Zion Baptist Church
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Baptist Missionary Association of America
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By Mrs. Connie Reifsteck - February 2011
What is the heart? In Webster’s Basic Dictionary (2010) heart is a noun, “hollow organ which makes the blood circulate; seat of the emotions and affections; mind, soul; courage; middle of anything; playing card marked with a figure of a heart, one of these marks.”
Usually when the word “heart” is used in the Old Testament, it refers to the physical organ which makes the blood circulate. Both the Old and New Testaments use the word “heart” figuratively as the source of personality or spiritual life. The commentators of the Nelson KJV Study Bible say “The heart is the seat of intellect, emotions, will, and moral consciousness. The heart is presented as the seat of conscious life and the fountainhead of life. Jesus taught that sin came out of the heart of the people, thus defiling them. After conversion, one of the characteristics of Christians is that they have the law of God written in their hearts”. In the Old Testament God made a covenant with His people, required various sacrifices, and gave them many laws to live by. He gave them the Ten Commandments, which were written in stone. In Hebrews 8:8-10 the writer of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah concerning the coming of a new covenant. In verse ten it reads “...I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: ...”. This new covenant is a promise that is based on an inner, spiritual change. It is written in the heart of those who know the Lord.
Here’s a few things the Bible teaches about the heart.
1. Issues of life are out of the heart. Proverbs 4:23 says “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” We are to keep our heart and impulses of the flesh in subjection so we don’t stray from the path of God. Our heart or impulses may prompt the eyes, mouth, feet and mind to sin.
2. Man cannot clean his own heart. Proverbs 20:9 asks this question: “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” That has to be answered “no one”. Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Man can exceed his own expectations, but he cannot meet the standard of God. Forgiveness and cleansing of sin is offered to everyone through faith believing the death of Christ is the atonement for sin.
3. Our hearts are purified by faith. Acts 15:9 says “And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” When the Gentiles were coming to Christ by faith, the Jews felt the Gentiles should follow their old customary laws, such as circumcision. Peter set them straight telling them that God, which knoweth the hearts, put no difference between Jew and Gentile. In the matter of salvation, there was only one way to receive it. No where are we told that the heart is purified by the law, by baptism, by good works, or by observing the Lord’s Supper. One is saved by grace through faith.
4. When we are repentant, and have a broken or contrite heart, we are not despised by God. God knows that we will sin. We will mess up. But in Psalm 51:17 we read “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Contrite means sorrowing for wrong doing. By showing this emotion, we show God and the world that we know we did wrong and are sorry we sinned. Isaiah 57:15 records a promise: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” This pictures God inhabiting both eternity and the hearts of those who have a contrite and humble spirit.
5. Here’s why we should not hold iniquity, or sin, in our heart. David, in Psalm 66:18 said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” Holding on to sin is not showing the proper reverence for God. As long as the sin is there, God does not have to respond. Look back at the scriptures about a contrite heart. God wants acknowledgment by us that we have sinned and we are repenting of that sin. To hold sin in our heart is simply not the right attitude.
6. When Ezekiel prophesied to Judah God gave him these words: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put anew spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.” Ezekiel 11:19-21 We may have a renewed heart, one that is fixed on God. We don’t have to worry about the consequences of continuing to reject God and His commandments.
What are some characteristics of a renewed heart?
1. A renewed heart should be fixed on God. (Psalm 57:7, 112:7)
2. A renewed heart should be honest and good. (Luke 8:15)
3. A renewed heart should be desirous of God. (Psalm 84:2)
4. A renewed heart should be prayerful (I Samuel 1:13; Psalm 27:8)
What are some characteristics of an unrenewed heart?
1. An unrenewed heart is desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9)
2. An unrenewed heart is far from God. (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8)
3. An unrenewed heart is deceived. (Isaiah 44:20; James 1:26)
4. An unrenewed heart is rebellious. (Jeremiah 5:23)
Psalm 51:10 gives us one of David’s prayers: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right (steadfast) spirit within me.” David prayed for inner renewal, and that can be our prayer today as well.