“Only God knows our hearts, and only He knows whether this person has sincerely put his faith in Christ as his Lord and Savior. Jesus warned, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). – Billy Graham, 2007
How many times have we heard that statement concerning someone who is misbehaving? I’ve heard it used as a door-closer by people living in wanton sin, i.e., “Well, only God knows my heart.” Yep, and He knows that it is corrupt. As for judging, Christ made it clear that we should judge a righteous judgement (John 7:24). The Apostle Paul wrote that we should judge the ones in the church.
“For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’” – 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
Nonetheless, for as long as I can remember the notion that only God knows our hearts has been applied to everyone that claims to be a Christian but does not bear the fruit. There are several reasons why that statement is not true.
First, it is not scriptural. Instead, it is one of those quasi-verses that people quote as if it exists in the Bible, such as, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” No one ever quotes an actual New Testament scripture that backs up the claim that ONLY God knows our hearts.
Second, a genuine Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of Truth that leads us into all truth. The truth is, the Holy Spirit knows all hearts. That means that He can reveal to God’s people the corrupt heart of an individual when necessary.
“For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
In other words, naturally, only an individual knows his or her heart, but that is an illustration, not a rule. If it were a rule, then the Holy Spirit would not know all things.
“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:10
“But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.” – 1 Corinthians 2:15
Next, if an individual claiming to be a child of God is genuine, the Holy Spirit in us will bear witness to our spirits that the Holy Spirit is in him or her.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” – Romans 8:16
Furthermore, we are commanded to “guard what is committed to our trust” (1 Timothy 6:20). That would be impossible if we did not have the means to know the condition of people’s hearts. We would not recognize the evil workers and seducers sent by Satan into the assembly.
If the Holy Spirit does not reveal to godly leaders and other ones the wicked heart of a deceiver, then all may be deceived.
What does God’s word declare?
“But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,” – John 2:24
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” – Matthew 9:4
Do God’s people filled with the Holy Spirit have that same ability?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” – John 14:12
An example in the O.T. is the prophet Ezekiel knowing someone’s heart by the Spirit of God. (2 Kings 8:11-13)
An example in the New Testament is Paul knowing someone’s heart in spite of their apparent good fruit.
“This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.” – Acts 16:17-18
There is also this example of Peter knowing the heart of someone that claimed to be saved.
“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” – Acts 8:22-23
I can testify that numerous times the Holy Spirit has revealed someone’s heart to me who on the surface appeared to be godly. One claimed to be a prophetess but turned out to be a witch. Several times when I was a young minister I did not accept what He revealed because the individual seemed to be genuine. I paid a price for that error.
In conclusion, we need to recognize that we do not have to wait until a false “minister of righteousness” has run amuck in the fellowship of believers. Although we do not have the ability to pry into people’s hearts and read their minds at will, when necessary the Holy Spirit will reveal a wicked heart. Christ did not leave us in a world of supernatural deception that our minds are no match for. By the Holy Spirit, we are partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:2-4).
Although false prophets dressed in sheep’s clothing are most difficult to discern, Christ does not declare that we can ONLY know them by their fruits, but WILL know. He does not state that true prophet, a pastor, watchman, or another leader, cannot know them by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 7:15-20). Deceivers do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit and thus there is no witness in our spirit that they are of God.
We do not have to wait until a deceiver has seduced people with deception before exposing him or her. The idea that Satan’s emissaries cannot be recognized spirituality, so we must give the upper hand to our enemy, is not sustained by God’s word.
I anticipate some individuals to say, “Oh, so you think you are a super-saint!”
No, but I think that status would be quite a lot better than being a sub-saint in this period of deception. It does not take a prophet to know what is going on today. There is great and final deception so clever if possible it could deceive the very elect. Last Days deceivers may not appear as evil, but as genuine, compassionate, spiritual, and loving Believers. It is not possible that their deception will deceive the very elect because they are filled with the Holy Spirit and knowledge. He looks behind the mask so that we can know their hearts.