When Paul and Barnabas arrived at the church in Jerusalem, all the apostles and elders met and considered the question of circumcision. After much discussion, Peter, the apostle that Jesus chose to take care of the believers after He ascended to Heaven, stood up and said these words, "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:6-11).
Peter reminded everyone that God accepted the Gentiles because of their faith. God knew their sincere hearts. As believers, we need to understand that God looks at our hearts to see if we are sincere in our faith in Him. It is not the good works we do but the motives of our hearts that matter to God. When the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, it was a sign that God accepted them. They didn't need to follow the Law of circumcision. In the past, God commanded the Israelites to be circumcised as a sign that they belonged to the family of God. However, the Israelites' circumcision became an outward appearance. They were circumcised, but their hearts did not have faith in God. God wanted their hearts more than anything else.
We have to examine our hearts before God because He always looks at our hearts to see if we believe in Him. It is our faith that draws us close to God. When we genuinely believe in God, God purifies or cleanses our hearts. All the good works of God in us begins from our faith in Him. As we believe in God, He changes us so we may do what pleases Him.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). How can a person be accepted by God? Have I examined my heart to see if I truly believe in Jesus? What happens when I genuinely believe in Jesus?
Father in Heaven, I am saved and forgiven because of my faith in my Lord Jesus. You have accepted me not because of the good works that I have done but through faith in my Lord Jesus. I can do good works because of the Holy Spirit that is at work within me. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for you are constantly working in my heart. Convicting me of my sin and giving me the strength to do what is right. May you continue to soften my heart to listen and do what is right before my Heavenly Father. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.