(Psalm 51:10) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
This was David’s deep desire after he had committed the sins of adultery and murder. He realised that deep down on the inside of himself just how spiritually corrupted and flawed the human heart is apart from God. As Jeremiah the prophet wrote; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt and beyond cure: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
David realised that unless God created that deep inner desire to walk free from the power of sin and the spiritual means to do so, that there was no way David could have a clean heart to keep himself pure deep down on the inside. Not only was he conscious of the spiritual corruption of his own heart but also his need to have God renew a steadfast spirit within him, one that would stay the course and not deviate to the left or to the right or stray from the path of uprightness before God. The whole of Psalm 51 reveals David’s realisation of his sin (Vs. 1-6), his heartfelt repentance (Vs. 7-12) followed by his restoration (Vs. 13-19).
A Clean heart
In the Bible the heart represents the seat of the emotions, the intellect and especially the will and the inner spirit of a person. The human soul of an unsaved person is alive but estranged from God and the inner spirit dead towards God unless it is regenerated (made spiritually alive to God) by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3) (Ephesians 2:4-6). The regeneration of the spirit man by the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life into the soul. In the new creation God does not patch up the old nature but imparts His very own nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This resurrected life, being the same divine life residing in the Triune Godhead and now dwelling in every blood redeemed born again child of the Living God, makes them partakers of His divine life. It is a life that is imparted by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God that enables us to escape the corruption that is in the world caused by the lusts and desires of the fallen human nature that naturally are devoid of God’s presence and power (2 Peter 1:4).
It is the very same eternal and indestructible eternal life that resides in the risen glorified Messiah our Lord Jesus, being our Great High Priest, having provided purification for sins once and for all time, having been raised to life by the same Spirit, and the One who ever lives to intercede for us at His Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3) (Romans 8:34).
Because He lives forever, having a permanent Priesthood, and because of His continuous intercession before His father on our behalf as God’s blood purchased children, who hear His voice through the Word of God, and by the Spirit of God and desire to follow Him, He is able to save to the uttermost all who draw near to Him by faith, not losing any that He has redeemed by His atoning blood, but keeping them from being snatched out of His hand and out of His Father’s hand by the evil one (Hebrews 7:24-25) (John 10:27-29).
It is only the blood of Jesus, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God that can give us a clean heart before God! The blood of the Messiah cleanses us deep down on the inside and the Spirit of God renews our regenerated spirit and applies the blood to our conscience, purging it from all guilt and dead works corrupted by sin, and enabling us to serve the Living Triune God! (1 John 1:7-9) (Hebrews 9:14).
While we still have a sinful nature that has desires going contrary to the desires of the Holy Spirit also living within us, does not mean that we must be controlled by that nature. By the power of the blood of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the power of the Word of God, and by praying in the Holy Spirit, we can overcome those evil dark desires that are constantly militant towards those desires we have to follow God and to keep His commandments and to be continuously led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-14) (Galatians 6:16-18, 22-25). In Proverbs we read “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Brackish water cannot produce fresh water from the same source (James 3:11). Either a well has fresh water which is useful for drinking and washing or has stale water unsuitable for drinking and washing. Did not the Lord Jesus also say that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b). What is in the heart in abundance will be evident in that person’s speech.
This can be clearly seen in the conversations people have with each other especially among the unsaved. It is not as easy to discern this among those who outwardly profess to be believers, who can talk the talk, but a careful discernment of what they say will ultimately reveal the true intents or motives of their heart. The heart is the source of what flows out of the mouth.
A clean heart will produce clean conversation, without hypocrisy and reveal a genuine heart that has been made pure by a continual reliance upon the cleansing blood of Jesus, through leaning entirely upon the merits of Jesus, by a willing submission to the Holy Spirit, and by a deep desire to obey the Word of God.
While our obedience at times is far from perfect, as we all have to wrestle every day, not only with the desires of the flesh that spring up from our sinful nature, but also with those spiritual powers and principalities of wickedness in the unseen spiritual realm militantly committed to derailing us spiritually. Walking under the control of the blessed Holy Spirit is a walk maintained moment by moment by faith (Galatians 5:25).
We are saved by faith, we walk by faith and we can have a clean heart by faith. The word “faith” itself, in both the Old and the New Testament not only implies “belief” by also “faithfulness.” It is a continuous walking by faith, by trusting in the Word of God and availing ourselves continuously of those promises and commandments with the help of the blessed Holy Spirit as sons and daughters of God who are regularly led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14).
How then can we have a clean heart?
1. A Clean Heart is the Work of God.
(Psalm 51:10) ““Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
A clean heart is something that only the blessed Holy Spirit can do in us and He does this by applying the blood of Jesus to our heart. It is also a steadfast heart that will not turn aside from the path of righteous living before a righteous God. Even when there are set backs through temptations or a sin that has crept in but after confessing it for what it is without excuse the steadfast heart will keep going, walking by faith, and availing itself of the spiritual blessings and overcoming power God has made available to all of His redeemed weary and worn saints in this fallen world.
