Do you realize that if God can capture your heart, He can confidently transfer to you the keys to His kingdom?
I was looking back over Dallas Willard’s book, Renovation of the Heart, last night and re-discovered a great quote: “He [Jesus] made disciples by presenting them with the kingdom and introducing them into it by reaching their hearts, changing their vision of reality, and their intentions for life” (pp. 67-68).
The Scriptures are clear: We who are followers of Christ are given a new heart when we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light—from irretrievable uselessness to God to being His sought-after treasure.
No longer do we have hearts that are rebellious and desperately wicked, as Jeremiah preached to his [Old Testament] generation. Rather, as Ezekiel prophesied would be the case when Christ came, the laws of God are now written on our hearts. Our hearts are no longer hardened to God but are soft and pliable (ref. Ezek. 36:26-27).
It is a crying shame that teachers teach—and Believers believe—that the child of God’s heart is a wicked beast torn between two loves: obedience and sin, God and the devil, darkness and light.
This perspective appears correct when one’s theology is based upon behavior, but it is a mishandling of Scripture. I think sometimes this bad-heart, good-heart notion is deliberate in order to motivate folks toward outward godliness in lieu of true spiritual formation.
To be clear: Spiritual formation begins inside and works its way out. You would think we were forming Pharisees instead of people who follow Christ with all their heart.
When God redeemed us, adopted us, and grafted us into His family, He transferred us into His lineage. He formed us from the same fabric He is made from (ref. 2 Pt. 1:4). In other words, we are brand new people, partakers of His spiritual DNA. Why else would he call us His children and Himself our Father?
The old person we were—and were destined to be because of our identity in Adam—was crucified in Christ (ref. Gal. 2:20). But just as Christ did not stay dead, neither do we. In the same way God raised Christ from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand, so He has done to us and for us who are Believers, i.e. His children (ref. Eph. 2:6).
This fact is absolutely and utterly dependent upon us being “fit” to sit next to Him—and He has made us “fit” through the work of Christ.
And do not be mistaken: He has not made us acceptable a little bit. He recreated us from the inside out, from the ground up, through and through, starting with our ability to connect with Him.
This connection capacity is the job of the heart. We know this in earthly relationships. It is true in our spiritual relationship as well.
It is for this reason that the Scriptures are emphatic. It is for this reason that Ezekiel’s prophecy is important. We MUST know the true condition of our hearts.
Our hearts are new, not old. They are soft, not hard toward God. Our hearts as His children are clean, not wicked.
Read carefully and closely consider what you hear and what you read. Jeremiah’s sermon about the wicked heart was delivered in real time. Ezekiel’s message is prophetic. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Jeremiah’s message does not apply to you. Ezekiel’s does.
This is important because we are designed to live from our hearts. The heart is the core of us, the deepest and most thoroughgoing aspect of us. It governs all that God desires to have come out of us. From the heart we passionately convey God to others during our daily trek through life.
When Jesus appealed to His disciples and presented the kingdom to them, He appealed to them at their basic ability to respond to God—their hearts. They didn’t understand what He was saying until later—at Pentecost—but once they got it, they were unstoppable.
He does the same with us, and the devil—our adversary—recognizes this and wages an insidious battle to undermine our capacity and determination to live from our hearts. Thus the reason behind the heart-level wounds we have all suffered. Sadly, many of these wounds occur inside the faith community. But if you were the desperate devil, where would you attack?
With this awareness, it is all the more apparent why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
It is essential that we live from our hearts. Failing to do so will render a spiritual life lacking in passion and unaware of the profound bond we have with the heart of God. No wonder such a war is waged for our hearts!
Unwisely, we approach life from our observations, from misguided theology, from our tradition, from our emotion, from our family history, from what we are taught, from our accomplishments, ad infinitum. Instead, we must adopt God’s viewpoint of life and of our lives.
It is in Him and through Him that we live, and move, and have our being. Why? Because we are His offspring (cf. Acts 17:28).
He designed us to live passionately, intensely, confidently…and to do so from a heart that is clean and pure based upon the finished work of Christ (ref. Heb. 10:19-25).
Be encouraged in your heart!
I’ve written two books, both novels, to not only describe the heart but demonstrate it. No Mercy tells the story of the heart’s formation. Battle for the Round Tower is the story of the heart’s power.