Billions of people fill the earth, every individual having his own unique heart, and there are no two alike.
When we ponder what sad statement that the word of God makes about the heart of man: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), one may well declare this world a troublesome dwelling place.
For nobody can look into his neighbour’s heart to know what it is up to, even in the next moment. How often do we not even understand our own heart’s feelings when we display a sudden outburst of emotion, prompting us to make a rash decision, springing up in the turmoil of some unexpected, disturbing event—only to regret it afterwards. . .
The heart is puzzling indeed and unpredictable; capriciously fitful from one moment to the next. From a calm frame of mind, the heart of some would turn into a furious rage, depending on the degree of injury or offence done to it.
The heart of man loves to indulge in whatever it desires in order to please self, because self loves to yield to feelings rather than to reason. It is also cowardly; it shirks to admit wrong doings, and is remarkably resourceful in defending itself.
This miserable trait of character we inherited from our first parents, when they transgressed and shamefully pushed the guilt upon the other instead of confessing and admitting their own failure.
Yea, the heart fortifies itself with a bulwark of excusing concepts. It is simply called self-preservation and is ready to strike fiery darts of angry words, or passionate acts, in an instant, when the fortress “Self”, the heart, is being confronted.
Oh, the depth of the ocean of strange and even bizarre thoughts, ludicrous actions, bitter feelings and sinister sentiments that lie hidden in the heart! These are, at first, altogether unknown to the individual—until that moment—when, in a sudden emotional upheaval, they erupt and surface from the unknown!
One does not foresee the reaction of the heart, but it is manifest in the hour of the test. For the heart is quickly offended. It can be very “touchy” to the slightest breeze of quite harmless utterances, never meant to hurt, yet have injured the frail crust of a weak character and a proud heart. Then it bites with verbal abuse, enflamed with anger so unbecoming and unfit to that individual, which, to its shame, for practically no reason at all, had lost its dignity. The emotions are let loose without constraint, for the mind is so filled with the insult that it shuts out all reasoning. Unfortunately, this is the case and fact of billions of people in this world; the Christian community is not immune to such improper conduct.
It is very sad but, alas, so true what Jesus says: “Out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, . . .” Matthew 15:19. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matthew 12:34. Also “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
Since the time of old God says: “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Genesis 8:21. Such is the condition of man’s heart while under the power of sin. It is hopelessly held with cords of bondage unto rebellion In every action, contrary, opposed and indignant to God, who created man upright. Man did not, however, keep his integrity but fell into sin.
Because of this, the human race is born with a corrupt nature; inherited from fallen Adam, alienated, separated from God, having naturally a wicked, selfish heart. Even when realizing this, man can do nothing to cleanse it by his own efforts.
For this very reason, God sent His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, into this wretched, lost world, to offer Himself as the only remedy to cure man from his woeful condition. His own heart would be broken that ours might be restored into the pure and holy state that man’s heart was at creation.
A new Heart
It is through the hearing of the word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit upon the heart and soul of man, that the conscience is touched and awakened. The shocking truth hits home, that man, by his birth, is a sinner, estranged from God and condemned.
Then, as the eyes have been opened, and the horror of the lost estate is fully realized, the cry of the heart rises to heaven: “What must I do, to receive a new heart?” Now—oh, wonder of wonders—here comes the heavenly invitation:
With longing desire to renew and heal, with tender yearning Jesus appeals, and lovingly speaks, to every human being: “My son, give Me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe My ways.” Proverbs 23:26
Yea, there is no greater miracle on earth than when the repentant sinner receives a new heart. To rich and poor, great and small, He has promised: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. The impossible is made possible (by the surrender of the rebellious heart) to obtain forgiveness through the blood of the crucified and risen Son of God; to take Him as the one and only personal Saviour.
As the former sinner becomes a child of the kingdom of heaven, he has certain duties toward God, men and himself. It is a fatal misconception, but unfortunately, deeply settled in some Christian communities, to think that: “Now I am a Christian, my salvation is sure, I have nothing to fear!”
