If there is one thing I have learned over the years and that is the need to constantly check my heart attitude. I have for a time now been reciting Psalm 139 daily. One of the verses that resonate from this psalm is verse 23. David states in this verse, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (ESV) Inspecting our hearts on a regular basis provides us with checks against lurking sin or fleshly tendencies that may arise.
I penned a blog in 2018 about sin crouching at the door of Cain and Lot in the book of Genesis. You may say, “Whoa, Lot?” “Yes, Lot.” I believe that fleshly tendencies can lurk at the entrance of our hearts, ready to pounce at a vulnerable moment. God talks about sin crouching at the door of Cain. I believe that fleshly tendencies were hunkered down and ready to move Cain into sin in Genesis 4. Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God because he had brought fruit from his soil, but not his first fruit and Abel’s offering of the first fruit of his flock was pleasing to God. This angered Cain. Now the Lord saw that Cain was angry, so God spoke to Cain about his anger, least that anger, his flesh, overpowered and mastered him. Here is what God said:
If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it. v 7 (AMP)
That sin and fleshly tendency, hiding in Cain’s heart pounced in a vulnerable jealous moment of anger and Cain murdered his brother, Abel.
Again, we are not always aware that sin is “crouching at our door,” seeking to overpower us. I believe that was the case with Lot. Abraham had brought his nephew, Lot with him when he went to the land God had promised him. Abraham gave Lot the first choice of the surrounding lands when their herdsmen began to argue; Lot chose to dwell in the plush plain of Jordan near Sodom. That, for me, was a fleshly red flag! You see, Lot chose what he thought was the best land when he was the tagalong nephew. The promise was not made to Lot; it was made to Abraham. At another time, when Lot offered the angels of the Lord refuge in his home for the night, the Sodomites from all over the city came to Lot’s house and demanded that he give them the two men so that they could rape them. (Genesis 19:5). Lot offered up his daughters to the Sodomites instead. In anguish, he cried out, “Please, fellows, . . . don’t do such a wicked thing. Look—I have two virgin daughters, and I’ll surrender them to you to do with as you wish. But leave these men alone, for they are under my protection.” (Genesis19:7-8) That, for me, was another fleshy red flag! Why did Lot feel that it was necessary to sacrifice his daughters to the Sodomites? Could that fleshly vulnerability, “sin crouching at Lot’s door,” have been a seed that ultimately contributed to his daughters’ sexual sins later. In their desperate attempt to have a line of descendants, they got Lot drunk, had sex with him, causing him to sire sons?
David, perhaps, did not know that sin was lurking at his door when he chose to remain at home when, as 2 Samuel 11 notes, it was “at the time when kings go off to war.” David had sent his army commander, Joab, to war with his men. One night, he went up on the roof of his palace and saw a beautiful woman bathing on the rooftop. The woman was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of David’s valiant soldiers. He sent for Bathsheba and ended up in sexual sin. But it didn’t end there. Bathsheba became pregnant and David had Uriah murdered.
My friends, it was David who asked in Psalm 139 that God would try him and examine his heart! David had written Psalm 139 when he was made king over Israel! David had the right idea; however, even he would end up succumbing to a fleshly sin lurking within him. Because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the sin/fleshly vulnerability pounced! He committed a sexual sin with the wife of one of his most valuable soldiers, Uriah, and then had him murdered.
The Apostle Paul sets the example of how to control sin that maybe lurking at the door and of how to keep an upright heart towards the Lord. Paul discerned that he had to vigilantly discipline and control the fleshly inclinations of his body in his quest to remain godly. He compares keeping those fleshly inclinations in need of control to the discipline of an athlete training his body. Here is what he says in 1 Corinthians 9:27:
. . . I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (NIV)
The Amplified Bible makes it clearer:
But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].
We must be forever vigilant to the fleshly tendencies that may lurk in our members. There are things we can do to control the flesh.
- Ask the Lord to examine our hearts, even test us as David noted in Psalm 139:23. Do it consistently.
- Control and discipline fleshly tendencies in our bodies by subduing them and making them a slave under the Spirit as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 9:27. Fasting is one way of subduing the flesh and gaining control over our human nature by buffeting the body and soul. When we fast, we deny ourselves physical needs. Many of God’s servants fasted. Moses fasted three times for forty days. (Most people are not graced to do that.) Daniel fasted many times—in Daniel 10, he fasted from meat, wine and rich food for three weeks. In 2 Samuel, David fasted for seven days hoping that he would find grace with God when his first child by Bathsheba lay dying. In Esther, Chapter 5, Esther, along with her maidens and the Jewish people, fasted for three days in hopes of being able to approach the king to prevent the elimination of her people by Haman. There were several times that Saul’s fasting is mentioned in the New Testament: Acts 9:9, Acts 14:23, Acts 13:2. So many more of God’s servants fasted. And we must never forget that Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness. (Luke 4:1-13; Matthew 4:1-11)
- Allow Holy Spirit to provide checks in our spirits and sanctify our souls so that we can get things right.
- Adhere to the tenets of the Bible, which is the blueprint as to how we are to live and stay on the right track.
I pray that the Lord will keep your hearts and souls on the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?