Sadly for so many Christians, God occupies very little of their hearts. And if He is found there, it is only as a visitor given temporary lodgings until something or someone more important comes along. This is why the hearts of so many of us are spiritually anemic, lacking in the vibrancy and life of God Almighty. We have failed to consistently experience God living in our hearts and have never known Him beyond mere acquaintance. God is more like a distant relative we see a few times a year, someone to whom we offer a guest room or an inflatable mattress on the living room floor, but there’s no intimate, cherished, close relationship with One deeply residing within the heart.
Worse, God has been tossed from the throne of these hearts and something else has been exalted as king. Such a heart of rebellion is weak in faith, trust, and strength, because the Lord does not dwell there.
A. W. Tozer, in his classic book The Pursuit of God, writes,
In the deep heart of the man (Adam) was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. … Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne. … That place is His by every right in earth or heaven. While we take to ourselves the place that is His, the whole course of our life is out of joint. Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above … The whole course of life is upset by failure to put God where He belongs.[i]
God has every right to sit on the throne of your heart, but you must decide to put Him there. The great battle in life is not only to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength but also to keep Him on the throne of your heart, no matter what the world throws at you.
God is searching the hearts of men and women; He is looking for the heart devoted to Him above all else the world has to offer. He found such a man in David, whom God called “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). As Christians, we need to be relentless in our pursuit of God’s heart and unite our hearts with His in a bond that no power in hell can break.
God is not concerned with what kind of car you drive, how much money you earn, or how many academic degrees you have. He is instead concerned with the much more important questions “Where is your heart?” and “Does your heart belong to Me or to someone or something else?” In 1 Samuel 16:7, we learn that “the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
In this passage, the Hebrew word translated as “look” means to intently consider, observe, and give attention to. God gives the utmost attention to the condition of our hearts, hoping to find that rare gem of a heart that, like David’s, is in sync and in tune with His own. How touching is it that Scripture says God “found” David (Acts 13:22)? David lived, moved, and breathed in the will of God, determined to do whatever the Lord wanted him to do. How God’s heart must have thrilled when He found a human heart wholly devoted to Him!
God wants us, as Christians, to be committed to Him above all else. We should cry out Solomon’s passionate declaration “I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go” (Song of Solomon 3:4). Our hearts should cleave unto God, hold Him tightly, never let go, and never allow anything else to take His place all the days of our lives.
The eyes of the Lord still range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Where will He find your heart? What condition is your heart currently in? Will you allow God to mend, heal, and transform you, to give you a mighty heart like David’s?
God wants you to fully experience Him. He yearns for you to know Him. He wants to be your loving Father, your unfailing strength, your abounding joy, your fathomless love, and your limitless peace. He wants the deepest companionship and the most fulfilling fellowship with you in the innermost part of your heart. God wants you to know that when He sits on the throne of your heart, you have everything. You need nothing more.
Living in the Heart of God
A. W. Tozer has said, “Because God made man in His image and redeemed him by the blood of the Lamb, the heart of God Himselfis the true environment for the Christian.”[ii] The heart of God Himself is the true environment for every Christian. We should not only be diligently after God’s own heart, but it should be where we live and conduct our lives. God wants our heart to become His and His heart to become ours.
The heart of God is the sphere of our new life in Christ. A sphere is an atmosphere or element where all the necessary conditions of life exist for development and growth. Every plant and animal exists in a sphere of life with conditions necessary for its subsistence and development. The air is the element of the bird, while water is the element of the fish. The bird has a breathing apparatus designed for the air, and the fish has a breathing apparatus designed for life underwater. Both are wonderfully and uniquely made to live and flourish in their sphere of life. Likewise, God has wonderfully created and uniquely made you and me to live and flourish in the heart of God. Not only can we live life to a far greater quality and degree within this sphere, but it’s the only place where we can fulfill our true destiny as the children of God. Only there will our old passions, habits, bondages, and ways of life be displaced and fade away. In this new sphere we have the capacity and freedom to live fully and unabashedly for God. We should be like King Hezekiah, who cried out, “God, please, I beg you: Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours” (Isaiah 38:3, MSG).
This is where God wants you to live your life, for this what you were created for. This is the place where you can glorify Him. Everything about you was made for Him, and as a new Christian you were born again to live in His heart, by His heart, and for His heart. As Augustine so poetically wrote to God in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” The hearts of every man and women on the earth will find no rest, no fulfillment, and no homecoming until they find their way home to Him.
“For I know the plansI have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11–14, NIV)
The loving and magnificent God of the universe has a purpose and a destiny for you. You are part of a plan that will rock Satan’s kingdom to the core and shake up the world for Jesus Christ. No one else has been given your unique mission as it has been ordained by God Almighty. Yet if you are ever to accomplish God’s purpose and destiny for your life, you must set your heart upon seeking Him and giving yourself to Him without reservation, hindrance, or obstruction. If you will live and move and breathe in God as your ultimate reality, your heart will become a sacred place where you rest in Him, enjoying His companionship and intimacy. And in this transformation chamber He will form your heart to be like His, where you cry His tears, feel His compassion, move in His love, and delight in His joy. Your heart will become absorbed in God’s heart, and you will hear His heartbeat and deeply experience His fathomless love and grace.
Living in the heart of God is the most exhilarating and adventurous place to live in the cosmos. For it’s there that you will you get to know the Creator of all things more intimately every day.
