Once, during a long drive from the Teen Challenge farm in Pennsylvania to New York City, the Lord spoke to my inner man: “There is such a thing as a perfect heart. I want to show you what it is so you can seek after it!” At that time God revealed to my spirit that Christ commits Himself to those who walk before Him with a perfect, responsive heart.
“The Lord searcheth all hearts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). The perfect heart cries out with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24).
God also said to Jeremiah, “I the Lord search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10). The Hebrew meaning for this phrase is, “I examine deeply.” Scripture says, “For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
In Revelation 2:24, Jesus speaks about “the depths of Satan,” of going down into the profound depth of sin. He was saying that evil goes down deep into the soul; that it has roots that go down into hell. David said of the wicked ones: “The inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep” (Psalm 64:6). “For a prostitute is a deep pit” (Proverbs 23:27, NIV).
These passages all are holy warnings: “You don't realize how deeply this association with evil affects you. It takes you down into the depths of Satan himself, depths that are mysterious, bottomless, profound. This path leads to hell.”
In these final days sin has become complicated, subtle, sensuous and more sophisticated. It comes disguised as art, culture and education. I believe there are new depths to sin now. It has taken on stronger, deeper roots. Our children are confronted with depths of sin that we never did or never will know! “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark” (Isaiah 29:15).
The perfect heart wants the Holy Spirit to come and search out the depths of the innermost man, to shine into all hidden parts, to investigate and dig out and expose all that is unlike Christ.
It is possible to walk before the Lord with a perfect heart! God said to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1).
God also said to the children of Israel, “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 18:13). David determined in his heart to obey this command. He said, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. . . . I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (Psalm 101:2).
Scripture also points out that Solomon fell short of God’s command to be perfect: “His heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. . . . [He] went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father” (1 Kings 11:4-6).
We see the Lord’s command to be perfect in the New Testament, as well. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Paul wrote, “That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). And in the same letter: “That ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (4:12).
And Peter said, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).
Perfection does not mean a sinless, flawless heart. Man judges by outward appearances, by what he sees. But God judges the heart, the unseen motives (1 Samuel 16:7). David was said to have had a perfect heart toward God “all the days of his life,” yet he failed the Lord often. His life was marked forever by adultery and a notorious murder.
The basic definition of perfect is: completeness, maturity. In the Hebrew and Greek, the definition includes: uprightness, being without spot, without blemish, totally obedient. It means to finish what was started; a complete performance. Wesley called it “constant obedience.”
A perfect heart is a responsive heart. It quickly and totally answers the Lord’s wooing, whisperings and warnings. This heart says at all times, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears. Show me the path and I will walk in it.”
Most of us would admit we rarely feel God’s grace at work in us. That is why we are prone to doubting that His presence abides in us. Paul addresses this dilemma for us in Galatians when he writes, “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, ESV).
It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But we tend to take Paul’s counsel here as a hard command to be obeyed with striving. We grit our teeth and say, “I will walk in the Spirit today.” Then once we stumble we think we aren’t “being spiritual,” so we try even harder to walk in the Spirit. Suddenly we’re under the law again because we’ve turned to our fleshly ability rather than trusting that we are already in the Spirit.
Paul says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). In other words, the Spirit of God abides in you, giving you access at all times to His grace, which empowers you. When Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit,” he means, “Walk under grace, not the law.”
Paul then shows us the result of a walk in the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Take note: These things don’t come about because of what we do. They are the fruit of the righteousness God has put in us — the result of His work in us.
You may not feel very loving at times, but love is in you because God put it there. You may not feel joy and peace, but God has implanted both deep within you. His Spirit is at work in you every hour of every day, to His great glory and to your deep blessing.
A fast and limited chronological reading of the text in Genesis 11 and 12 could lead a novice reader of the Bible to suppose that Abraham’s father was dead when God extended to him His divine hand of destiny. However, a simple study of the lifespan and ages of the historical figures involved, along with a rigorous analysis of the genealogies, shows us clearly that this wasn't the case at all.
Bible interpreters agree that Abraham had to leave the land of little and barrenness, and the comfort and compromise in which his father had been complacently lying, at a time when his father was living. He had to come out of his father’s house. Faith with a refusal is faith that will receive the supernatural because it is determined not to die in the land of little and obeys the call to “come out of your father's house” (see Genesis 12:1).
Dear reader, I am not speaking here of spiritual pride and arrogance or of the pretentious, condescending attitude that despises one’s elders or blames the past generations for all of our present challenges. We’re not called to compare ourselves with anyone and we are called to honor our fathers and mothers in the flesh and in the faith. We cherish our heritage, hold on to what is precious, and celebrate the good and the authentic testimony of so many who have walked before us.
However, I am convinced that faith with a desire to receive the supernatural must aspire to more than what has been the norm, more than what is around us or was before us. It refuses the mentality of mediocrity and of minimum required. Whatever the nature and limitation of your family history or spiritual background, God calls you to come out of your father’s house. Saul’s armor will not be sufficient to slay present-day giants. You must come out of your father’s house.
Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
“By faith Moses . . . refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. . . . By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
Moses could have had all the gold and silver, the horses, the harem, all the luxuries and pleasures of materialistic Egypt! He was a prince in Egypt, from the royal court of Pharaoh. But he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.” And that decision cost him everything. He considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt, preferring to suffer with God’s people. Moses had his eyes on Jesus his Lord and not on the things of this world.
Does it pay to obey? Does it pay to heed God’s message? Compare these two men of the Bible: Solomon, looking over his life, said, “Whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy. . . . Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought . . . and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). Solomon went on to say in Ecclesiastes:
“Therefore I hated life” (2:17).
“[My] heart taketh not rest in the night” (2:23).
“I praised the dead . . . more than the living” (4:2).
“There is a sore evil . . . namely, riches kept for [my own] hurt” (5:13).
“I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands” (7:26).
But look at Moses: At one hundred and twenty years of age, his eyes were ablaze and all his physical forces were at full strength when God called him home. God personally took the body of Moses!
Here is God’s testimonial left to mankind concerning Moses: “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh” (Deuteronomy 34:10-11).
It pays to obey!