Back in grade school my brother and I would often hear our mother say, "Looks good on the outside, boys, but how about the inside?" We were dressed for church or some special occasion, shoes polished, hair slicked, tie clipped on straight, and our sport jackets buttoned as directed. Complying as we did, and having no choice, we presented ourselves the best we could, always cleaned up outwardly, but more often than not, still messy and unwilling on the inside. Such as boys are, we were. Yet her question would stick with me.
Fast forward a decade or so, and the inside left unattended begins to make itself seen on the outside. The true heart condition is now evidenced by externals that more accurately mirror an unpleasant reality. Many would be disappointed with the visible signs of rebellion, but fail to grieve over the source, the disease of the heart not cured. It is like a fanatic zeal to conceal all symptoms of a deadly disease. At first the outward behavior seems to be under control, but eventually the masking breaks down, and the the ugly conquest of the ailment is manifested openly. Sadly, many resist help.
Good news! Where outward remedies ultimately fail, there is a real cure for the ailing heart of self-willed, obstinate sin. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds! The Master Surgeon, our Creator, is the only one with the operating instruments capable of a successful treatment. His cure is the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection can empower the total transformation of the heart of every person. Disconnecting the old self-focused heart, He implants a new heart, a new mindset, new desires, a new life pursuit. The old "machine" of selfish obstinance is now replaced by a brand new "engine" which generates a willing obedience to its Maker. This inward cleansing is both thorough and lasting. It is completely His work, and our attempts to add to or take credit for the cleaning are futile and an insult.
This becomes the new reality. The inside is now changed, clean and "driven" by a new power source. Recollections of old behavior, tendencies, and thought patterns persist, but they are dwarfed by this over-riding new and more powerful nature. Furthermore, old ways are no longer controlling or enslaving, for they have been effectively rendered inoperable and obsolete! When fed, tested, and trusted, this new nature becomes the dominant force in ones life and the very reason for our existence.
Deep appreciation for my parents and the many who pointed me to the One who changes hearts! I look back and say with gratefulness, "Hey Mom, the outside is getting older, but thanks to God, the inside is clean, getting better every day, and thriving!" Thanks for asking!