While working as an engineer at Hyster Company in Portland, Oregon, I purchased a cute little 1964 light blue rag-top VW “Bug.” We really enjoyed driving it but noticed that the steering seemed a bit loose and the front end rattled some. Thinking probably the front spindles were worn, I took the Bug to a foreign car shop near where I worked. They soon called with some bad news, saying that the body pan which ran the full length of the car was rusting out and that If I were to brake hard, the front axle may come off and that there wasn’t enough good metal to weld. I hadn’t thought about the fact that the fellow worker from whom I purchased the car had transferred from one of Hyster’s plants in Illinois where they heavily salted the roads in the winter to melt the snow and ice. If the salt is not washed off it takes its toll on vehicles and in this case had rusted out the whole bottom of the vehicle. Since a salt solution is also used on our roads in the winter, I have learned—from that experience—to frequently wash our vehicles, including underneath, to rinse off the salt before it can cause damage.
As believers, we sometimes go on for periods of time without “washing off” the contaminants of this world and our old sinful flesh that start building up on our lives. And, as with the body pan on the VW which is out of sight, we often don’t notice it happening, for it is going on in the “inner man.” If we don’t ask God to search our hearts on an ongoing basis and confess sins right away, they can accumulate and start a “rusting” of the inner man to where one day, we may “crash” and wonder what happened and why. If we had not checked out our VW Bug, we may have had a serious accident. King David in the Old Testament understood the dangers of letting sin go unconfessed for a period of time. It took a great toll on his life as he described in Psalm 32:3,4: “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” What a tremendous release and relief it was to him when he was confronted by Nathan the prophet and finally confessed (agreed with God concerning) his sin. He said: “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight…Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation…” (Psa. 51:1-12). (Notice that David did not asked God to restore his salvation, but the joy that it brought. When we allow sin to accumulate, we don’t lose our salvation, for we are secure in the One who is keeping us—I Pet. 1:3-5; Phil. 1:6—but we lose the fellowship with Him and the joy it brings.)
The cares and allurements of this sinful world, in combination with the lusts of our old nature, can gradually rob us of our testimony, our spiritual growth and our joy. David was well aware of what he had done, but we may have ignored the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit within for so long we don’t even realize how “rusty” we have become. We just wonder why our Christian life has become more of a burden than a delight. We may wonder why the joy and excitement has gone. We no longer hunger for His Word or look forward to attending the fellowship of believers. David learned from his horrific experience to let God expose his heart on a regular basis. He prayed: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there by any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psa. 139:23,24). David knew first-hand the joy of sins forgiven, and that feeling of being clean inside again. He wrote: “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Psa. 32:1,2).
How’s your joy in Jesus? If you have lost it, better inspect for “rust.” Let God do the inspecting through His Spirit and the Word of God. He alone really knows our heart. The Apostle Paul, wrote this: “I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the One who examines me is the Lord” (I Cor. 4:44). Examining ourselves with a deceitful heart (see Jer. 17: 9), we will inevitably be deceived. Our thoughts and emotions are highly complex in their working, so the knowledge derived from them is undependable. Thus introspection is dangerous. As John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I Jn. 1: 8). Let God do the “searching,” as David did. Then, as He points out sins in our life, confess them, for “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9). One of the keys to avoiding the contamination from the “roads of life” and the rust that results, is to do what David recommended in Psa. 119:9,11: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy Word. Thy Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.”