Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be known by God? Inside and out? Is it even possible that God knows the heart of people?
This is one of those things that can be really hard to wrap our minds around. When we actually do wrap our minds about it, it seems a little intimidating.
If the Lord sees the heart then doesn’t He see all of me? The good, the broken, and the ugly? How could He still love me after that?
What does it mean “God looks at the heart?”
Where in the Bible does it say that God looks at the heart?
How does God search the heart?
We’re going to venture through the Bible and answer some of these questions.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrases God judges the heart or God tests your heart and you have big questions. My hope is that this will be the article that brings calm to your worry.
What Does the Bible Say About God Knowing the Heart?
God knows more about us than we can wrap our heads around. All our quirks and silly tendencies, our fears, our desires; God knows.
I used to think of my heart as a vault. I thought everything in there was hidden from sight and no that no one would have access to my heart unless I gave them the key. That may be true for our earthly relationships, but it’s not the case with God.
What does the Bible say about God looking at the heart? The Bible says nothing is hidden from Him Which means even the parts of your heart that you’ve kept to yourself, God sees them. God sees all.
Where does the Bible does it say God sees all? Hebrews 4:13 says,
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Jesus Knows the Heart of Man
This is good news!
Have you ever felt misunderstood? Because God knows the intimate details of how we think and feel, He gets us! He understands the things about us that no one else understands.
That dream that buried in your heart that you’re not ready to share with the world? God knows all about it. He knows what it means to you. There’s a good chance He even planted it there.
What about the hurt you’ve experienced that you thought you had to deal with on your own (because explaining it all is just too hard). You don’t have to hurt or heal alone anymore because without you even saying a word, God knows.
It’s a blessing to be known by God.
Even the embarrassing stuff; the mistakes, the temptations, the sinful choices we’ve made – those are all things we try to conceal in our hearts.
The good news is, what God sees in your heart doesn’t change the way He loves. His love for you is unshakable.
Paul describes it this way in Romans 8,
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, not things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
No matter how broken your life is, you can’t escape God’s love for you. It’s real and its forever.
God looks at the hearts and He sees how we struggle. Our struggles might scare people away, but they don’t scare God. In fact, He saw us in our brokenness, and instead of running away, He took a giant leap towards and gave us the most incredible love-inspired gift He could. He gave us Jesus (see Romans 5:8).
If you’ve ever been afraid that God knows your heart; don’t be afraid anymore. His ability to see what’s in our hearts allows Him to love us perfectly; better than any person ever could.
That’s even greater news!
How many of us have had the best intentions in hard situations but messed up while trying to carry out our intentions?
How many of us have tried our best only to have others assume the worst about our intentions?
With God, there’s no confusion, no mix-ups, no uncertainties. He doesn’t get hung up on appearances or misconstrue our actions. God looks at the heart and He simply knows.
Where does it say God looks at the outward appearance but man looks at the heart?
Believe it or not, that is God’s response to the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7
God had told Samuel to go to Bethlehem to the family of Jesse the shepherd to anoint the next king of Judah. Seven of Jesse’s sons were brought before Samuel and the Lord dismissed each one of them. Even Eliab. When Samuel saw Eliab he said to God, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” (see 1 Samuel 16:6). To his surprise, the Lord responded,
…Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
God looks at the heart, man looks at the outside.
People may miss judge us, God never will.
Why does God look at the heart of man?
Our hearts reveal our motives and intentions. As much as we like to think life is all about our actions, God is equally as interested in what drives our actions (motives). God looks at the motives of the heart for evidence of righteousness in our hearts.
Our motives reveal who we are living for and the things we care about. When God searches the heart He can see the “why” behind our thoughts and choices. The Bible tells us that God judges the intents of the hearts (see Hebrews 4:14).
If the intents of our heart honor Him, He encourages us to continue with them.
If our intents are misguided, because He loves us, He’ll correct us.
Another God knows the intents of your heart scripture I find helpful is,
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doing.
This is why the book of Proverbs has so much to say about guarding the heart.
You and I judge based on what we can see, but our vision is limited to actions. So while we come to conclusions based on actions and appearances, the Lord searches the heart.
8 Things God Searches the Heart to Find
How does God Search the Heart? What exactly is God looking for in our hearts? Let me start by saying this list is not extensive or complete. There are probably ways to simplify it, and certain things to add to it. That being said, for the new follower of Jesus, this list is a simple start.
- His Words.
- Love for Him.
- Love for People.
God Searches the Heart for Humility.
Humility keeps us teachable. It is what allows us to receive direction and correction from God. It’s humility that leads to repentance and inspires us to pray prayers like this one (prayed by King David),
Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Humility also positions us to serve others with the same love Jesus did. It’s a frame of reference for how we view God, others, and ourselves.
