How can we develop a spiritually clean heart? How important is our heart to God? What does God expect our heart to be like?
I want to speak about a topic today and you never know, this may be my last sermon that I give here. I was trying to think of something that would be appropriate that we could all take from here and I thought I would speak about the heart. You know the old song "You've got to have heart." I won't sing it but the human heart is truly amazing. It's about five inches long, weighs nine to eleven ounces and it's about the size of your fist and you look at the fist. This amazing little muscle pumps something like seventeen thousand, two hundred quarts of blood a day through the human body and it does it for years. That's equivalent to six million, two hundred seventy-eight thousand quarts a year being pumped and over a seventy year life span, something like four hundred and thirty- nine million quarts of blood being pumped. I don't know if I said oil or not but as I was putting this sermon together this morning and I kept thinking in my mind oil but oil doesn't fit, not in this case.
Every cell in your body needs oxygen to live, as we know, to function and the role of the heart is to deliver the oxygen rich blood to every cell in the body and make sure it gets there. But disease related to the heart kill over a million people in the United States every year and it's climbing. Heart disease is America's leading health problem and cause of death. At least fifty-five, fifty-six million people in this country suffer from some type of heart disease. So as you begin to look at the numbers, it's staggering. Every thirty-four seconds a person in the United States dies from related heart disease. So as I've been talking here, several people have died from this. More than two thousand five hundred people die every day. Almost six million are hospitalized every year with cardio-vascular diseases and so it's not talking about those who go to hospitals and necessarily survive or most of these survive. Since 1900 cardio-vascular disease has been the number one killer in this country except for the year 1918. I don't know what happened in 1918 but that's the only exception.
Now we know that one of the things that we all are concerned about is to make sure we have a good healthy heart or a bad heart. We don't want a bad one. We all want this thing to keep ticking until it's our time to go, then it can quit, but up until that time you hope that it works well. We need to be aware of the state of our health and I think many of us do get some kind of an annual check up or we see a doctor occasionally, we take our blood pressure, we try to watch our health, what we eat, but there are a number of conditions that the medical profession have identified that certainly lead or tend to help produce heart problems.
One is too little exercise, if you live a sedentary life, you don't exercise. The other is diet. Too many Americans eat too much fat. A lot of Americans, forty percent of their diets are fat and we're not just talking about any old type of fat, we're talking about bad fat. There's good fat and there's bad fat. Good oils and bad oils and too many are getting too much. Overweight is a problem that can contribute to heart problems. Wrong habits such as smoking obviously can contribute and you can have a genetic disposition. Sometimes this is a problem that runs in families so consequently it's something we have to look out for.
Heart disease we know can cripple you, it can kill you and you can have a heart attack and we have a number sitting here who have been through these types of problems in the past.
Let me ask you. Could you have a heart attack? Well you certainly hope you don't but the greater question is: Could you have a spiritual heart attack? That we don't want to have. How sound is our heart spiritually? How sound is it? Could you and I be suffering from spiritual sickness? What makes for a sound, healthy, spiritual heart? This is what we want to focus on today and how can you tell if your heart is sound spiritually? Now if you want to find out if your heart is sound normally, go see a doctor, you might have some tests run but we need to be able to look at ourselves and be able to see what makes for a sound heart.
One of the attributes of a bad heart (spiritually), well let's go back to Genesis chapter 6 and verse 5 and I want you to notice why God brought the flood on the earth and destroyed everyone before the flood except for eight individuals. In Genesis 6 verse 5 when God looked down on the earth at that time, notice what He saw.
Genesis 6:5 Genesis 6:5And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
American King James Version×Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
So when God looked at mankind as a society of whole, He found that the inclinations, the intent of the heart was only evil. Not only was it evil but it was continually evil. It was something that people perpetually did.
Now the time of Noah in the book of Matthew and other places is compared to the end time. We do know that the bible says as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man comes. So we find that we live in an age and a time in society where what was going on back before the flood, you can see being duplicated today. Man cut off from the tree of life since under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and as a result of man's ways tend to be a mixture of good and evil and man over a period of time left to himself, not connected to God, tends to degenerate, tends to go down. After sixteen hundred years you'll find before the flood God finally came to the point where He said: "I'm going to destroy this generation." In chapter 8 of the book of Genesis, in verse 21 you'll notice after the flood Noah and his sons and their wives offered up an offering to God, a sacrifice to God out of thanksgiving for their deliverance, the fact that God saved them.
