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Do we have an impure heart each time we tell a lie?
(Matthew 15:18-19) How can we know the truth of a person's heart?


Click here to read Matthew 15:18-19

The Bible tells us that every human being is born with a sinful heart.  Paul explains in Romans 5:12-14 that we have all inherited these evil tendencies from Adam, and because of his first sin, we now come into this world with a heart that is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." (Jeremiah 17:9)   He describes this condition in Romans 7:18-19  "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice."

This phrase "the flesh" is often used in the Bible as another name for our sinful character.  In Galatians 5, Paul provides us with a whole list of sins that are committed because of this inherited tendency to do evil: "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,  fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders,  drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (verses 19-21) Now, this list does not include every sin known to man.  These are just some of the prime examples of the actions that come naturally to us.  We can only be free from these actions when Jesus is living within our hearts and continually re-creating them.

When it comes to lying, Colossians 3:9-10 says "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him."  What exactly is this "old man" that we are supposed to have "put off"?  This brings us back to Galatians chapter 5  "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."  (verses 24-25)

This text says that those who have given their lives to Jesus are supposed to have "crucified the flesh" or in other words, they're not controlled by their sinful human nature anymore.  They don't live the same way they did before they came to Christ.  The selfish "old man" is dead.  Colossians 3:3 says "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

Paul declared in Galatians 2:20  "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."  He was no longer running the show.  His flesh had been crucified.  Jesus was now alive within him and it was Christ who was directing Paul's actions.  He was living a Spirit led life.

This is why Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16  "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."  Now does this mean that once we become a Christian we will never commit a sin, such as telling a lie?  Look at the next verse: "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." (verse 17)  Friends, there is a battle raging within the heart of every true Christian.  The flesh is supposed to be dead and crucified, but it doesn't want to stay that way!  Our human nature desires to regain the control that it once had before we surrendered our heart to Jesus.  When we are truly abiding in Christ and completely depending upon His power, then we can walk in the Spirit and avoid the works of the flesh.  But this is easier said than done!  We are often tempted to take things into our own hands.  This is when the flesh will rise up and we fall into sin. 

But don't be discouraged if you find yourself in this situation.  Remember that Jesus has promised to be with you always, even until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).  If you tell a lie, ask God to forgive you, re-surrender your heart to Him, and ask Him to create in you a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).  When we have a pure heart, then we will speak pure words "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  (Matthew 12:34) When our words are impure, that means the flesh is guiding our words instead of Jesus and we need to surrender this to Christ before we wound someone with our speech. 

Never forget this: No matter how hard we may try to be good and do what's right, we just can't do it on our own since all of our righteousness is like a filthy rag  (Isaiah 64:6).  Jesus told us plainly that we can do nothing without His help  (John 15:5).  We can't just hold our tongues and hope that we don't tell a lie.  Our flesh is constantly seeking to rule us and this is why Jesus said that it needs to be crucified on a daily basis: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
(Luke 9:23)

In order to keep our speech pure, one of the most important things that we can do is to pray like David did: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips."  (Psalm 141:3)  "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."  (Psalm 19:14)

The second part of the question is "How can we know the truth of a person's heart?"  This is often a very difficult thing to do.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:16-17   "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."  You've heard the phrase "Actions speak louder than words" and that's generally true.  A person that has Jesus in their heart and is walking in the Spirit will have the fruits of the Spirit springing forth in their life (See Galatians 5:22-26).

Even so, it's still sometimes difficult to know the true state of a person's heart.  Take a look at 1 Timothy 524-25 from the New Living Translation:  "Remember that some people lead sinful lives, and everyone knows they will be judged. But there are others whose sin will not be revealed until later.  In the same way, everyone knows how much good some people do, but there are others whose good deeds won't be known until later."  Only God knows what's really in someone's heart, "for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts"  (1 Chronicles 28:9).

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