Battlefields of the Christian Life: The Heart

Over the past year or so I have noticed some possible issues with my heart. Most every night when I lay down to bed I will feel my heart beating in an irregular pattern. Sometimes this is accompanied with shortness of breath. Reluctantly, I decided to go see a doctor. They did an EKG and found it to be abnormal. So, I found myself going to a cardiologist to have an ultrasound of my heart and also to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours. As I was having the ultrasound done I actually got to see my heart. It was the most amazing thing. Think about it. How many people in the world actually has the opportunity to literally see their own heart? I laid there and watched my heart at work. There it is was beating and pushing blood through my veins. As I watched my heart, there were many thoughts that ran through my mind. One was the amazing power and creativity of God. The human body is a remarkable creation. I also wondered why we use the word ‘heart’ so often. We sometimes tell people to invite Jesus into their heart. We use various cliché’s using the term ‘heart’. I really don’t think when we use the term ‘heart’ in such a way that we are speaking of our literal heart. The heart in the human body is the center of everything. Without your heart you cannot live. It is your heart that moves the blood through your body, causing your various bodily functions. The heart is the essence of who you are. Without it, you are nothing. When we use the term ‘heart’ we are referring to the seat of our emotions. It is our power. It is who we are. In the many battlefields of the Christian life, the one thing that Satan is most actively pursuing is your heart. If he can get a hold of your heart, then he can control you. If he has your heart, he can keep you from being who God created you to be. It is a fierce battle that rages in our lives every day. There are so many things that are fighting for our attention. The heart is where the real battle takes place. The battlefield of the heart is the Armageddon of the Christian life. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.”[1] As Christians, we need to fight to keep our hearts in the right place.

In thinking about the heart, there are five types of hearts that we see in scripture. I am sure there are many more, however, these five will suffice for our study.

The Merry Heart. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: But a broken spirit drieth the bones.”[2] A merry or joyful heart will affect your entire life. It will impact your mind, body, and spirit. The Pulpit Commentary says, “A cheerful, contented disposition enables a man to resist the attacks of disease, the mind, as every one knows, having most powerful influence over the body.”[3] There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Having a cheerful heart does not mean you will never get sick, there are many other factors that come into play. However, the principle here is certainly accurate. Those who live lives that are more joyous and free of stress tend to be healthier. A life that is filled with worry and anxiety is often times more prone to sickness and disease. In April of 2005, WebMD published an article about how happiness relates to our health. In that article it says:

“There’s new evidence that happiness and health may overlap. In a recent study of British civil servants, the happiest participants had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Their hearts kept a mellower pace than those of less happy participants, and they didn’t flip out as much during a mental stress test. Happiness might even hedge against heart disease, suggests the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Under stress, the happiest participants had lower increases of plasma fibrinogen, a sign of inflammation that can predict heart disease. “Our findings indicate that positive affective states are related to favorable profiles of functioning in several biological systems and may thereby be relevant to risk of development of physical illness,” says the study. Translation: Being happy may be good for your physical health.”[4] It’s interesting how science most often seems to coincide with Biblical principles. It is literally true that, in principle, the more happy and stress free you are the healthier you will be. Of course, we know that true happiness is only found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. The more we realize who we are in Christ, the more we learn to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, the more we allow Him to be in control of our lives; the more joyful we will be, thus, the more healthier we will be. One of Satan’s attacks on the life of a believer is to make your life as stressful as possible. The more we are occupied with busyness and stressful situations, the less likely we are to fully surrender to Christ. We become too focused on our problems that we do not see Jesus clearly. This is exactly where Satan wants us. He wants to clog up our lives in such a way that we are blind to the wonderful benefits of the Gospel.

So, how do we maintain a merry heart? Let me give you seven principles that will help you to maintain a merry heart:

  1. Read your Bible and pray every day.
  2. Focus on what really matters in light of eternity.
  3. Spend time with your family.
  4. Learn to live with less.
  5. Work less and play more.
  6. Understand your purpose in life as a believer.
  7. Don’t take life too seriously.

