FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
by Walter Lofton
When reference is made to the heart one usually thinks in terms of the bodily organ which pumps blood throughout the body.
While this is true in the physical sense, it is not what the Bible means by the word “heart.”
The heart is regarded as the seat of the affections, the will, and the intellect of man. It is the inner or central spiritual part of a human being.
The heart is the seat of the thoughts, actions and desires of the person. The deeds performed are the outworking of the seeds within the heart.
Jesus said: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (Matt. 15:19-20). Outward actions are first conceived inside the heart before they are carried out. The heart directs the steps that one takes in life. One may have a strong will power which may keep him in line for awhile, but eventually he will transgress in spite of his noble ambition not to, because his heart is guiding him in that direction. It is a simple fact, if it is in our heart that is the way we are. The Word of God declares it so. Our feet will always walk in the direction that our heart tells them to.
God created us in His own image. He made us with a heart that can be known by three distinct elements: namely, mind, soul, and spirit. By definition and by application of Scripture, it seems that the heart is the sum total of these three divisions. The mind is that with which a living being wills and thinks. It is the ego and intellect of man. Its primary function can be summed up in the word, intellect. The soul is the emotional or feeling part of the human being. Its primary essence deals with the area of feeling. The spirit is the inspiring principle or dominant influence of the person and has to do with the nature of the person. These three aspects of the human being—the thinking, feeling, and nature—react together and separately to form personality and character which determines the manner in which others see and relate to us.
The words soul, spirit, mind, and heart are sometimes used interchangeably. That is because the context of the reference may be addressing one or more of these elements. For example, soul is generally used to denote functions, responsibilities, and destiny. Spirit is preferred when the emphasis is on quality, constitution, movement, etc. We pray for the soul to be saved and sometimes make references that one is careless about his spiritual condition and may lose his soul. We lift our spirits in prayer and worship. We are admonished to be fervent in spirit. We may refer to the spirit being willing while the flesh is weak.
When references are made to the heart, sometimes all these essences are included. Sometimes the reference may deal with the way a person feels; other times it might deal with what he is thinking or his natural disposition.
Good morals are a virtue and a credit to any society. Good morals come from issues of life in the heart. Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Some of these issues are love, honesty, nurture, compassion, etc. When these positive virtues are cultivated, life is sweeter and more at peace. When we fail to keep our hearts in tune with these virtues we experience upheaval in our society. Wars, crime, disease, etc. are the results of bad issues of the heart. Society in general has recognized the benefit and importance of certain virtues and has passed laws to help achieve their observance. The problems the world has always faced stem from the fact that the heart can only perform on a limited level because the sinful nature is always leading the heart away from pleasant virtues into all sorts of morbid and destructive devices.
Society has educational, governmental, and religious influences in place to help us guard and keep our hearts in line. Although some of these efforts are diligently pursued, they usually fall way short of maintaining a perfect standard of life. Our hearts must be transformed by the Spirit and power of God if we are to truly live a good and holy life.
When our hearts are renewed in the Lord, we possess the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit as reflected in Galatians 5:22, 23. These are love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Being renewed in the Lord does not automatically guarantee that we will always live this quality of life. We must continue to work at it by keeping our hearts with all diligence. Diligence means constant and persistent attention in our efforts. Satan is constantly at work to kill, steal, and destroy. He is busy planting doubt, confusion, and deception in as many minds and hearts as will allow him. Our eternal destiny depends on how successfully we can resist him by keeping a close guard upon our hearts.
Jesus said in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Our actions are reflections of our heart. The heart contains the seeds of all our outward words and deeds. If we plant and cultivate good seeds within the heart, good words and actions will be manifested in our lives. The same applies to the negative or evil nature. If our hearts are evil, we can expect evil words and actions to spring forth. One may camouflage his evil heart by pretentious acts and words, but even pretentious good deeds are evil because they come from seeds of deceit within the heart. Whatever is in the heart will find its way to the surface and will be manifested sooner or later in our life. We should keep our hearts with all diligence for truly the issues of life or death reign within. The abundance or stored up treasures of the heart reveal one’s true character.
An automobile is no better than the engine inside it. A house is no better than its foundation. A person is no better than the issues of life in his heart. Outward appearance can be deceiving. An automobile may be sleek and shiny but if the engine is worn out no one would want to buy it. The house may be in the ideal neighborhood. It may be designed perfectly and be the right size. But if the foundation is weak and crumbling, these other virtues are worthless. Likewise, we may be rich, educated, and influential in society but if we have not come to know the Lord by a transformation of the heart; He will still reject us when we stand before Him on the day when He judges all humanity. The condition of our heart makes the difference. How is your heart?
Be watching for next weeks lesson which will deal with the aspects of the mind.
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