Friend, do you know, do you understand that God wants to be loved by you? God wants to be cherished. He wants to be wanted from the depth of your heart. John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, beautifully shares this astounding truth:
I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt of this: God wants to be loved. He wants to be a priority to someone. How could we have missed this? From cover to cover, from beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart is, “Why won’t you choose Me?” It is amazing to me how humble, how vulnerable God is on this point … He didn’t have to make us, but he wanted us. Though he knows the name of every star and his kingdom spans galaxies, God delights in being part of our lives … His heart is for relationship.[iii]
John Bevere, in Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God, says, “There is a call—no, a cry—coming from the heart of God and with each passing day its intensity increases: ‘Why are you satisfied without My presence; why do you remain distant when you could have intimacy with Me?’”[iv]
Oh, how we have let so many other things take possession of the prize of our hearts! So often we devote our attention to something other than God, which throws the heart into captivity and chaos. Fear, greed, lust, pride, bitterness, and many other foolish things stand as blockades against God ascending to the throne of our hearts. We are masters at erecting barriers against God, posting “Keep Out” signs all around us even as our hearts are drowning in a sea of strife and confusion. All the while, God is patiently waiting, watching and hoping that you will tear down the barriers and allow Him to rescue you.
Do You Hear Him Calling?
God is “passionate about His relationship with you” (Exodus 34:14, NLT). God yearns for you. He desires you. Your heart is the most treasured possession in all the earth to God. He longs to write the true story of your heart in His heavenly language and by His heavenly touch:
God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. (Psalm 18:24, MSG)
Acts 3:15 calls Jesus Christ “the author of life.” Have you opened the book of your heart to Him? Are you willing to let Him write the text of your life with breathtaking words and soul-stirring inspiration? Are you willing to let Him be the director, the producer, and the star of the story of your heart? Or is your heart distant from Him, wallowing in a sea of uncertainty and unbelief, earnestly waiting for a rescuer, a deliverer, and a restorer? Can’t you hear Him passionately calling, “Bring your heart to me and I will restore it, repair it, and rebuild it to be my home where my presence is alive”? No matter where your heart has wandered, no matter the depths to which you may have fallen, He can still rewrite the book of your heart into a beautiful history that glories God.
God is speaking to your heart right now. Do you hear Him? Are you listening? Is your heart like David, a man after God’s own heart, who listened and heard the call of God to his heart (Psalm 27:8)? Is your heart like the young Samuel who said to God “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9)? Is your heart like Elijah who heard the still, soft whisper of God to his heart (1 Kings 19:12)?
God’s heart is always crying out “Come,” and He passionately desires that you respond, “Lord, I am coming!” God pursues your heart because it has enormous value to Him—it is worth more than all the riches in the world! All God ever wanted was your heart. He wants intimacy with you, to have the deepest level of communion with you. He wants nothing to be held back. God wants a relationship with you in which everything is shared and all barriers are broken down so that you can fully experience Him.
Within every heart is a deep yearning for God and all that He is. Humankind’s great search is to be reunited with our Creator, the only One worthy of our praise. Without God, our hearts remain forever empty, wandering aimlessly, as we search for something to satisfy our hunger. Meanwhile, Jesus Christ is at the door of our hearts and cries out, “Here am I! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
The Salt Covenant of the Heart
The sharing of a meal in Bible times indicated a strong bond of affection and companionship. There was a salt covenant with meals in the Bible in which a person would bind himself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness as salt was a symbol of enduring friendship, honesty, and close alliance. It is still common today for people from the Eastern culture to say, “There is salt between us.”
Jesus Christ wants to make a salt covenant with your heart, too. He wants to bind His heart together with yours heart in the closest intimacy of a friend, brother, companion, and provider. He pledges to enter a covenant of utmost loyalty with your heart where there will be an enduring bond of affection, honesty, and unbroken alliance. He wants your heart to be forever knit and linked with His, united and moving forward as one.
Jesus’ promise to come in and eat with those who will open the door to Him is given in the context of His warning against having a lukewarm heart for the Lord. This is the heart that recklessly and arrogantly proclaims it does not need a thing, even as it wallows in its own misery, selfishness, and spiritual blindness. Has your heart been lukewarm, indifferent to His presence and unresponsive to His voice?Is your heart so clogged with other things that Jesus has been crowded out of the picture? Has your heart succumbed to pride and selfishness? If so, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart right now with a firm but loving request: He wants the great treasure of your heart. He doesn’t want a token of it, a good portion of it, or even most of it. He wants all of it. Jesus Christ is longing for all of you. Do you hear him knocking? Do you hear Him gently calling your name?
Revelation 3:20 is a call of intimacy, friendship, and loyalty to our hearts and an invitation to enter into an unbreakable covenant of love. With such a wonderful promise of loyalty and intimacy, why do so many of us let our hearts be captivated by other things that only lead us astray? We chase the illusion. We blindly follow the lure of fascination in the world. At the first hint of success, we become puffed up with pride and begin pushing our own agendas. We let jealously, bitterness, envy and strife consume us. We get burdened down with trivial matters, and all the while Jesus stands just outside the door, offering intimacy, loyalty, and devotion with Almighty God. We should run to Him with all our might, for it is only in Him that we find the true meaning and purpose of life.
What Is the Heart?
You must understand this foundational, biblical truth: Your heart belongs to God. Your heart was formed and fashioned by God to be wholly devoted to Him and to be vibrantly alive with His presence. As Tozer has said, “God gave you a harp and placed it in your own heart. … and He meant that harp to be tuned to Himself.”[v] The human heart is His, and only His, and it was never meant to give devotion or allegiance to anyone else. We must first understand this timeless truth before our spiritual eyes can be truly enlightened to the other great truths in God’s Word concerning the heart.
