When God Looks Inside of You, What Does He See?Bible Answers to your Questions | Vol. 29 No. 1 |Nov-Dec 2018
We can look good on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Recently, a summer rain storm with fierce lightning and severe winds unleashed on our neighborhood. When it had passed, a 40-foot oak lay fallen—strangely, the only one in its grove to succumb. I suspected it had been struck by lightning. But upon closer inspection, what had appeared a solid specimen was rotting at the core. It was a sobering reminder that appearances can be deceiving.
By nature we are like trees. Transformed by the best shoes, hairstyles, clothes, cars, or houses, we can be as deceptive as that oak—solid on the outside and sporting a profusion of glossy, green leaves, yet rotting at the core.
The Bible describes our inner condition like this: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Our friends and neighbors can be deceived by our outward condition. In fact, the deception of our heart is so deep that we can convince ourselves of being fairly decent people. Yet, the Bible gives an unbiased account: “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts.” Luke 16:15.
Always pray before studying the Bible. God has promised divine enlightenment to those who desire spiritual truth. Psalms 119:130
I. IN THE BEGINNING
1. What pattern did God use in the creation of man? Genesis 1:26, 27
2. What two components did God employ in the creation of man? Genesis 2:7
3. For what specific purpose did God make man? Isaiah 43:7
4. After God finished His creation of man, how did He describe him? Genesis 1:31
In the beginning, God formed man from the dust and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. The body (dust) filled with the breath of God, became a living, new creation. God’s purpose was carried out because all man’s actions, thoughts, and purposes were perfectly in harmony with God’s character and law. In his special place in God’s creation, man was to show the likeness of his Creator; the beauty and order of God’s law were to be revealed in a clearer and still clearer way. Outside and inside, he was to show to all who saw him the character of Divinity.
II. THE CHANGE
But then a change came. Through direct disobedience to the law of God, Adam and Eve became transgressors. No longer was God’s character and the law of God perfectly reflected in them. Because of one incident of disobedience, their natures became bent toward evil. Their minds began to fill with evil thoughts, unholy ambitions, and sinful imaginations. Read Genesis 3:1–7 and answer the following questions:
1. Through his experience in Genesis 3, what knowledge did man gain?
2. Did eating the fruit prove to be the blessing that the serpent had promised?
After Adam and Eve sinned, God came for His usual visit to the garden. Normally, they eagerly met with Him, ready to learn lessons about His nature and His law. But they had changed. They were afraid. Their natural love and acceptance of God’s law, which reflected the character of God, was replaced by a spirit of suspicion and condemnation. No longer could God say, “Behold, they are very good.”
3. Who else has been affected by Adam and Eve’s sin? 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:12
4. Because of Adam’s transgression, what judgment was passed upon every human being that would ever be born on earth? Romans 5:18
When Adam and Eve chose to place their desires in opposition to God’s, their choice affected not only everything around them, but also the succeeding generations who would inherit their fallen natures. And so it is that we are born with a certain antagonism towards spiritual things, and an inheritance of death.
5. Can man in his natural state appreciate spiritual things? 1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:5–8
6. How does God view the wisdom of man? 1 Corinthians 1:25; 3:10, 19
7. How does God compare His thoughts with man’s thoughts? Isaiah 55:8, 9
How shallow, how frivolous, is the mind in man in comparison to the mind of God. Even the most intelligent, the most devout, the most ardent of this world, could never reach the height of God’s thoughts. Certainly the Bible is true when it says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8
8. Aren’t some people born naturally good? Romans 3:10–12; John 3:3–7
9. How does God describe the acts of even sincere individuals trying to live good lives in their own strength? Isaiah 64:6; Job 14:1, 4
Once a vase is broken, no amount of gluing will reproduce its original purpose or beauty. It may look perfect, but close examination reveals its flaws. So it is with human nature. We may know of people around us who are living “good” lives in their own strength, yet they fall far short of the original intent God designed for them. Human nature has been marred. We pass on faulty traits of character from one generation to the next. Only God can give us the supernatural intervention capable of restoring our characters back into His image.
III. GOD’S SOLUTION
God did not leave man without hope. There in the garden, in the presence of His two disobedient children, God made a wonderful promise to restore harmony between Himself and man.
1. What did He promise to put between the seed of the woman (mankind) and Satan? Genesis 3:15
Here are revealed two classes of individuals: those who have chosen to follow God and those who have chosen to follow Satan in his rebellion against God. Yet, even those who have chosen to follow God find a natural pull towards evil and selfish tendencies in their hearts. See Romans 8:7. In His love God has promised to put a supernatural enmity, or hatred, against evil desires and sinful tendencies into the hearts of those who choose His way. They are His children. How can He do this? By sending His Son to bridge the great gulf between God and man.
2. What form did His Son take? John 1:14; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:16–17
3. Even though Jesus lived in a wicked town and could identify through experience with our human feelings and temptations, did He ever sin? Hebrews 4:15
4. Because He was born and lived a perfect life as a human being, what can Jesus do for us? Hebrews 2:17, 18
5. Why did Jesus Christ have to die in order for God’s solution to the sin problem to be effective? 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 6:23
Even though the ways and thoughts of God are so much higher than man’s, He invites us through His Son, saying, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow….” Isaiah 1:18. He calls us to come to Him that we might change—from evil to good, from being in opposition to His character and will, to reflecting His character and will in our lives.
1. By nature we are enemies of God. What did God do to take away our hostility towards Him and His righteous ways? Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 20
2. Who does this invitation for reconciliation include? John 3:16; John 6:37
3. Who softens the heart of man, and gives him a desire to turn to God for help? Job 23:16; Proverbs 16:1; John 12:32
4. What will eventually happen to those who continue to refuse His drawing, His warnings, and His tokens of mercy? Proverbs 29:1; Matthew 7:24–27
5. What does God promise to do inside of us if we will accept Jesus as our personal Savior and ask Him into our lives? Galatians 2:19, 20; 2 Corinthians 5:17
6. What has God promised to do so that man can obey God’s law and live in harmony with His will? Ezekiel 11:19, 20; Jeremiah 31:33
7. When God works this change in us, what will our desires be? Psalm 119:133
8. When should we ask the Lord to change our hearts from our way to His way? Psalm 95:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 15:31
As we have seen, man of himself can do no good, but through Christ, through a change of heart and desires, through co-operating with God every day and every moment, he can make a complete change. The man who once was a criminal can become a saint by the power of Christ: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.
V. WILL YOU COME
There is hope for the hardest heart in the power of Jesus. And there is a possibility that even the tenderest heart could turn from God and lose the blessings He wants to give. The Spirit of the Lord pleads, “To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Hebrew 3:15. Will you choose to allow your nature to be changed into the image of God today?
In the Ten Commandments and other Bible passages, why does God portray Himself as a “jealous God”? How can a holy God also be jealous?
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