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A Heart for God:


 

(Some of the Bible verses quoted in this study have had comments added in brackets. The sole purpose of this study technique is to emphasise or introduce a line of thought. All verses KJV unless otherwise stated).

In this study, we are going to investigate the implications of having the Spirit of Christ dwell in our hearts;
(Gal 4:6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts,…
(Eph 3:17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;…

[For a full study on the fact that the promised Comforter (Holy Spirit), is Jesus Spirit; please read our study: Which Trinity ].

We know that the heart is capable of being deceitful and wicked;
(Jer 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

So, what is the Biblical definition of 'heart'?
(Job 38:36) Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?
(Isa 6:10) and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Here the heart relates to our mind;
(Est 6:6) …..Now Haman thought in his heart,….
(Zec 8:17) And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor;…
(Luk 2:19) But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Jesus also confirms, that Biblically speaking, our thoughts originate from our heart;
(Luk 24:38) And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
(Mat 9:4) And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
(Mat 12:34-35) O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

In Noah's day, mans thoughts became beyond recovery;
(Gen 6:5) And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

So what influences a heart to be evil?
(Joh 13:2) And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot,…to betray him;
(Act 5:3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Satan is the father of lies, and his was the first heart to rebel against God;
(Isa 14:13) For thou (Satan) hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:…
(Eze 28:17) Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness:…

And after Noah's day, it did not take Satan long to draw the subsequent generations back into lawlessness.
(Isa 32:6) For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity,…

Many years after Noah, God established a covenant with Abraham; the sign of which was circumcision;
(Gen 17:11) And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token (sign) of the covenant between me and you.

Although God established physical circumcision; His intent was for it to be accompanied by Spiritual circumcision. This is what God was actually seeking, circumcision of the heart;
(Deu 10:16) Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

So what does circumcision represent?
Well, physical circumcision could be thought of as a change in outward or physical appearance.
Spiritual circumcision (ie, circumcision of the heart) would represent a change of heart, or from the Biblical meaning of heart;
a change in the way we think. This is also known as repentance.
Circumcision of the heart (or repentance) would result in a change in the outward appearance of our character.

So you see, God was seeking a heart change from Israel;
(Lev 26:41) …if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled,…

So, was being physically circumcised, automatically accompanied by circumcision of the heart?
No.
Just as today; baptism in water, is not automatically accompanied by baptism with the Holy Spirit!!!
The Holy Spirit can only be given to dwell in those with a repentant heart;
(Act 15:8) And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
(Act 5:32) ….the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

One can appear changed from the outward appearance (and obey God outwardly; as Israel did with physical circumcision), but without a heart change, this is worthless.
The best word to explain such a state is probably 'legalism'.
God's ideal is not for man to keep His law to be saved; but to keep His law out of love for God and for our neighbour;
(Joh 14:15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.
(Rom 13:10) Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

It becomes quite clear from Jesus' many comments directed at the religious leaders, that although they were keeping the law, they were not fulfilling the law. This is also evident with the covenant of circumcision. Although Israel understood and put great importance upon physical circumcision; they mostly missed the heart change, which God was actually seeking;
(Jer 9:26) Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners,… for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.
(Isa 29:13) Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people (Israel) draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

This condition of Israel's hearts had not improved at the time of Jesus;
(Mar 7:6) …Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

Israel's salvation was conditional upon this heart change;
(Jer 4:14) O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?

So what was to happen to Israel, if they didn't change their heart from wickedness? Notice they were given two options;
(Jer 4:1) IF thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and IF thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.

And notice the second option;
(Jer 4:4) Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

It is interesting to note, that two options were still also available to Israel at the time of Christ. Speaking of John the Baptist, whom prepared the way of the Lord;
(Mal 4:6) And he (John the Baptist) shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest (ie, "or else") I come and smite the earth with a curse.

In the following verses, we see that the need for a second covenant was totally conditional upon Israel's actions;
(Heb 8:7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
(Heb 8:8) For finding fault with them (Israel), he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant…

As you can see, according to the above verses, if Israel had not been at fault with God, there would have been no need for a second covenant. Israel's failure to keep the Mosaic covenant (along with their rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah), resulted in the first covenant being taken away (nailed to the cross);
(Heb 10:8) …Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law (of Moses);
(Heb 10:9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first (covenant) , that he may establish the second.

The first covenant included physical circumcision; Paul explains how with the passing of the first (Mosaic) covenant, this requirement has also therefore ceased;
(1Co 7:19) Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

The true Israel of God must undergo a heart change;
(Rom 2:29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter;….

Even after Jesus resurrection, most of the religious leaders of that time had not experienced this change;
(Act 7:51) Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

So what were the fathers doing wrong?
(Psa 78:37) For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant.

When your heart is not right with God, it is referred to as having a 'hardened heart';
(Heb 3:8) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:…
(Heb 3:10) Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

So what were God's ways? What was His expectation of man?
(Deu 5:29) O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!

Can we conclude that God's will for us is to fear Him and keep His commandments?
(Ecc 12:13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

As we have seen from the Old Testament examples, God has always given mankind the choice. To have His law in our hearts, we have to want it there; He will not impose it on us, as He has given us the freedom of choice.

God has always wanted mankind to have His law in our hearts;
(Isa 51:7) Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law;…
(1Ki 8:61) Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

This was God's will.
Moses understood this;
(Num 15:39) …remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes,…

David understood this;
(Psa 40:8) I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Solomon understood this;
(Pro 10:8) The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
(Pro 3:1) My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

So, what does God mean by 'our heart' keeping His commandments?
Well, more on that shortly.
Firstly, we need to look at what commandments these verses are actually referring to;
(Deu 6:6) And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

In the previous chapter (Deut 5) Moses had read out the Ten Commandments.
God wanted the Ten Commandments in everyone's heart.
Does God change?
No.
(Mal 3:6) For I am the LORD, I change not;….

