♣ Heart’s Abyss
“Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart” – Psalm 51:6.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – 1 John 1:9
THE HUMAN HEART or soul is so profoundly immeasurable that we fail to know the entirety of its depths ourselves, and even with all of our ‘sophisticated’ psychology – in an attempt to master the human psyche – we but barely scratch the surface.
The word heart in the Christian vocabulary has been so frequently used that we have lost its meaning. The New American Standard version in the seventh chapter of John and verse thirty-eight really brings out the essence of heart, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'” – that word “innermost” is the Summum bonum or definitive description of what has become so clichéd today.
The most wounding and yet most truthful diagnosis of our heart is: “The [innermost being] is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Who can understand the heart?
Apart from the One Who fashioned our depths, who else is there to grasp its complexities any more than a scientist who can leisurely think and live in the 21st dimension without getting a headache?
Our innermost being is likened to an abyss and as the dictionary defines: “a very deep or unfathomable gorge or chasm… anything that appears to be endless or immeasurably deep…”
We all know that Scripture – our hearts being deceitful and desperately sick or evil, and many of us may be able to deliver a wonderful exposition on such a subject – but have we been brought face-to-face with the thundering reality to what our hearts are like? Have we walked that road where we feel despair at how ugly our innermost depths are? There is no bigger blow to our conceit than this realisation.
This is not so much in referring to how we were before our conversion – the conviction of our sin at pre-conversion; this is in reference to our journey as Christians.
A true hallmark of growth in grace and of continuing in the faith – or rather, being kept by God in the faith – is that we become more conscious of our inward corruption; we see how deceitful and self-centred our motives can be; there is an acute or concentrated awareness of our sinful nature, and dare I say more than when we were convicted at our time of conversion.
Let’s consider Isaiah – a holy prophet who uttered the oracles of God; actively in the service of God and yet we read in Isaiah 6:5 after he saw God in His holiness, “Woe is me! For I am lost [undone]; for I am a man of unclean lips…”
“Undone” – is that the language of a happy Christian?
While this may seem negative and so morbid, it is necessary because this is going to lead to incredible reassurance and encouragement. Paul Washer said words to the effect that we cannot appreciate the breathtaking body of stars unless there is pitch blackness. Then and there we see them in all their glory, and we cannot appreciate or revel in God’s love for us unless we see the background or condition of our hearts that exalts God in His inexhaustible love for us.
There are chasms in the very depths of our being; our heart is such an abyss that any honest self-attempt to fathom it – no matter how powerful our self-analyses may be – will so frustrate and disturb us. We will have only just begun that will end up either in self-flattery or despair.
King David said, “Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart”. Seeing things as they truly are comes only as a result of being in the presence of God where there is no censure, no pretence or justifying of oneself. Being in the presence of the all-knowing God entails that everything is viewed in His light and He will ensure that truth prevails. The very core of our being is what God will touch and there His wisdom guides where everything is secret or what has been hidden from our eyes. He Who made the depths of this world and the heavens lays open before us the hidden mysteries of our heart.
God never reveals the depths of our heart to condemn us; He will never rub our face in the mud of foolish failure that ends in despair; God makes us acutely aware to arrest our attention and concentration that leads to restoration, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD; though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be like crimson, they shall become like wool [wool that has been cleansed to brilliant white]” (Isaiah 1:18).
Our acute awareness of our sinfulness is meant for one thing only: to drive us to the very heart of God and in desperation cry, “God be merciful to me, I need You more than ever; I cannot take another step forward without You; I cannot trust myself, but I cleave and cling to You with all my being” of which He is so ready to show Himself to us above and beyond all that we imagined Him to be or do for us.
“If we confess our sins”, as john stated, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” – and not only that, which is good news in itself, but far surpassing that: “and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” No amount of self-reformation will change the heart but where the blood of Christ touches we can be sure that His purifying takes place. We’re not content to be just forgiven; we want to walk with God with no censure; we want to enjoy being with Him knowing that the very abyss of our heart is exposed to the light of God and we are made aware that He knows – the realisation has consciously dawned upon us.
It is an onward and continual purifying – “He Who began a good work [of salvation] in you will bring it to completion…” (Philippians 1:6). God Who commenced that Great Work knows every single nook and crevice within your heart, even the very things that you are not yet aware of, but His electing love was never deterred in making full purchase of you. Broken, wallowing in failure and with no hope, God saw you, picked you and determined to one day look back on His work of recreation in you and say, “It is good”
“Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you most.” – A.W. Tozer
When the Son of God died our death, He not only died for what we did, or what we are doing but also for what we will commit that grieves Him; God saw, when Christ breathed His last under His blows, the sins we would not just only commit but also pursue, and thus fixed in place that the cleansing blood of Christ would effectively reach and purify the hidden parts of our innermost being.
Is this not mercy? Is this not God’s gentleness making us great, great in the sense of forever clothing us with His salvation? What better way is there to show our gratitude in living to please Him?