Genesis 8:21 Genesis 8:21And the LORD smelled a sweet smell; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
American King James Version×: And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; (so from man's youth up is the imagination of his heart is evil) nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
So God very clearly shows that there is a heart problem that begins to develop quite young, when we're in our youth and again you'll find that man cut off from God and the tree of life is subject to the influence of Satan the devil from the very beginning. Matthew chapter 15 and verse 7, I want you to notice some of the comments that Jesus Christ made to His disciples and specifically dealing with the religious leaders of His day.
ÔThese people draw near to Me with their mouth, (so they talked a good point, they talked about God all the time) and honor Me with their lips, (so verbally they do that but notice what the problem is) but their heart is far from Me (what's going on in their heart, in their mind, in their conscience, in their very being is not close to God). In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men."
So you find that their heart was not close to God. They were cut off from God.
Verse 17: "Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?
Now remember the problem the religious leaders, the Pharisees were accusing His Disciples because they didn't wash up to their elbows before they ate. They had a tradition that you had to wash, if you didn't then you somehow were sinning. But Christ said look it's not what goes into the stomach that is going to defile you because if you get a little dirt on your food, guess what? It goes through the digestive tract, it's eliminated, it goes out.
Verse 18: But those things which proceed out of the mouth (where do those come from? What people say, what people think, well they) come from the heart, (they come from the very heart of an individual) and they defile a man.
So it's what comes out of our heart that defiles us.
Verse 19: For out of the heart proceeds (what?) evil thoughts (so now we find in the
Scripture of the heart of man and we're talking about carnal man cut off from God, out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts) murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies.
Verse 20: These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."
See that doesn't defile you spiritually.
The spiritually diet of this world or society is dished out by Satan the devil. He is the master chef who concocts the diet that people imbibe in this society. He serves up attitudes, he serves up approaches, he serves up wrong desires, temptations, abuses of the flesh, desires and motives, all of these are his concoctions, his cooking that he serves to human beings. It is a diet that is high in spiritual fat. It will kill you. Every time we eat at a spiritual fast food place, so to speak, the diet is high on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. That's what we see society is based upon. Just like Ephesians chapter 2 states. We might go back there in verse 2 it shows that the devil is constantly working on a diet of disobedience for human beings. But this is what he dishes up; this is what he gets people to eat on, to feed on, so to speak, to fill their minds with.
Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
American King James Version×In which you once walked according to the course of this world, (so every human being has walked according to the course of the world, the way of the world) according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
Verse 3: among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
So Satan is constantly working on a diet of disobedience that allows us to partake of the forbidden fruits just like Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, so human beings eat of the forbidden fruits of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the mind and they're driven by those things.
The influence of society encourages wrong attitudes and approaches; they become a way of life in human beings. We become defiled by what comes into our mind and then by what comes out of our mind when people are cut off from God.
Let me read to you the definition of a heart. This is taken from the New Testament words by Vines. Under the word here for heart in the New Testament definition comes from the Greek word kardia, "the heart" (English, "cardiac"), the chief organ of physical life ("for the life of the flesh is in the blood," Leviticus 17:11 Leviticus 17:11For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you on the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.
American King James Version×), occupies the most important part in the human system. By an easy transition the word came to stand for man's entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements. In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life (it's used for what comes out of us, how we think, how we approach things).
In chapter 13 of the book of Matthew, going back to Matthew again, let's notice what can happen to the heart if we're not careful.
Matthew 13:13 Matthew 13:13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
American King James Version×"Therefore I speak to them in parables, (notice Christ saying) because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Verse 14: And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive;
Verse 15: For the hearts of these people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn; so that I should heal them."
So they're walking around with eyes closed, can't hear with the ears, deaf and then the hearts of the people are dull. The word dull in the Greek means to make thick, fat or to fatten. This condition can lead to spiritual death. What we're talking about here is hardening of the arteries where you find you become dull, the heart becomes dull, the motivations become dull and that they don't follow the right way. Those that resist God can harden their hearts. You know I don't have to read all the Scriptures; you're very familiar with a number of scriptures in the bible that talk about how people harden their hearts. Pharaoh hardened his heart. Sometimes God will harden somebody's heart. Romans 2:5 Romans 2:5But after your hardness and impenitent heart treasure up to yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
American King James Version×talks about how we harden our own hearts.
