I was spending some time with my brother, last Saturday, when he said to me, “You have always had a good heart.” I understood what he meant in that my personality is inclined to being sensitive to the needs of others and a desire to help people, but I also had an understanding of what goes on in my heart, which I will call my ‘soul’.
In there, in that place that only I know in part and the Lord knows in whole, is a place of sinfulness. It is a place that can house goodness and sinfulness, because that is the nature of man. It started when Adam disobeyed the Lord in the Garden of Eden. The result of Adam’s failure is what theologians call the “Adamic Nature” or sin nature. The Bible says we are all born with it, every one of us and we must give an account to God for sinning against Him.
For Christians, when they surrender their life to Jesus, their sin debt was paid for by the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross. At that time, they became a new creation. Romans 6 says that there is now the “old” man and the “new” man within them. The “old” man wants to live like he always did. The “new” man wants to live like God wants him to live. The result of these two natures being within one “house” causes conflict. When we give place to the “old” man’s ways, we become hypocritical in our calling of being disciples of Christ.
The good news is that God knows our frame and is patient and kind toward us. He will provide correction for our errors and will guide us to where we need to be on His path. He understands our struggles and is not without sympathy toward us.
Which leads me to one of my favorite verses written by King David after he had sinned with Bathsheba.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 ESV
God describes David as “a man after my own heart.” Even with this description, David, like me, was still a sinful man, who was capable of sinning at any given opportunity.
David was not where he was supposed to be the night that he watched Bathsheba bath. A single sin lead to horrible results. From his rejecting his responsibility of being a leader; lead to being a voyeur; which lead to lusting for Bathsheba; which lead to raping Bathsheba; which ultimately lead to the death of Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband, at the order of King David.
Samuel, the prophet, confronted King David with his sin. David wrote of his reaction to God dealing in his heart about his sin in Psalm 51. He confessed (agreed with God) about his sin. He asked to be cleansed of stain of his sin. He asked God to create a different heart in him. And then, he was contrite, remorseful about his guilt.
Verse 10 of the Psalm, has always stood out to me. I too, want to be “a man after my own heart”. But I can’t do it on my own, it has to be something that God changes in my heart and continually changes within me. A clean heart is one that which was “dirty” is now made “clean”. It has the evil removed and replaced with good. When David asked for a renewed right spirit, he was asking for a steady mind and determined spirit – consistency! Oh, to be consistent in a holy walk with the Lord!
So, how do I do that? It’s one thing to get right with God and it’s another to continue to be right with God. I propose to marry Psalm 51:10 to Philippians 4:8,9. These two passages provides insight to having purity of heart and mind. As Paul concludes his letter to the Philippian church, a model church, by saying,
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8,9 ESV
As a Christian, how pure is our thinking? What do we think about? Do we think on spiritual things or worldy things? Based on conversations that I hear, there is much discussion on sports teams, politics, social media items, money, excreta, and I admit there are times and places to speak on these things. But I rarely hear conversation from believers on things that Paul instructs us to think or practice on that will help us live a better Christian life. Hey, I’m guilty as well. It’s easier to speak about the local NBA team, or how much I like Snickers or muscle cars, than to speak on what I have been meditating on. Perhaps, it’s because I spend more time there than in the Word.
So, what are we, as Christians who desire a holy lifestyle, to think about? Paul gave us these things:
…things that a True – what is real or actual. We live in a world where people will re-define definitions of words to meet there particular needs. Paul would say the Word of God is true. John 3:33 states that God is truthful.
…things that are Honest or Honorable – what is revered, respectable, dignified. As I read the news or see what type of programs are on television or printed materials, there are very little that would come close to these three words. Our society does not seem to be interested in things honorable, but we should.
…things that are Just – what is right or becoming; conforming to God’s will; to have a clear conscience. Romans 12:1,2 says to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. As I see people dress immodestly or hear of people who take “selfies” of themselves in their underwear, or read the news of teachers and students exchanging inappropriate photos of themselves, I have to ask, “Is this acceptable to God?”
…things that are Pure – what is clean; not contaminated; free from defilement; holy.
…things that are Lovely – what is dear to you; cultivated; that will increase love and friendship among men. I would think a grandparent thinking of their precious grandbabies would characterize this thought.
…things that are Commendable – what is well spoken of; having a good name or reputation; good credit. Does your testimony mean anything to you?
…things that are of Excellence – what is virtuous; as opposed to vice.
…things that are Worthy of Praise – what is deserving of praise; praiseworthy
We are to think or practice (meditate; seriously consider; reason with yourself in order to put into action) on these things to have a pure mind.
What are the results of having a pure heart and mind? Psalm 51:12 speaks of having a restored joy of your salvation and an upholding with a willing spirit. Philippians 4:9 says, “and the peace of God will be with you.”
Joy and Peace – I think it’s worth the effort. Do you?