Since we ended yesterday on a note about asking God to examine us, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a short break to talk about the subject.
With all the talk about companies like Enron cheating their stock holders and others out of billions, one of the things which might've prevented much of this would be what’s called an external audit. I once worked for a company which had one every couple of years like clockwork. They'd hire an agency to come and look at their books, examine the company from top to bottom and report to the boss of our company as to what they found. They’d report to him any fraud, waste, possible theft, and even some ways that the company might do things more efficiently.
What’s the big deal about having an external audit as opposed to having an employee or even the boss look at things? Why would an external audit be better?
You can probably guess the reason, and that’s subject of today: Opening yourself up for an “audit.”
Now let’s get something clear. I’m not talking about doing a self-examination. Jeremiah, as we noted before, said that the heart is deceitful above all things. We’re masters of self-deception. We’re great at missing our sins, but it’s possible to go the other way as well. Once a believer confesses and renounces his sins, he’s forgiven. God will never bring that sin up again. And if you still feel guilty over that confessed sin, it’s not coming from the Holy Spirit. It might be inspired by the Accuser, or you just might have an over-sensitive conscience.
So I’m not really calling for self-examination at all. To my knowledge, the only time the Bible calls for us to examine ourselves is where Paul is just asking professing Christians to make sure they are, in fact, saved.
So we need to ask God to examine us. That’s what today’s passage is all about, and I urge you to memorize it and make it a regular part of your prayer life. I try to. At least once a day, I pray it, or something like it: “Father, is there any unconfessed sin in my life? Some way in which I’ve disobeyed or disappointed you?”
Now, is there a command to do this? Actually, no. I can’t find a specific one, but I’d certainly be open to correction on this score. But would it be a good idea? Well, I can’t come up with a down-side.
So I invite him to search me out, test me and know my anxious thoughts, to see if there is any wicked way in me and to lead me in the way everlasting. And you know what? He does. I think he always answers that prayer.
And how does he answer it? Well, in my experience he always points out specific sins that I’ve committed. He’ll say “Keith, that was really harsh and not very Christ-like the way you talked to your wife last night.” Or “Keith, that wasn’t the whole truth, what you told your boss this morning, was it?” He’s like Columbo, or like Grissom on CSI: He asks pointed questions about specific sins, and he never lets any real sin rest until it’s confessed. What he doesn’t do is say things like “You’re a lousy Christian. You never do anything for God. He’ll never forgive that sin.” My friend, that either comes from an over-sensitive conscience or the Accuser. And I believe any feelings of leftover guilt or discouragement come ultimately from our Enemy, whether they come directly from his lips in my ear or not.
More on guilt tomorrow.
Holy Spirit, you know me inside and out, and you love me too much to get away with anything. Search me O God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any remaining wickedness in me, and lead me in your way everlasting.