Who can say, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?” Proverbs 20:9

When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?” Luke 5:22

Many times we would like to have a clear conscience. We have done something, said something, or not done something we should have and now we feel guilty. It can be easy to just sit and feel guilty and depressed. Or maybe, to just try and forget about it. However, as the Proverb says, we cannot create our own clear conscience or become pure from our sin.

Our liturgy sometimes includes this verse: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8.) We all recite this but what can we do? Proverbs says we can’t clean our own hearts. In Luke we read the story of a paralyzed man who is lowered by his friends, through a hole in the roof so he can meet Jesus. Just before verse 22, Jesus tells the man (and his friends?) that their sins are forgiven. The Pharisees in the crowd question this, of course. So Jesus responds and asks why they are raising such questions? He knows what is in their hearts, the man and his friend’s hearts, and our hearts. Jesus then proceeds to heal the  man of his paralysis, a sign they can actually see – asking which is more difficult – physical or spiritual healing.

Of course, both healings are difficult for us humans to do. Yet, they both are something that God can do. We need only to listen, have faith and confess our sins. We get to do this over and over again, every day or more often. With David, as we see in Psalm 51 we too can pray “Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Lord, examine our hearts and see our faults. We have erred and strayed, but you, O Lord, are our shepherd. Thank you that your redeeming is deeper than our questioning. Forgive our reliance on our own understanding and efforts. Guide us into the paths of righteousness. Forgive us when we have made excuses or questioned you. With pure hearts, help us to pursue your ways and do your will. Amen.

Chris Gabel