Heart Rending

by Mike Ratliff

13 And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil. Joel 2:13 (NASB) 

Over the years I written much on this blog about the necessity of repentance in the heart of the believer. First, no one comes to Christ without it and second, no believer grows in Christ without walking in daily repentance. This walk of repentance on a daily basis is actually something we are called to do continually. That is what we do when we obey our Lord in taking up our own cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23) and present ourselves as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). None of you truly in Christ can say you are blameless in and of yourself. You, like me, are a sinner who is saved by grace through faith as God’s gift. This salvation makes us blameless in God’s eyes, but we still must come continually to the throne of grace to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), which both humbles us and God uses this to grow us in Christlikeness as he forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. As Jesus told Peter on that last Passover before going to the Cross.

8 Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:8-11 (NASB) 

So, we must come to our Lord for daily cleansing. Those who are not clean cannot do this of course. They must first be called, regenerated, and justified in order to be clean as all true believers are.

In the devotion below from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for December 18 we see the necessity of rending the heart in true repentance and what the only source for that is.

C. H. Spurgeon

“Rend your heart, and not your garments.”—Joel 2:13.

GARMENT-RENDING and other outward signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most multiplied and minute ceremonial regulations—for such things are pleasing to the flesh—but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of the carnal men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from vital godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of heaven.

HEART-RENDING is divinely wrought and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the elect of God, and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Saviour’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their vestures in the day of lamentation.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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