We all struggle with temptation, but are you essentially good, bad, or somewhere in between? Should your heart be tested or trusted? And if you’re born of God’s Spirit, what do you really look like on the inside? Here’s an interesting take from bestselling author and pastor Andrew Farley. It’s a grace to welcome him to the farm’s front porch today…
I found myself lying on the floor of my apartment, begging God for answers.
I had tried everything to make my Christian life work. I was reading my Bible four or five hours a day. I was in church every time the doors were open. I was sharing my faith with everyone I met. And I still wasn’t growing spiritually.
I didn’t feel close to God either.
Where had I gone wrong?
There was no lightning bolt of revelation out of heaven. What followed was more like ten years of replacing old thoughts with new thoughts. God began to teach me afresh what life in Jesus is really all about.
And at the center of it all was the freedom of living from my new spiritual heart.
I had heard my whole Christian life that we have “deceitful” and “wicked” hearts.
I had been taught that I needed to be sure not to have a “hardened” heart. I was even told to regularly “test” my heart to make certain it was in right standing before God.
All the while, I also heard that – as a believer – Christ lived in my heart.
I never really saw the contradiction. Maybe I thought I had two hearts? A good one and a bad one? No one really talked about it, so I just moved along and didn’t question it.
But anytime I pictured my heart before God, I saw it as dirty or at least in need of regular spiritual “touch-ups.”
Is Your Heart Good?
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my confusion. Many of us Christians seem convinced that our hearts are “deceitfully wicked.” We even think we’re being humble to see ourselves that way. But I’ve learned that real humility is saying the same thing about yourself that God says—no more and no less.
If you truly want to understand your heart, you need to inquire of the God of the universe:
The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and the word of God is able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
So, imagine we were to open you up on a spiritual operating table. What would you look like on the inside? There’s a place within you where Christ lives. It’s a pure place much like the holy of holies from the Old Testament. This is how you’ve become the temple of the Holy Spirit. God cleaned house, and then He moved in.
Do You Want to Sin?
If you don’t fully understand what I’m saying about your new heart yet, I want to offer you one thought to really drive this home. I invite you to wrestle with the implications of it. Here it is:
“I don’t really want to sin.”
This may be difficult to say. It may feel impossible to believe. But let’s play out the possibility, as well as the popular alternative.
If your heart truly, deeply, and irrevocably desires to sin— anywhere, anytime—then frankly, there’s no hope for you on this side of Heaven. It is impossible for you to live contrary to your own true desires. Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25).
However, if you’ve experienced a spiritual heart transplant, then your desires have been exchanged. And this is exactly what happened to you at salvation:
“our old self was crucified with Him” (Romans 6:6)
“consider yourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God” (Romans 6:11)
“you became obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17)
“you became slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:17)
Your old spiritual self is gone. You’re alive to God now. Your new heart is obedient. You’re addicted to righteousness.
Have you noticed? During temptation, there’s a stirring within you. Something is not quite right. You’re not ready to move forward with the idea of sin. Then, after you give in to temptation, are you at peace with what you’ve done? Or do you ask, “Why did I do that?”
You don’t really want to sin. Your heart is not in it. That’s a newsflash in much of the Christian world today. A lot of teaching starts with the premise that you want to sin, but you shouldn’t:
You’re essentially sinful, but you better not sin.
Your heart is wicked, but don’t do anything wicked!
God is not asking you to fake anything. Every ounce of the instruction we see in the New Testament is a perfect description of who you already are at the core. God is simply saying, “Here’s the best way to express the deep, heartfelt desires I implanted within you.”
The Perfect You
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
What does this say about your heart? It suggests the purposes of your heart are good and fully aligned with God’s will. Say that one aloud:
“The purposes of my heart are aligned with God’s will.”
Paul says the goal of his instruction is love from a pure heart (1 Timothy 1:5). How could that even begin to happen unless your heart is new and pure?
Likewise, Peter writes, “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).
How could you afford to let it be “the hidden person of the heart” if your heart were bad? You couldn’t.
In passages like these, God is essentially offering you a spiritual X-ray machine.
He’s showing you who you are on the inside.
Romans 5 says the love of God has been poured into your heart. Is the love of God residing in a wicked heart? Ephesians 3 says that Christ dwells in your heart through faith. Does Christ dwell in a dirty place? Galatians 4 says God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your heart. Did God send the Spirit of Christ to live in a filthy-hearted sinner? No.
God Longs to Convince You!
Do you need to test your heart? No, but you may need to test some of the attitudes (in your mind) that you’ve adopted (Romans 12:2).
Still, your new spiritual heart is to be trusted, not tested!
God longs to convince you of the true nature of your spiritual heart. He will stop at nothing to reveal it to you.
It is His heart’s cry (and yours!) that you taste the essence of who you are in Him and all the beauty that is spiritually simmering below the surface.
God wants you to embrace and enjoy your new-hearted self—the perfect you.
Andrew Farley is helping millions of people discover the beauty of their new identity in Jesus Christ. He serves as lead pastor of Church Without Religion, a non-denominational Bible church on the high plains of west Texas. Andrew is also the bestselling author of seven books including “The Naked Gospel” and “Twisted Scripture.” Andrew Farley LIVE, a nationwide call-in radio program, airs on Sirius XM and across North America every weeknight at 8:00pm Eastern.
Andrew’s most recent book is The Perfect You: God’s Invitation to Live from the Heart . Do you – as a believer – have a “deceitful” and “wicked” heart? Should your heart be tested, not trusted? If that’s what you believe, your spiritual experience will be one of duty and obligation, only a faint imitation of what Jesus promised. This provocative book invites you to a radically different approach, an inspiring move from head to heart.
Knowing the perfect you means no more waiting for closeness with God. Living as the perfect you brings a newfound freedom like you’ve never experienced before.
[ Our humble thanks to Salem Books for their partnership in today’s devotion ]