Accusations! They hit you like a ton of bricks. As you recover, you’re tempted to defend yourself. Maybe you even say, “Well, God knows my heart.” I’m not 100% sure if I’ve ever verbalized those exact words, but I’ve thought them before.
So here’s how it usually goes down: you have a disagreement or an issue with someone. You believe they misunderstand your actions. You feel like they have misjudged your thoughts and motives.
You may want to read:
- More Articles From Chris O’Donnell
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In response to what you think is an unfair assessment about your intent, you clarify their mistake. You say (or think) “Well, God knows my heart in the matter.” While this is an accurate statement–God does know your heart–I’m not sure it’s the right response. Here are four reasons why:
1 – God Knows Your Heart
Yes, God knows your heart. There’s no doubt about that. He understands it completely. The reason He knows your heart so well is because He fashioned it Himself (Psalm 33:15). Not to mention, He knows absolutely everything about absolutely everything. He is omniscient: all-knowing (Psalm 147:5). He knows everything you’ve ever done, thought, spoken, or contemplated, and everything you will do, speak, think, or contemplate (Psalm 139:4).
He knows your secrets. He knows about those horrid and despicable things that come across your mind at times. Yep, He knows about them too (Psalm 44:21). There is no part of your being (your mind, will, intellect, conscience, thinking, emotions, actions, motives) that is concealed from His sight. Your heart is laid bare before your Maker, and there’s not a fig leaf big enough or adequate to cover it up (Genesis 3:7; Hebrews 4:13).
God’s omniscience should be a sobering thought. So before you declare that God knows your heart, you might want first to consider its true condition.
2 – You Have a Heart Condition
The Bible has a lot to say about your heart, and the conclusion of the matter is not good! Look at what Jesus thought about the human heart in Matthew 15:18-19. He says,
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
Jesus didn’t entrust Himself to man because He knew what was truly in them (John 2:24). No matter how well they cleaned up on the outside, He had the inside scoop.
In the book of Jeremiah, it says there is one thing more untrustworthy than anything else. Wanna guess what it is? Your heart! Jeremiah 17:9 says that it is “deceitful above all things.” One translation says our hearts are “desperately wicked.”
In fact, there was even a point in history where the human race had become so corrupted, the Bible says that all of the people’s thoughts were evil, all of the time (Genesis 6:5).
Our hearts can become hardened, dull, blind, darkened, foolish, rebellious, and unrepentant (Romans 1:21, 2:5; Acts 28:27, Hebrews 3:8). Even the good things we do are stained and soiled with sin before a holy and righteous God (Isaiah 64:6).
Hmm. Not such a great track record for the human heart so far. Let’s review. The heart left to itself is:
- Capable of conceiving and carrying out all sorts of evil thoughts and deeds
- The most deceitful (sly, insidious) thing about ourselves
So to say that God knows your heart should not cause assurance, but alarm! Why? Because nobody has an accurate view of themselves. We tend to think we’re a little more spiffy than we are.
3 – You’re Under the Influence
While God knows your heart in every way imaginable, the truth is that you do not, at least not fully. You do not have perfect clarity and objectivity when you think about yourself. The eyes with which you use to evaluate yourself are somewhat blurry. Your estimation about the intent and motives of your heart are under the influence of sin.
Your depravity is why Paul says to be sober in self-assessments and warns not to elevate the view you have of yourself (Romans 12:3).
Let’s look at a parable Jesus tells about two very different people and the perspective they had of themselves. The first guy was a person of prestige and position. He was a Pharisee. The other, a lowly tax collector, not the most reputable of jobs at the time.
Both of these men went to the temple to pray one day. The Pharisee bragged about his righteousness and thanked God that he was better than everyone else. He jabbered on and on about his good works and what a great guy he was. Blah, blah, blah.
The tax collector, on the other hand, had an entirely different approach. He had a humble, not prideful attitude, as He approached the LORD. He physically kept himself at a distance in the temple, and his countenance was contrite. There was no mention of his good heart or any of his accomplishments. Instead, he hit himself on his chest and pleaded for God to have mercy on him because he knew what a mess he was (Luke 18:9-13).
Jesus tells us the moral of the story: when you exalt yourself, God will humble you. But, if you humble yourself, you will be exalted (Luke 18:14). The tax collector humbled himself, and because of that, he went home justified before God. The other man, the Pharisee, thought he was God’s right-hand man. In his mind, he was an asset to God’s kingdom. Because of this, he remained under God’s judgment.
These two men had a perceived view of themselves. One was distorted and elevated, leading him not to exalt God, but himself. The other was a sober and accurate perception of his condition that resulted in humility and dependency on God, not himself.
