First Smoke

Psalm 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Observation: In this simple phrase we discover again Scripture’s commitment to utter honesty. As severe as a “fool’s judgment” must surely be, the passage goes on to declare the universality of fools: “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Verse 3)

Application: It is worth noticing that a fool disclaims God “in his heart”, as opposed to shouting his convictions from the city square. Although some have indeed been that demonstrative, most of us are not willing to take so public a stand. It is as though there is an inner, secret yearning for an ultimate judge, for one who could govern the affairs of man and bring order out of decay, and enlightened understanding out of encroaching darkness.

Most of us well know that there is indeed such a powerful, awful presence brooding in the background of our lives, watching and waiting to pounce. Why else would young boys sneak their first smoke in hiding? Hearts racing, hunkered into a tight clutch against the match-defeating breeze (whom do they think sent that breeze anyway?) They hide precisely because they well know rebellion is not safe. There remains a measure of fear that the persistent breeze may carry mother’s voice as she inspects the puffs of smoke coming from the garage.

Proverbs 23:7 states my problem clearly: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Thoughts lead to behavior, and repeated behavior leads to depravity of the kind described in the balance of Psalm 14:1, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Let’s say I have been convicted of some sinful behavior such as inner lusting for wealth or sex. I have sought counsel because something within yearns for intimacy with Him, and I understand lust to interfere with intimacy, yet I nonetheless take a questionable tax deduction. Or, perhaps I’ve had a problem with pornography. After years of my best efforts I am “mostly” victorious, yet I grow nervous as I approach the magazine aisle, knowing my eyes can so easily lead to sinful behavior. This is a plague of the deadliest kind, manifesting a form of Godliness, but without power to prevail in intimacy with Him.

The reality is my actions disclose my heart condition. Paul writes of this in Titus 1:16 where he says, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for anything good.” Do I think he is only describing the other guy?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You alone have the power to deliver me fully and permanently from my heart sicknesses. Work there, Lord, for it is there that behaviors change. Let me never again be like the furtive, foolish boy hiding his first smoke.

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