So what is the human heart like naturally cut off from God? Well the bible; let me just quote a few scriptures to you.
Psalms 39:5 Psalms 39:5Behold, you have made my days as an handbreadth; and my age is as nothing before you: truly every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
American King James Version×"Man in his very best state is altogether vanity."
Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"
Isaiah 64:6 Isaiah 64:6But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
American King James Version×"All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags."
Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×"Man in the carnal state is enmity against God in the fleshly state."
Fleshly mind there simply means the human mind doesn't have contact with God, following its own desires under the influence of Satan the devil.
So what we have, we have a heart, human beings do, that slowly but surely is going to kill him. It defiles him from the very youth. Now the human heart has to be healed and that's part of the problem. Our hearts have to be healed. You and I sitting here today are going through that healing process. But the human heart has to be healed. There are a number of procedures for handling heart problems that the medical profession has and we're all familiar with those. There's by-pass surgery, there's stents that can be put into the arteries to open them up, sometimes they will take a balloon and insert it and try to push the fatty deposits off to the side and in some severe cases there are heart transplants that are used. If a person goes through a situation like this, a doctor will tell you, you've got to change your diet, they will tell you, you've got to stop eating all this fatty food, sugars, you've got to get on a good diet and you need to exercise. I'm always amazed that people who have gone through heart attacks that within a week or two, they're out walking. They have you walking and they want you to exercise.
But how does God go about healing the human heart? Well the first thing He does is to begin with surgery. Let's go back to Ezekiel 36 verse 25 talking about how God is going to deal with people in the Millennium, specifically Israel and you'll notice here that God says:
Ezekiel 36:25 Ezekiel 36:25Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
American King James Version×"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, (so God starts out by cleaning us up) and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
So you and I have to be cleaned up, we have to repent of our sins; we've got to acknowledge that our ways have not been right, they've been wrong. God says:
Verse 26: I will give you a new heart (so figuratively speaking we get a heart transplant. God takes the old out and He puts the new in, you get a new heart.) and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Here again, the analogy is the heart of stone being hard-hardened, resistance, stubborn, rebellious like flint against God and then all of a sudden, God softens us. We become pliable; we become useful in God's Spirit.
Verse 27: I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."
So God starts out with a radical procedure, a heart transplant. He puts a new heart, a new spirit within us. You'll find we do not have the spirit of this world. The bible talks very clearly in I Corinthians chapter 2 that there is a spirit of this world; that's the influence of Satan the devil. He is a spirit being, he's able to broadcast and he broadcasts in moods, in attitudes and approaches. So we do not have any longer just the spirit of the world but we have the spirit of God, the nature of God dwelling in us. God has to cleanse us, clean us up as I said. He sprinkles clean water on us.
Now the New Testament in Romans the second chapter, verse 28; the New Testament uses another analogy, talks about another operation taking place, it's called circumcision. It's a little different analogy but it has the same results. Doesn't it? Notice here:
Romans 2:28 Romans 2:28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
American King James Version×"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh;
Verse 29: but he a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God."
So it's a little different analogy but it's the same meaning. When God begins to work with us and to convert us God cuts away the hostility, the rebellion, the self-will, the hardness of our heart and He makes us pliable where He can use us, where He can reach us, where we can be softened where His Spirit can touch our minds and we can be sensitive and repent, we feel guilty when we do things that are wrong. If you'll turn over here to chapter 6 and verse 6, talking about baptism which this is talking about, the conversion process that we go through it says:
Romans 6:6 Romans 6:6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from now on we should not serve sin.
American King James Version×"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
So when we're baptized the old man, the old way of life dies. That's one analogy, it's crucified. There's a circumcision. Another is we have a new heart. All of these are talking about the same thing.
Verse 12: "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Verse 14: For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
So sin is no longer to control us, to dominate us. When we have God living in us we have a new mind, a new approach. As verse 16 says:
Verse 16: Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Verse 17: But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
Verse 18: And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."
