Proverbs 4:4 says – “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live…Verses 20-23 – “My son pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words; do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is a wellspring of life!”
In other words, the “heart” guides the outcome of one’s life, or it determines the course of your life. Where your heart is, the rest follows! Your life will follow the desires and the passions of your heart. The heart must be made new by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. If the heart is not changed, neither is the man. (Ezekiel 36:26 -27 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit within you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh…”
John Flavel very wisely observed that “The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God!”
Christianity affects the heart. It is not a system of moral conduct. Salvation is the work of God in a person’s heart. It is the conviction of sin, it is repentance, it is faith, and it is worship; all of which are works of the heart.
J. Stowell in “Fan The Flame” said “Heart is used in scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It is the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thoughts, understanding and will.” The heart is the place to which God turns, and scripture tells us it is the place God sees our true self. “Man looks on the outside, but God sees the heart!” Before anyone can “keep his heart” in a manner that will please God, there must be a reconstruction of the heart!
How does a worm get inside an apple? Scientists have discovered that the worm comes from the inside. An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom, and sometime later the worm hatches inside the apple and eats its way out. Sin – like the worm – begins in the heart and works its way out through a person’s thoughts, words, and actions. (Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony and slander.”)
If in God’s Word we need to be reminded about guarding our heart, then it is possible that at times our hearts are “unguarded” and that would bring us problems. This would mean that our hearts are open to attack. The unguarded heart would allow all sorts of disruptive, useless, and harmful stuff to corrupt our lives, and compromise our decision making.
The world tries to tackle the problem of the heart in a number of ways; Psychology, and psychiatry try to change the heart through drugs and human manipulation that will do no good. Some try social reformation by changing the environment, which only transfers the problem; it’s like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship! Some say the problem is ignorance and the solution is education and enlightening peoples understanding, but it only makes for “smarter criminals” as the police would say. While all of these may or may not be important, unless the heart is changed, they are of no use.
The Holy Spirit must come in with sovereign life giving power to create a new heart in Christ Jesus, and through the new birth – we become new creations. “Above all else, guard your heart” – Is it God’s job? (No) It is our responsibility to “keep” or “guard” our heart…”above all else!” It is more important than church attendance; more than tithing; more than serving; more than _______ you fill in the blank. (Why?) Because the heart guides and determines the course of our life!
Again, where your heart is, the rest follows! Your life will follow the desires and the passions of your heart. The heart must be made new by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit…If the heart is not changed, neither is the man.
Continued next week…