A clean heart is the starting point for developing your full potential in Christ. In recent weeks we've looked at the fact that God has placed within you greatness. Now many confess that they don't see it, or feel it, but God has made you unique, and has a plan for your life.
As we discussed. He has placed within you unique skills, talents and abilities, and then He has and is using circumstances and people to hone those skills, so that you are perfectly suited to the unique tasks He has prepared in advance for you to do.
We've examined the hurdles and difficulties you might face as you seek to reach your full potential in the Lord. We've cleared that stuff out, and now we have the opportunity to
look at how you can start reaching your potential.
So over the next several weeks I want to examine 7 essentials for discovering your full potential, courtesy of one of my favourite authors Charles Stanley…
Let's get started with essential number one… a Clean Heart
CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Do you know with certainty today that you are in right relationship with God? Is your heart clean today, or are you carrying guilt or shame from something in the past? Do you sometimes even feel so guilty that you doubt that you're saved at all?
To reach your full potential in God you must start with a clean heart!
WHY IS A CLEAN HEART NECESSARY?
The natural state of man is sin… ever since Adam, we all sin and fall short of what God has for us.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
I’ve spoken to people who believe that mankind is basically good. They are either delusional or have never had kids! Every baby clearly demonstrates that we are hard wired to focus on ourselves and self gratification from our first breath— Feed me! Change me! Hold me! Dress me! Comfort me! Do for me! It is a mark of maturity when a baby grows up to feed itself and care for itself. It is an even greater mark of maturity when a child begins to care for and give to others.
How many children does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. They hold it up and the whole world revolves around them!
In the spiritual realm, we are also born with a focus on ourselves. We want what we want. We want the world to revolve around us. We want to determine our own destiny and to gain control over everything within our grasp. We want to know it all, be it all, and have it all. I want it all, and I want it now! We often seek only those things that will bring us immediate gratification. Delaying gratification is a difficult concept, especially for a child, or an adult man!
IT’ ALL ABOUT ME!
People think of themselves and their own interests first and foremost… it’s called pride! In our pride, putting our own interests first, we have no desire for God and what He wants for our lives, unless it's what we want, right?
In fact, most of us only want God in our lives if He can solve a problem or meet a need or often desire we have. It's all about us, guys, if we're truthful!
But when we acknowledge that we are sinners and that Jesus pays the penalty for our sin, when we ask Jesus into our lives, we also receive the Holy Spirit and slowly but surely our desires change. The Bible describes this as being a new creature!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Anyone living in human pride tends to put their own interests first and wants what he wants. He is living for himself. He may have goals and aspirations, he may have talents and abilities, but they are self-made and self-prioritised.
Some people who do not know Jesus as their Saviour and Lord still set goals of helping other people. But here's the difference—they set their own goals. They choose to help others because it makes them feel good. They establish their own definitions for a good deed and determine how much is enough when it comes to doing good.
The person who truly knows Jesus and is truly forgiven experiences a change in spiritual nature. They also start into an ongoing process in which their mind is renewed and redirected to walk the Lord’s path, refocused in His desires, and reenergised to fulfil His purposes.
UNLOCK THE POWER
When you give your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins to unlock and unleash the fullness of your potential. And He starts with developing a clean heart!
Not me, not you and not even your mum! The Holy Spirit—the promise of the Father and the gift to every person who believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God— He unfolds before us all that we are created to be and to do.
So anytime you think, I can’t do this, you must immediately reply, But the Holy Spirit can and will. Anytime you think, I don’t know what to do, you must immediately reply, But the Holy Spirit knows, and He will lead and guide me.
The Holy Spirit will not help us do anything that is apart from God’s will, plan, and purpose. He will not empower us to do things that are of our own design simply because we think something is a good idea or a worthy project.
You cannot decide what you want to do, and then just pray Lord bless it. But we do, don't we, and we do it all the time!
If you want to unleash the power of your full potential in your life, the only power source is the Holy Spirit. Right now, the only question you need to answer is, “How do I tap into the power of the Holy Spirit?” In other words, how do I get my mind, will and emotions lined up with His?
And that's why this first essential is so important… Until you have the new, cleansed heart that God offers you through forgiveness, you cannot fully understand the work of the Spirit. A clean and yielded heart is capable of hearing and heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
The Greek word for being filled is in the present tense, implying an ongoing and continuous process. It means, be being filled, not a once off event.
