God is the Ultimate Examiner. Psalm 139 takes an unexpected turn, concluding with a prayer for the Lord to examine David’s heart: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and leads me along the path of everlasting life.” The beginning of the New Year offers us an opportunity to ask God to examine and search us for a fruitful year. The human part always rationalises and resists dealing with what is wrong in the heart, but the truth is that we need to see our sins as God sees it so that we might confess and be forgiven. Adam’s and Eve’s new awareness led them to ungodly desires, hiding under different theological expressions in ways that contradict God’s perfect plans for men and women. Sinful lifestyles rob us of our confidence in God (Act 23:1). God, the Ultimate Examiner and Searcher, is still graciously seeking the guilty sinners, “Where are thou?” God’s purpose is to provide restoration and victory over the tempter (Gen 3:9). God, the Ultimate Examiner, and Searcher graciously expelled Adam and Eve to protect them from living forever in their fallen condition. God, the Examiner, and Searcher gave His ONLY begotten Son as a great hope for guilty sinners (Jn 14:6).

God reveals sin to us in many ways – ‘through reading Scripture, through hearing the Word of God preached, through the challenging love of friends, and the still small voice of the Spirit.’ Asking God to examine or search us is about inviting Him to open our hearts so that we might receive the conviction of the Spirit. David’s dynamic and intimate relationship with God shapes his perspective on life. David’s prayer asking God to search for him is appropriate for every follower of Jesus Christ seeking personal renewal. Our intimate relationship with Jesus humbles us as we allow Him to search our hearts and purify our motives (Ps. 139:23-24). We must not only detest the evil in the world but also be aware that there may be something in us that grieves God. David’s prayer invites us always to be willing and humble to let God put us through His Divine x-ray that would reveal hidden sins and further develop His character in us. When God reveals anything offensive in us, we must admit it, give it up, turn from it and submit to God’s plans for us. The Bibles says, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whosoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy (Prov. 28:13)

In an age where everyone is correct, the Bible offers missional principles that help Holy Spirit-led believers determine the rightness or wrongness of activities and behaviors. Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Colossians, which resonates with us today, warns us that in everything we say, do, think, or employ, we should be guided by asking ourselves the following questions:

Can it be done for God’s glory and honour (1 Cor 10:31); Can it be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” that is, with a complete awareness of who He is, all He stands for and that you are to represent Him, and could you ask His blessing and approval on the activity (Jn 14:13); Can it be done while truly giving thanks to God?; Is it a Christlike action? Would Jesus do it (1Jn 2:6); Could it cause another Christian to compromise his is her conscience and convictions and, at some point, weaken his or her devotion to Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:1)

The Bible and the history of the Christian church teach us that renewal usually comes through men and women whose lives are committed to the Lord in prayer, humility, and obedience. Prayer is at the heart of the renewal movement. Richard Foster says, “The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.” Our lives, churches, and nations can be renewed (transformed, changed) into the likeness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the spiritual disciplines – practicing fasting, prayer, worship, and Bible study (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:17-18).

Personal renewal is the inrush of the Holy Spirit into a spiritual body that has threatened to become a corpse (Acts 3:19). Many are growing weary of holy and well-doing in the ministry and discipleship due to the routine pressures of ministry, spiritual battles, marital, and financial restraints. Personal spiritual renewal leads to corporate renewal, which according to the psalmist, is marked by renewed worship and restored joy (Ps 85:6). Just as you cannot give what you do not have, you cannot lead others to spiritual renewal if you are not revived yourself. You can only lead others into a new dimension of joyful worship if you have first experienced it. It is sad; Satan still deceives some people in the church who think they can live immoral lives and still maintain their relationship with God. Such people are beguiled, blind, and under deception. Beloved, remember, sin always leads to guilt; guilt leads to alienation between the sinner and God and between the sinner and his fellow human beings. Arise and pray like David, asking the Lord to examine your heart and be led along the path of everlasting life in Jesus Christ.