So what exactly is “the heart” that God pursues relentlessly and the devil tries to capture and keep in bondage? What does the word “heart” mean in Scripture? The heart is not the physical organ that pumps blood to the body, but rather, it’s the innermost part of a person’s being—the seat and center of a human life. Your heart is the essence of who you are. It is the control center for your will, emotions, intellect, desires, understanding, reasoning, reflection, and judgment. How you develop and grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is determined by the condition and makeup of your heart.
E. W. Bullinger, in A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, defines the heart as “the seat and center of man’s physical life in which the distinctive character of the human manifests itself.”[vi] The heart is the center of everything that is manifested and comes forth in your life. One of the great principles of the heart is that whatever is in your heart is going to show up in your life, forming your character, your personality, your attitudes, your actions, and your words. The heart is the blueprint of what people see manifested in your life.
The New Bible Dictionary says the heart is “essentially the whole man, with all his attributes, physical, intellectual and psychological … and the heart was conceived of as the governing center for all of these. It is the heart which makes the man … what he is, and governs all his actions.”[vii] It is amazing to think that every word, every thought, every motive, every action comes from this place called the heart. Indeed, your heart is the source of everything you will ever do while you live upon the earth.
Emotions, feelings, and passions represent some of the deep inner movements of the heart that flow out into our lives and demonstrate the quality and composition of our hearts. Does love or strife flow out of your heart? Anger or forgiveness? Tenderness or bitterness? Humility or pride? Every moment you draw breath upon the earth, something is flowing out of your heart. What is coming out of your heart when you are with your family, at your job, with your friends, at your church, or when the sudden challenges of life are thrust upon you?
What flows out of our heart determines the quality of our life and character. It determines the manner and attitude with which you handle life’s major obstacles. It determines the richness of your relationships and the depths of your love. What flows out of the heart even determines the direction and course of your life.
Simply put, the heart is who you are and the essence of your being. As Oswald Chambers put it, “The use of the Bible term ‘heart’ is best understood by simply saying ‘me.’ It is the central citadel of a man’s personality.”[viii] This is why the heart is the key to your mental, social, and spiritual life, just as the physical heart is the key to your physical life. The heart is at the center of it all. And that is why the heart is at the center of all spiritual warfare, for it is the territory that both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan desire.
John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive:
This is the lastthing the Enemy wants you to know. His plan from the beginning was to assault the heart … Make them so busy, they ignore the heart. Wound them so deeply, they don’t want a heart. Twist their theology, so they despise the heart. Take away their courage. Destroy their creativity. Make intimacy with God impossible for them. Of course your heart would be the object of a great and fierce battle. It is your most precious possession.[ix]
Without your heart, you cannot have love. Without your heart, you cannot have faith. Without your heart, you cannot find the work you were meant to do. In other words, without your heart you cannot have life.
As Christians, we have neglected the importance of maintaining the heart with tireless vigilance. The heart is under assault daily, and we can never be too busy to tend to its care. We must be ever on guard, for the heart can turn or harden quickly, moving us off the path God has set for our lives.
The Wellspring of Your Life
When your heart is properly cared for under the gentle guidance of God, it should be a reflection of the glory of God. Your heart is meant to be full of His light, shattering the darkness of this world and brilliantly displaying the image of the Creator. Your heart was made by God to bear the image of His magnificence and characteristics such as love, mercy, goodness, tenderness, justice, strength, compassion, and peace.
The heart of every Christian is meant to be vibrantly alive as God’s life is poured into the words, motives, and actions of those who have passionately guarded their hearts for God. We must fight for every inch of our hearts against the relentless attack of the devil and his deceptive schemes and plans. We must not let him pollute our hearts with his contaminated words, thoughts, images, and purposes. The treasure of your heart is too valuable to be surrendered to the enemy.
Proverbs 4:23 (NEB) reads, “Guard your heart more than any treasure, for it is the source of life. The New International Version says it like this: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The heart is the wellspring, or fountain, of life. It’s the central reservoir from which all of a person’s words, actions, and motives flow. Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon titled “The Great Reservoir,” said:
You have seen the great reservoirs provided by our water companies, in which the water which is to supply hundreds of streets and thousands of houses is kept. Now, the heart is just the reservoir of man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life may flow through different pipes—the mouth, the hand, the eye, but still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip, derive their source from the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there is no difficulty in showing the great necessity that exists for keeping this reservoir, the heart, in a proper state and condition, since otherwise that which flows through the pipe must be touted and corrupt … Mere moralists often forget the heart. … It is as if, when the reservoir was filled with poisonous or polluted fluid, some sage counselor should propose that all the piping had better be taken up, and fresh pipes laid down, so that water may be run through fresh channels; but who does not perceive that it would be all in vain, if the fountain-head were polluted, however good the channels. So in vain the rules by which men hope to fashion their lives; in vain the regimen by which we seek to constrain ourselves to the semblance of goodness. Unless the heart be right, the very best scheme of life shall fall to the ground, and fail to effect its design.[x]
The heart is the mighty reservoir that pumps its contents into our words, our thoughts, our motives, our emotions, our passions and our deeds. If Jesus Christ came and tested the quality of the water in the reservoir of your heart, what would He find? Is your reservoir polluted with the thoughts, ideas, and characteristics of this world? Or is it pure, lovely, and holy, reflecting the glory and heart of its Creator? Is your heart an environmental hazard that is contaminating your Christian walk and witness for Christ and polluting the quality of your intimacy with your heavenly Father? If your heart is polluted, then your life is going to be polluted.
