For some, there is a question that we are all too familiar with "Am I truly saved?" I doubt any of us would like to spend our lifetime here believing that we were saved by having professed Christ as Lord and Saviour and then finally die, end up before the Throne and hear the words "Depart from me, I never knew you."
That's a scary thought, the words echoing from Matthew 7.. "I never knew you."
Eternity is a long time. To think you would spend eternity with Him and then realise in a moment that you will spend it out of His presence... I don't think that's a reality any of us could live with.
The principle I want to talk about today is one I learnt about earlier this year when a friend asked me what he meant when he said that some people miss salvation by 18 inches.
Maybe some of you know exactly what I am talking about when I say that... either that or you're staring at the computer quizzically.
The distance from your head to your heart is 18 inches.
You see, many of us know the right thing to say. We've read the Word, rehearsed all the lines, pray everyday (or how we think prayer should be) but there's something missing. We have all this head knowledge... but it means nothing to us in our heart.
John 14:15 NIV says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
Notice that Christ does not say "know my commands", He says obey. Many unbelievers and lukewarm Christians alike could probably recite commands from the Bible when they know that Christ said to love your neighbour or where He said to give to the poor.
But to what end? Its just head knowledge to them.
But here, Christ makes a connection between loving Him and obedience. In the Greek, the word Christ uses here is 'agape' which is essentially the highest form of love. When Christ says 'love your enemies', He is saying 'agape your enemies'.
This love isn't about head knowledge, this is a matter of a transformation of the heart.
In Romans 10:10 NIV, "For it is with your heart you believe and are justified."
The heart is such an influential matter in our lives. It can sway us beyond reason and it seems that too often, the world shows the sinfulness of it and we get this misconception that whatever must come from the heart is contrary to God.
Yet, in such a beautiful way, the Word in Psalm 20:4 NIV says, "May he gives you all the desires of your heart and make your plans succeed."
But what is the difference here? What separates this heart mentioned in Psalm 20 and the heart expressed in the world.
In Jeremiah 31:33 NIV, "'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel,' declares the LORD. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.'"
His law is written on our hearts! Why? Because God knows us.
In 1 Timothy 1:5 NIV, "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and comes from a good conscience and a sincere faith.".
And we see when Christ lays down the greatest command in Matthew 22:37 NIV and says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
The heart may move us, but it isn't alone. Scripture doesn't just talk about heart. God gave us a brain for a reason. Scripture talks about the renewing of our minds and the necessity to have a good conscience before God.
But why is any of this relevant to 18 inches or temptation?
Because too easily we remember the verses and yet buckle when temptation hits. We may buckle for a number of reasons but one of them is definitely the lack of belief in what one is saying.
We can so easily quote the verses on temptation. One of the most famous ones being 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
And yet we fall because we pause and our heart is tempted and we fall into sin. People like to say to put your heart into something when they want you to work harder. I reckon they're pretty spot on with that.
If you're heart isn't in it, if it doesn't believe what your head knows... what's the use?
Proverbs 4:23 NLT says, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
Keep your heart safe. Allow God to minister to your heart. Teach it. Surrender it and let your will align with His and He will grant you the desires of your heart.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13 NIV)