No matter how good we look on the outside, or how well we can talk, or how much we have acquired, if our hearts and minds are not right, it is all in vain. Father God, I want to be right from the inside out. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galatians 2:20.
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Many of us are familiar with the sons of Jesse being ceremoniously paraded before the prophet Samuel to see who would be anointed as the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).
As with most people, Samuel viewed the potential candidates according to what he could see, judging by their physical appearance. But it was God who interrupted his erroneous train of thought and informed Samuel the criteria by which He judges is far from the world of human perspective, saying, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Praise from God will never be about what everyone else sees. Praise from God will never be given based on what is done on the outside of an individual. Outward rituals and performances never impress our God so much as the inner moving of one’s heart.
God has always been in love with the inner man, for it is only in that place of hiddenness where one’s true character and motives reside. In this place, God’s eyes and knowing go beyond the scope of the visible. God’s view of a person is more thorough in reach and scope than any human eye can fathom in that secret place inside.
People work strenuously to put on a show for others. Do the right things, say the right words, and they will see that you are a good person. Performance in a certain way will gain you the right audience and praise from people, right?
How we behave on the outside can be an overflow of the true character on the inside, but this is not always so. While things may look good on the outside, the heart is what matters to God the most. And it is what’s in the heart that receives praise from God.
Paul wrote in Romans, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29; emphasis mine), meaning it doesn’t matter the rituals and performances one does on the outside to make themselves to appear to be a child of God, rather it is “the circumcision is that of the heart” that matters most.
My friend, we are living for the praise of God, living to please Him with our lives. Outward rituals will never impress Him like a true heart that has been changed from the inside out instead of one trying to work righteousness from the outside in.
There are a lot of things that can touch your heart, but when living for God and loving Him touches it more, then something beautiful takes place there. Something that cannot be ignored by the Father.
Prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.” (Psalm 118:19-20)
Gates give entrance. Gates keep out intruders and ne’er do wells. Gates offer protection and security for all who dwell within her walls.
Gates ask if you belong here. They want to see if you are identified as someone worthy of trust to be in her enclosure. They make sure you have permission to be here to enjoy the treasure within.
Many fancy themselves going through those pearly gates one day (Revelation 21:21). Many claim they will have immediate entrance to the eternity within.
Friend, if you want to enter, make sure you have the right key – make sure you have aligned your life, your heart, and your soul with the right point of access. And that right point of access is through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Once, Jesus taught, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). If our deep desire is to walk through those future gates, please know, dear soul, that none can enter without Jesus.
As the shepherds of old would lay their bodies across the entrance of the sheepfold (compare John 10:7), Jesus Christ has laid His body on Calvary’s cross that one day we might enter the fold of the righteous. That one day, we might be where He is.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus is, and I cannot express this enough, dear heart, the only way in. He is the only way you will ever experience that spiritual freedom you are looking for. He is the only way to be truly delivered. Through Him, is the only way to salvation: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And He is the only way to gain that holy admission to heaven.
When He becomes your Lord, you have access to the treasure within, and those gates will be opened for you, and you can say with holy confidence the words of the psalmist: “Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter” (Psalm 118:19-20).
Access the right key, Jesus Christ, and the doors will be opened for you.
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)