What goes into determining the contents of the reservoir of your heart? Everything you think about, look at, read, listen to, been taught about, and have experienced. Ron Luce, in Guard Your Heart,explains it this way:
[The heart] is a sponge that soaks up every experience, every thought, and everything we have ever been taught. It absorbs everything and then, as we are squeezed, what comes out of that sponge directs our life. Think of all the experiences you have had—good ones, exciting ones, and bad ones that have hurt you. Think of all the things you have seen, read in textbooks, and learned from the school of life. Think of every emotion you have ever had and every dream you have ever dreamed. All of those things have been absorbed into your inner being just as a sponge would soak up water.[xi]
The contents of a contaminated heart can literally poison your words, emotions, attitude, and character, and destroy your life. You cannot sidestep and ignore the condition of your heart and think it won’t have any effect on your life.
The Hebrew word translated “wellspring” in Proverbs 4:23 means “outgoing, to go forth, a starting point, a source, and an end point.” In Old Testament days, this word was used to refer to the borders of a territory or the boundaries of a city. The heart determines the borders of your words and actions and the direction the territory of your life will extend. Out of the heart flows a map that illustrates every detail of the geography, frontiers and outer edges of your emotions, passions, behaviors, attitudes and desires that shapes your daily life. Like a surveyor that stakes out a territory, the heart determines the boundaries of your mental and emotional life and the sphere where you function and conduct your daily activities. These boundaries can be healthy or unhealthy, based on the condition of your heart.
Guarding the Promised Land
The first usage of this word “wellspring” in Scripture is found in the book of Numbers, in which God reveals to Moses the borders of the Promised Land that Israel is to go and possess: “This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side” (Numbers 34:12).
God has set the boundaries of a Promised Land for your life where you can accomplish your God-given destiny and purpose that God has lovingly designed for you. This Promised Land is a place where you can enjoy the blessings of God, the peace of God, the deliverance of God, the protection of God, and the presence of God. The Promised Land is where God is enjoyed, praised, and glorified for His matchless love, grace, and mercy. The Promised Land is the true territory of your heart where you can joyfully display God’s excellence and goodness in all the areas of your life. But your heart can only remain in God’s ordained Promised Land if you diligently guard its borders from infiltration by the enemy.
For the children of Israel, the Promised Land was also a place of warfare where all the enemies of God were to be driven out, where God’s chosen people were to experience great victory from the Lord. There were thirty-one hostile enemy nations in the land Israel was about to enter, and God commanded that all of these enemies of God’s people were to be thrust out of this holy land. Most of Israel’s problems in their history (especially idolatry and turning away from the Lord) stem from their original failure to force these ungodly nations and their false gods out of the Promised Land.
Ours is a battle to keep the heart aligned with God’s heart, an ongoing struggle to remain within the boundaries of the Promised Land of God’s will. Ours is a battle to keep our hearts from becoming conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). Ours is a battle to keep the relentless forces of fear, worry, anxiety, disobedience, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred from possessing any territory within our hearts.
We must be aware that the enemy is always prowling near the borders of our hearts, subtly trying to gain entrance so he can establish a stronghold in the heart and exercise his control and influence. We must be the constant border patrol of our hearts, watching all the boundaries of our lives so that the enemy does not become an illegal resident of our hearts. We cannot passively allow him to hang out and set up his tent anywhere in this, for he is a master at turning the heart away from God.
In order to enter the Promised Land and keep its borders secure, we must guard our hearts with all diligence, protecting it from the schemes and strategies of Satan, devoting it instead wholeheartedly and passionately to God and His Word. Under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can set boundaries that will reflect His love, grace, mercy, compassion, and peace, and in this land we will fulfill God’s calling for our lives.
But the devil has also staked out a territory for your life, and it is called the wilderness. The devil wants to control the contents of your heart, for then he can set the borders of your life within the wilderness where evil, fear, ungodliness, impurity, hatred, and selfishness abound. It’s interesting that one of the Hebrew words for “evil” means to break up all that is good, to destroy or injure by scattering and breaking into pieces, and to destroy, circumvent, and hinder the good purpose or design God has intended for someone or something. Evil is the active opposition of God’s good purpose or design for a person with the intent of destroying, limiting, and hindering it in any way possible.
The devil is called “the evil one” (Matthew 5:37), and if we are careless with our hearts, he will re-position the borders of life so that the destiny God has for you is shattered and broken into pieces. He wants to conform the map of your life to the pattern of this world. In this wilderness, God will be pushed out and obstructed from your heart. Many Christians, though they are born again, live their entire lives in the wilderness where they do little, if anything, to advance God’s kingdom because they have given little thought or care to the condition of their hearts. The heart is the absolute key to our spiritual lives and the key to our success in standing against the attack of our spiritual enemy.
The Exodus of the Heart
The Greek word for “wellspring” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, means “exodus, departure, or a journey, road, or way out.” An exodus is a departure from one geographical location to another. The most magnificent example in human history is, of course, the exodus of Israel out of the slavery and bondage of Egypt. This event marked the birth of Israel as a nation, as God’s chosen people were called out of captivity to serve Him and live under a covenant relationship with God in which He would vigorously provide, protect, and fight for His children. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children departed Egypt on their journey to a new land.
What a picture this gives us of the workings of the heart. There is an exodus of actions, emotions, passions, motives, words, and thoughts that are constantly coming out of your heart. Where is this exodus leading you? Is the exodus from your heart taking you to a land of promise or a land of bondage? Is your life headed toward the territory and land that God has staked out for your life or to a territory the devil has staked out in the wilderness? Every journey you have ever embarked upon in your life has come out of the heart, and the condition of your heart will determine which path you decide to follow. The path you choose will ultimately define and frame your character, personality, behavior, and witness for the Lord.
