Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Isaiah 29:13 NKJV
We talk a lot about worship and honoring the Lord. We are often quick to say we love Him, to say the words of worship, "Praise the Lord," "Hallelujah." We may have many things we say about God and to God at the proper times. But this verse above gives a picture that I cannot ignore. People will say a lot of things, but it may not be in their heart. In fact, they have actually removed their hearts from God. The things they are doing is only following human rules they have been taught to follow. The NIV says it like this:
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Isaiah 29:13 NIV
They are performing actions, lifting hands, attending a service, doing something 'right' to look righteous, but the whole matter comes down to where the heart has been placed.
I read this verse and felt such conviction and concern. I felt a sincere need to search out where I have placed my heart. Have I removed it from God and placed it elsewhere? What am I seeking after? What am I truly loving and spending my heart on over God? Have I become a lover of self or pleasure rather than God?
It makes me realize that my heart must be given to God first and foremost. What is in our hearts is revealed by what we truly say and do in our daily lives, what we stand for, and what we attend to.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Luke 6:45 NIV
Jesus warned us to not put on a show and that the heart is what he sees. He told of Pharisees who were washed sepulchres. Pretty on the outside, but dead on the inside. They did not have their hearts given to God.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:27 NKJV
How many churches are filled on Sunday with whitewashed tombs that know and perform the actions taught, but don't have that deep heart relationship with God? How many return to what they truly love on Monday because their heart is elsewhere? Is this why the world mocks and laughs? Is this why the church is no longer taken seriously? Is this why Christians have become weak and powerless, lacking in authority and love? Lord have mercy on us if this is the case.
David bemoaned this as well:
Help, Lord , for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Psalm 12:1 NIV
And John wrote in Revelations about it:
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
Revelation 2:4 NIV
God knows our hearts, he calls us to seek Him and wants to be in our hearts. He wants to be our first love and our greatest love.
then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart),
1 Kings 8:39 NIV
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for Godʼs people in accordance with the will of God.
Romans 8:27 NIV
Our actions need to truly coming from our heart. Our hearts must be filled with God, with the things of God, and with the love of God and for God.
I just recently heard about a girl in Egypt that had been attending a Christian church. It was explained that, often, Muslims don't say much about attending a Christian Church, but once you get baptized, they will act. This young lady was very bright, had been accepted to Oxford and was getting ready to leave Egypt. BUT one day, she came to the pastor and said she must be baptized. He was hesitant and said why now, you are soon going to England where you can get baptized without fear. She revealed that she had had a dream and in that dream, Jesus had shown her how real he was. She said, "If you had seen what I saw, you would get baptized immediately too." The pastor baptized her. Her body was found thrown from a building a few days later, presumably killed by her Muslim mother. This young lady had been attending church, but when her heart changed, when truth entered and became her heart's motivation, her faith became real. She knew her faith would risk death and loss of other things she may have loved.
Is my heart in that place with God? Oh, God examine my heart, show me what I truly hold in my heart, change my heart and make it wholly yours.
Then, may my walk with God truly be effective and my light truly shine so others may see the truth of God working completely in me. From deep inside my heart, His work and love can accomplish what only He can do and make over my heart. For what is in the heart is what matters and is revealed in all we do.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalms 51:10-12 KJV