Can God create a pure heart? Yes. But can He do it without the cooperation of the believer? Not really.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps. 51:10).
King David knew how easy it is for us to turn our hearts away from God. The king of Israel allowed his heart to be drawn away from God, and David understood that only God could give him a pure heart.
A quest for purity is noble. The age-old tension is where God's responsibility ends and where the believer's responsibility begins.
This is a huge paradox. It is like walking a tightrope—knowing you can fall any second. Every Christian knows that God draws, leads, gifts and empowers us.
The believer's role is to respond to God.
Christians must give God their hearts and cooperate with His promptings. God invites us to participate with Him. These invitations are quintessential for the believer to find and fulfill God's plan.
A few invitations include:
""If now you have understanding, hear this; listen to the voice of my words" (Job 34:16).
"Hear, O My people, and I will testify against you. O Israel, if you would listen to me!" (Ps. 81:8).
"For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts" (Ps. 95:7-8a).
"If" is a small but powerful word in the Bible. God provides His power, but is His power enough? Yes, if—if we respond to God's word. God expects the believer to respond and cooperate with His Word.
There is no question of how a true believer responds to God. The true believer sets his own choices aside. The believer's life belongs to God, and God is at work in and through him.
Philippians tells us: "For God is the One working in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
So, we see God is working in us. God works through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, comforter and friend.
Every student knows that responding to the teacher is how we grow, change and mature. God expects us to respond to His instruction. This response is the process of spiritual maturity and personal transformation.
"How shall a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With my whole heart I seek You; do not allow me to wander from Your commandments. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Ps. 119:9-11).
Notice how the young man changes his ways. The young man gives his attention to God's Word. You see, the young man allowed the Word of God into his heart and mind.
We can therefore see how God has a role, and we have a role. When believers take action to God's Word, we call that faith. We must not forget that it is not our human effort that draws us to God but faith imparted by grace.
Salvation by grace through faith is not a difficult thing in that it's not a formula to follow but rather a miracle to believe and receive. Salvation is God's righteousness at work in us when we say yes to His plan. Saying yes is how we demonstrate faith. We get saved by grace through faith, but we also live by grace through faith.
We respond to grace by faith. Faith describes how we respond to God's promptings and leadership.
So, faith produces action—always.
God gives everything we need in life, but He does not make our choices. God gives the desire for a pure heart. That desire pulls us toward God. When believers consistently say yes to God, our hearts become steadfast toward God.
Steadfast means "fixed in purpose, unwavering direction and resolution." The believer's heart becomes fixed and focused. The Christian life is not for the faint in heart. Christians are not to waver in their faith. Doubt and unbelief mimic the waves of the ocean and are symbolic of the doubting Christian.
"But let him ask in faith, without wavering. For he who wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed with the wind. Let not that man think that he will receive anything from the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8).
Can you see the link between a pure heart and a steadfast spirit? When our heart is pure before God, we have confidence toward God. That confidence births a steadfast spirit.
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial" (James 1:12a, ESV).
A pure heart leads to a doubt-free faith. When we drive out doubt, our heart is steadfast before the Lord. A steadfast heart is fixed on obeying the Lord.
So, let's pray: "Create in me a pure heart."
It all starts there.
This post first appeared at thomasmcdaniels.com.
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