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Volume 22, Number 1, January / February / March, 2003 Editor: Robert Johnson

The Heart Of A Christian: On The Treadmill

Our Spiritual Blood Is Truth And Love
The White Blood Cells
The Red Blood Cells
Spiritual Cholesterol
The Spiritual Treadmill: Testing Our Blood Flow
The Overflow Test: Stick Out Your Tongue

In this article we will be examining the heart of a true Christian. The Biblical description of a Christian is one who not only believes that Jesus is the Son of God and their only hope for salvation, but one who has made their faith alive by submitting themselves to God's will for their lives. Biblical faith begins with hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Upon hearing the truth of Jesus Christ, biblical faith believes the Gospel message that Jesus is God's Son and has died for our sins. (John 8:24). There is no such thing as a secret Christian; real faith is willing to confess or openly acknowledge its faith in Jesus as Lord and Master (Matt 10:32). The next natural and biblical response to the Gospel message is repentance or a change of mind and life's direction concerning old sinful behavior (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38). Then and only then is a penitent believer ready for what the Bible calls a "baptism (in water) for the remission of sins" "into Christ" (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:27). Having a knowledge of God and Christ without joining ourselves to Christ in baptism does not make us Christians (Rom. 6:3,4). After being baptized into Christ, we must then turn our attention to keeping our hearts submissive to our Father's will through His Word. Lets us evaluate the kind of heart which God intends for us to have.
Have you ever wondered what Gospel preachers talk about when they get together? We discuss the dilemma of how to motivate baptized believers to act differently from the world (Rom 12:1ff). We discuss heart problems that hinder the churches’ work and believers who do not seem to be making much effort to be like Christ. We discuss the problem of members who are so weak spiritually that they will not overcome sin in their own lives, let alone help evangelize the world. We discuss the problems caused by hearts which have become hard, eyes which will not see and ears which will not hear. In the words of James, “Brethren, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:10). Let us examine the “Heart of a Christian” by taking a sobering look at the spiritual condition of our hearts.

Our Spiritual Blood Is Truth and Love:
Without blood our bodies would quickly die. Our spiritual hearts also need nourishment. The life’s blood of the Christian's spiritual heart is truth and love. The condition of our spiritual hearts can be determined by our acceptance of God's truth and our practice of love. Like the body needs blood, our spiritual health and maturity depends on having these two things coursing through our spiritual hearts.
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Eph 4:14-15)

The White Blood Cells:
Truth is like the white blood cells which protect the body from infectious false teaching which would weaken and destroy the strength and usefulness of the church (body of believers). The inspired scriptures provide us with this essential truth. (2 Tim 3:16,17).
The salvation of our souls depends on accepting the truth: "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32). It is truth that sets us apart from the world which is made up of those deceived by Satan.(Rev 12:9).
"And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." (1 John 5:19-20)
Like some rare health food, God's truth is not found everywhere, so finding and keeping it must be our first priority. Submitting to the truth of God's Word will set us apart (sanctify us) and prepare us for a life of true faith in a world full of deception. (John 17:16-17). A heart that is not filled with a love for the truth is open to infection with ignorance and deceit.
"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:" (2 Th 2:10-13)
A good heart receives the truth and keeps it bringing forth fruit: "But 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." (Luke 8:15).

The Red Blood Cells:
Love is like the red blood cells which supply nourishment and strength to every function of the body. Paul said that having all knowledge and faith without love profits nothing (1 Cor 13). We have noted that the truth must be preached “in love.” (Eph 4:15). Jesus said that love (agape) would be the visible identifying mark that we are His disciples.
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35)
Note that Jesus said the first identifying mark of being one of His disciples (followers) is that we will have love for one another. “People do not care how much you know until they can see how much you care!”
Someone might say, love cannot be commanded, it must be felt. In the Greek language, there are several different words translated by the English word "love." There is a word for the physical kind of love (eros). There are words for the natural family or brotherly love (storge, philos). Then there is the word "Agape." This is the word Jesus used in John thirteen. Agape love is not a feeling or emotion. It is a decision to put the good of others before ourselves even when they may be undeserving. It is best illustrated by God showing His love for us and sending Jesus to die for us "while we were yet sinners" (Rom. 5:8). Love is the decision and act of a heart that is determined to obey the Lord. All acts of submission and obedience to God can be summed up by the word "Love" (Agape).
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou 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 love is the fulfilling of the law." (Rom 13:8-10)
Love is so essential to the spiritual heart that failing to demonstrate love for others reveals the absence of true love for God. Our love for God who is above us, can only be truly demonstrated by seeking the good of those who are beside us.
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." (1 John 4:20-21; See also 1 John 4:7-11)
Obeying the truth purifies our souls and results in an honest love of the brethren:
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:" (1 Pet 1:22)