When you proclaim that God knows your heart, it makes you sound a lot more like the Pharisee than the tax collector. Yikes!
4 – Righteousness Comes From Above
If you were to take a survey asking people if there was anyone perfect in this world, I think the answer would be a unanimous and resounding no. Not only do life experiences attest to this, the Bible clearly affirms this truth.
In Romans 3 for example, Paul says nobody is righteous. Not you. Not me. Not one single person (Romans 3:10-12). For you to obtain righteousness, you would have to be perfect in every way, completely in line with God’s will.
Here are some biblical definitions of what it means to be righteous: innocent, faultless, and guiltless are used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is conformed completely to the will of God, and needs no rectification in the heart or life.
I don’t know how you feel after reading that, but for me, it knocks me down a few (thousand) pegs. Even as I grow in my obedience and conformity to Christ, my thoughts, feelings, and actions are nowhere near being totally in-line with God’s will.
To say that God knows your heart implies a certain air of self-confidence. In essence, you’re declaring your complete innocence and faultlessness in the matter. You believe you have an accurate assessment of what’s going on in your heart and as far as you’re concerned, your motives are pure. Better watch out friend, because self-righteousness is knocking at your door.
There’s only one way to obtain righteousness, and it’s from Christ. He alone perfectly fulfilled the requirements of the definition above. Jesus is the only one ever throughout history that lived a life completely conformed to the will of God.
He was obedient in every way at every time, even to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Only when you place your faith and trust in His sacrifice can you obtain a righteous standing before God (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:22).
In Christ, you become righteous in your position before God, but not in your practice. While you still live in an earthly body, your deceitful heart will need ongoing correction. Because of that, there is no place for self-confidence in the heart of the believer.
Paul talked about this in Philippians 3 where he had quite an impressive list of things he could brag about – practices, pedigrees, and a Pharisee, oh my! But after his conversion? He considered the totality of those things as a complete loss in comparison to what he had received in his union with Christ.
He knew that none of those accomplishments or standings could make him righteous before God. His confidence was no longer in his flesh, but in his faith in Christ (Philippians 3:4-9). Any boasting was now credited to His Savior and His work, instead of his own (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
Wrapping It Up
Now, I don’t want to neglect here the fact that you may have been judged unfairly by another person. This article is not to dismiss what happened to you or imply that you should ignore it either. No one enjoys an accusation for doing, saying, or thinking something you didn’t do, say, or think.
Even though the title is, God does know your heart, but you don’t, the truth is, the other person doesn’t fully know your heart either. So here are just a few quick thoughts about this:
1 – Do your part – God does know your heart and whether or not you sinned in this particular situation. More times than not, when someone sins against us, we tend to sin back in response. Ask the LORD to show you if what the other person is saying is true and what you are responsible for in the situation. You are told to live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18). Do your part and take responsibility where necessary.
2 – You are in good company – All throughout Scripture you see people being treated unfairly by others. Joseph by his brothers, David by Saul, Jesus by the Pharisees. If you are suffering for doing good, the Bible says this is commendable before God (1 Peter 2:19-21). It is an opportunity for you to follow in the steps of your Savior and to show how awesome He is, not you, in the matter.
3 – Remember God is just – After you have asked the Spirit to reveal your real thoughts and attitudes, and you have done all you can to be at peace, entrust yourself to God. He will judge the situation with justice (1 Peter 2:23).
4 – Seek help – Look for someone to bring clarity to your perceptions, not confirmation of your position. What I mean by this is, don’t just find people that will agree with your stance. You want to be selective about those you go to for counsel and advice.
Look for people that will not just tell you what you want to hear, but will bring a more objective view to your thinking. A person like this will be wise, inquisitive (asking specific questions), godly, mature in their faith and relationships, peaceable, have solid biblical theology, and boldness to speak the truth and bring correction to you if needed.
If you don’t have anyone like this in your life, you could become part of this community of believers that will bring loving care to you. I can personally attest that these people rock and I know they will be a blessing to you!
When we are in conflict with someone, our knee-jerk reaction is usually to defend ourselves, blame the other person, or excuse what has happened. It’s easy to point out the faults in others, but it gets much harder to see what’s truly in our hearts.
Proverbs 21:2 says that all of our ways seem right to us. Boy, have I found that to be true about myself! But God is the one that weighs our hearts, and as He does, you can believe it will be with complete and thorough accuracy.
There is no need to put any confidence in yourself, friend. Your righteousness comes from your righteous Redeemer. He is greater than your heart, and He knows everything (1 John 3:20).