Create in me a clean heart - Mending will not avail; my heart is altogether corrupted; it must be new made, made as it was in the beginning. This is exactly the sentiment of St. Paul: Neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation; and the salvation given under the Gospel dispensation is called a being created anew in Christ Jesus.
A right spirit within me - נכון רוח ruach nachon, a constant, steady, determined spirit; called Psalm 51:12, נדיבה רוח ruach nedibah, a noble spirit. a free, generous, princely spirit; cheerfully giving up itself to thee; no longer bound and degraded by the sinfulness of sin.
Create in me a clean heart, O God - The word rendered “create,” ברא berâ' - is a word which is properly employed to denote an act of “creation;” that is, of causing something to exist where there was nothing before. It is the word which is used in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God “created” the heaven and the earth,” and which is commonly used to express the act of creation. It is used “here” evidently in the sense of causing that to exist which did not exist before; and there is clearly a recognition of the divine “power,” or a feeling on the part of David that this could be done by God alone. The idea is, however, not that a new “substance” might be brought into being to which the name “a clean heart” might be given, but that he might “have” a clean heart; that his heart might be made pure; that his affections and feelings might be made right; that he might have what he was conscious that he did “not” now possess - a clean or a pure heart. This, he felt, could be produced only by the power of God; and the passage, therefore, proves that it is a doctrine of the Old Testament, as it is of the New, that the human heart is changed only by a divine agency.
And renew a right spirit within me - Margin, “a constant spirit.” The Hebrew word - נכון nākûn - means properly, that which is “erect,” or that which is made to stand up, or which is firm or established. It is used to denote
(b) that which is right, true, sincere, Psalm 78:37;
(c) that which is firm, constant, fixed.
This would seem to be the meaning here. He prays for a heart that would be firm in the purposes of virtue; that would not yield to temptation; that would carry out holy resolutions; that would be stedfast in the service of God. The word “renew” here means to be or to make new; to produce something new. It is also used in the sense of making anew, as applied to buildings or cities in the sense of “rebuilding” or “repairing” them: Isaiah 61:4; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Chronicles 24:4. The word here would naturally convey the idea that there had been formerly a right and proper spirit in him, which he prayed might now be restored. The language is that of one who had done right formerly, but who had fallen into sin, and who desired that he might be brought back into his former condition.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence,” is the counsel of the wise man; “for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. As man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. The heart must be renewed by divine grace, or it will be in vain to seek for purity of life. He who attempts to build up a noble, virtuous character independent of the grace of Christ is building his house upon the shifting sand. In the fierce storms of temptation it will surely be overthrown. David's prayer should be the petition of every soul: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. And having become partakers of the heavenly gift, we are to go on unto perfection, being “kept by the power of God through faith.” 1 Peter 1:5. PP 460.1
Yet we have a work to do to resist temptation. Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every subject that the adversary of souls may suggest. “Girding up the loins of your mind,” says the apostle Peter, “Be sober, ... not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in ... your ignorance: but like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living.” 1 Peter 1:13-15, R.V. Says Paul, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. This will require earnest prayer and unceasing watchfulness. We must be aided by the abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will attract the mind upward, and habituate it to dwell on pure and holy things. And we must give diligent study to the word of God. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” “Thy word,” says the psalmist, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:9, 11. PP 460.2
Israel's sin at Beth-peor brought the judgments of God upon the nation, and though the same sins may not now be punished as speedily, they will as surely meet retribution. “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” 1 Corinthians 3:17. Nature has affixed terrible penalties to these crimes—penalties which, sooner or later, will be inflicted upon every transgressor. It is these sins more than any other that have caused the fearful degeneracy of our race, and the weight of disease and misery with which the world is cursed. Men may succeed in concealing their transgression from their fellow men, but they will no less surely reap the result, in suffering, disease, imbecility, or death. And beyond this life stands the tribunal of the judgment, with its award of eternal penalties. “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” but with Satan and evil angels shall have their part in that “lake of fire” which “is the second death.” Galatians 5:21; Revelation 20:14. PP 461.1Read in context »
