“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
About two months ago, my best friend moved to Raleigh. In cleaning out her old house she came across a silver coffee service set that had belonged to her mother. It had set on the closet shelf exposed to the air and become black with tarnish. She offered it to me. Why would I take something that looked that awful? Because I knew that with some elbow grease, I could remove that tarnish and would have beautiful pieces of silver.
It was a big task, so I began with the candlesticks. I love candlesticks and knew just where I would use them. I got out my silver cleaner and a new rag and began the process of applying the cream and rubbing and rubbing and rubbing. A beautiful sight began to emerge from behind that old rag I was using. That tarnished, black candlestick was becoming a shiny, bright, silver that would be useful in my home.
Sitting the clean one beside the tarnished one, I couldn’t help but think how God took my dirty, black, sin-filled heart and replaced it with a clean, bright, Jesus-filled heart. Even though we don’t like to think it’s true, we are all born with wicked, sin-filled hearts. (You can thank Adam and Eve for that one!) If you have children, then you know you don’t have to teach them to lie and manipulate. It comes naturally. As parents, we have to teach them that lying is wrong, that we are to do to others as we’d like to be done. Our hearts are more deceitful than all else and desperately sick as Jeremiah 17:9 tells us.
Before I placed these candlesticks on my dining room table, I wanted them clean. God is holy and righteous and pure, and sin can’t dwell in His presence. That’s why He sent Jesus, His Son, to remove the tarnish of sin from our lives. All of us are sinners and the wages of sin is death, but Jesus came to die in our place. We deserve death, but because of His great love for us, He became a human like us and died a horrible death so we could have life eternally with Him. When we enter into a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, our hearts are cleansed. Are we perfect? No, because we still live in these fallen bodies. But when God looks at us, He sees His Son and the atoning sacrifice He made for us. Because Jesus paid the price we couldn’t pay, we become the “clean candlestick.”
So, if God has cleansed my heart and when He looks at me He sees Jesus, does that mean I can now live any way I want to? No, His amazing sacrifice for me literally “demands” my obedience to Him. If I understand the brevity of all God has done for me, then I will want to do what pleases Him. It’s not about keeping a list of rules; it’s about a heart that desires to please my Father.
Then there’s the question of what pleases Him. That’s where knowing God’s Word, the Holy Bible, comes in. We all have our opinions on life and what’s sin and what’s not, but what does God say? What does He call a holy, sanctified life? His Word is pretty plain on most subjects. It may take some thorough study of the whole counsel of His Word to figure it out, but it’s there if we take the time to read it and study it and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to us.
God’s grace is not a license to sin. It is His mercy toward us when we do stumble and sin. The candlesticks will only stay clean and shiny and bright with continued cleaning. Beneath any little speck of tarnish is a pure, silver candlestick. Because of Jesus’ redemptive power in my life, I am like the shiny candlestick. But I let the choices I sometimes make tarnish me. That doesn’t stop me from being a “silver candlestick,” but it does affect my usefulness. To remain the most effective in my usefulness to God and His kingdom, I confess those sins that tarnish me and “go and sin no more.” Asking forgiveness yet continuing in that sin isn’t real repentance. It’s just trying to get permission to do what we want!
When you truly examine your heart, which “candlestick” do you see? God loves you so much and He wants you to spend eternity with Him, but you have to make a choice. Will you hold on to doing life your way or will you willingly submit to His way? He will give you a new heart if you will let Him.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean:
I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
( Ezekiel 36: 25-27)
Lots of love, Sharon