Matthew 15: 17-20
Rick Warren, the Pastor of Saddleback Church and the author of many books, including “The Purpose Filled Life,” wrote: The Bible makes a direct connection between your heart and your mouth. For instance, if you have a problem with profanity, that’s not a problem with your mouth. That’s a problem in your heart. If you tend to be critical and say sarcastic things, that’s not a problem in your mouth. That’s a problem in your heart. If you tend to exaggerate things and shade the truth, that’s not a problem with your mouth. That’s a problem in your heart. If you tend to say things that you think people want you to say rather than what you really need to say, that’s not a problem with your mouth. That’s a problem in your heart.
–Rick Warren at PastorRick.com
I hope you understand that being a Christian is a matter of the heart. But the real foundation for being a Christian is the heart.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 24: 3 & 4, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” –It’s a matter of the heart—it must be pure!”
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…mind…and strength.”—It begins in the heart!
When the Jerusalem Council met to determine whether or not to accept Gentiles into the church, Peter stood up and gave a report of his experience in the Roman Centurion Cornelius’ home, and said, “…God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith…” (Acts 15: 8-9). –It was a heart issue that was remedied by the work of the Holy Spirit.
As we continue in the month of February—the month that is designated as Heart Awareness Month by the American Heart Association, let’s continue our examination of the spiritual heart
I. HOW DID OUR HEARTS GET IN SUCH A MESS?
a. Understand that we were not created with a bad heart. In Genesis chapter 1 we read that we were created on the 6th day of Creation Week. Verse 27 says, “For God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Then, in verse 31 we read, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” Sometimes I have heard people make excuses for bad behavior by saying, “I’m only human,” But bad behavior does not come from just being human, for humanity as it was created is good. It is something else that causes us to sin—something that has contaminated that which God created.
b. The heart was contaminated when mankind decided to disobey God. The Story of the Fall is found in Genesis chapter 3. The Serpent tempted and enticed Eve to knowingly disobey God and partake of the forbidden Fruit. God had warned that by so doing, death would be the result. And immediately we see the consequences of sin begin to manifest itself. Adam and Eve hid from God when He came into the Garden to meet them. And the rest is history. Theologians have tried to explain how that sin and the resulting sin principle has been passed on from generation to generation. The website Desiring God.com gives this explanation: Scripture says that we are born sinners and that we are by nature sinners
Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Ephesians 2:2says that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience.”Ephesians 2:3 also establishes this, saying that we are all “by nature children of wrath.” If we are all “by nature children of wrath,” it can only be because we are all by nature sinners — for God does not direct His wrath towards those who are not guilty. God did not create the human race sinful, but upright. But we fell into sin and became sinful due to the sin of Adam.
c. The Fall resulted in a catastrophic disruption of God’s perfect plan. Romans 8: 18-22 gives us a glimpse at what happened: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the Creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
d. The perverted human heart became the seat of evil. God spoke to Noah after the flood and, among other things, said, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done” (Genesis 8: 21).
e. So, the Bible teaches us that because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, everyone since them has been born with sinful hearts—hearts that are inclined to sin. And from the time a person is old enough and mature enough to understand right and wrong, he or she is aware that disobedience has already gotten into their lives. Romans 3:10 says, “There are none righteous, no not one.” And Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Spiritually speaking, we are born with hearts that are infected with sin. There are no exceptions.
II. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF HAVING A SPIRITUAL HEART ILLNESS?
a. In Matthew 15:9 Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
b. In 1 Corinthians 5: 9-11 Paul writes, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard, or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” That Paul has to warn against the people who participate in these types of sinful behaviors is just an example of the result of Spiritual Hearts that are controlled by sin.
c. In Revelation 21:8 we see the final result of those whose hearts are still contaminated by sin: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
d. Think with me for a moment about our world. There are wars and threats of wars on an international level. There are gangs who rape, steal, and kill in our cities. Marriages too quickly end in divorce. There is human trafficking and the selling of sex slaves. Children are abused and molested. Drug addiction is rampant. The Drug culture has resulted in making our nation increasingly violent. Need I continue? All of this is the result of hearts that are filled with evil and controlled by sin. Human misery can be summed up by this: The Human heart is corrupt—Sin controls and is destroying all that is good!
III. HOW CAN OUR HEARTS BE PURIFIED?
a. We can’t do it by ourselves. I think often of the man who several years ago told me that he was going to correct the sinful behavior in his life by focusing on eliminating one sin at a time. His problem wasn’t his behavior. His behavior was just a symptom of a spiritual heart condition. He might correct his behavior, but he could never fix his heart! Ephesians 2: 1-3 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” “…dead in your transgressions and sins…” Dead people are totally incapable of doing anything. We must have help from outside ourselves in order to become alive spiritual. But Ephesians 2:4 says,
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.”
b. In Romans 7 Paul gives a graphic description of a person’s inability to overcome the Evil “Taskmaster” called sin. Then, in Romans 7:24-25 He wrote: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!…”
So, here we are. All of us have sinned. All of us were born with a heart condition caused by sin that causes us to be inclined towards sinning. We may control our behavior through self-discipline –at least up to a point—but that doesn’t change the fact that our hearts are contaminated.
The only way we can come into God’s Presence is by having “clean hands and a pure heart.” But we can’t purify our hearts by ourselves.
So, it is necessary for us to come to God and allow Him to do a work in us by supernaturally replacing our sinful heart with a new heart. In Galatians 6: 15 Paul wrote, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.”
In Ezekiel 36: 26 God said, “”Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24 Paul wrote, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
Spiritual Heart Surgery occurs this way:
1. We recognize we have sinned against God and we repent of those acts of sin and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and save us. He forgives us for the acts of sin we have committed and we are brought back into the family of God.
2. Once those acts of sin are forgiven, we offer our forgiven self to God and ask Him to remove that Sin Nature that caused us to want to sin in the first place. And by faith, we yield ourselves totally to Him and trust His Spirit to fill us and purify our hearts. Because of what Jesus has done in the atonement, God has given us His Spirit whose fire purges us from the sin principle. John the Baptist describes what happens this way: “I baptize you with water for repentance, But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3: 11-12).
Have you had your heart purified by faith? Have you surrendered your all to Jesus and made him Lord of your life?