Caves are scary. Whenever I hear mention of them, I can’t help thinking about a hibernating bear being awakened by an intruder. The bear isn’t very forgiving either. If I were to ever get lost in the woods, don’t ever look for me in a cave. I won’t be there! According to cave biology, a cave has three distinct parts—Entrance Zone, Twilight Zone and Dark Zone.
The entrance zone isn’t much different than the outside. Light penetrates freely and vegetation grows liberally. The temperature fluctuates depending on the outside. Imagine your heart as a cave. The entrance zone represents the part of your life that is obvious to anyone around. It’s easily accessible. If anyone were to get close enough, they would see your moral code and discover your disapproval of our ungodly society. It will be plain to see you’d never practice the “big” sins: stealing, drinking, adultery, murder, etc from this view point. However, if you only focus on this shortsighted section of your spiritual life, you can easily fall into a state of half-hearted devotion to God. God wants your whole heart not just the surface (Revelations 3:16). A large majority live comfortably in this part of the cave their whole Christian life.
If we go deeper, we find the twilight zone. Here the light begins to dim significantly. Vegetation is minimal. Bats and moths habituate in this environment. Temperatures still vary but are more constant. This represents the part of the heart that few are willing to expose. Living at the surface is much more pleasant. Going deeper requires the light to expose what you don’t really want to acknowledge—things that are hidden that if anyone else knew about would bring shame and guilt. However, when there is a longing to come closer to God, to know Him more intimately, you will allow the light of God’s word to expose any area of darkness.
But wait, there’s more. The last part of the cave is the dark zone. It is so deep down that light is nonexistent. The temperature does not fluctuate and there’s no vegetation. Troglobites live here. These are insects with little pigmentation, undeveloped eyes and antennas to feel their way around the darkness. This represents the part of your heart that Satan really works in—the part that many won’t surrender to God. I like to call this “The Deception Zone” because you’re usually blind to what is going on here. Only those that seek God with their whole hearts will venture into this area. When Jesus’ words penetrate this dark place, you will be willing to give up things that separate you from Him. Your character will change; you will act and think more like Him; you will strive to please God more than man. But it requires taking hold of His word to expose any deception.
Deception comes from the root word deceive. Dictionary.com states it this way: to mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude. The book of Jeremiah states, “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? ‘I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind…’” (17:9-10). Satan has “tricked” our hearts to think we don’t have to change—we are fine just like we are. We do our Christian duty on Sunday and that’s it. Deception keeps us in denial and blind to our current state. In fact, most people (Christians) would never admit that they were being deceived, by the devil. We’re in denial when we harbor unforgiveness, bitterness, idolatry, slander and pride. From the surface these don’t always reveal themselves through these awful names. Most times we wouldn’t even call them sin. They can easily be hidden by subtle phrases such as: I’m upset with this person (unforgiveness), I dislike her (bitterness), I adore this band (idolatry), this is what they did to me (slander), I’m just overconfident (pride).
In Proverbs 21:2 we read, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” From the surface things seem normal, but God sees the deepest parts of our hearts and what our true motives are. He will weigh our hearts through circumstances or tests. The true state of our heart is revealed, not for God to see, but our own eyes. It’s for our repentance, so that our hearts can come clean and we can draw closer to our God (Hebrews 12:14).