The apostle John tells us that if we continue to walk according to the light of God’s Word, as He is in the light, then the blood of Jesus the Messiah will continuously, moment by moment, keep us clean and free from the power of sin as the blood of our Messiah will deactivate the sinful nature from being activated in our life (1 John 1:7)
However, while sinning and confessing is not the normal Christian life according to the Bible, there will be times when we do sin whether unintentionally or wilfully. At such times, through confessing it, and agreeing with what God says about it without any excuses, the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We, at that moment, receive a clean heart! (1 John 1:9). Salvation initially is the work of God and not man. The disciples once asked the Lord Jesus; “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26). So it is with a clean heart. It is God’s work and can be received by faith.
2. A Clean Heart is a Loving Heart
(Romans 5:5) “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been shed abroad into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Having said this, a clean heart is one that is filled to overflowing with the love of God poured out into that heart by the Holy Spirit Himself (Romans 5:5). It is a perfect love because God is perfect and God is love (1 John 4:8). In Him resides no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). This faith we have works by love and that love is the source and sustained by it (Galatians 5:6).
A clean heart is one that loves God, loves the Lord Jesus, that loves the Holy Spirit, that loves the Word of God, that keeps the commandments of Jesus and loves the brethren, and a heart that allows the Holy Spirit to control all of the compartments of a believers life, including the body with its fleshly appetites and desires that go contrary to the Word of God. It is to walk moment by moment by faith in His loving, wise, infinite, good, acceptable and perfect will producing a life that is not being moulded by the world but by God (Romans 12:1-2).
It is only by the unmerited and undeserved favour of God that we can love Him with our entire heart, with our entire soul, with our entire mind and with our entire strength, and with our entire will, and to be able to love others (Mark 12:29-31). With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible to those who believe! (Matthew 19:26). Releasing God’s love is primarily an act of the will and not the emotions. It is rather easy to love those who love us but loving one who is difficult to love is where the rubber hits the road for us spiritually! A clean heart is a loving heart.
3. A Clean Heart is an Obedient Heart
(John 14:15) “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”.
The Lord Jesus also said; “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him” (John 14:21). And again He said; “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 13:23). See also. (John 15:10) (1 John 2:3) (1 John 5:3) (2 John 1:6).
Walking in the love of God or under the control of His love fulfils all of the requirements of His law, as the love of God shed abroad in the heart will compel the one filled with that love to experience a deep desire to obey all that God requires of them with nothing held back because “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
Obedience does not happen overnight but is an act of a continuous faith and a spiritual process in us that seeks to do what is written in the Word of God. It is part of the process of sanctification (being set apart to God for his exclusive use), and at times we will mess things up and yield to temptation realising we as yet are not all that God would have us be.
We still have our old fleshly fallen nature to deal with every day while we are living in this body. Of course we cannot see fully what we will be in our resurrected, immortal glorified and indestructible bodies, and we only see this ultimate spiritual reality dimly as if looking through a Smokey glass, but at the rapture and resurrection clearly see and know as we are known by God and will be perfectly conformed to the image of the Son of God (1 Corinthians 13:12).
As the apostle John writes; “Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Having a clean heart prepares us to meet the Lord as a bride without spot or blemish when He comes back to inaugurate His Messianic Millennial kingdom on earth. Saving faith is “the faith of obedience” (Romans 1:5) (Romans 16:26) (John 3:36 NASB). So then a clean heart is an obedient heart.
4. A Clean Heart is a Purified Heart
(Acts 15:8-9) “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
On the Day of Pentecost the 120 in the upper room were saved New Covenant believers who had been spiritually regenerated on the inside by the Holy Spirit and who lived in them as a well of eternal life. They had been cleansed from their sins by the blood of the Messiah and then 50 days later received the mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit filling them with God’s power to witness and to work for the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:8). Not only were they endued with power from on high, but their hearts were purified, having their motives, desires, ambitions, and desires fully centred on doing God’s will with all of their hearts.
What they experienced on the day of Pentecost was repeated several times after that in the Book of Acts (Acts 8:12-17) (Acts 10:44-48) (Acts 19:5-6). In the case of the Household of Cornelius they received the total spiritual package. They were born again by the Spirit, baptised in water and baptised with the Holy Spirit all at once. They were simultaneously saved and sanctified. These Gentile New Covenant believers, like the 120 on the Day of Pentecost, also experienced not only the power to witness for the Lord Jesus, but also had their hearts purified by faith as well (Acts 15:8-9).
In the cases of those who believed in Samaria at the preaching of Phillip and the 12 disciples that Paul met on the road there was some time between their new birth and their baptism with the Holy Spirit. Today there are multitudes of believers who have been born again by the Spirit and yet find a lack of spiritual; power in their lives, a lack of victory over the flesh with its fallen appetites and desires, even though they are in ministry or serving the Lord. They know deep down on the inside that they need a baptism of power as was the common experience of the apostles and every New Covenant believer recorded in the Mew Testament. Paul himself writes; “And in Him (Jesus the Messiah), having heard and believed the word of truth— the gospel of your salvation— you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” (Ephesians 1:13).