So does He still want this Ten Commandment law in our hearts today?
Yes.
This is easily confirmed through the consistency found in the New Testament;
(Heb 8:10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

How do we know which law this is referring to?
(2Co 3:3) Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

So, the law written on stone is to be written on our hearts. Which law was written on stone?
(Deu 4:13) And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

So the new covenant promise is to "put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts".
Are they going to be written in our hearts for us to keep them; or just so that we know about them?
For example; if it is written in our heart that we should not steal; has God done so, so that we will not actually steal?

We have seen that this has always been God's goal for mankind. Did this requirement change, due to something that happened when Jesus came?
I ask this question, because many of today's Christians despise God's law; particularly the 4th commandment.
However, to understand any potential change, and what Jesus actually offered us through His death, we need to understand why He died.
(Rom 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus died after living a sinless life;
(1Pe 2:21-22) …Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin,…

And what is sin?
(Rom 3:20) ...by law is the knowledge of sin.
(Rom 7:7) I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (ie, the 10th commandment)

Now it starts to get even more interesting.
Jesus said that unless we are born of God (ie, born of the Spirit or born again), we cannot see the kingdom of God;
(Joh 3:3) …Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

We are also told that whoever is born of God does not sin;
(1Jo 5:18) We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
(1Jo 3:6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
(1Jo 3:9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed (Jesus) remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

So what does it mean by we "cannot sin"?
Remember at the beginning of this study, we looked at how the Spirit of Christ dwells in our hearts;
(Gal 4:6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts,…
(Eph 3:17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;…

The above is what it means to be 'born again'; ie, 'born of God' or 'born of the Spirit'.
(Joh 3:6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(Rom 8:9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Jesus was without sin. If Jesus sinless spirit is dwelling in our hearts, can our hearts sin?
Notice how Jesus expanded on the Ten Commandments;
(Mat 5:27) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
(Mat 5:28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart….
(Mat 5:21) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
(Mat 5:22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:…

Could such a thought in your heart, become sin, if Jesus is in your heart? Some might look at the above verses and say; "Yep, I have those thoughts sometimes, so I guess they are just more sins that I have to ask forgiveness for".
Well, according to John, whoever harbours hate in his heart is still in darkness;
(1Jo 2:9) He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

If you ask God to help you overcome sin in your heart; do you think He will grant it?
(1Co 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

According to Jesus, the heart is the source of all sin;
(Mat 15:19) For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Solomon understood this;
(Pro 20:9) Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

James understood this;
(Jam 1:15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Therefore, if sin is conquered at the source, ie, in the heart; it will not become sin;
(Mat 15:18) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
(Mat 15:19) For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Forgiveness also originates from the heart;
(Mat 18:35) …likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Is it possible to retain an unforgiving heart, if Jesus is dwelling in your heart?
Is this how we gain victory over sin; having Jesus sinless spirit dwelling within us?
(2Pe 2:9) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

(2Co 10:3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(2Co 10:4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)
(2Co 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(1Pe 4:1) Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
(1Pe 4:2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

(1Co 15:56-57) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, back to our earlier question;
"What does God mean by 'our heart' keeping His commandments"?
Victory over sin has to begin at the heart. Inviting Christ into your heart, and wanting to cease from sin against all Ten Commandments (from the heart), is how Christ can then provide us with the victory over sin.
So, would it be possible to gain this victory, if we do not even acknowledge the law that identifies sin?
No.
The carnal mind rejects God's law;
(Rom 8:6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
(Rom 8:7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
(Rom 8:8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

(1Jo 2:4) He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

The Spiritual mind obeys God;
(Rom 6:17) But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

It is about wanting to do the will of God;
(Eph 6:6) Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

And because Christ dwells in our hearts by faith,
(Eph 3:17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;…
He therefore purifies our hearts by faith;
(Act 15:9) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
(1Th 3:13) To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God,…
(2Th 3:5) And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Remember the words of David;
(Psa 40:8) I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

And did this requirement change after Jesus death and resurrection?
No.
We find this same consistency in the New Testament;
(Rom 7:22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
(Rom 7:23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
(Rom 7:24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
(Rom 7:25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

The key is a willingness to serve the law of God in our mind (ie, from the heart). Jesus, the word, knows the intents of our hearts;
(Heb 4:12) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,….and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

This is not to say, that along this journey we will not accidentally or unintentionally sin. Unintentional sin does not lead to eternal death;
(1Jo 2:1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

However, unrepented and wilful sin does lead to eternal death;
(Heb 10:26-27) For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

And what about those who never knew Christ? Will they be held accountable for wilful sinning?
Those who didn't have the law, were actually aware of the law through their conscience; which naturally convicts everyone of right or wrong doing;
(Rom 2:14) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
(Rom 2:15) Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

So rejecting this truth again relates to a heart problem;
(Mat 13:15) For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
(Eph 4:18) Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

And the reason they have 'blind hearts', is because the wicked one catches away any word of truth that they may hear;
(Mat 13:19) When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

One last implication of having Jesus dwelling within our hearts. The Jesus dwelling in my heart, is the same Jesus dwelling within a brothers heart. This makes our hearts united as one (hence we become one body);
(Act 2:46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
(Act 4:32) And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Some concluding words of wisdom:

From the Old Testament:

(Psa 51:10) Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

(Pro 3:5) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

(Jer 17:5) …Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

(Pro 28:26) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

(Pro 4:23) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

From the New Testament:

(Mat 5:8) Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

(Mat 6:21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(Luk 21:34) And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

(Rom 10:10) For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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