OUR CONTINUAL NEED FOR CONVICTION, CONFESSION, AND CLEANSING
The Bible commands us, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). To quench is to stifle. We are also told not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). To grieve is to cause sadness. What causes sadness in God? When we reject His love and His plan and do our own thing, it grieves Him. Anytime we choose what we want over what God wants for us, we stifle the Holy Spirit’s ability to help us.
Nothing grieves the Lord, and nothing stifles His work in us, more than disobedience. When you sin you sever your relationship with God, grieve Him and stifle the Holy Spirit. You dirty your clean heart.
You cannot reach your full potential in God if you continue knowingly, willingly indulging in sin. If you have habitual sin in your life, it's time to clear it out and open the top end of your potential. You can't dabble in sin, flirt with sin, mess with sin and expect God’s blessing! You cannot fully see God's leading unless you have a clean heart.
If you carry guilt over something you've previously said or done, it's time to clear that out and stop it stopping you!
So if we are to discover what God desires to do in us and through us, we must have the Holy Spirit’s help. We must allow Him to enable us and empower us. We must be plugged into God’s power and be close to Him. We must ask the Spirit daily to cleanse us of all sin and to direct our attentions, our minds, our affections, and our desires to God and His plan.
And the ugly truth is that you are only as clean as your last decision or choice.
SEARCH ME O GOD
Stop to think about that for a moment. Your clean heart is only as clean as your last thought, your last attitude, your last action. Your need for the cleansing power of God’s forgiveness is ongoing, and never-ending. You must ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal your sins so you can confess them and be forgiven continually.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
David asked God to reveal anything that he should confess before Him, anything needing forgiveness. He didn't say she'll be right mate! He said it ain't right, God show me how to make it right, and create in me a clean heart.
God knows what you should and should not do. He knows the best choice you should make and the best solutions for the problems you are facing. God knows what sin you need to confess so ask Him, so let His Spirit clean your heart.
Yes, your heavenly Father knows, so don't try and figure this out for yourself! Don't make yourself feel guilty or under pressure. Ask Him, and let Him reveal your heart, your attitudes and what it is that has become a barrier to your relationship with Him.
THE BLESSINGS OF A CLEAN HEART
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).
People who are pure in heart see God, not necessarily in visions, dreams, etc. But as God works in and through their own lives, they will begin to understand that the Lord is behind every good thing in their lives (James 1:17). The pure in heart learn that God is working all things for their ultimate good.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
The pure in heart begin to see with God's eyes, rather than their own! Their will begins to align perfectly with the will of God. They have a clean heart and are set to reach their full potential!
Do you want to see more of the Father’s work in your life? Then pursue, desire, and seek a clean, pure heart.
IT IS TIME TO CLEAN UP YOUR ACT
We live in a time when purity has become “old-fashioned.” The world places a higher value on tolerance, acceptance, and keeping an “open mind,” rather than a clean heart. But God’s Word tells us to “be holy” and “keep yourself pure” (Lev. 11:45; 1 Tim. 5:22). Most of us are so open minded our brains fall out! We are so tolerant that we tolerate everything, even blatant sins.
Purity is commanded, and it’s possible, yes even for you and me! Why? Because God’s Spirit lives within us, and that means that our very nature can be changed and made clean from every sin, past, present and future.
How many times a day do you wash your hands? If you are a surgeon, you likely wash them several times a day. If you are a mechanic, you might wash your hands only before a meal. So it doesn't matter how well you wash your hands, you still need to wash them again sometime in the future, right?
Do you wash your hands only when you can see dirt on them? No. You likely wash them before handling food or picking up a baby, even if your hands appear to be clean. You may not be a scientist, but you have probably figured out that viruses and bacteria are invisible to your naked eye.
You would probably find people not wanting to be near you if you washed your hands and face once a month, brushed your teeth every couple of months, or had a shower once a year. Regardless of what you see, or how you smell, hygiene like this would likely see you frequently sick, and socially isolated!
Some people think they can keep their heart clean by going to church once a week, once a month or by catching a few connect groups. Keeping a clean heart is a daily exercise.
7 STEPS TO MAINTAINING A CLEAN HEART
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Keeping your heart clean requires diligence and vigilance, obedience and discipline. If you are to ever discover and move into the full potential God intends for you, you must be diligent, vigilant and careful about keeping your heart clean.
