Some believe that forgiveness of sins is all that is needed, and thus conclude that growing in the heart of Christ is superfluous and unnecessary. They imagine that 1) if sin separates us from God, then 2) removing the sin will unite us with God. This is a major misunderstanding. It is a fact that “. . . out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Judas had an evil heart. Whether Judas’ sins were forgiven or not, he still had an evil heart and out of the abundance of that heart, his mouth was going to speak. If God forgave his sins a million times, he would still have the same heart. He would still speak the same evil words. Sin is a matter of God’s record. Sin is transgression of God’s law. Once a man transgresses God’s law, it becomes a matter of history. God puts that sin on his record. God can forgive that sin, and blot those sins out of his book. All that takes place in God’s book. It is a matter of record, not of heart. The real key to controlling the body is the heart of man. We are not belittling the Lord’s part in forming the heart, but emphasizing the need to deal with our hearts, not just our bodies.
Whether the sins have been forgiven or not, the heart remains the same, and produces the same sins (Matt. 15:19), unless or until it is purified. We are commanded to purify our hearts (James 4:8). “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3). God also promises to help. He promises that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to 1) forgive us our sins, and 2) to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). These are two separate actions. He will blot our sins from his record and cleanse our hearts. Consider what God’s cleansing will do. Cleansing of the heart will stop the sin in the future. We need not think that the promise to forgive and cleanse us is based on mere faith only or confession only. We know that we are required to have faith and patience and many other things which are also a part of this cleansing or purging (Heb. 12:5-11). God does his part when we do our part. Our sins can be forgiven, but unless our hearts are changed, they will continue to be the source of the same words and actions. Forgiveness of sins is essential, but it is not the only essential part. Until that evil heart is cleansed, it will continue to produce evil words and deeds. The key is not only forgiveness of sins, but the power of a pure heart (Matt. 5:8).