<<inner control faculty>> 

Our physical heart is at the centre of the human body and without it all our systems fail. The Bible also uses the term heart for the ‘control centre’ of our spiritual life. We are instructed to “Diligently guard the heart, for it determines the course of our whole life…keep it on the right path” for the real battles of life are won or lost here (Prov 4:23, 23:19). This ‘spirit of man’ which receives input from our mind, will and emotions must be protected from harmful, destructive influences for the whole outworking of our lives, via our thoughts, intentions, decisions, speech and actions, originates here and defines who we are (Prov 27:19; Mt 5:21,22,27,28, 9:4, 12:34,35, 15:18,19). The condition of our hearts has a significant impact on our relationship with God and others.

Be aware of your heart’s desires and motives as they have a strong bearing on your future through subsequent decisions, for where your treasure is there the heart is focused (Ps 4:4; Mt 6:21; Rom 10:1; 2 Cor 9:7). The heart

Carefully monitor your spiritual values

can be deceived by pride, with it recorded five times that Satan said in his heart, “I will...” (Ob 1:3; Isa 14:13,14; Jas 1:26). When he tried to implement his scheme it resulted in his downfall.  Also, contrast the outcomes for Daniel who “purposed in his heart” by making a firm resolution to honour God with that for Ananias and Sapphira who allowed Satan’s thoughts to take hold in their hearts, resulting in deceptive words which brought swift judgment (Dan 1:8; Act 5:1-10).

Our problem: a change of heart needed

Early in human history, God said that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time; in fact stating it was beyond cure (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9). His remedy was, “I will give them a new heart, one that is pliable and will respond to me” (Ezek 11:19, 36:26,27). He also said, "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it may go well with them and their children forever" (Deut 5:29). We constantly need the Lord’s cleansing to deal with the unrighteousness that is within for “Who can approach God? [Only] those with clean hands and a pure heart”. This is why David asked God to “create in me a pure heart” (Ps 24:4, 51:10). Ask God, who searches and knows our hearts, to expose the blind spots so these can be addressed and our lives made more useful to Him (1 Chr 28:9; Ps 7:9, 26:2, 139:23,24; Jer 17:10; Mt 9:4; Act 1:24).  May this be true of us, “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:10,11). While God renews our heart we have the responsibility bring about transformation by renewing our mind by thinking right and monitoring the entry points (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 4:9). The Lord judges people by their heart motivation and condition, while we can only consider the outward action, yet living a righteous, obedient life by having God’s Word as a guide will prevent us from being tripped up by Satan (Deut 11:18, 30:14; 1 Sam 16:7; Ps 37:31; Prov 7:3).

Some outcomes

1/. “With the heart you believe and are justified” (Mk 11:23; Rom 10:8-10). Terms such as, ‘giving my heart to God…letting Jesus into my heart…opened my heart to the Lord’ refer to accepting His offer of salvation and surrendering our self-control by allowing Him to take up His rightful place as Lord of our life. As a result “Because you are sons, God sends the Spirit of His Son into your hearts...He dwells

Our walk with God is always a matter of the heart

there by faith” (Gal 4:6; Eph 3:17). A real follower of Christ is one whose heart is in a continuing spiritual transformation through allowing the Holy Spirit to effect ongoing change. Such discipleship is not based on a ‘once only’ past decision or an external mark such as the physical circumcision of the Jews (Rom 2:29).

2/. Nothing but the eternal God can fully satisfy our spiritual thirst because He has ‘planted’ eternity in us yet “Without holiness no one will see the Lord”. To those who have this inner quality the promise is, “The pure in heart will see God”, enabling a rich communion or togetherness (Eccl 3:11; Mt 5:8; Heb 12:14; 3 Jn 1:11). The Bible’s message is clear, if we serve and obey God with all our hearts we will be blessed for the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart – that is, with all your soul, and with your entire mind and with all your strength” – this encompasses every part us (Deut 11:13-15,27; Mk 12:30). 

3/. God tests us to know what is in our hearts, whether we will obey or not, and this shows us how often we do not live according to His ways and under the control of the Spirit (Deut 8:2; Prov 17:3; Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:16). If we are committed to seeking God with our whole heart, the promise is we will find Him and He will strengthen us (1 Sam 2:30; 1 Chr 22:19; 2 Chr 16:9, 19:3; Isa 40:31; Jer 29:13).

4/. We are encouraged to “Let the peace of God rule in your heart” and have an attitude of gratitude to Him for all that He has done for us rather than worrying about what may happen (Phil 4:7; Col 3:15-17). Having a heart fixed on God is the antidote to fear (Ps 112:7,8).

5/. True worship involves praising God with all our heart, not just with a hollow, outward ritual of insincerity (Ps 86:12, 95:6-8; Mt 15:8; Jn 4:23). Similarly we are to forgive from the heart indicating the depth and genuineness of our decision (Mt 18:35).

6/. God alone knows our hearts, so “Who can say I have kept my heart pure; I am without sin?” (2 Chr 6:30; Ps 44:21; Prov 20:9). We can’t hide anything from Him, so we must be totally honest before our gracious Lord. He says to us “My [child], give me your heart…return to me with all your heart…” (Prov 23:26; Joel 2:12). Don’t allow anyone or anything

Who governs the core of your being – God or self?

but God have total control of your heart (Ex 20:3).

7/. We are to 'take to heart' the teachings of the Word of God and live by them (Deut 4:39,40, 32:46; Mt 7:21-27). Do not just hear and causally dismiss the divine instructions, but instead ponder and give serious thought to your ways – do they line up with His, for there are eternal repercussions if they don't (Prov 4:26; Mt 5:20).

Two role models

David was ‘a man after God’s own heart’ and even though he sinned, he was humble and repented of his waywardness. God will not despise a broken and repentant heart that acknowledges the need for Him (Ps 51:17; Isa 57:15; Act 13:22).  We must get rid of whatever would defile the control centre of our lives, the Lord’s residence, by purifying our hearts and acknowledging Christ as Lord (Jas 4:8; 1 Pet 3:15).

The heart of King Asa was fully committed to the Lord all his life (1 Kgs 15:14). Am I am totally yielded to Him for the long-term, whole-heartedly obeying and doing the will of God, no longer a slave to sin but to righteousness (Rom 6:17; Eph 6:5-7). Our attitude is very important for love must come from a pure heart, as “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did” – He described Himself as “gentle and humble in heart…I always do what pleases Him” (Mt 11:29; Jn 8:29; 1 Tim 1:5; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 Jn 2:6).

While we should care for our physical heart, how much more should we give attention to our spiritual core, the governing force of our whole person and all our activity.

See also: body/soul/spirit, broken-hearted, entry points, guard, half-hearted, hard-hearted, heartless, humility, new/new life, sinner's prayer.