our hearts and minds will indeed be searched and tested. (And next time, if we are wise, we will initiate step “a” to avoid the pain of step “e”).
- A Strategy For Self-Testing
So, assuming we want to test ourselves, and avoid the pain of having others test us, what should we check for?
Here’s a simple strategy that I have been using on a regular basis, with great benefit.
Luke 10:27, NIV – (27) He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
God said that if we are to be people of love, we should be loving in five specific areas of our lives. So if we check these five areas on a regular basis, it will expose most of the “offensive” things in our lives, for us to deal with.
a) Heart – Spiritual life & health
“With all your heart”. Our heart is our centre, the core of our life, the place of our passions, the place where “Christ dwells through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). Therefore our heart represents our spiritual life.
To love God with all our heart, is to love Him as the core passion in our life, and to always put Him first, in every area of our life.
b) Soul – Emotional life & health
“With all your soul”. Our soul usually refers to our mind, will and emotions, but since the mind is covered separately, here the soul refers to our will and emotions, our desires, our feelings, and our motivations.
To love God with all our soul, is to love Him with honourable desires, to submit to Him the choices of our will, to have godly motivations, and to submit our negative feelings (anger, jealousy, envy, etc.) to His truth.
c) Strength – Physical life & health
“With all your strength”. Our strength refers to our physical life, the health of our body, as well as the “lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:17).
To love God with all of our strength, means to look after our bodies – His temples – and to discipline our bodies from being led astray by the lusts of the flesh.
d) Mind – Intellectual life & health
“With all your mind”. Our mind refers to our intellect, and our thought life.
To love God with all our mind, is to honour Him with our thoughts, submit our thoughts to Him, and always put His Word and His revelation above our own intellect and logic.
e) Neighbour – Social life & health
“Love your neighbor”. Our neighbor refers to our social life, our relationships. Do we avoid people. Do we hold on to unforgiveness and resentment? Do we have any unhealthy relations that are pulling us down, or where we are pulling others down?
To love God through loving our neighbor, is to love others, always seek to bless others, and to always seek reconciliation when there is conflict or misunderstanding. Our goal is to always give people “more grace”.
Obviously, these five areas can overlap. For example, a relationship issue can also be a heart issue. However, if we would regularly “test” ourselves, or do a personal check up in these five areas of our lives, we will be well on the way to keeping our lives free from “offensive” ways.
As a memory aid, you can use the “SPIES” acrostic. S – Spiritual, P – Physical, I – Intellectual, E – Emotional and S – Social.
Try to send these five “spies” into your life at least once a month, and “See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:24).