The fact that the outside is a delayed response to the inside works both ways. Sometimes you can have a person who is right on the inside, but not all of the outward behavior has changed yet to be what it ought to be. But if the inside is truly right, then those outward things will, in time, begin to change. In the same way, you can have someone who looks great on the outside, but they’ve got sin on the inside that will eventually show up on the outside in some way. By the time sin gets to the outside, it has already been growing and worsening in the heart. You could look great to everyone around you, and yet there could be something going on deep down inside. There could be a cancer that is eating away in your heart, a cancer that is ready to destroy you and destroy those around you if you let it go long enough.

When God looks down today, He doesn’t just see the outside. He’s looking at your heart. What does your heart look like?

Now, would you like to be able to see what someone’s heart looks like? The Bible tells us, in Proverbs 27:19, that you can actually see what a person’s heart looks like. This is one of my favorite verses. “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” This verse is describing the effect of a mirror. When you look in a mirror, you’re seeing what you really are. The mirror doesn’t lie. The writer of Proverbs makes a comparison in this verse. When you see two people talking together, having a good time together, and enjoying each other’s company, you can see that those two people have some things in common. In some ways, they’re mirror images of each other.

You may look at your teenage son and say, “Oh, he’s doing well. I know he doesn’t hang around the best crowd, but he’s doing just fine.” No, he’s not doing fine—there’s something in his heart that is attracting him to the wrong kinds of friends. When we look at a person’s friends, we’re seeing (at least in some ways) a mirror image. There may be some outward differences, but their hearts are a reflection of each other. When you see a person’s friends, you see a reflection of what that person really is. The heart is what matters.

Repentance Without Replacement is Not True Repentance

There is a theme of repentance that goes through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Repentance means that I have changed my mind about something. For the unbeliever, it means changing my mind and turning away from whatever is keeping me from turning to Jesus. Jesus said, “I tell you nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

If someone says he has repented in some area, but his life is the same as it was before, there hasn’t really been repentance. When someone has truly repented, his heart and life is going to be filled with something different.

I’ve had people ask me, “Well, if I was a Christian, what would I do?” One thing is for sure: they would do some things differently than they did before. They would replace some of their wrong attitudes, habits, and actions with right attitudes, habits, and actions. They would replace the bad with good. Repentance without replacement is not true repentance.

There are Christians who allow sin to creep into their lives. They aren’t happy about the sin and don’t want it to be there, but for some reason they can’t seem to get past it. They can be tired of the wrong things, wanting to get rid of them, yet still not be able to do so. Why? Because life isn’t a vacuum, and you can’t just take something out. You’ve got to not only take out the bad, but immediately replace it with something good.

For example, if you have a problem with saying wrong, hurtful things to people, you can’t just stop talking altogether. It won’t work. Instead, you must purposefully, deliberately replace the hurtful words with kind, uplifting words. Instead of cutting down, you need to build up. You can’t just remove the bad. You’ve got to intentionally and deliberately replace the wrong with right.