Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Guard Your Heart (06/08/12)
TITLE: The Secrets of the Heart
By Reid Ashbaucher
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As I began my research, my first question was: what does the heart of mankind spiritually or metaphysically represent? The answer came to me as I discovered the term "heart" appears in the New American Standard Bible 726 times. As I began to skim through and read some of the examples; it began to surface in my mind that our “heart” is a reference to the ultimate control center of our lives. How did I come to this conclusion? As you read the 726 Scriptures referenced, you will find that there are many attributes associated with this term. Some examples are: endurance; steadfastness; unfeeling; hardness; joy; desires; glad; exults; devoted; seeks; war; anxious and heart of a lion. As we evaluate these attributes, we discover that these are controlling attitudes mankind displays in everyday life. Thus, our heart is the control center, spiritually speaking, of all our attitudes which controls our personhood. The next question to be asked is: where do all these attitudes come from? The answer: they come from our New and Old natures. Let’s look at this a little closer.
If we search through the Scriptures, we would find that our nature is that part of us that produces our attitudes. Our old nature’s primary attitude is PRIDE and all other attitudes of mankind derive from this one. We know this partly from Jesus’ statement in John 8:44, as well as statements made in Mark 7:20-23; 1 John 2:16; Proverbs 21:24 and Job 33:16-18. When we place our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we are then adopted into God’s family and given a new nature. This new or second nature provides for us a new set of attitudes, the same attitudes God has. In the Old Testament God gave these attitudes as a temporary gift. How do we know this? Consider Ezekiel 11:18-21
“When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. But as for those whose hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I shall bring their conduct down on their heads, declares the Lord God.” (NASB)
But in the New Testament this gift becomes permanent. God’s nature given to us through the new birth, affords us God’s pure attitudes (1 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Peter 1:3-4). Within these concepts falls our subject matter the heart. It is the heart where the final decision making process is made. Which attitudes do I choose as I follow the Master? Thus, the importance in the statement, “guard you heart”.
In the end analysis, we discover the importance of this concept. What is it we are guarding? We are guarding the choice process either to allow our old nature to display sinful attitudes or the choice to display attitudes from our new nature.
Jesus sums up the choices of our old nature this way: “And He was saying, That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23; NASB)
The good news is, if we guard our hearts, we could then choose to follow our new nature which produces the following: “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14; NASB)
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