EXAMINE YOUR HEART "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME." (Matthew 15:8; Capital Emphasis Added)
"8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for THY HEART IS NOT RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.
8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
8:24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me."
(Acts 8:18-24; Capital Emphasis Added) My dear Brother or Sister in Christ, when your heart is wrong all is wrong in God’s sight at this end of the world. You may do many things that are right at this end of the world. You may honour the forms and religious ceremonies which God Himself has appointed at this end of the world. But so long as your heart is at fault, God is not pleased. God will have your whole heart or nothing at all.
The ark was the most sacred thing in the Jewish tabernacle. On it was the mercy seat. Within it were the tables of The Law (Exodus 25:8-22), written by God’s own finger, (Deuteronomy 9:10). The High Priest alone was allowed to go into the place where it was kept, within the veil, and that only once every year (Leviticus 16:34). The presence of the ark in the camp continually brought a special blessing. And yet this very ark could do the Israelites no more good than any common wooden box, when they trusted to it like an idol, with their hearts full of wickedness. They brought it into the camp, on one special occasion, saying, "Let us fetch the ark, that it may save us out of the hand of our enemies" (1 Samuel 4:3). When it came into the camp they showed it all reverence and honour. "They shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again" (1 Samuel 4:5). But it was all in vain. They were beaten by the Philistines, and the ark itself was taken (1 Samuel 4:11). And why was this so? It was so because their religion was a mere form. They honoured the ark, but did not give the God of the ark their hearts.
There were some kings of Judah and Israel who did many things that were right in God’s sight, and yet were never written in the list of godly and righteous men. Rehoboam began well, and "for three years walked in the way of David and Solomon" (2 Chronicles 11:17). But afterwards "he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord" (2 Chronicles 12:14). Abijah, according to the book of Chronicles, said many things that were right, and fought successfully against Jeroboam. Nevertheless, we read that "his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God" (1 Kings 15:3). Amaziah, we are expressly told, "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart" (2 Chronicles 25:2). Jehu, King of Israel, was raised up, by God’s command, to put down idolatry. He was a man of special zeal in doing God’s work. But unhappily, it is written of him that "He took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin" (2 Kings 10:31). In short, one thing applies to all these kings. They were all wrong inwardly. They were all rotten to the core of their hearts!
There are Churches at this end of the world where all the outward religious ceremonies are done to perfection. The building is beautiful. The service is beautiful. The singing is beautiful. The forms of devotion are beautiful. There is everything to gratify your senses. Your eyes, and ears, and mind may all be pleased. But all this time, God is not pleased. One thing is lacking, and the lack of that one thing spoils all. WHAT IS THAT ONE THING? It is your lack of a pure heart! God sees under all your fair outward show the form of Christianity put in the place of the substance (2 Timothy 3:5), and when He sees that he is not pleased. He sees nothing with an eye of favour in your Church building, the service, the pastor, or the people, if He does not see converted, renewed, broken, repentant hearts. Your bowed head, your bended knees, your loud amens, your crossed hands, all, all ARE NOTHING in God's sight if your heart is not right with Him at this end of the world!