26 (Psalm 51:10). How the New Heart Is Kept—One of the most earnest prayers recorded in the Word of God is that of David when he plead, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” God's response to such a prayer is, A new heart will I give you. This is a work that no finite man can do. Men and women are to begin at the beginning, seeking God most earnestly for a true Christian experience. They are to feel the creative power of the Holy Spirit. They are to receive the new heart, that is kept soft and tender by the grace of heaven. The selfish spirit is to be cleansed from the soul. They are to labor earnestly and with humility of heart, each one looking to Jesus for guidance and encouragement. Then the building, fitly framed together, will grow into a holy temple in the Lord (Letter 224, 1907). 4BC 1165.1
1-10. What Can Man's Power Do?—At one time the prophet Ezekiel was in vision set down in the midst of a large valley. Before him lay a dismal scene. Throughout its whole extent the valley was covered with the bones of the dead. The question was asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?” The prophet replied, “O Lord God, Thou knowest.” What could the might and power of man accomplish with these dead bones? The prophet could see no hope of life being imparted to them. But as he looked, the power of God began to work. The scattered bones were shaken, and began to come together, “bone to his bone,” and were bound together by sinews. They were covered with flesh, and as the Lord breathed upon the bodies thus formed, “the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army” (Manuscript 85, 1903). 4BC 1165.2Read in context »
Many accept an intellectual religion, a form of godliness, when the heart is not cleansed. Let it be your prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. Deal truly with your own soul. Be as earnest, as persistent, as you would be if your mortal life were at stake. This is a matter to be settled between God and your own soul, settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin. SC 35.1
Study God's word prayerfully. That word presents before you, in the law of God and the life of Christ, the great principles of holiness, without which “no man shall see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. It convinces of sin; it plainly reveals the way of salvation. Give heed to it as the voice of God speaking to your soul. SC 35.2
As you see the enormity of sin, as you see yourself as you really are, do not give up to despair. It was sinners that Christ came to save. We have not to reconcile God to us, but—O wondrous love!—God in Christ is “reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. He is wooing by His tender love the hearts of His erring children. No earthly parent could be as patient with the faults and mistakes of his children, as is God with those He seeks to save. No one could plead more tenderly with the transgressor. No human lips ever poured out more tender entreaties to the wanderer than does He. All His promises, His warnings, are but the breathing of unutterable love. SC 35.3Read in context »
I saw that unless there is an entire change in the young, a thorough conversion, they may despair of heaven. From what has been shown me, there are not more than half of the young who profess religion and the truth who have been truly converted. If they had been converted they would bear fruit to the glory of God. Many are leaning upon a supposed hope without a true foundation. The fountain is not cleansed, therefore the streams proceeding from that fountain are not pure. Cleanse the fountain, and the streams will be pure. If the heart is right, your words, your dress, your acts, will all be right. True godliness is lacking. I would not dishonor my Master so much as to admit that a careless, trifling, prayerless person is a Christian. No; a Christian has victory over his besetments, over his passions. There is a remedy for the sin-sick soul. That remedy is in Jesus. Precious Saviour! His grace is sufficient for the weakest; and the strongest must also have His grace or perish. 1T 158.1
I saw how this grace could be obtained. Go to your closet, and there alone plead with God: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Be in earnest, be sincere. Fervent prayer availeth much. Jacoblike, wrestle in prayer. Agonize. Jesus, in the garden, sweat great drops of blood; you must make an effort. Do not leave your closet until you feel strong in God; then watch, and just as long as you watch and pray you can keep these evil besetments under, and the grace of God can and will appear in you. 1T 158.2
God forbid that I should cease to warn you. Young friends, seek the Lord with all your heart. Come with zeal, and when you sincerely feel that without the help of God you perish, when you pant after Him as the hart panteth after the water brooks, then will the Lord strengthen you speedily. Then will your peace pass all understanding. If you expect salvation, you must pray. Take time. Be not hurried and careless in your prayers. Beg of God to work in you a thorough reformation, that the fruits of His Spirit may dwell in you, and you shine as lights in the world. Be not a hindrance or curse to the cause of God; you can be a help, a blessing. Does Satan tell you that you cannot enjoy salvation, full and free? Believe him not. 1T 158.3Read in context »