Jesus taught a valuable lesson to His disciples about the importance of the exodus from the heart:
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, in vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person … Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth, passes into the stomach and is expelled. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matthew 15:8–11; 17–20, ESV, emphasis mine)
Religious leaders in the time of Jesus cared little about the condition of their hearts, and as a result, their hearts became hardened and corrupt, putting stakes down thousands of miles from the heart of God. These leaders were more concerned with the outward appearance of religious ceremony and ritual than they were about devoting their hearts to God. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament says, “They are regular in their formsof worship. They are strict in their ceremonial observances, and keep the law outwardly; but God requires the heart, and that they have not rendered.”
Isn’t it amazing how religion so often misses the importance of the heart? We have our grand cathedrals, our pompous ceremonies, our rituals, and our strict traditions of faith, but our worship is in vain because it proceeds from a heart in which God has no place. The pious works of the Pharisees and scribes came from hearts that had been corrupted and poisoned with selfishness and pride. Their outward honoring of God was a pretense, a dead and lifeless ceremony because of the defiled condition of their hearts. The Greek word translated “vain,” in describing the Pharisees’ acts of worship, means empty, worthless, invalid, without purpose, devoid of force, futile, and of no lasting value.
True praise and worship of God come from a heart that is radically in love with God and passionately committed to do all things for His glory. Worship from the heart is vital for the Christian life. As A.W. Tozer so eloquently said, “Worship is man’s full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again.”[xii] True worship is internal first and foremost, not external. True worship is a wonderful communion, an intimate interaction and close fellowship of our hearts with the heart of God. If we don’t take care of the condition of our hearts, then this worship that was meant to be beautiful and holy becomes despoiled and a mere shadow of its glorious purpose.
Although the Pharisees and scribes put on quite a show, their hearts betrayed them. Their hearts exposed them as hypocrites who were merely playing the part of God’s servants, but the exodus from their hearts showed them to be frauds and actors going through the motions of rites of no importance to God and worthless for the advancement of His kingdom. The Pharisees and the scribes had not given God full and complete access to their hearts.
In The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Kenneth Wuest translates part of Matthew 15:8 as, “Their heart holds back at a great distance from me.”[xiii] These religious leaders had made a deliberate decision to hold their hearts back at a great distance from God. They didn’t want God anywhere near their hearts. They instead were concerned with man-made religious decrees and arrogant demonstrations of their self-righteousness. Jesus clearly pointed out that God is not concerned with religious creeds or rules but what is flowing from the heart. The condition of our hearts is of supreme importance to God. Worship and praise to God mean nothing unless He has captured our hearts.
Clean Hearts or Whitewashed Tombs?
The Greek word translated as “defile” in Matthew 15:20 means to make unclean, impure, to desecrate, and to render unhallowed. Jesus Christ was teaching his disciples that what really desecrates a life, making it unclean and impure, is the wretched condition of a heart. It is an absolute principle in life that what is in your heart will pour out like a great exodus into your life, actions, and behaviors. When the heart is impure, your actions, words, thoughts, motives, and deeds will be impure. The desecration of the heart corrupts a person’s entire life.
Look at the exodus from the hearts of the Pharisees and scribes. It’s not a pretty picture. Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, theft, sexual immorality, strife, envy, jealously, hatred, slander, false witness, bitterness, and pride were gushing from their hearts and destroying their character, their witness, their service, and their relationship with God. Outwardly, they looked so devout and sacred, but inside their hearts were dead to God. Jesus exposed them as whitewashed tombs:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs which appear on the outside beautiful, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. In the same way, you appear to be people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27–28, NIV)
At the time, many families would have a tomb, or sepulcher, cut out of rock or made from a cave, and generations of their family would be buried in it. Barnes’ Notes on The New Testament tells us:
The sepulchers of the Jews were commonly caves, beyond the walls of the cities in which they dwelt; or excavations made in the side of hills, or sometimes in solid rocks. … These tombs were annually whitewashed, to prevent the people from accidentally coming in contact with them as they went up to Jerusalem. The law considered those persons unclean who had touched anything that belonged to the dead (Numbers 19:16). Sepulchers were therefore often whitewashed, that they could be distinctly seen. Thus “whited,” they appeared beautiful; but within they contained the bones and corrupting bodies of the dead.[xiv]
The Jews would cover the outside of the tomb with a powdered lime dust or plaster that made it appear beautiful on the outside, but actually was a warning of the corruption found on the inside. Jesus said these whitewashed tombs “appear on the outside beautiful.” The Greek word translated “appear” means to bring forth into the light, to shine, and to be bright. The Greek word for “beautiful” is horaios, which means to be produced or ripened in the fit season; it means seasonable, as used of ripe fruits because they are most beautiful when they’re ripe. Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament elaborates on the meaning of this word:
All which is in the world lives submitted to the laws of growth and decay, has its hour … the period, that is, that it makes fairest show of whatever of grace or beauty it may own. This hour, being thus the turning point of its existence, the time when it is at its loveliest and best, yields horaios with the sense first of timely … and then of beautiful.[xv]
The amazing but sad truth is that on the outside there was a beauty to the outward ceremony and religious garb that made it appear the Pharisees and scribes were bringing forth the light of God and shining for His glory, but it was all a mirage. They made it look as though they had reached the pinnacle in their service for God and their lives were full of ripe, godly fruit in its perfect season. But Jesus revealed their true hearts, which He compared to a tomb full of death and rotting decay. Regardless of their beautiful rituals and spiritual-sounding words, their hearts were full of the deepest forms of corruption. Yet these were the men who represented God and the sacred text of His Word to God’s chosen people. These men were supposed to be the teachers and reflections of God’s heart.
