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“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

IF WE WANT SALVATION AT ALL, MOST OF US ONLY WANT SALVATION FROM OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, NOT SALVATION FROM OUR SINS. We’d like help with the difficult, painful aspects of our lives, especially the unjust things other people have done to us. It is the unpleasantness and hardship of this broken world that we want God to fix.

Now and then, though, we do see that our own sins have contributed to the hardship of our lives, and we seek relief from the hurts we’ve inflicted on ourselves. Perhaps we even see with godly sorrow just how horribly our actions have broken the heart of our Father in heaven. Repentance becomes a priority with us.

But here is the point: even when we see that sin is what is hurting us, we often don’t go deep enough to see the real problem. What needs fixing is not just our actions; we need new hearts. At the very deepest level inside of us, we need to be renovated, rebuilt, and renewed. Since our thinking is what has produced our deeds, our thinking needs to change. And the change will have to be radical (going to the “root” of the problem). We will have to see what David saw after his sin: more than forgiveness for the specific sin, he needed help with his heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God.

This is what the gospel of Christ aims to accomplish. And frankly, even those of us who have accepted Christ need to see more clearly the newness of heart that God is looking for. As Paul put it when he wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). And as he wrote to the Ephesians, those who have been forgiven need “to be renewed in the spirit of [our] minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23,24).

Is this what we desire? When we come to Christ, is this what we’re looking for? It should be. And the more we mature in Christ, the more this will be our passion. Create in me a clean heart, O God.

A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of thine.
(Charles Wesley)

Gary Henry — +

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