This fine old hymn was penned in 1899 by Elisha Hoffman, a Presbyterian preacher who seemed to have a great way of expressing his faith in poetry and song. This is a bit out of the norm, because he was not trained in music. He wrote some excellent hymns which are still in the major hymn publications and are favorites of song leaders, acapella directors and groups.
Some of his other works include:
- Are You Washed In The Blood?
- I Must Tell Jesus
- Glory To His Name
- To Christ Be Loyal and Be True
- Leaning On The Everlasting Arms
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s song writers and poets were commissioned songs of a theme to accompany a tent meeting or “Revival.” Prominent evangelists would seek the likes of Fanny J. Crosby and others to come up with lyrics / poetry and a music composer to provide a suitable tune for an upcoming meeting.
Many of our great old hymns were penned this way. Mr. Hoffman, however, wrote from the heart and not for a commission. Most of his songs are teaching Biblical principals and attitudes.
I’m certain he found his “hook” for the song in Acts 8:21 when Simon the sorcerer was trying to buy the ability to bestow powers. He was sharply rebuked because his heart was not right.
(20) But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money.
(21) Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God.
It seems Mr. Hoffman understood the meaning of Ephesians 5:19.
- (19) speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
Our singing is not for the purpose of entertaining the congregation. It is to praise God and to encourage and teach one another.
In this song, we are encouraged to consider our priorities and self discipline.
It want’s to know if we have emptied ourselves of the sin which has separated us from God.
It uses questions to inspire thought and provides the answer by the way the question is asked. By asking “Have thine affections been nailed to the cross?” and “dost thou count all things for Jesus but loss?” He is coaching us to nail our affections to the cross and count all things for loss for Jesus sake.
The overall message of the song is: Have you surrendered your behavior to our Lord?
Consider also that his message in the song is Biblicly accurate and true.
(6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;
(7) for he that hath died is justified from sin.
(8) But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;
(9) knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him.
(10) For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
(11) Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
(12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof:
(13) neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
(1) Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children;
(2) and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.
(3) But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints;
(4) nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.
(5) For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
(6) Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience.
(7) Be not ye therefore partakers with them;
(8) for ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light
(9) (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
(10) proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord;
(11) and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them;
(12) for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of.
(13) But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light.
(14) Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.
(15) Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise;
(16) redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
(17) Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Check the outline for this text:
- Be imitators of God 1
- Walk in love 2
- Get rid of filthiness, covetousness, foolish talk and jesting, fornication, etc. 4-6
- Your right walk proves what pleases God 10
(20) I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
- Galatians 5:22-24
- (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
- (23) meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.
- (24) And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.
I think Mr. Hoffman understood all of these texts. Our behavior should have us visible to the world around. We should act differently than the world. It’s not popular, but living a Godly life manifesting the fruit of the Spirit is a great life with a promise of eternal life for obeying your God and being “right” with Him. You can’t be perfect, so the blood of His son, Jesus is there to bridge the gap when we fail him.
So: Is Thy Heart Right With God?