So you and I have been freed from the shackles of sin. We have the power of God living in us that frees us from that. So God breaks the grip that Satan had over our lives. Now Satan is still out there, he's still influencing but yet the domination is broken. We are no longer just his slaves. We're no longer slaves to our own nature. God changes our diet just like a doctor will recommend to a heart patient. If you've gone through a heart attack, the doctor will say o.k. you've got to stop eating certain foods. So he'll tell us, you've got to change your diet. God changes our diet likewise. In Hebrews chapter 4 beginning in verse 12 we find the type of diet God begins to give us:
Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
You and I now brethren begin to feast on the word of God. We begin to eat God's word. We begin to fill our minds with it. We have a different standard to live by. We have a different way of life to live.
Verse 13: And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
So what God does, He opens our minds to understand the truth and when we begin to study the scriptures, God's Spirit working with our minds gives us spiritual awareness, spiritual understanding. God begins to reveal to us the very intents of our heart. All things become naked before Him. We begin to understand more clearly where we need to change. Our minds are to be filled with spiritual things, spiritual attitudes, approaches, thoughts and desires. Ephesians 5 certainly ties in with this.
Ephesians 5:25 Ephesians 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
American King James Version×"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,
Verse 26: that He might sanctify (set apart) and cleanse her (how does God clean us up?) with the washing of water by the word."
Remember back in Ezekiel says that we are sprinkled and we're clean? Well that happens when we're baptized. Our past sins are forgiven but it also is a continual process and you and I have to clean out the gunk. We've got to get the fatty deposits out. There are things people can do to begin to clean their arteries, to begin to get the wrong deposits out of their body, out of their heart, out of their system and God's word is what we use. It begins to wash us, clean us and it begins to show us where we're deficient. You and I as the bible says, we have to grow day by day. We are renewed constantly on a daily basis. It is a growth process, it's called maturing. The bible uses a word we grow to perfection. The word perfection means maturity. We mature, we grow up, we don't stay babes forever and we have to die, the old man has to die.
Now you would never think as a human being about eating only once a week. All those who only eat once a week, hold your hands up. I'll put mine down. Most of us eat two or three times a day don't we? Rarely when we skip a meal and we get hungry, we come back and we eat. Well the physical is always given to us to teach us the spiritual. We must eat daily spiritually. We must be on a regular diet of spiritual food. We don't just eat once a week, you don't wait until the Sabbath to get you bible out and study it and then come to church and say well I've done it and that's all I need to do. No, if you want to grow spiritually, if you want to have the right attitude, the right diet, you've got to do it a little on a regular basis so that you can begin to become like God. Our spiritual batteries have to be recharged all the time so therefore, God will change our diets and our diet must be that we must eat more of that then we do of this world's diet, otherwise one will dominate the other. We also have to exercise. Now the doctor will begin to get heart patients out, get them to walk. Pretty soon they're walking a mile, two miles, they begin to exercise. In first Timothy 4:8 what is the exercise we do? Now notice:
I Timothy 4:8 "For bodily exercise profits a little, (maybe for a little while, it profits as long as you're physical so it will profit you for a little while) but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
You and I must begin to exercise Godliness in our lives. The more we do though is the more we strive to live a Godly life, live like Christ lived, the more we practice that way of life, the more it becomes us or we become it, it becomes second nature to us. This is what the bible talks about writing God's law in our hearts and in our minds. God's law is written in there, it becomes etched just like taking stones and you carve the Ten Commandments on them. God begins to carve into our minds just like a regular groove and it keeps going around and around, it gets deeper and deeper so that His way of life, His thinking, His approach is etched into our minds and into our hearts and we begin to practice that way of life. Even if we didn't have this bible, God's law is there, we know what God wants us to do and the standard thankfully we do have. So you and I must grow to love God's law and we've got to love God's way.
Now there may be times when if you're not careful you begin to slip back in the old ways. Do you ever find yourself struggling with the same problems you had you thought you overcame years ago and you slip back into old ways? The first thing you know you begin to eat a wrong diet or you begin to eat more of the wrong foods, you stop exercising Godliness to the degree that you should or a patient might have to go back to a doctor, even if he's had by-pass surgery for additional help, a new stent, a cleaning out of the arteries or some problem of this nature. There may be times when we need to do the same spiritually. There could be times when we have to do that. We may need to take measures that go beyond what we would normally do. What we would normally do is diet and eating but then you might have to take measures that go beyond that. There are just times that you and I must insure that our spiritual health is what it should be. So how do you do that? Let's go back to the book of Joel. In the book of Joel chapter 2 verse 12 we find that God tells us that there is something that occasionally we may need to do. Here's a call to repentance that God gives to the people's of Israel here in the future so let's notice, the principal certainly applies to all of us.
