Sunday, March 3, 2013 am                    Index

The Christian’s Heart

 As we begin our study of the pure heart it is important that we understand the heart that we are talking about.  In our lesson today we want to notice some passages that address the heart that we seek to purify.

 I.                    What is the Heart?

a.       The human heart is an amazing organ.  It beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping some 2000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels.  Through this circulatory system, nutrients are delivered to every cell of the body.  Over an average lifetime, the heart will beat about 2.5 billions times. 

b.      Yet the heart we are discussing today is NOT the blood pump, though I believe the author had that in mind because of its essential purpose to survival.   As the heart pumping properly is essential to the survival of the human, so the spiritual heart properly trained is essential to sustaining our spiritual lives.  As the heart delivers nutrients to the physical body, so the spiritual heart delivers elements essential to our spiritual survival.  Just as a neglected or diseased heart will affect the quality of one’s life (and survival) so if we neglect our spiritual hearts it will affect our spiritual lives.  It really is a great comparison.

c.       The whole of the inner man – the heart we speak of in the Bible is the control center of the inner man as opposed to his physical body (which simply houses the soul). 
It is where religious life is rooted and the determiner of our moral conduct.   Jas. 1:26 – speaks of vain worship because of a deceived heart.
Prov. 4:23 tells us that out of spring the issues of life.   
Prov. 23:7 says that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.
Jesus in Luke 6:45 said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.  For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

d.       The spiritual heart is the seat of our emotions, thoughts, understanding, attitudes and will.

                                                   i.      Emotions – Joy – Acts 2:26, 14:17; Sorrow – Jn. 16:6, Rom. 9:2, 2 Cor. 2:4; Conviction – Ac. 2:37, 7:54; Concern – 2 Cor. 6:11 – “Our heart is wide open”, Phil. 1:7, “I have you in my heart…”; Desire – Rom. 10:1;  Comfort – Col. 4:8, Eph. 6:22.  ALSO negatively – lust – Rom. 1:24, Matt. 5:28, Jas. 3:14

                                                 ii.      Understanding and thought – Mark 7:21, Matt. 12:34, LK. 9:47 – Jesus perceived the thoughts of their hearts.  Heb. 4:12, etc.  ALSO negatively – Matt. 9:4, Rom. 1:21

                                                iii.      Will and attitude – 2 Cor. 9:7 – give as he purposes in his heart; Ac. 11:23 – with purpose of heart continue in the Lord.  ALSO negatively – Acts 5:3-4, Jn. 13:2 – Judas Iscariot – the devil put it into his heart to betray Jesus.

  II.                  What does the Bible say about this heart?

a.       Prov. 2:10-13 – When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you.”

b.      Prov. 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

c.       Prov. 15:28, “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.”

d.      Prov. 21:2, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.”

e.      Psa. 51:10  – David in one of his penitential (repentance) psalms said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

f.        1 Sam. 16:7 – When the Lord sent Samuel to find a replacement for King Saul, He said to him “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

g.       1 Chron. 28:9 – as David is about to die he gives instructions to his son saying, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”

h.      Matt. 6:21 – IN the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven that cannot be corrupted by this world.  Then He says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.

i.         Mark 12:30,   The greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

j.        Rom. 6:17, “You obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine…”  Paul speaks of their obeying the gospel (cf. Rom. 6:3-4) and notes that it was from the heart.  Therefore he continues, “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (vs. 18)

k.       Rom 10:9-10 -  As Paul speaks of the gospel being near to us he says that it needs to be in our mouth and in our heart.  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

l.         2 Cor. 3:3 – Paul speaks of the brethren being their “epistle”.    He then proceeds to describe it NOT as a physical book written with ink, “but by the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

m.    Eph. 3:17 – Christ is to dwell within our hearts through faith.

n.      James 5:8, “You also be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

o.      Heb. 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Our “purification” involves both our bodies and our hearts – outwardly we do what we are told – namely we are baptized (cf. 1 Pet. 3:21, Acts 22:16), but it also is to involve a change of heart (i.e. repentance before, which leads to the NEW man afterwards).

p.      Heb. 3:12 – “beware lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.  This is one of many WARNINGS about the heart.

 III.                What type of heart do you have?

a.       In Luke 8:4-8 Jesus told what has become one of His most famous parables.  IT is called “the parable of the sower.” (cf. Matt. 13:18)  In it Jesus describes a farmer who broadcasts (sows) his seed in a field.  IT is noted that the seed lands on different types of soils with different results.  READ the parable.

b.      Jesus then explains this parable in Luke 8:11-15.  The seed is the word of God (vs. 11).  The sowers are those who broadcast the seed (preach the word – Jesus is speaking to His disciples).  The ground or soil is the HEARTS of men.  Jesus then describes the different ways men’s hearts RESPOND to the gospel.

c.       What type of heart do you have?   Jesus describes four types of hearts.  EVERYONE as they hear the gospel will fall into one of these four categories. 

                                                   i.      Hardened – the wayside is descriptive of a heart that refuses to receive the word of God.  The message is preached and outright rejected.  Before it can do anything, Satan comes and snatches it away.  Tragically, this is most of the world.
Jesus spoke OFTEN of this hardened heart: Matt. 13:14-15 – In explaining why He spoke in parables, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10, a passage that describes Israel’s rejection of God’s message through the prophets.  He said, “Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”
Jn. 12:40 quotes the same Old Testament passage, as on another occasion Jesus is rejected by the leaders.
An interesting observation to be made is that at times Jesus rebuked His own disciples for hardened hearts.  Mark 16:14 notes that when Jesus appeared to the eleven after His resurrection He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.  We need to take this seriously as we too, even as His disciples, can become hardened in heart (cf. Heb. 3:7-12)

                                                 ii.      Stony ground – descriptive of one who hears the word and responds by obeying the gospel.  He serves until there is trouble.  At the first sign of problems he either drifts away or quits.  The problem is he has no firm rooting because his obedience is superficial.  Often times one response to the gospel is emotional or an impulsive reaction.   He doesn’t fully understand what he is doing or why.  Thus, it doesn’t take much for him to become discouraged and wither away.  THAT IS WHY we need to ensure that someone UNDERSTANDS the commitment required to become a Christian.  And AFTER one responds, we need to continue feeding that babe “the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).

                                                iii.      Thorny ground – describes one who obeys when he hears, but even in his obeying the commands, he is not fully committed to serving the Lord.  HE still has worldly desires that he doesn’t want to let go of.  As a result, while the seed may take root, because it is competing with the weeds (worldliness – the parable mentions cares, riches and pleasures of this life) that are present (and thus undernourished),   the word of God is chocked out and there is no fruit. 
This describes one who has divided interests.  Sadly there are many believers who fit into this category.   James 4:4 warns about them saying the friendship with the world is enmity with God.

                                               iv.      Good ground – the final soil is the good and receptive heart.  The heart is good and honest (shall we say – PURE?) and thus it receives the word of God, takes DEEP root and then begins to produce fruit.  This is the heart we are seeking to have!

                                                 v.      NOTE: I am convinced that hearts can change.  Just as soil can be changed – stones and weeds removed, hard ground tilled and fertilized – so hearts can change from one condition to another.  BUT IT TAKES GREAT EFFORT! 

 This study that we are engaging in throughout this year is designed to help us cultivate “good and noble hearts.”  Now that we have been reminded about what this heart is about, we will seek to direct our will, our understanding, our motives, and our emotions to where they are focused on pleasing God and not ourselves.  We will identify some of “weeds” that tarnish the heart and work on removing them. May each of us set a goal to be pure in heart.  What about you?  Is YOUR heart right with God?