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December 17, 2007

“HOW TO RECEIVE AND MAINTAIN A ‘GOOD’ HEART”

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Our physical heart pumps life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients to every part of our body. Scripture tells us “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11, 14; Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23), and without the flow of blood, the body dies. The condition of our blood has a direct impact on the health of our body.

As the heart pumps blood to manifest and maintain physical life, Scripture reveals that the “heart” is the “pump” of our spiritual life. The heart is the control center of our soul: our mind, will and emotions.  The heart is our belief system and our perception of what we deem to be true. Our words and actions flow out of the heart. “[F]or out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 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” (Matthew 12:34b-35). Therefore, the condition of our heart determines the degree the kingdom of God is manifested in our life. Jesus said this in the parable of the sower and the seed. “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). The “good ground” is “an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15).

The heart is the control center of our life because it is the “location” of:

  • Imaginations: “This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing” (Jeremiah 13:10).  “He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts” (Luke 1:51).
  • Reason: “But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts … And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:6, 8).
  • Thoughts: “For 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” (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Self talk: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 14:2). “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48).
  • Wisdom: “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul” (Proverbs 2:10). “Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding: but that which is in the midst of fools is made known” (Proverbs 14:33).
  • Understanding: “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart” (Job 38:36)? “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding” (Psalm 49:3).
  • Faith: “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23).  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
  • Indwelling Holy Spirit: “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Corinthians 1:22).
  • Indwelling Christ: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17).

The heart is the seminal location of our spiritual and emotional life blood. How do we receive a “new heart?” How do we maintain a “new heart?” It all begins with faith in Jesus as the Christ, the risen Savior whose shed blood is the covering sacrifice for our sin (propitiation).  One of the promises available in the New Covenant is a “new heart” for those who believe and receive the gift of salvation, but we must wanta new heart. We must desire to change. We must purpose to pursue the source of change (Jesus) and the means of change (His Word and the Holy Spirit). We must establish or fix our heart on the ways of God to receive and maintain a new heart in our thoughts, imaginations, motives, perceptions, and desires.

We must identify evil strongholds in our heart and learn the truth through the revelation of Jesus Christ. We must cast down vain imaginations “and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5). As we choose to believe, meditate upon, speak, and act upon the truth and the promises of God, He changes our heart and His thoughts become our thoughts.  As our heart is changed and we delight ourselves in the Lord, He gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

We are saved by grace through faith alone, but to receive and experience all the promises associated with that salvation we must renew our mind to think His thoughts in our heart. This week meditate upon the following and associated Scriptures that give revelation on how to receive and maintain a “good heart”: 

  • Pursue God, the Heart Changer: “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
  • Beware of deception: “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them” (Deuteronomy 11:16).
  • Guard your heart and maintain integrity of heart: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).“And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments” (I Kings 9:4).
  • Speak the truth in your heart: “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2).
  • Speak and meditate on God’s ways: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
  • Ask God to reveal your heart: “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart” (Psalm 26:2). “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).
  • Apply your heart to wisdom, instruction, knowledge: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 23:12).
  • Rend your heart before God in prayer and fasting: “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (Joel 2:12-13).
  • Study the Word: “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” (Romans 10:8).
  • Be stedfast in your heart toward God: “Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well” (I Corinthians 7:37).
  • Purpose in your heart to be a cheerful giver: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).
  • Establish your heart: “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (I Thessalonians 3:13). “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein” (Hebrews 13:9). “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).
  • Love one another: “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” (I Peter 1:22).
  • Sanctify the Lord in your heart: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15).
  • Purify your heart: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).

Praise God for the rich salvation He has provided through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior! Not only has He provided for our eternal destiny, but also He has given us promises that we can appropriate by faith. These promises include receiving and maintaining a “good heart.”   

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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