The Passionate Heart. Colossians 3:23 says,And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”[5] As believers in Christ, we should strive to live with passion. We should be passionate about everything that we do. In the context of Colossians three, Paul is dealing with the issues of slaves and masters. In our day, we may look at this as employees and employers. The principle, however, applies to every area of our lives, not just our jobs. As believers in Christ, we should be people that put 110% into everything that we do. We all have a lazy streak in us and, in order to get at our hearts, Satan tries to capitalize on our laziness in an attempt to keep us from living passionate lives. Understanding our purpose in life as ambassadors of Jesus will go a long way in having a passionate heart. As believers, our purpose in life is to glorify God by being His representatives to this world. Understanding that purpose will change our perspective in everything that we do. Instead of waking up each morning dreading another day, we will wake up with joy in our heart and a spring in our step; anticipating every opportunity to serve our King in whatever task He has for us no matter how big or small. What about you? Do you have a passionate heart?

The Loving Heart. Romans 13:8-10 says, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, pThou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore rlove is the fulfilling of the law.”[6] In this passage, Paul is dealing with how believers are to relate to one another. The greatest debt we owe is the debt of love. If you have love then everything else falls into place. The command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is the completeness of the law. All of the commands of God found in the pages of scripture can be summed up in this one command to love. Leon Morris writes, “We may pay our taxes and be quit. We may give respect and honor where they are due and have no further obligation. But we can never say, “I have done all the loving I need do.” Love is a permanent obligation, a debt impossible to discharge.”[7]

The Bible goes much further than telling us to love our neighbors, but, it also teaches that we are to love our enemies. Luke 6:27-28 says, But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”[8] As I meditate on this verse, my thoughts turn toward those in various places around the world who are suffering for their faith. Persecution against Christians today may be at an all-time high. There are many every day who are killed simply because they are followers of Jesus. Terror groups such as ISIS continues their barbaric tactics against Christians. Yet, Jesus tells us to pray for them. He tells us to love them. Loving our enemies may be difficult for us to comprehend, however, we must consider the example of Jesus. Before we came to faith in Christ, we were enemies of God. Yet, while we were enemies, Christ did not retaliate against us. Instead, He gave His life for us. He loved us so much that He went to the cross in order that we, His enemies, may be reconciled to God. Therefore, we too are to love those whom we count as our enemies. As believers, we must strive to have a loving heart.

The Dirty Heart. We have thus far looked at positive traits of the heart. However, there are also many negative traits of the heart that can be summed up in the ‘dirty heart.’ Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”[9] This is where reality sets in. The merry heart, the passionate heart, the loving heart; are all impossible to achieve apart from an outside influence. The heart of man is naturally wicked. We cannot trust our own hearts. Therefore, our hearts must be changed by the power of the Gospel. Jesus is the only one that can give us a merry, passionate, and loving heart. The Commentary on the Old Testament says, “a man must not trust the suggestions and illusions of his own heart.”[10] The point here is that our hearts are full of sin. We are totally depraved, tainted with sin inside and out.

                The Clean Heart. Matthew 5:18 says, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”[11] God wants us to have hearts that are clean and pure. Such a heart is impossible left to our own efforts. It is only by faith in the Lord Jesus that we can have a clean heart. Jesus came and shed His blood on the cross in order to cleanse our dirty sinful hearts. Once our hearts are made clean by the blood of Jesus then we can have a heart that is merry, passionate, loving, and clean.

The battle of the heart rages on in the life of the believer. The key to winning this battle is to stay as close to Jesus as we can. Jesus must sit on the throne of our hearts in order to live a victorious Christian life.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Pr 4:23). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Pr 17:22). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Proverbs (p. 335). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[4] WebMD. April 2005

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Col 3:23). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 13:8–10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[7] Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (pp. 467–468). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

[8] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Lk 6:27–28). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[9] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Je 17:9). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[10] Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 8, p. 176). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

[11] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 5:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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