Jesus had a lot to say about the human heart.
I heard a national politician declare that her goal was not to change people’s hearts, just their behavior. She was wise in this sentiment. Laws can modify people’s behavior somewhat. Fear of arrest and imprisonment can at least make people be more careful but people are most likely going to do whatever is in their hearts to do. Jesus, being so much better than any politician, takes a different approach. He actually has the power to change hearts! And He does!
Lust and Love
When, as the Bible says, “Male and female created He them,” God made people, he made two genders. This is the fundamental organizational truth of mankind. The physical differences are delightful and undeniable. From childhood we grow up in a world populated by boys and girls; oftentimes, “the boys against the girls.” Each gender is a mystery to the other which makes for a lifetime of fascination. God intends us to pair up this way even though some are not blessed to enjoy this pair bonding.
The differences go far deeper than anatomy; the mind is involved. Imagination occupies the heart of the loneliest among us. So much so that, as Jesus said, just looking at a woman, or even just the image of a woman, can excite lust in the heart of a man. This powerful imagination is a gift from God for with it we imagine what we will do before we do it. Every work of art or object of construction or organization of people toward a single purpose began as an act of imagination. We are able to “see” things in our minds and then create them with our hands. This is one of the evidences of Imago Dei, the image of God in us. God is CREATOR and He has made us creative.
When the heart betrays the mind, this powerful imagination can be a temptress leading us to dwell on sinful, destructive things. The natural attraction we have for the opposite sex becomes lust, a self-centered seeking of pleasure at any cost. Today whole industries exist to feed this debased hunger.
Christ in the Heart
The heart is connected to the eye and to the hand, what we see and what we touch. Jesus said it would be better to lose an eye or a hand to prevent the lust-filled action birthed in the heart. Is there a better answer than removing an eye or a hand? Of course—add Jesus to the heart! Every one of us comes into this world with heart trouble and Jesus is the only cure! Jesus has changed the hearts of killers to make them kind, thieves to make them trustworthy, adulterers to make them arduous toward their spouse, and gossips to make them Gospel preachers. On and on I could go as far as alliteration could take me.
This is not some faint hope of heaven by and by; Jesus changes hearts today. He is the hope for the addict whose heart has been chained to poison, the glutton whose belly is never quite full, the lecher who eyes are never satisfied, the backslider whose heart is never true, and the agnostic whose mind is never at rest. Jesus goes deeper than behavior to the things hidden in the heart. He will come into our hearts, cleanse them from sin, and take up residence there by His Holy Spirit.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Lord Jesus, You are the King of my heart. You have made Your Throne there. A river of Living Water flows from Your Throne established in my heart. Lord, continue the work of purifying my heart. Let my imagination see only good things and not evil things. Show me good things You would have me create. Protect my heart from anger, lust, prejudice, and greed. Fill my heart with Your Word so that truth may flow from my life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Into My Heart
Words and Music: Harry D. Clarke
1. Come into my heart, blessed Jesus,
Come into my heart, I pray;
My soul is so troubled and weary,
Come into my heart today.
Into my heart, into my heart,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus;
Come in today,
Come in to stay,
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
2. Come into my heart, blessed Jesus,
I need Thee thro’ life’s dreary way;
The burden of sin is so heavy,
Come into my heart to stay.
3. Come into my heart, blessed Jesus,
O cleanse and illumine my soul;
Fill me with Thy wonderful Spirit,
Come in and take full control.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.