Psalm 139 is a favorite of mine. It can be very comforting knowing that God is intimately familiar with me. He knows my struggles, my good intentions, what I long for and what I need.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
On the other hand, God knows my demons, my sinful thoughts, my envious, hateful, spiteful and selfish thoughts. He not only sees the good things I do that I want others to know; he sees the bad things I do that I want no one to see. The idea that God knows me so well – even better than I know myself – is both a wonderful and a fearful thing!
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
King David’s question is rhetorical of course. The answer is surely nowhere. Nowhere can I go that God is not present. David takes comfort in that thought.
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
That knowledge is as unnerving as it is comforting. Nowhere can I go that God is not present and nothing can I do, or even think, that God does not know it.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden, their first reaction was to hide themselves from God. People have been hiding from God ever since. It is as futile an exercise as it is foolish. God’s knows every hair on our heads, and He knows every thought that runs through our heads. He surely knows every action that we take. There is nothing we can hide from God.
Jesus lamented, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:26-28 He sees past the outside – what we do and say for others to see. God sees into our hearts – places that we dare not even look at times.
Jesus also upped the ante: He said, the law states “thou shall not commit murder” and “thou shall not commit adultery,” but one who harbors anger against another person is subject to judgment and one who harbors lustful thoughts for his neighbor’s wife has committed adultery in his heart. Matthew 5:20-28
What is the point? We fool only ourselves and maybe others (certainly not everyone) to think that we are in any way righteous. There is no hiding from God. If the law of do’s and don’t’s is not enough to convince us that we are imperfect, sinful beings, then consider that every thought is measured against perfection. There is nowhere to hide.
Consider also that everything will be exposed. “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-6 Imagine a video of all of the bad things you have done, all of the hateful, hurtful thoughts, played in front of God, you and all mankind when the curtain falls on your life.
The terrible truth is that every person has sinned; we have all missed the mark God set for us. Ephesians 2:23 If anyone claims he has not sinned, he is a liar. John 1:10
The devil is a liar and the father of all lies. John 8:44 Satan would have us bury those miserable thoughts and deeds and keep the skeletons in the closet, not admitting them even to those closest to us, not even to oursleves.
God is truth. John 4:24 There is no escaping God, but God desires mercy, not sacrifice and burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 He is not looking for people who do everything right; he is looking for people who have a right heart.
If we step into the light, our condition is exposed. But, that is where we find truth; that is where we find God. Our natural inclination is to shrink back, but God calls us out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:8-10 In that light, with our sinfulness exposed, we ask for forgiveness, and our sins are forgiven.
God is truth, and we draw near to God when we draw near to truth, even the ugly truth of the sin that lies in our own hearts. Only in the light God’s truth can we find the comfort that comes from communion with God in spirit and truth. “[A] time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
“Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-3
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.