As we reviewed in the post, Faith and the Heart, the heart is critically important. We are to guard it diligently. The thoughts we have and the subsequent words we speak reveal the condition of the heart (Matthew 12:34). We trust God with our hearts; the heart is where faith resides. The heart feeds the mind, and the mind feeds the heart, they work together and impact our will and emotions. In this post we will review some things that can corrupt our hearts and by extension, our faith.
Romans 9:1: (NIV) I speak the truth in Christ–I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—
1 Timothy 1:19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and thereby shipwrecked their faith.
1 Timothy 3:9 They must hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
2 Timothy 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as did my forefathers, as I constantly remember you night and day in my prayers.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee from youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Titus 1:15 To the pure all things are pure: but to them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then have we confidence toward God.
Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
These scriptures describe the importance of a good, clear, or pure heart/conscience. A pure heart is a heart that is undefiled. Trust and truthfulness are imperative because they keep the conscience clear so that the peace of God can flow.
These scriptures also reveal that we are to hold tightly to our faith and a clear conscience. To me, this means that there is a danger of letting faith and a good conscience slip.
Mixing in other things corrupts your heart and what’s been growing in there. Lust plays a big part in corruption. The lust of other things entering the heart takes your heart away from the things of God and creates thoughts that lead to actions that are contrary to what God has said.
1 John 2:15-17 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life produce after their own kind. The lust of other things that begin to occupy space in your heart constricts the flow of faith and the other characteristics. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life begin to generate thoughts and feelings and desires that seek to manifest themselves. The more these forces brought about by lust take over, the less of an opportunity faith and the other characteristics have to influence and manifest themselves, and the less the fruits of the Spirit are produced.
Galatians 5:19-21 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
These scriptures are in sharp contrast to what was promised in 2 Peter 1:
2 Peter 1:5-11 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we’ve reviewed in several posts, these characteristics keep our hearts firmly planted on the rock of Christ. If these characteristics are choked out by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, our foundation becomes unstable, and we begin to fall away from the things of God. (For more information on these characteristics, read posts, Don’t Leave Your Faith All Alone, Faith the Fertilizer, and Faith and the Fruit of the Spirit).
Mark 4:13-20 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? 14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
The Word of God, the Word of Faith, which we hear, is meant to produce after itself. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love are to be added to faith within our hearts. It is to then produce love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Corruption comes when other things enter in and choke the word.
Notice that the Word of God was sown into the hearts of the hearers. Those who were “by the wayside” didn’t believe, and the word had no opportunity to become planted, let alone grow. For the ones who were rootless, the word was planted, but the “root system” didn’t have an opportunity to develop. These lacked a depth of trust in who God is and how he operates. The word was unable to stay planted because their faith wasn’t deep enough. It got pulled up by the attention that was paid to contrary circumstances. The third group trusted God enough to believe, to maintain through afflictions and persecutions, but they yielded to and allowed other things to enter into their hearts and choke out the word. Here, thoughts and actions are contrary to the Word of God. Rather than casting down the thoughts and ceasing to yield to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, they seek to confirm the thoughts and pursue fulfillment of their lusts. This condition has to be caught early. You should regularly take an inventory of what you’re thinking about and how closely aligned your thoughts are to the Word of God. There should be a scriptural basis for what you believe, and what you believe should produce good fruit. Check your environment. When people leave your presence, particularly those who are closest to you, are they leaving with peace, love, joy, hope? Have you treated them with long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance? Do you, within yourself, feel peaceful, joyful and hopeful? The answers will give you an indication of the condition of your heart and the development of the Word of God within you.
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:1-13
The law intended to govern the conduct of those who were subject to it, but the law was unable to change the hearts and internal nature of its subjects. We, who are in Christ Jesus, are not under the law but under the grace of God who gave us his Holy Spirit so that we would have the ability to crucify the flesh and to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
What does crucify the flesh mean, exactly? It means that we deny its ability to express its desires. If we have become convinced that a want or an action or habitual thoughts will do us only harm in the long run, we deny its expression. We don’t give into it. We decide not to indulge. That’s crucifying the flesh.
18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. 19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. 20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips Proverbs 4:18-24 NIV
Psalm 1:1-3 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. 2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
Meditating on the Word of God, seriously giving the Word of God your attention, on a consistent, daily basis, will give you the faith and strength you need to keep your heart clear. The more you spend time with and thinking about God, thinking about who He is, and how He operates, the more you’ll recognize the path you are meant to travel, the path of your thoughts, and of your actions. Then, your heart will become purer and purer, as you partake of the divine nature, and as you begin to manifest more and more of the fruit of the Spirit.
We frame the narratives of our life by what we allow to grow in our hearts. Wisdom resides in our hearts; faith resides there, as does love. Out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak. We connect to God through our hearts (with the heart man believes). Nothing is more critical than that. From that believing, from that faith, flows all of the other forces of life that we previously studied. That’s why we are to guard our hearts with all diligence and keep it uncorrupted.