Joel 2:12 Joel 2:12Therefore also now, said the LORD, turn you even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
American King James Version×"Now therefore, says the Lord, turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning
Verse 13: So rend your heart, and not your garments; (well it's easy to rend the garments; you can rip those off of you. He sat on an ash pile you can throw it in the air and you can do all of that but God says now I want you to rend your heart.) return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.
Verse 14: Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him."
So brethren, God has shown us in one way that we can begin to ensure our spiritual health is by occasionally fasting and seeking God. Fasting is one way that God has given us to help clean up the heart in fact I went on line this week and type in the word fasting and the hundreds and thousands of web sites that come up, most of them talking about physical fasting, how it helps your health, how it makes you stronger and mentally alert and all these types of things. Well the medical profession may not have recognized the fact that you can become healthier by occasionally fasting and give your body the time to heal.
The purpose of fasting spiritually is for us to get closer to God, so you and I can walk with God, be more attuned to Him because when you fast you take the time that you normally would be eating or pursuing other things. You simply study and pray. I went back and I was reading through the quote from Mr.Armstrong's autobiography the first time he fasted and he really didn't know how to fast and how God answered his prayer. He really wasn't willing to accept God's answer until he finally realized, maybe that's not the way he would have accepted the answer. Fasting is for the purpose of our getting close to God, to humble ourselves, to become attuned to His will, His desires, to help us to be more clear- minded and focused in our approach. We all need forgiveness, we all need mercy, we need deliverance, and we need help from God. So God extends that to us. We need to have a proper attitude to help others and to serve them. One of the major facets of fasting is found back in Isaiah 58 where God clearly shows that it doesn't do any good to fast, you can fast all you want to and still hate your brother, still have animosity against your brother, still not go out of your way to help them, to serve them, to give to them. Fasting should help us to have the proper attitude of service and giving to help others. So it has a two-fold approach; it helps us to get closer to God, it helps us to have a right approach toward our neighbor so that we can serve them and help them.
There are a lot of scriptures that we can quote but let's go back to one of the classic ones in I Kings 21, verses 25 through 29, the example of Ahab. Ahab was one of the most wicked kings in all Israel and I want you to notice, God told him he was going to die, your wife is going to be thrown off the wall, the dogs are going to eat her, all kinds of dire things are going to happen to you.
I Kings 21:25 But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. (Behind every good man there's a good woman; behind every bad man, I won't say that but behind Ahab there was a bad woman, her name was Jezebel.)
Verse 26: And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
Verse 27: So it was, when Ahab heard those words that he tore his clothes (in this case he did rend his garments) and put sackcloth on his body and he fasted and he lay in sackcloth and went about mourning.
Verse 28: And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
Verse 29: "See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the calamity in his days; but in the days of his son I will bring the calamity on his house,"
Ahab humbled himself by fasting. Ahab could have walked around and said: "Who do you think you are Elijah? I'm going to get you, I'll cut your head off or I'll boil you in oil. How dare you come and tell me this." But instead, he listened and he fasted.
Humility is a quality that we all strive for and that we need to be able to help serve other people. Humility is the basis of our approach toward God and the proper service and treatment of others. It provides the springboard for having the right attitude of helping and serving and giving. Well here Ahab humbled himself by fasting. You can go through the Old Testament and do a study and you will find that many of the servants of God, the bible says, humbled themselves and they fasted and they sought God. Fasting leads to humility, it leads to having the right attitude, being close to God and when we're close to God then God's Spirit can energize and motivate us and move us.
So having said that, what I've covered so far is what you and I need to do to make sure that we have a proper heart. Let's take a look at some individuals who had a right heart. The best example I can think of is Jesus Christ and in Matthew 11, verses 28 and 29, notice what it says or what Christ said about Himself here:
Matthew 11: 28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Verse 29: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Verse 30: For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Here was Jesus Christ saying that He was gentle or He was meek and He was lowly in heart. He wasn't all puffed up, inflated with vanity over who He was. He knew He was God in the flesh. He knew that God the Father was His Father, but He had humility, not vanity. He served; He said I didn't come to have you serve Me. He came to serve them. He did not exult Himself. What did He do? He always gave His Father the credit. He said what My Father said, that's what I do. He was under His Father's authority. He was a man under authority and so therefore Jesus Christ's example I think is the best example we can follow; that He was meek and He was lowly in heart showing the attitude and the approach we should have. In Matthew 5, verse 8 let's notice what Christ taught on this subject:
You and I are to be pure in heart. We cannot be involved with things like pornography, weird T.V. programs, some which are on today, wrong sexual approaches, lust, adultery, and these types of things. We are to be pure in heart. To be pure in heart means you've got to look at things with a perspective that God does. Verse 28 goes on and says:
Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×"But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
So we sin in our heart, in our minds, in our innermost beings, in our desires so you find that people can lust and have wrong desires.