O, deluded soul, hear the Saviour of the world as He earnestly entreats His followers: Take heed, “watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38
Beware, it also says: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12. And “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Now with the new heart and a new spirit, the flesh will strive with us as long as we walk in this body. Temptation will ever endeavor to come to the door of our heart, to lure us, to give in to the desires of the lower and fallen nature. This is because the house we live in—the body of flesh—is not renewed (until the resurrection of the just) and is not in harmony with the principles of the renewed heart, but is at enmity with it; as far apart as the east is from the west.
To ease off from watchfulness will sooner or later bring defeat. To let the heart go rampant and let it freely have its own way, is disobedience and revolt against God. If we do so, Christ will not keep us when willfully going astray from His holy commandments and Christian tenet; our salvation will then be in serious jeopardy.
The Christian is only safe by humbly giving his heart daily to the keeping of the Saviour, knowing that without Christ, he is not safe nor can he do anything out of himself to be of any worth to Him.
We live in a wicked world where evils and temptations of all sorts surround us. Especially in this age of indulgence, advertisements with alluring enticements for pleasure and to enjoy leisure and entertainment, are literally thrown before our face. Suggestions for plunging with energy into fun, promising ventures, even extreme sports, call to challenge the daring. Also, the “must have” computer games, movies, shows, etc., etc. Constantly, new inventions are marketed to gratify the carnal nature. For every class and taste plenty is provided. This is in truth the philosophy of the day—enjoy life to the fullest.
If the Christian does not seriously withstand these artfully designed snares of Satan, (who is the one who hates Jesus and seeks to deviate His followers from the
narrow path), he will inevitably be influenced to his ruin.
Even our thoughts need to be surrendered and guarded, “for as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. Only the pure in heart shall see God (Matthew 5:8).
We think with the brain but feel with the heart. The brain is the seat of reason, while the heart is the centre of emotion. Unfortunately, emotions often have the upper hand, particularly in situations where a “cool head” is needed. Then, to follow what the heart says and feels because of some insult done to it, can have bitter consequences. Yielding to the heart’s dictates for revenge is not only unreasonable, but totally unchristian.
The motto for God’s children must always be: to leave such affairs in the hands of the Lord. He is to be our defense and shield, for He says: “Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense.” Hebrews 10:30
Refusing to make this the standard and life principle reveals that the heart has not been fully surrendered to the word, and will, of God, nor can it be sanctified because of its actions of willful retaliation.
It is not a small battle that the Christian has to wage against his own self, but it is the only one worth giving all for. He has to resist, deny, and sacrifice his fleshly desires and passions. He cannot afford to allow anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, lusts, intemperance etc., to rule him, because such are traits of the originator of evil, Satan, who is, in everything, entirely contrary to the character of God, Christ, the creation and the heavenly family.
And the Lord of life comments: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Revelation 3:21
“Here is the beginning of our confidence, which we must hold steadfast unto the end. If Jesus resisted Satan’s temptations, He will help us to resist. He came to bring divine power to combine with human effort.” –The Signs of the Times, October 10, 1892
Help and Hope
Jesus is our hope and assurance for victory over every temptation, sin, and character defect. He promised to be with us always, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). Man is not required to fight his battles alone. It is altogether futile even to try to conquer over the dictates of our fallen nature, and most of all, the forces of evil.
Struggles will be grave, severe, even unto blood, in resisting carnal impulses. However, a fixed determination, and submission to the declared will of God, with devout obedience, a humble spirit, and faith in the saving power of the Redeemer will, and must, bring deliverance. Some victories are not instant; they may take months, years and even a lifetime to obtain, depending on the toughness of a certain passion or character trait. Others may be gained in the moment of decision.
The Psalmist gives us very comforting advice: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Psalm 27:14. This applies not only to battles against our faults, etc., but also in times of trying affliction, be it depression, illness, sudden loss of property or a loved one; all have a serious impact on our heart, mind, spirit and even our existence. And the child of God has the privilege to lean on the words: wait on the Lord.
This requires patience, and it is often very difficult to wait when the situation, or state of mind, demands urgency. But God knows what He is doing, He is not blind to our needs. He desires to teach us patience. Without learning this virtue, we can never enter heaven. The mastery of enduring “even unto the end” is one of the most imperative lessons for the heart to learn, that loves to have things resolved instantly.