What a pompous, fraudulent mess religion so often is! Through the ages, it has placed a greater value on the outward appearance of ceremony and traditions rather than on the condition of the human heart. Religion can never completely mask the true motives and contents of the heart. Religion cannot stop the exodus of the heart, because the contents of the heart will eventually pour out into our deeds and lives. The heart will always betray and expose the hypocrisy of religion with its man-made rules and regulations that have been set above the purposes and will of God. The heart will expose the spiritual condition of those who are infected with selfishness, pride, and all types of evil. Religion and rules never bring life but ultimately only death and destruction, as these push the heart away from God.
Jesus Christ so vividly illustrated that we can never let our hearts fall into this condition if we want to love and serve God and accomplish His destiny for our lives. If we ever want to reach the pinnacle of the beauty and majesty of the call of God on the church, then first and foremost we must take address the condition of our hearts. If we continue to be careless with our hearts, then it doesn’t matter how big the church, how great the choir, and how impressive the service—we will be nothing more than whitewashed tombs.
To the angel of the church in Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1, NIV)
The Lord was not fooled by the church at Sardis. He knew, with absolute clarity, the condition of their hearts. This looked like a fabulous and glorious church on the outside, and it had an outstanding reputation of being alive for God. But there was only one huge problem: The church was full of people who were dead in their hearts. The members of this church had failed to be watchful and alert over their hearts, and this allowed the enemy to deaden them to the very God they outwardly worshipped. The hearts were so lifeless that as God examined the works coming from their hearts, He could find not one single deed that glorified Him. He found only dead hearts full of a polluted religion that would not allow Him to complete His magnificent calling for their lives.
Unfortunately, this has become the tragedy of modern-day Christianity. Ours is a religion of outward show and ceremony. George Eldon Ladd, in A Commentary on the Revelation of John, defines today’s church as “a picture of nominal Christianity, outwardly prosperous, busy with the externals of religious activity, but devoid of spiritual life and power.”[xvi] We have become a church of the living dead, peopled with hearts in a sick, weak, and diseased condition. We are void of the power, life, and love of the gospel.
Jim Cymbala, in The Church God Blesses, writes:
Although physical heart problems claim many victims each year across our country, there are heart problems of another kind that I want us to consider. The heart is also of critical importance in a spiritual sense. The church, and especially the pulpit that God blesses, has to have a unique kind of heart. I believe the heart factor is the most overlooked aspect of all our searching for keys to living successfully for Jesus Christ.[xvii]
The contemporary church seems to have totally abandoned teaching the importance of the heart in Christian living, judging from the testimony of the hearts of many Christians. It’s a sad commentary on the church, but who so often judges the ways of the world and yet is the most selfish, prideful, bitter, malicious, greedy, vengeful, lustful, hurtful, and unloving? Isn’t it many times the Christian, whose heart condition is little better than a sewer, spewing forth the raw filth of the world? No wonder the witness of Christianity has become so weakened in recent years. People have been deeply hurt, lives have been destroyed, and churches ripped apart because we have allowed our hearts to fall into such a contaminated condition, pouring out their foul contents into the lives of all those around us.
Christianity needs an awakening to the truth that the condition of the heart is vital to the effectiveness of the gospel. The heart of a Christian is to be the citadel of Jesus Christ and reflect the heart of God in every word, deed, and action. The heart should be a pure representation of all the goodness of God and a lighthouse that radiates to the world all the love and character of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Out of the Storehouse of the Heart
The heart is storehouse that brings into one’s life whatever has been stored in the heart. So many of us have stored up in our hearts the traits, characteristics, and images of the world rather than the words and image of the glorious Christ. The inside of the believer’s heart must deeply and purely reflect Christ, or Christianity’s witness to the world crumbles and our lives betray the gospel. Without hearts that are utterly devoted to Him in all purity and faith, the gospel becomes dead in our Christian walk and growth.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Truly, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21), and when your heart is in a healthy spiritual condition, the kingdom comes bursting forth from you to advance under the mighty hand of God:
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:43–45, NIV)
The Greek word translated here as “stored up” is thesaurus, sometimes rendered as “treasure” in other versions of Scripture, which means “the place in which things are collected and laid up, a storage room, a chamber or chest in which treasure is kept, to gather and layup, to amass or reserve in a storehouse, that which is stored up and saved by human beings as being especially precious.” This Greek word gives us our English word “thesaurus,” which is a treasury or storage place of words.
Your heart is a treasure chest, a storehouse, a place where things are accumulated and stored up. You are constantly storing up thoughts, words, images, ideas, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions in the treasure chest of your heart. As you begin to amass these things in your heart, your life begins to take on a distinctive flavor based upon what we are storing within. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). The condition of your heart is determined by the treasure that has been stored in it. From this storehouse of the heart comes all the words, works, attitudes, beliefs and emotions that define your character and frame your life.
How do you react in the midst of difficult circumstances? What comes pouring out of your heart when you are faced with a dilemma? What is your response to temptation when it comes calling? What do you do in word and deed when suddenly confronted with a problem in your marriage, work, church, family, or social life? It all depends upon the treasure you have stored in your heart. The fruit manifested in your life is in direct relationship to what has been stored in your heart. With the exception of random thoughts and instinctive reactions, everything you think about and everything you do is an issue of the heart.
Are you beginning to see how important the condition of your heart is to your Christian walk? The keeping of the heart is the great work of the Christian and the very center of your duty towards God. All the responsibilities of the Christian faith mean very little if you do not take care of the heart. So what are you storing in your heart? What is the treasure you are keeping there? Are you guarding and protecting your heart so that your storehouse remains pure, good, and uncontaminated with the evil junk that thrives in the world?
