The number one killer in the Western World over the last two decades has been heart disease. Many of us have been touched in one way or another by a friend, family member, or colleague who has suffered with the symptoms of heart disease. The longer I work with people in ministry every day, the more I am convinced that the body of Christ is suffering greatly with heart disease. This disease is more dangerous than our physical hearts being affected, for this disease affects every part of our lives as believers.
One thing that I have been told about heart disease is that there are always indicators that reveal the health of our hearts. When it comes to dealing with our hearts before the Lord each day, there are always indicators that help us determine whether or not our hearts are healthy before Him.
What Is the Heart?
When God speaks of our hearts, He is not speaking about the blood-pumping organ on the left side of our chest cavity. The word heart is used three different ways in Scripture:
1. To Express Thought
“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”—Luke 2:19
2. To Express Emotion
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”—John 14:1
3. To Express Will
“And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?”—Mark 2:8
Warren Wiersbe has called the heart “the master control unit of the body.” The heart controls our thoughts, emotions, and will.
The Heart and Salvation
In the context of Jeremiah 17, Jeremiah is calling Israel to worship and serve Jehovah God. He is exposing the error of their ways through his prophetic preaching and he reminds them that their heart cannot be trusted. How untrustworthy was the heart of Israel? They executed the Messiah when He presented Himself to them as their King! That is as untrustworthy as it gets! Because of this rejection, Romans 9 tells us that Israel has nationally been blinded. But one day, God is going to give Israel a new heart that will believe on their Messiah and embrace Him as their King! In God’s Sovereignty and love for us, we as Gentiles are blessed by Israel’s rejection and we get the opportunity to know the power of the atonement of Christ and receive a new heart! “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
Literally, the heart of man is untrustworthy in its best efforts and attempts. When people say to me “I know my heart” I automatically think to myself, “I know mine as well and it is untrustworthy!” The wonderful thing about salvation is that God is able to give us a new heart through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ!
The Heart after Salvation
When we receive this new heart at salvation, everything changes. Emotions, thoughts, will, desire, everything becomes new through the power of Christ’s atonement! We do however have to heed the instruction that Solomon gave his son in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Even as believers with new hearts, we must be diligent guard our hearts daily and cooperate with the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
The most vivid beatitude in my opinion is Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” The word pure literally means “undivided.” Jesus was teaching His disciples in Matthew 5. They had already believed on Him and they had also forsaken all to follow Him. These were committed followers He is addressing in the Sermon on the Mount! If their hearts could be divided while following Christ, certainly my heart is vulnerable to the wrong direction as well!
There is a vivid picture in the Old Testament of a man who received a new heart but allowed it to become divided between his will and God’s will. This man’s name was Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul was given a new heart to become the king of Israel in 1 Samuel 10:9: “And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.”
God gave Saul the heart that he would need to lead Israel as their new king. Just five chapters later, we find Saul has sinned against God by not completely eliminating the Amalekites as God had commanded him. Immediately Saul is rejected as the king of Israel and God sends Samuel to find another king that would be after “His own heart.” That king of course was King David!
Simply put, Saul’s heart became divided between his will and God’s will. God is looking for disciples whose hearts are completely loyal and undivided to fulfill all of His will.
What Divides Our Hearts as Believers?
Hosea 4:11: “Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” Unholy unions, pleasure, and prosperity can steal the heart very easily even from believers. I have watched many believers over the years who were given the blessing of a new heart; but a friendship, job, or possession has stolen their hearts from the One who redeemed them. We really must guard our hearts.
The Remedy for a Divided Heart
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”—Psalm 86:11
When there is a determination to learn God’s ways and live God’s ways, there will be a uniting of our hearts, we will be undivided and pure in heart. May our prayer be a Psalm 86:11 prayer today!