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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heart Problems - Part 1

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Matthew 15:19-20
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.

Daily Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 17

Puritan Catechism
Question #34 - What is sanctification?

Answer - Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 28 – Baptism and the Lord's Supper

Devotional Thoughts
As Jesus continues to explain the parable to His disciples He reveals the truth that He is speaking about heart problems! The problem is not as the scribes and Pharisees see it - a problem with outward practise that has been added to the Word of God as a legalistic man made tradition. The true issue here is a heart issue. For it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles. It is not the kind of food or the manner in which that food is or is not eaten that causes us to sin. It is what comes out of the mouth that defiles. For the things that come out of the mouth originate in the heart. And those things that are sinful and come out of the mouth from the heart are the things which truly expose our sin nature.

He explains further then that "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." As we look at what the Bible says about our mouths and we realise that the things that come out of our mouths start in our heart, we begin to see how serious a heart problem this really is. Our hearts are wicked. They are full of darkness and deceit, transgressions, and tyranny.

We are each born with this heart of stone. We are conceived as sinners and sin from the first moment we are able to decide for ourselves how to behave. The sad and horrible truth is that as sinners our hearts are desperately wicked. There is no such thing as a good person outside of Jesus Christ. No one is good. We are all born with this heart condition and we are all in need of a cure!

Let us look then at this list given by Jesus and diagnose the problem we all have with our hearts.

Evil Thoughts

Literally this means to be thinking about things that hurt us! Our hearts, left to their own thoughts, are full of peril, danger, harm, and evil. Wicked thoughts, evil intentions, hurtful ideas, and destructive imaginations. This is the heart of a lost, natural man. He is carnally minded which is of course deadly. This is not just thinking about sin, it is an intention to commit sin, premeditation to transgress the Law of God.

Think about it - what are our first thoughts, even as believers, when we see a competitor succeed? At times we are so selfish that we truly do wish harm upon people. We have evil thoughts that lead to gossip and slander and other hurtful actions and words. It is not "natural" for us to think better of others than we do of ourselves. Often we meet someone new and without even trying to think about it we figure out how they measure up (to us!). We compare them to ourselves and our friends and we either are impressed by them or we think they are below us.

These are the evil thoughts that originate in the hearts of men. Thoughts that lead to evil words and evil actions. Thoughts that destroy faith and hope. Thoughts that cause despair and depression! This is precisely why the Bible tells us to think on things that are pure, lovely, just, and true. Things that are contrary to our own evil thoughts. Things that require a power and ability that we do not naturally possess. Things that require faith and humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

Murders

Just as it says, out of the heart proceed murders. Literally the slaughter of innocents. And we might understand how our hearts are full of evil thoughts but then in our spiritual pride we draw the line and insist that we do not have hearts full of murder for who among us has actually killed another person? And yet Jesus says that our hearts are full of murders. And He proves it simply and easily in the Sermon on the Mount when He shows us that to be angry toward our brother without cause is the same thing as to kill him! The motive for murder is equal to the act of murder before God.

He states, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment."

There is a righteous anger, a wrath toward sin, but this anger Jesus is speaking about is an anger based on pride and hurt feelings. It is not righteous. It is the motive that would, if carried out, slaughter another human being. This starts in the heart! And it is there present every time we criticize and judge another person. It is that motive that would lead us without restraint to aweful sins that we in our pride would deny that we were even able to commit. And yet we think about it all the time!!

Adulteries

Unfaithfulness. Whether within marriage or within covenant with God, this speaks of unfaithfulness. Breaking promises, violating vows, chasing after that which is not ours. This unfaithfulness starts in the heart as we are drawn away from right relationships and into sin.

This may be "cheating" on a spouse or it may be placing an idol in the place of God in our lives. All are equally wicked. And as many as would never think to enter into a promiscuous relationship outside of their marriage often we are guilty of chasing after other men and women in our thoughts and with our feelings. This ties into the next attribute so let us take it up and continue to elaborate on the theme here of unfaithfulness.

Fornications

This refers to immorality. It is any perversion of the gift of sex given by God to those who are married. It starts with unfaithfulness in our hearts and works it way out in our actions and words and feelings as we sin sexual sins.

Jesus had already preached that to lust after a woman was the same as committing adultery with her in our hearts. Lust leads to sin and sin to death. And that lust starts in the heart.

Let me address another form of adultery and forncation that is prevelent in the church today. It may not be that church members are actually committing adultery and being unfaithful sexually - but they are having affairs! (What a horrid word. We have made the sin of fornication and adultery sound like an amusement park ride. It is not an affir - it is unfaithfulness!) They are having emotional attachments that are sinful!