John Flavel, in Keeping the Heart, writes that the keeping of the heart is “the most important business of a Christian’s life”:
Most certainly, the man who is careless of the frame of his heart, is but a hypocrite in his profession, however eminent he may be in the externals of religion. … And what can be the reason that the discourses and duties of many Christians are become so frothy and unprofitable, their communion both with God and one another becomes as a dry stalk, but this: their hearts are neglected? … Time was, when Christians conducted in such a manner that the world stood gazing at them. Their life and language were of a different strain from those of others. [xviii]
The Christian heart is meant to have such a godly beauty and purity to it that it amazes all those who behold it. Our hearts were meant to shine for the Lord and to be a glorious representation of Him in everything we say and do. Gazing at the Christian heart, one should see the reflection of God.
We must take back our hearts from the clutches of Satan and allow God to heal, restore, and reign from the throne in our hearts. We must be ever so careful to guard every thought, image, perception and word that we allow therein. There is a battle raging in the church, and its intensity and ferocity are increasing by the day. This battle is happening in every home, church, city, country and continent where the name of Jesus Christ is known. The devil has thrown all the muscle and might of his dominion into this all-out war. This battle determines whether we have life or death, salvation or hopelessness, freedom or bondage, Christ or the world, healing or sickness, deliverance or oppression, peace or anxiety, joy or depression. This battle determines daily the effective spread of the gospel around the world and the quality of Christianity’s witness on earth.
We must not let our heart become casualties on the battlefield. God has given us the battle plans and the manual for victory, and this is the Bible, the Spirit-breathed Word of God. This infallible manual instructs us how to take care of our hearts and assures us our hearts can become storehouses of God’s glory. Without this constant reference to this instruction manual, we stand no chance of success or victory in this mighty battle for our hearts.
The human heart must once again become a stronghold for Christ upon the earth. We must once again become warriors for our God and our hearts fortresses of the gospel, undaunted by the relentless attacks of the enemy. Only then will we stand victorious on the battlefield of life, resting upon the shoulders of our commander, Jesus Christ.
You must begin this journey of the heart by spending some quiet time with God and letting Him do a thorough examination of your heart. Only He can show you the true condition of your heart. Let Him show you where the true treasure of your heart lies, and then follow His treatment plan to restore your heart, to make it vibrant, alive, and one with His.
The Spirit of God in Your Heart
There is one last vital ingredient we must discuss before moving on, for without it, true transformation of the heart is impossible. This is the mighty component the heart needs to be made anew and surge with the power and love of God pumping through every part of it. This is the missing link, the master key to unlock the potential of the human heart. We see it in the biblical lives of Peter, Paul, Samson, David, Saul, Moses, and Elisha, just to name just a few. What can have such an effect on the heart? Only the Spirit of the living God:
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26–27, NLT)
Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6, ESV)
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you constantly and will be in you. (John 14:16-17, AMP)
The Spirit of God is the true guide, helper, encourager, purifier, and discerner of the heart. Without the Spirit of God, the heart will remain enslaved to the impulses and cravings of the flesh. The Spirit of God moving within the heart brings new life, new understanding, and a new relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The Spirit of God enables Christians to follow God’s decrees, and it is always exerting its influence on the heart to obey God at all times.
As Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at the time of the new birth, along with a new divine nature, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. This does not mean that we instantaneously have perfect hearts that flawlessly reflect the image and pattern of Christ. We must henceforth walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to teach us and lead us. We must make the Spirit of God the gatekeeper of our hearts, to help us turn away (and turn away from) anything that would sully the heart. The Spirit of God imparts wisdom, knowledge and discernment to us so we do not fall into the traps of our spiritual enemy.
The Holy Spirit is a blazing light to the heart that dispels darkness and sheds light on the heart’s true spiritual condition. The Spirit of God reveals pockets of idolatry, disobedience, and impurity in our hearts, and He instructs and leads us to repentance and cleansing from the hand of God. The Spirit of God is the fire in our heart that ignites our passion for God and burns up the wicked chaff of unbelief that hinders our faith and trust in Him. The Spirit of God emblazons, with the finger of God, a living love letter from our Lord on our hearts.
You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart. … By “the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it. (2 Corinthians 3:3, 17–18, VOICE)
The Spirit of God is the great liberator of the heart. He brings deliverance from every form of spiritual disease and bondage. He clears the way for the heart to reflect the glory of the Lord.
What an amazing thought that our hearts can reflect the glory of the Lord and become a mirror-image of Christ! Only the Spirit of God can cause this type of spiritual transformation and heavenly radiance. Each day as we walk by the Spirit, our hearts will become more and more radiant with His glory, more and more reflective of the image of Christ. However, this mighty work of the Spirit cannot be accomplished if we neglect and fail to keep our hearts in alignment with the heart of our faithful Lord. We must live, breathe, and move in the Spirit of God.
The Heart Is Not Beyond Redemption
We must understand one more important truth concerning the heart, as there has been much confusion about this truth that has caused many Christians to believe that the transformation of the heart is impossible. This often stems from the reading of Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV), which reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We read this and think the heart must be a lost cause. Not so! Let me explain.
As Christians, we also have a sin nature inherited from Adam, which the Bible calls “the flesh,” “the old man,” “the natural man” and “the carnal mind,” depending on the translation and chapter and verse. This sin nature exerts tremendous influence on the heart to walk in the ways of the flesh, but this sin nature is not the same thing as the heart. These are distinctly separate things.
