Over the years I’ve noticed that people become uncomfortable when conversation turns to motives. If someone is asked why they did a thing, or why they talk a certain way, that person fudges and hedges. They do not want to answer those why questions or perhaps they don’t know.
Motive is key to the way I live making the Bible difficult to read. It reveals my motives . . .
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12–13)
Yet this is also the blessedness of reading the Bible. God uses His Word to expose motives so He can set me free from the driving forces that draw me into sin. When God shows me why — beyond the basic fact of sin — I can see attitudes that need changing. Most of the time, these attitudes reveal what I rely besides Him. When His Word exposes them, and when I agree with Him and confess my sin, He is faithful to forgive me (because of Jesus) and begin the cleansing process.
This process gets rid of sin and selfishness by renewing the way that I think . . .
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Chambers says it this way: “No man can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations; His teachings are truths that can only be interpreted by the disposition He puts in. The great marvel of Jesus Christ’s salvation is that He alters heredity. He does not alter human nature; He alters its mainspring.”
What a marvelous truth! The law is right and good, but without a change in motivation, anything that looks like obedience is either pretense or hypocrisy. I cannot do what God says from the heart without a new heart. This is why Jesus said . . .
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17–20)
While we put a lot of stock in ‘doing’ right, God is far more interested in ‘being’ right. This is the reason for a salvation that puts the very life of Jesus Christ into the hearts of His disciples. We cannot do it by ourselves. We need the power and life of God Himself to be godly.
No one can stand before God and claim to be without sin. I know in my heart that when I look good to others, God can see selfish motives and sinful intentions. Only Jesus can make my motivations pure and simple — Chambers says like a child — with new attitudes that come from being remade within. This is the righteousness that exceeds that of even the most pious religious people and this is what Jesus was getting at when He said . . .
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . . Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5)