Spiritual Cholesterol:
Beware of spiritual Cholesterol which is anything which might harden your heart to hearing the truth and practicing love. (Sin, anger, resentment, laziness, etc.).
"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." (Mat 13:15-16)
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim 4:2-4)

The Spiritual Treadmill: Testing Our Blood Flow
When the condition of your physical heart is in question, the doctor may put you on the treadmill for a “stress” test. It is often the case that people have heart problems and do not even realize it until it is too late. Sometimes the true condition of our heart is not clear until it is put in a circumstance of stress and pushed to its limits. Spiritually speaking, the true condition of our spiritual hearts is revealed when our faith and love are put to the test, much like being on a spiritual treadmill.
In worship assemblies, everyone shows signs of good spiritual health. But, do our hearts continue to seek the truth and practice love in our everyday life and trials??? What does your behavior reveal about your heart when you are angry?? Are you quick to anger? "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools." (Eccl 7:9). Do you allow your anger to lead you to sin? "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:" (Eph 4:26). If anger is restricting the flow of truth and love in your life, you need to consider the Bible's prescription for better health:
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (James 1:19-20).
What does your behavior reveal about your heart when you neglect to do what you know is right and good? Perhaps you are proud of your efforts to avoid doing the wrong things, but are you just as diligent in doing the things which are right?
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:22-25)
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal 6:9-10)
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)

The greatest challenge of the Christian heart is moving beyond the hearing and believing to living the teachings of Christ in our daily lives.
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me....Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Mat 15:8; Mat 7:21).

The Overflow Test: Stick Out Your Tongue:
Ask yourself these simple questions: If you overfill a bucket with honey, what will come pouring over the sides? If you overfill a bucket with pig slop, what will come pouring over the sides? Will a bucket of salt water overflow with fresh water (James 3:12)? So we can conclude that only what is in the bucket can come spilling out? Yikes!! What does this have to do with what is in our hearts??? The Bible often reminds us that the condition of our hearts can be tested by what spills out of our mouths. What overflows out of your heart?? Rudeness? Anger? Impatience? Murmurings? Complaints? Rejoicings? Praise? Encouragements?
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Mat 12:34-37)
So many today are deceived into thinking that good thoughts and good intentions are the same thing as good faith and a good heart. But, how we talk or control our thoughts and words is the true test of our religion.
"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." (James 1:26)
"A fool also is full of words:...” (Eccl 10:14)
"Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." (Eccl 5:2)

There is a great way of finding out what is really in your heart. If you want to test the condition of your heart spiritually, the Bible suggests you examine what overflows out of your mouth. Just wear a tape recorder around your neck for a while and then you will know what God and probably everyone else already knows about what is in your heart.
I hope you are willing to take an honest look at the true condition of your heart spiritually. Is your heart 100% open to the flow of God’s truth and love or has some sin or false doctrine created a blockage. Anything which limits your willingness to allow God's truth and love to flow through your life can be a fatal blockage. God's truth is the cure for all of the hearts most serious problems.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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." (Heb 4:12).
Perhaps you are in need of some serious spiritual exercise which comes from using the Word of God.
"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Heb 5:12-14).
If your heart is seriously resistant to the flow of God's truth and love, you may need a completely new heart and should become a Christian as described in the beginning of this article. God's advice for the ancient people of Israel is still good for us today.
"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed (sinned); and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." (Ezek 18:31-32)
Please check your spiritual pulse regularly and if your heart is not beating for God, ask God to help you make the needed changes. God will recommend large doses of truth and the daily practice of love. R. Johnson

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