As Christians, we have two natures, but the heart is neither. Under the control and influence of the sin nature, the heart can be very deceitful, wicked, and corrupt, but this does not mean the heart is the same thing as our sin nature or that the heart cannot change. A. W. Pink explains this important point in Practical Christianity:
People say, “I was born with an evil heart, and I cannot help it.” It would be more correct to say, “I was born with an evil nature, which I am responsible to subdue.” The Christian needs clearly to recognize that in addition to his two “natures”—the flesh and the spirit—he has a heart which God requires him to “keep.” I cannot change or better my “nature,” but I may and must my “heart.” It is the devil who seeks to persuade people that they are not responsible for the state of their hearts, and may no more change them than they can the stars in their courses. … The duty of keeping the heart with the utmost diligence is binding all the Christian at all times; there is no period or condition of life in which he may be excused from this work.[xix]
If the heart is truly a lost cause, hopelessly wicked, why would God instruct us to set our hearts upon Him (2 Chronicles 20:33); to set our hearts to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 11:16); to guard the heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23); to purify our hearts (James 4:8); to love the Lord with all our heart (Matthew 22:37); to not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:8); to gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12); to let the peace of God rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15); to strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless before God (1 Thessalonians 3:13); to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15); to believe in our hearts (Romans 10:10); to have noble and good hearts (Luke 8:15); and to walk with perfect hearts (Psalm 101:2)? Why would God bother to search our hearts if it were a futile mission?
You see, we have confused the heart with the sin nature, but this is not what Scripture teaches. The heart can change. The heart can be transformed. And we are ultimately responsible for the condition of our hearts.
There is a war going on within us as our two natures are in constant conflict and struggle against each other to dominate our hearts. Our sin nature and our new nature in Christ wage a battle for our hearts, and this is the inward conflict and challenge we face every day: What nature will have the greatest influence over our hearts? The apostle Paul offers this advice:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16–17, NIV)
The Greek word translated “contrary” here means to lie opposite to, to be lined up against, and to be adverse to. The Greek word is used here in the present tense, which indicates a continual conflict or war between our new divine nature in Christ and our old sin nature, with no truce in sight.
In Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament,he writes:
The word “contrary” speaks of a permanent attitude of opposition toward each other on the part of both the flesh and the Spirit. The picture in the Greek word is that of two opposing armies, each digging a system of trenches for the purpose of holding the land they have and conducting a trench warfare. They have dug themselves in for a long drawn-out contest. This contest is going on all the time in the heart of every child of God.[xx]
Do you remember the old war movies when armed forces tried to hold their positions in a trench while waging war against an enemy in the trench across an open battlefield? This is the kind of combat the heart faces daily. The flesh and the spirit are at odds and enmity and have been at war since the beginning. The stakes are high in this spiritual conflict, as this fierce warfare is for the control and supremacy of the human heart. This is a battle for the quality and character of the Christian, and whether his or her life will be transformed into the beauty and likeness of Christ, or be conformed to the evil and wickedness of their sin nature and the ungodly schemes of this world. This is a battle for what works and fruit will adorn the Christian’s life and define his witness and testimony for Jesus Christ. This mother of all battles rages every moment we draw breath upon the earth.
If the condition of our heart is to be bursting forth with the life and love of Christ, we must live, breath, walk, and stand firmly by the Spirit of God and mortify the desires, lusts, and the influence of the flesh. We must open the door of our hearts in every way to Christ and close the door to the deceitful enticements of sin and the flesh. We are the guardians of our hearts, and we decide whether our heart is conformed to the world or to Christ.
Do people see Jesus when they see your heart? Or is your heart just as wicked, angry, and bitter as the world around you? Are you a light to the world or lost in the darkness of this world? Does your heart clearly stand apart from all the chaos and deceit we see in the world? Open your spiritual eyes and look at your heart in the mirror of God’s Word. What do you see there? Is it a blessing or disturbing? Is your heart healthy or sick? What do people see when they look at your life? Does it lead them to the heart of God or drive them away from Him? Are the commanding forces of the Spirit or the flesh winning the battle for your heart?
It is time for us, the church, to stir from our spiritual stupor and begin at once to act concerning the condition of our hearts. Time is of the essence. We cannot wait! We must press into action and gain the victory and then guard this prized possession for the Lord with vigilance and unshakable determination.
[i] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 22, Kindle.
[ii] A.W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks: 128 Compelling and Authoritative Teachings of A.W. Tozer, Volume 1, compiled by Gerald B. Smith (Camp Hill: Wingspread Publishers, 2010).
[iii] John Eldridge, Wild at Heart: Discovering a Secret of a Man’s Soul, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2001), 36.
[iv] John Bevere, Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2004), 1.
[v] A. W. Tozer The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ada: Bethany House Publishers 2009), 27.
[vi] E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 362.
[vii] J.D. Douglas, New Bible Dictionary (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1982).
[viii] Oswald Chambers, The Moral Foundation of Life: A Series of Talks on the Ethical Principles of the Christian Life (Oswald Chambers: 1962).
[ix] John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 51, 52.
[x] Charles Spurgeon, The Great Reservoir, Sermon 179, delivered on February 21, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Garden.
[xi] Ron Luce, Guarding Your Heart (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 28, 29.
[xii] A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ada: Bethany House Publishers 2009), 29.
[xiii] Kenneth Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company 1961).
[xiv] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications 1962), 110, 111.
[xv] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1953), 388, 389.
[xvi] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 611, Kindle.
[xvii] Jim Cymbala, The Church God Blesses (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 108.
[xviii] John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 9, Kindle.
[xix] A.W. Pink, Practical Christianity, 2435, 2436 Kindle.
[xx] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961),19, 20.
Chapter 2: Guarding the Heart: The Christian’s Sacred Duty