Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV Here are some distinguishing marks of a spirit-filled life—joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. Notice Paul has already been speaking about love: “Hold them in the highest regard...
“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.” Isaiah 57:17
The natural inclination of the human heart is not to come to God, but to hide from him. That goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where you find God coming into the garden to enjoy fellowship with Eve and with Adam—and where are they? Hiding among the trees! Why? Because they are ashamed (Gen. 3:8).
We like to think of ourselves as sincere seekers after God. But the truth is that by nature, we hide from God even when we pretend to be seeking him. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10–11).
Some of us were brought up with teaching that majored on a contrite heart. It sounded easy: If you want to draw near to God, all you have to do is have a contrite heart. You’ve got to be sorry—really sorry for your sins. You’ve got to hate your sins and love Jesus.
The message sounded easy, but the reality was harder. You found that you loved yourself more than you loved God. Your love for sin was stronger than you thought. You found that even when you were sorry, you went back and did the same things again. You found that your own heart was more stubborn than you thought. Repentance is easy for those who haven’t tried it!
Where have you seen signs that the inclination of your heart is to hide from God, even while pretending to seek him?