Matthew 6:19 Matthew 6:19Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
American King James Version×"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
Verse 20: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Verse 21: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
So you find this is an indication of the direction of your life, your motives; if our treasure is in God's work. We pray about it, we fast about it, we tithe, and we give offerings. If you believe in a cause, if you believe in something and you know that it's right, you will support it and you will be involved in it. So He clearly shows that where one's treasure is, that's an indication where your heart is going to be. Luke 8:15 Luke 8:15But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
American King James Version×, another time Christ mentioned here, talking about the parable of the sower
Luke 8:15 Luke 8:15But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
American King James Version×"But the ones that fell on the good ground (or the seed that falls on the good ground) are those who have heard the word with a noble and good heart, (they have a noble and good heart) and they keep it and bear fruit with patience."
Growth will occur with an honest and good heart, and a right heart. You and I have to have an honest heart, a right heart. What does Matthew chapter 22, verses 36 through 37 say?
Verse 37: Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God, (half-heartedly? No)
with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our might.",
Verse 39: We are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
So you and I are to love God with our whole heart. So when God gives us a new heart, what it does, it turns our heart from the father of this world who is Satan the devil and his ways so that we no longer cling to that or to him and we cling to God as our Father. We love Him with our whole heart and His ways with our whole being. Another example we could site is the example of David. Acts chapter 13 and verse 21:
Acts 13:21 Acts 13:21And afterward they desired a king: and God gave to them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
American King James Version×"And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.
Verse 22: And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ÔI have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, (so David was a man after God's own heart. Notice the last part of this because normally we skip over this) who will do all My will."
David was a man that God knew would do His will, whatever God willed for him, that he would do it with his whole heart and so you find that David did. It's like I Samuel 16 said in verse 7, God doesn't look on the outward appearance. God doesn't look at stature, height; psyche. God looks on the heart and so He is able to look at our heart. Now you and I sometimes have trouble because sometimes we don't even know our own heart but God knows; He knows what we need, He knows what we need to do to clean that heart up. In Psalm chapter 40 and verse 6, notice here a psalm of David as it says; it's talking about David but also a prophecy of Christ. David was a type of Christ in many cases.
Psalms 40:6 Psalms 40:6Sacrifice and offering you did not desire; my ears have you opened: burnt offering and sin offering have you not required.
American King James Version×"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Verse 7: Then I said: "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the Book it is written of me.
Verse 8: I delight to do Your will, O my God, (so Christ also delighted to do the will of God) and Your law is within my heart."
So brethren, ultimately if we're going to have the right heart we have to have God's law written in our heart. Now why? Because God's law is simply a reflection of His nature, of His mind, His approach. God is love, God's law is a way of love; how to love God, how to love our neighbor. So you and I need to know constantly the state of our health, we need check-ups. You may get an annual check up. You say: "Doc, how's my blood pressure?" They may put you on a stress test and you may have a stress test to see how your heart functions. They can take an x-ray and they can do all kinds of testing. Well David asked God to do the same thing of him. Let's notice a final scripture here:
Psalms 139:23 Psalms 139:23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
American King James Version×"Search me, O God, (or examine me) and know my heart; (So he prayed and asked God to know his heart) try me and know my anxieties;
Verse 24: And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Brethren we need to pray daily that God will search us and know us, that He will know our heart. We need to ask God daily to show us what might be hurting our spiritual heart, our spiritual growth, our spiritual approach. We certainly don't want hardening of the arteries to set in. We don't want gunk accumulating in our heart. We want to clean it out, our thoughts, our approach, our attitudes, our desires, our motives, our whole being. We want to be white and spiritually healthy before God. If not we should do as David did in Psalm 51. You might remember there's a beautiful song written by this when he said in verse 10: