One of my weekend hobbies is the renovation of an old townhouse built back in the 1970s. Recently I was tearing out the old carpet, which in many places still looked relatively clean and almost brand new. However, much to my surprise was the amount of dirt under the rug and padding layer. It was not just a little dirt, it was a layer of soil, and so much so you could not even see the concrete floor underneath. The soil was so compact that I had to use a putty knife to loosen it so the shop vac would pick it up. That got me to thinking about how sin can have the same effect on our spiritual well-being.
Carpets, for example, can look clean and pristine on the surface, but even with daily vacuuming and frequent shampooing, dirt continues to make its way through the fibers to collect and build-up between the floor and padding below. More often than not, the homeowner is unaware of this condition because the dirt is out of sight and out of mind. On a spiritual level, when a person takes only a cavalier or surface approach to turn from sin, sin can make its way through the fibers of one’s soul and build-up. People can often be unaware of this condition because the sin has since become acceptable to them; its wrongfulness is out of sight and out of mind.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”Psalm 139:23-24
King David, whom God said was a man after His own heart, indeed fell to lustful temptation followed by a series of sinful acts, i.e., conspiracy, murder, and deceit. David became blind to the sin in his life that separated him from God. So much so that God sent David a message through Nathan who told David about how a man who had plenty, took another man’s most cherished possession. David became angered at this news, saying, “that man should be put to death,” and Nathan replied, “You are the Man!” David had become comfortable with and blind to his sin, but when he heard Nathan’s words, his sins were exposed, and it must have hit him like a ton of bricks.
The lesson David learned is evident in the beautiful poetic psalm he wrote, Psalm 139. In his poetic verse, David asks God to search and know his heart. To seek out any wrongful or hurtful way in him that would hinder his relationship with the Lord. David learned that God could search the human heart’s depths to reveal unconfessed sin that a person is either unaware of, forgot about, or ignored. It is one thing to examine ourselves, which we should do daily, but it is a whole different level, the highest level, to be searched by God because the Lord will not leave one stone unturned, unlike our human tendency.
“For all the magnificence of the poetic expression of the first three-quarters of [Psalm 139], it is the poet’s prayer that the present and knowing God lay bare his mind and correct his every fault [that] is most touching of all.”1John I. Durham
The fact is the presence of sin, whether sins of omission or commission, separates us from God, which is not to say we lose our salvation; instead, it means our fellowship with God is broken. Therefore, if it appears that our prayers are not being answered or we conclude that the answer to our prayers is no and they do not align with God’s will, we might consider the possibility that we may have unconfessed sins in our life. If so, we need to take a cue from King David’s life and experience and go to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to search and cleanse us from unconfessed sin, to restore our fellowship with Him, and to lead us in the way of His righteousness.
The LORD said, “If…, My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”2 Chronicles 7:13-14
While a vacuum cleaner does a fine job at cleaning carpets, its power can only clean so deep. Only when the rug is pulled back can the floor below get thoroughly cleaned and free of dirt. That same notion applies to the human condition, where our self-evaluation can only go so deep because of our human weakness. Only when the layers are pulled back and examined by God can we be thoroughly cleansed and forgiven of our sins. Therefore, let us be encouraged to ask the Lord in prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.”
1 Durham, J. I. (1971). Psalms. The Broadman Bible Commentary (pp. 153-171). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.