The Bible teaches us that “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart,” and again, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Whatsoever a man is at heart, that will he be, and sooner or later it will show in his life. Someone has said that sight leads to thought and thought leads to desire. When we see a crowd of girls standing gazing at the semi-nude pictures on the average theatrical billboard, we can tell in about what channel their thoughts are running. When a young man spends his time hanging about poolrooms, billiard halls and smoking houses, where the average conversation is of a ribald character, we can tell you what takes up much of his mind. When we meet the crowds of people on the streets returning from the average theater, where the dress of the actresses was conspicuous by its so shortage both at the top and bottom, and much of the language on the stage suggestive, we can tell you the kind of folks they are and the channels that their minds run in. Where a young girl will lounge about home letting her mother do the work while she lies abed and spends her time reading novels that contain stories of lost virtue, we can tell you exactly the channel her mind runs in.
Thought leads to desire. Though David, while walking on his house, may have accidentally seen Uriah’s wife bathing herself, yet had he kept his thoughts in their proper place, he would not have become an adulterer, nor caused the death of Uriah. Unclean thoughts have no lodging-place in the heart that is clean. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the. pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and. every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4, 5)
Many gross sins would never have been committed had the heart been clean. Men and women dress up the body and appear pure and beautiful outwardly, but God alone knows the condition of the hearts, and as men are in their thoughts just what they are in their hearts, and the thoughts lead to desires, how necessary that all should have hearts cleansed from all sin,
“A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine;
Perfect and right, and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of Thine.”
Hezekiah told the Lord he had walked before Him with a perfect heart. If a king away back there in those days, surrounded by a nation in idolatry and without the Holy Ghost as we have had Him for the past nineteen hundred years, could so walk before God that when he came down to his death-bed he dared ask God to remember how he had walked before Him, how much more ought we to be able to do so today in this Holy Ghost dispensation. If a man’s heart is perfect before God, nothing unclean or impure will find a lodging-place in that heart.
We have heard that John Wesley said, “I cannot keep the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building nests in my hair.” Whether Mr. Wesley said it or whether he did not say it, the fact remains, just the same, that while we cannot hinder the devil from holding up some unclean thought before our minds, yet we can let it pass and keep it from finding a lodging-place in our hearts.
Hear Paul, in his advice to the church at Philippi, say: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
What a list of good things to occupy ones mind! Do such things find a ready place in your thoughts? How about it? What is it that finds a welcome place there? Thoughts! thoughts! “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” and God sees them and knows them. The Book says, “No thought can be withholden from Him,” and again, “Thou under standest my thought afar off.”
Man is God’s masterpiece, created in His likeness and for His glory, and placed on His earth, and he enjoys all that is in it, and must one day render up an account of his life as he has lived it, and how he has spent his time. The account is being kept, the books are balanced at the close of each day, and as we pass out of this life, they will be closed and we must face the record. By a tremendous price, far beyond the comprehension of human mind, God has purchased us and owns us, and has a right to our every day, hour and moment. To cleanse the heart from all sin, Jesus shed His blood, and while men may refuse to allow Him to do so, and as a result, live self-centered and impure lives, yet they must answer for so doing. And while they may now go on keeping the thoughts and desires of their hearts to themselves, or hidden from the eyes of mankind, yet they are not hidden from the all-seeing eye of God.
Some years ago, while walking down the street of a certain city, our attention was called to a team of black horses that was coming up the street on a sharp gallop. As they passed by, we saw that there were five men in the vehicle, two in the rear seat and three occupying the front Seat. The gentleman in the middle of the front seat was driving, but to our wonderment he was bareheaded and blindfolded and the sleeves of his clothing were rolled up above his elbows. He held his hands up and out straight before him, and with lines taut and whip in hand was driving at a furious pace, and although blindfolded, he had no accident notwithstanding there were many other teams and vehicles upon the street. We did not know what it all meant. Later on we saw the same man, still blindfolded holding another man by the hand, walking about the town followed by a large crowd. He would approach a crossing rather hesitatingly sometimes, but never stopped. After walking about the streets for some time, he stopped in front of a gentleman’s furnishing store into which he finally went, still leading the man by the hand. Passing down the aisle, he paused before a pile of clothing which he turned over, disclosing to view a pocket-knife that had been placed under the clothing. He said to the man whose hand he had held, “That is your knife; you came over the same route we came to the store and you hid the knife there.” He was a mind-reader and had read the other man’s mind by holding his hand. In driving the horses, the man on either side of him had placed the tips of his fingers on his wrists, and, reading their minds thus, he had driven those horses at a sharp gallop around the town without accident. He read their minds.
If a man can do that with another man, what do you suppose God can do with your mind? He sees and knows every desire and purpose your heart, and some day will bring all those secrets
Let us illustrate this if we can. Let us suppose we are before a large congregation. We have had a large white curtain hung up in full sight of the audience, and have secured some black paint and a brush with which lettering can be quickly done. Placing a chair out upon the platform in view of the audience, we will have that man or woman who says they don’t need this great salvation, don’t need this second work of grace that cleanses the heart from all sin, to come up and before the audience occupy the chair. Then we will ask God to allow us the power of discernment that He has; by that we mean the power to look into and read the thoughts of the hearts of men and women as He reads them.
“Now, sir or madam, we understand you to say that you do not need a clean heart; you do not need the cleansing Blood applied to your heart. You say you are good enough. Alright. Let us see; we will not ask you concerning your actions or your words; we don’t care for what you have done or not done; we will only ask you concerning the unspoken thoughts of your heart. Let us begin, say, five years ago on your birthday morn. Now, what was the first thought that found a home in your heart that day; a thought that, while you pondered over it, yet you did not voice in words? Let us have it, please, and we will take our brush and write it out on this white curtain where all in this large congregation can see exactly the nature of it. Thank you. Now the next one. Alright. Now the next one. What? Yes, every one; no, not the things you did or the things you said, but just the thoughts that found lodging-place in your heart. Yes, I must have it to put on the curtain, for you said you did not need a clean heart; did not need to be cleansed. Come, out with it. Now, the next one. No, I cannot wait, I must have it quickly, So hand it out. What! you hesitate? What do you say? Oh, I cannot help what folks will say, nor what effect it may have. You said your heart was clean enough and that you did not need to be cleansed, so come on. What! you refuse? Then I will tear the black thing out and write it down anyway. Now then, the next one. Oh, I cannot help your reputation or the reputation of your family. You said you did not need a clean heart, did not need to come to the altar, that you were pure and clean, so you should not be afraid to have the thoughts of your heart put up here where all may see.”
Friends, how would you like to have the unspoken thoughts of your heart put up where all could thus read them? What a commotion it would cause. But let us warn you, the day is rapidly approaching when God will lay bare the secrets of men. He has sworn to do so, and if it is not done while you are in this life, then at the bar of God the exposure will be made. The books containing your thoughts will be opened and you will be judged out of the things found therein.
We pray God that you may see and understand what you must face, what the Judgment will reveal in your case, and why God is proclaiming all through the Bible, “BE YE HOLY! BE YE HOLY! FOR I THE LORD GOD AM HOLY!” If your heart is not clean and holy, how will you fare in that day? Let me ask you once more, If you were dying, would you pray as Hezekiah prayed? He said, “I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart.”