God Looks At The Heart To See If His Words Are There.
One of the things God loved about David was that David delighted in God’s laws and teachings. He clung tightly to them for the primary purpose of honoring God.
Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.
The Bible is the foundation of our lives as Christians. When God searches your heart, will His words and instruction be found there?
God Searches the Heart for Sin.
Not to condemn you for it, but to cleanse you from it. God knows that sin costs us. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, He bore the eternal cost of our sins supplied grace for you and me. Sin still has consequences here on earth, and God doesn’t want us tripped up in them. So when He searches our hearts He searches for sin. When He finds sin He reveals it to us (this is called conviction) and helps us get back on the right path.
His kindness leads us to repentance (see Romans 2:4). God searches the heart so He can cleanse it and if need be, give us a new one (see Ezekiel 36:26).
The Lord Looks At the Heart to See Our Love for Him.
The greatest freedom we will ever know is a result of our love and commitment to God. We follow what we love; if we truly love God and walk with Him He’ll lead us into an abundant and eternal life with Him. That is why He gives the command,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6:5 (see also Matthew 22:37 and Exodus 20:3)
One key characteristic of the Proverbs 31 woman is her reverence for God (see Proverbs 31:30). With reverence comes loyalty. When God searches your heart, do you think He’ll find a loyal and steadfast love for Him there?
God’s Love for people.
A relationship with God is a very personal one, but it doesn’t stop with you and Jesus. Part of loving Him is loving who He loves. Loving other people.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest, Jesus responded by giving them two commandments. We read the first just a moment ago. What was the second?
“…You shall love your neighbor as yourself…” Matthew 22:38
Is there a place in your heart for loving people? Do your words and actions reflect this love? ‘
A Heart of Obedience.
Growing up my mom would often correct us with the phrase, “obedience is better than sacrifice.” If wasn’t until early adulthood that I learned she was quoting scripture; 1 Samuel 15:22 to be exact.
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”
1 Samuel 15:22
King David makes the same point in Psalms in his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51,
“For you do not desire sacrifice or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart – these, O God, You do not despise.
God wants to produce in us repentant hearts; hearts that are grieved by sin and willing to turn away from it. Hearts of obedience. Why? Because obedience to God is evidence of our love for Him (. The sacrifice provided a solution to sin legally. Obedience brings healing relationally.
God Searches Your Heart to Guard It.
God partners with us to protect our hearts and minds from things that don’t belong; hurt and fear are two great examples of things He helps us guard against (see Philippians 4:4).
More often than not, hurt hardens our hearts. Hurt that goes unattended has the potential to lead us into unhealthy (and even sinful) choices and emotions.
God searches the heart for hurt so that He can bring healing.
He searches the heart for fear so He can help you conquer it.
God Searches the Heart for Holiness
Have you ever heard of the term “set apart”? It’s a phrase God uses to describes the distinction between people who live for God and people who don’t.
Set apart is as much a mentality as it is an action or condition of the heart.
When we live set apart we intentionally make choices that honor and protect our relationship with God. We learn to love what He loves, value what He values, and pursue what He pursues. These choices pull us farther and farther from the norms of this world and feed our desire for the ways of God.
Holiness is the result of God’s ongoing work in our lives. We may never be perfect people, but when God searches the heart, will He see evidence of His work in your life there? Or will He see evidence of resistance?
God wants us to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16), set apart for Him (Romans 8:9 and 1 Peter 2:9), and holy like He is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16 and Leviticus 19:2); holiness becomes a part of our new identity in Christ. But that is all the result of heart work that can only be accomplished with God’s help.
God Looks At The Heart Bible Verses
One of my favorite God looks at the heart quotes from the Bible is this search my heart verse found in the book of Psalms.
Psalm 139:23-24 – Search me O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting.
Does God know my heart? Yes. Verses like the one above remind me that’s not a bad thing! There is so much good that comes from God knowing the condition of our hearts and what is in them. Because He knows us that intimately, He can love us perfectly.
His love leads to life.
Below are 10 more the Lord sees the heart quotes from the Bible for you to study and pray through. If you’re new to prayer and need tips for getting started, my book A Woman’s Guide to Steadfast Prayer is full of simple and practical tips that radically changed the way I pray and strengthened my relationship with Jesus.
Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.
Proverbs 21:2 – Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
Psalms 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.
Acts 28:27 – For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears, they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn and I would heal them.
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Psalm 26:2 – Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind.
Acts 8:22 – Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.8 Things God Searches the Heart Hoping to Find