1. RECOGNISE YOUR SIN
Listen, we all sin, and we all fall short of what God wants for us. You know it, I know it, God certainly knows it, so who are we fooling? Many of our sins happen in secret, and we don't want anyone to know.
Four pastors went fishing. One pastor said, “Brothers, our people confess sins to us, and confession is good for the soul." So I want to confess that I have a gambling problem. The next said he often stole money from the church coffers. The third had an eye for the ladies and had strayed a few times. The final guy sat quietly, and they said, “surely you have some sin to confess, brother? What is your secret vice?" Finally he answered, "It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get back to shore!"
You can't fool God so why try? Don't try and fake your way through sin, deal with it! Until you recognise it, you cannot deal with it. It's the elephant in the room!
Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Ever since Adam and Eve we've tried to cover our sin with fig leaves. But at some point they drop off and your sin will be exposed. My advice is don't let it get to that point!
2. CONFESS YOUR SIN AND SEEK FORGIVENESS
Don't cover up your sin, confess it and let the blood of Jesus cover it over! God is there right beside you when you're in church and when you're in sin. Trust me, you won't surprise Him.
Whatever you've done, whatever you currently grapple with, there is no sin God cannot forgive. I've prayed with murderers who've found forgiveness, with adulterers, with swindlers. And here's the thing…
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Corrine Ten Boom said that God throws our sin into the sea of His forgetfulness and puts up a sign saying “No fishing!”
So if you have confessed something you've thought, said or done to the Lord, don't let the devil drag you through guilt about it again! To quote Elsa in Frozen, Let It Go!
3. KEEP SHORT ACCOUNTS WITH GOD
As we mentioned before, you need to wash your heart every day, even several times a day. Don't accumulate sins and bulk process them. We don't want you running up a big list of sins, then going to confession every so often and off loading them.
Keep short accounts with God. The longer you leave sin unconfessed in your life, the more likely it is for the poison to infect you and ruin your potential.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Once there was a little boy who wanted to go fishing. He dug up what he thought were little worms. He then put one on the hook, it nipped his finger but he immediately caught a fish. He thought, this is great bait. Put another on the line, it nipped his fingers, but he was catching fish.
Later the sherif asked him where he caught all the fish, and what he used as bait. The little boy proudly showed his bait, and the sherif froze… he said, quickly get in the car!
The boy was rushed to hospital, but died within an hour. You see they weren't worms at all, they were tiny, baby rattlesnakes!
Sin is like that. We think we're having fun, but all the time we're dying! Don't let poison accumulate in your veins, get it out straight away!
4. COMMIT TO PURITY
You can pause right now and make a commitment to purity. It doesn't mean you won't sin, but you can promise to seek God and start making the right choices. Decide and commit to having a clean heart.
1 John 3:3
All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
Don't just talk about it, don't just theorise about it, commit to being pure. Commit to being obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice, so today I'm asking you to commit with me to being pure, and if you do mess up, confessing it immediately. Remember, you're only as clean as your last thought.
5. RUN LIKE CRAZY!
All of us face habitual sins of some sort. You know the one, that one sin that seems to plague you, that the devil throws at you time and time again, and you most often fall for it?
Jospeh faced a continuous, unrelenting temptation in Potiphar’s wife. He didn't try to stay strong, he didn't flirt just a little, he ran. If you struggle with a habitual, ongoing sin, don't try and take it on… run like crazy.
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
If it's too big, too strong or too tempting, run and get the heck out of Dodge!
6. BE ACCOUNTABLE
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Don't struggle alone, find someone to whom you can be accountable. Find a buddy to have coffee with every week or so, and share your struggles, pains and let them hold you accountable for what you do.
7. BUILD A FENCE AROUND YOUR HEART
If you make your heart clean, build a rock wall around it!
Protection from evil, the power to live a godly life, the ability to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the capacity to reach your full potential in Christ, these are not vague things floating around that may randomly come to you if you're lucky.
You don't stay clean and pure in your heart watching TV, surfing the Internet, checking out Facebook or even coming to church. The way you stay pure is by reading, studying, applying and obeying the Word of God
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
If you are serious about reaching your full potential in God, you need to keep a clean heart. Hide God’s Word in your heart every day. Do the Bible Reading plan, memorise verses, whatever it takes to have His Word ever present in your life.
Today, I challenge you to clean up your act, and be pure and clean in heart. Some of you may have specific sins you are grappling with, and I encourage you to come forward for prayer. But all of us must keep short accounts with God.