Listen to this closely. In our hearts we find the root of discontentment and selfishness. We begin to think that our spouse is not meeting our needs. We forget the truth that in marriage it is not a 50/50 give and take. No. It is a 100/100 give. We are to give all of ourself to our spouse - expecting nothing in return. Boy, there is a premise for a marriage self help book that might sell 2 copies - but it is the truth! Marriage is not about what we can get from our spouse. It is about what we can give to them!!

But when this discontentment grows we begin to rely on others, even others at church, for spiritual and emotional support. That which we are supposed to be getting at home we begin to get from others. And that is adultery! It is emotional fornication. It builds up relationships that are sinful and will, if unchecked, lead to more serious sins! Pastors need to be teaching their congregations how to be faithful in their marriage - faithful in their minds, emotions, bodies, and in their hearts!! For a sinful rebellious heart is quick to find an opportunity for sin, sin that will destroy marriages and split churches and wreck ministries, and leave all involved hurt and bitter.

Thefts

Also from our hearts proceed the desire to have what is not ours. This greed, this temporal discontentment, finds us craving what is not ours to the point that we take it. This can be as simple as a selfish heart that steals the credit and as complex as actually taking other people's property just for the thrill of the take!

Instead of relying upon God to meet our needs we try to do it on our own. We rely on self. We deceive. We steal. And trust me, we are not theives because we steal. No. We steal because at heart we are theives. Always wanting what is not ours.

From birth we know how to grab! As soon as we can speak it is not long before we utter the word "mine". We want to possess, to the point that if we can't have it, no one can! What destructive tendencies are found in our hearts.

We take what is not ours and claim it as our own. This desire is never satisfied, for there is no such thing as a satisified crook. There is always one last job, one last take, one last big score. And Jesus says this all starts in the heart.

False Witness

We also are prone to lie. To bear false witness. Here it means to give a false testimony. To deceive. You know, when you think about it, we don't have to teach our kids to steal or lie. We do have to teach them to share and tell the truth! It is that sin nature, that natural man, that depravity.

Our hearts are full of deceit. When we are under pressure and when we do not meet others expectations at work or at home or at church how quickly does our mind turn to making something up to cover for our lack of meeting what was expected of us? It is staggering at times when we think about it to see how in a stressful sitaution the first thing we do is think up a lie to try and get out of the situation!

Lying is easy. It comes naturally. But is is never right and will never be rewarded. Ever. The Bible never condones lying, it always condemns dishonesty. And any attempt to prove otherwise is either a misreading of Scripture or the reader has introduced some sort of situational ethic to the text where it was not present before. Lying is always a sin and always has negative consequences.

Blasphemies

The last phrase here means literally a slanderous detraction or an attempt to harm someone's good name. It is to speak hatefully to discredit and destroy. It can speak of blaspheming God or others. How often does out heart seeth with hatred and with anger and with animosity? A desire to harm another, or to at least take them down a notch in front of those who might respect or think highly of them.

What an utterly selfish act. To work at destroying someone's credibility or reputation. And yet it happens every time we gossip or undermine someone at work or at church. Every time we repeat negative and judgmental things, every time we join in with group dissections of this person or that, every time we twist the story or even tell the truth with a motive to hurt someone or put someone down, every time we blaspheme!

Conclusion

How do we relate to others? How to react when others get the credit, the glory, or the praise, even if we know they do not deserve it? How do we feel? What do we think?

These things come straight from the fallen heart. It is really frightening to think about how often we contemplate sin. To realise how often we are right there on the brink ready to step across the line God has drawn in His Word, simply in order to uphold our own rights, puff up our own self, and gratify our own flesh.

This all starts in the heart. It is the fallen heart of man that is deceitfully wicked. It is from the heart that these things which defile pour forth. And these things - this wickedness, this self serving sinfulness - this is what defiles us. It is not to eat with unwashed hands. It is to dwell in our hearts on sin, to think, contemplate, imagine, and play with sin in our hearts. This is the greatest of unfaithfulness, for we have been given by Christ a new heart! We have been given the ability to do what is right, to think what is right, and to say what is right. And yet we still find it such a struggle.

Tomorrow we will continue to look at this heart problem and we will discuss the cure! Until then, beware your heart! Turn that discernment on yourself and seek to know the tendencies of your own fallen heart so that together we can combat them!

Until tomorrow - may the grace of God keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

A True Map of Man's Miserable Estate by Nature by Christopher Love
Man in His Fallen Estate by John Newton

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

1 Comments:

Blogger Blog-A-Lone said...

I quite liked your conclusion. Nicely summed up. God bless.

12:58 AM  

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