It is a rude awakening to hear the Savior say the evil that comes out of my heart is my own. The blame of my evil and sin cannot be put on my circumstances, as if I could say, “Ah, but you see I grew up in this environment, therefore it is O.K. that I do this or did that.” The blame cannot be placed on others, as if I could say, “My parents were this way, so it is only natural that I follow in their footsteps!” or “My sister made me do it! I didn’t want to hit her, but she provoked me!” or “I had every right to do that.” Finally, the blame cannot, and should never be, placed on God because he is pure and holy as if I could say, “God, you put me in this position! I only did what you made me do!” or “If God is sovereign, then he knew I would sin and it is his fault for not stopping me!” Christ said words that would penetrate the heart and reveal where sin really comes from, our own wicked hearts. Oswald Chambers’ devotion today has bad news for us, but in the end the very best news for us as well.
The account with purity
Matthew 15:18–20 (ESV)
18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
We begin by trusting our ignorance and calling it innocence, by trusting our innocence and calling it purity; and when we hear these rugged statements of Our Lord’s, we shrink and say—‘But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart.’ We resent what Jesus Christ reveals. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme Authority on the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust His penetration, or do I prefer to trust my innocent ignorance? If I make conscious innocence the test, I am likely to come to a place where I find with a shuddering awakening that what Jesus Christ said is true, and I shall be appalled at the possibility of evil and wrong in me. As long as I remain under the refuge of innocence, I am living in a fool’s paradise. If I have never been a blackguard, the reason is a mixture of cowardice and the protection of civilized life; but when I am undressed before God, I find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis.
The only thing that safeguards is the Redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will hand myself over to Him, I need never experience the terrible possibilities that are in my heart. Purity is too deep down for me to get to naturally: but when the Holy Spirit comes in, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ, viz. Holy Spirit, which is unsullied purity.
Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.