1 Sanctification: What Does the Lord Expect of Us? PDF Print E-mail

Prof. Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (August 2010)

1. A pure heart

It is the will of the Lord that His children should not only be saved but also have pure hearts from which virtuous thoughts and desires arise. After having received the blessing of a clean heart we should daily keep our hearts from contamination by sin and fleshly desires as these temptations will continuously strive for our souls: “Keep your hearts with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). If we become careless our pure hearts may be defiled by sin.

We know the example of King David who delighted himself in the Lord but later became the victim of temptation. He desired his neighbour’s wife and committed gross sins to get hold of her. In a short period of time he apostatised grievously. But deep remorse came over him after the Lord’s prophet confronted him because of his sin, and he confessed it with tears. David realised that he was in a state of rebellion against God and His Word. He was also conscious of the fact that the Lord took His Holy Spirit from his predecessor, Saul, because of him having despised the commands of the Lord and wilfully living in sin again.

David fervently prayed: “Blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your generous Spirit” (Ps. 51:9-12). He realised that his heart had become impure and defiled. David was spiritually completely restored and again proclaimed the praises of the Lord from a pure heart. Afterwards, he carefully guarded against temptations (Ps. 19:12-14).

Have you already prayed the prayer for a pure heart – for the first time or in renewing your commitment? The hearts of many Christians are characterised by sinful desires – not only for other women but also for wealth, prestige and pleasure. These thoughts become so deeply entrenched through the force of habit that they will ultimately dominate all your thoughts, decisions and actions. They will choke your spiritual life as love for the world and love for God cannot coexist (1 John 2:15). God can only truly be worshiped from and undivided heart.

A heart which is cleansed by the blood of the Lamb and filled with the Holy Spirit instils completely new values within you. It helps you to set your mind on the things above, where Christ intercedes for us. This is the only way in which we can achieve victory over earthly, materialistic desires. The state of your heart is revealed to you by the things which you daily meditate upon, particularly when you relax and give free reign to your thoughts. When your deepest desires are honourable and in the interest of God’s kingdom, they will also be the focus of your prayers. Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – mediate on these things” (Phil. 4:6-8).

Ensure that the thoughts of your heart are always acceptable to the Lord. That will only be possible if you keep the words of the Lord in your heart and probe their deep significance day and night. The psalmist says: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You… Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end… Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things” (Ps. 119:11,33,36-37). In His Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). They will walk in the light of His presence. Paul said to the young evangelist: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).

A pure heart under the control of God’s Spirit is the secret of a clean and fruitful life. Apart from the sanctification which the Lord does for us we also have the obligation to give our full collaboration in the practical realisation of holiness. We must flee from sin and pursue the things of the Lord. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).