Summary: If the intent of our hearts is important to us, how much more important is the issue of the intent of our hearts to our God.
“The God Who Knows The Heart”
AC 15:1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved."  This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.  The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad.  When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
AC 15:5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses."
AC 15:6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question.  After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: "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 made no distinction 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 the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers 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."
AC 15:12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.  When they finished, James spoke up: "Brothers, listen to me.  Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself.  The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
AC 15:16 " `After this I will return
and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
AC 15:17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’
AC 15:18 that have been known for ages.
AC 15:19 "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.  For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."
Intent: (American Heritage Dictionary) That which is intended, aim; purpose. Firmly fixed, concentrated. A stretching out, to stretch toward.
We are a people of intent. A people of intentions. We judge others based upon their intentions. We take action based upon our own intentions.
1. In criminal court cases. Premeditation Vs Absence of Malice.
2. As a father with a daughter’s date.
3. Wrong understanding... New Year’s Eve resolutions.
If we are nothing else, we are a people of intentions. We stretch out or stretch toward various actions that we accept as important to us. We base our opinions on the values and character of our nature and instinct. So, if intent is central to our understanding of our world, how much more important is the issue of intent to our God? Our God knows our hearts. Why? Because he is able to know our hearts, he needs to know to know our hearts, and because he wants to know our hearts.
BACKGROUND ON PASSAGE
I. God is able to know our hearts.
a. Psalm 139
PS 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
PS 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
PS 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
PS 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
PS 139:5 You hem me in--behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
PS 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
PS 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?