A purified heart is one that produces purified words and actions. Paul also writes; “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:29-31). Having a clean and purified heart and seeking to be living holy and godly lives with an expectancy of the new heavens and earth to come is also a motive of those who are eagerly awaiting the Messiah’s Second Coming (2 Peter 3:10-13) (Philippians 3:20).
It also needs to be said that having a clean heart does not exempt any of us as New Covenant believers from bodily sickness, depression, anxiety, emotional highs and lows, or from adversity, afflictions, persecution, and heaviness through manifold temptations, as these are the common experience of all who seek to live Godly in the Messiah Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12) (Acts 14:22).
A clean and purified heart has to do with its motives and desires and is maintained by faith and not by our emotions which can be deceptive at the best of times. Our emotions are not to be ignored but are no barometer for defining our spiritual state. However, if we are walking in all of God’s will for our life, then even though we are in conflict or adversity, the peace (shalom) of God that goes beyond all human comprehension will be resident deep down on the inside of us and will garrison our hearts and minds in the Messiah Jesus when we are engaged in spiritual conflicts of one sort or another (Philippians 4:7).
Our emotions can be likened to the surface of the sea. It can be stormy or calm on the surface, The warmth of the sun may be shining or dark story clouds that block out the sun, however deep down at the bottom of the sea is the still quiet movement of the currents unaffected by what is happening on the surface. We can be in a crisis with conflicting emotions and in seeking to walk with God we will have many varying and difficult situations we must face but still know the peace of God which is not subject to outward circumstances.
A clean heart will have no deceptive ways in them as they will speak as the Lord would speak and act as the Lord would speak and act because it is written “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). After all God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). The proof of our election is not just what we believe doctrinally but also in being conformed to the image of the Son of God.
A clean heart purified by the blood of the Messiah and sanctified by the blessed Holy Spirit will reflect the light of the world being the Lord Jesus living in them. Everything will be clear. There will be no hidden agendas, no mixed motives, no deception, no falsification, no twisting of the truth or of the Word of God. Everything will be straight and upfront, open and transparent. So then a clean heart is a purified heart.
5. A Clean Heart is a Trusting Heart
(Hebrews 11:6) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
David wrote; “Teach me Your way, O LORD, that I may walk in Your truth. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). An undivided heart is one that does not have two masters residing in it. Faith and fear do not complement each other anymore than darkness compliments light. They are mutually exclusive from each other. There is a healthy fear which we need to have. If you deliberately run out into the traffic on the freeway you will inevitably be hit by a speeding vehicle. This is a healthy fear.
The fear that we are to deal with is that fear which leads us away from trusting in the Lord or results in self-condemnation even when there is no active sin or anything to be fearful about, especially in those times when the accuser of the brethren is accusing us day and night before God (Revelation 12:10).
A healthy fear is respecting and reverencing the Triune God for who He is and not presuming on His grace by indulging in the fleshpots of this fallen world or speaking of Him lightly or flippantly or seeing Him as spiritual dispensing machine that is subject to our whims and desires. A trusting heart is one that drives out fear by walking in love. As we read; “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). If we are walking under the control of God’s love then we will not be fearful but will have supernatural power to keep trusting the Lord even when our feelings are being somewhat mangled by Satan and our adverse circumstances in the natural unyielding.
When the Lord sees our faith despite our setbacks, our failures, and even a besetting sin, or a sense of heaviness through manifold temptations, He is pleased with us and rewards us according to His good, acceptable, perfect, wise and infinite loving will. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly by faith, the righteousness that comes from God and is bestowed upon us through faith in the Messiah Jesus (Psalm 84:11) (Romans 3:21-24).
As it is written; “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). And again we read, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:11). And again we also read, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38). So then a clean heart is a trusting heart.
A clean heart is a heart that is filled to overflowing with the love, the light and with the power of God. It is a heart that seeks to love God with our entire being. It is a heart cleansed from active sin and seeking to avoid disobedience. It is a heart that has no deceptive ways but always seeks to speak the truth in love even when faced with adversity or resistance. It is a heart that will reflect the words and actions of the Lord Jesus the light of the world. A clean heart will reflect and radiate His light.
A clean heart will be one that is quick to repent when there has been sin committed. A clean heart will openly confess its sin to God without excuse and agreeing with Him in what He says accompanied with the willingness on our part to turn away from it by God’s strength, asking that He might change our desires for it. It consists in being willing to submit our will to God and beseeching Him to do it because sanctification is God’s will for us as New Covenant believers (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
In a clean heart there will be no entertaining of sin, everything will be clear with no hidden agendas or deception of any kind. There will be no mixed motives, no falsification, no twisting of the Word of God or the truth. Everything will be straight and upfront open and transparent. There will be absolute honesty with others both the saved and the unsaved.
Above all else, the main mark of a clean heart will be the love of God shed abroad in the heart of a New Covenant believer by the Holy Spirit and expressed through a life of trust and obedience to the Word of God, and with a faith in God that will prove His good acceptable and perfect will. In closing Paul wrote; “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus the Messiah” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).