Often God lets us wait. While we do not understand why, it is just the test assigned, to know what is going on in our heart during the conflict and the long waiting time. Doubts may come up, that He has let us down; not hearing our pleading. One may feel really discouraged, not seeing any end of the ordeal, and faith could become overtaxed. However, in due time, help comes. It comes often when the heart has become so dispirited that it has almost given up hoping.
Then suddenly, joy, a new energy and tremendous gratitude fills the heart. God is exalted with praise coming from the depth of the entire being as the burden is lifted and the soul seems to rise with wings into realms of peace and bliss.
Faith in the promises of God is strengthened, for they are not a “trial and error” matter. His word is as real as He is the “I AM,” yet it requires complete trust and obedience from our part. For He, our Saviour, who “is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philippians 3:21), is on our side in times of dire need; a balm of healing and the spring of life to the heart.
Thus shall we receive strength, step by step, gaining victory over ourselves and whatever life throws at us.
Now the heart overflows with the urgency to tell what wonderful things the Lord has done; a living testimony tells of the love, mercy and compassion of a gracious Saviour. It points others to Him to take courage when disheartening situations emerge.
For the Christian there applies yet one weighty aspect that must not be overlooked, namely: with how much love in the heart do we serve the Lord, and perform, our necessary daily duties? For God, who looks upon the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), the depth of love is imperative. We cannot hide anything from Him: “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10). There is no veiling of pretense before His eyes.
A half-hearted service compared to a whole-hearted one is like a grey day, overcast, without warmth; while the other is like a sunny day, a rejoicing heart and soul with the warming rays of the sun. A half-hearted attitude is, plainly said, ugly. Duties in the vineyard of the Lord being done, because they “ought to be done,” without love and true caring, are worthless before God and accounted as wickedness. Whatever we do for someone else, or unto God, in a half-hearted manner is like mockery. This is because God or men are not esteemed, nor valued good enough, and actually judged not to be worth the effort.
Yet, our heavenly Father has esteemed fallen man so highly that is was not too costly, nor too much a sacrifice, to give up His only begotten Son, that man in his hopeless state might be saved. For this “priceless” gift, God can rightly demand, and expect, our whole-hearted service with the love and spirit of Jesus because He had “compassion on them” who were in need of comfort, hope and uplifting. A gentle attitude, a caring spirit, and a listening ear, are like streams of healing waters, softly touching troubled minds that will gradually make them trust and rejoice. A warm smile, “pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24. The Scriptures also say: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
It can be difficult to resist the power of love; unfortunately, some do. Love is the most beautiful force in the universe, for God is the Originator of it. It is His character, and His children have the privilege of declaring His love to the world; to those who do not know what love is nor can give it.
By experiencing love through a wholehearted ministry unto them, they will then receive a glimpse of it, become attracted to it, and desire it for themselves.
Through the service of love, hearts are won. Love will be kindled in a stony heart so that it will desire to be changed and created anew; to become a new tool in the vineyard of Christ, to proclaim His redeeming power. God’s work is a heart to heart work. It deals with souls, each precious unto God and can only be blessed when the whole heart is put into it.
So many People—so many Hearts!
But, most are not happy. Their hearts are never satisfied with what they have or are. There is a constant drive for more of this and that, yet still it is not enough. Something is amiss, and all the treasures of the world cannot meet the true hunger of the heart and soul.
Today, when almost all the world has heard about God and His plan of salvation, sadly many people harden their heart against His voice, letting it slip away; it is a nuisance to them and not worth contemplating. Thus, the opportunity of the call of a loving heavenly Father: “To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. . .” (Hebrews 3:15), falls on a deaf ear and it may never be heard again. The only opportunity to find the true meaning of life—to be reconciled unto God and restoration unto holiness—is lost forever.
Their own hearts cheat them and rob them of the real happiness and joy of soul that they are actually searching for. It is to be found only in connection with, and a relationship with, Jesus Christ. For the promise is: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding; shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
Mysterious are the ways of the heart. O man, listen carefully which voice is speaking in you. To decide for the way of eternal life or eternal death is, in the end, a matter of your own heart! Amen.
Edda Tedford, Canada