“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” – Matthew 15:18-19
The Bible shows that the heart (aka, the inner man) is the source of life and death, good and evil. Unclean food doesn’t make one unclean; it’s what comes out of the heart. We are to guard the heart, because it’s the wellspring (source of) life.
We become unclean because we do not guard our hearts. We exude death because we have allowed sins to come in. Due to that allowance, death flows out of our heart through our mouth. When we allow impurity to come into the heart, it pollutes the well, which then flows out in our words. In short — garbage in, garbage out.
We have to be aware that we’re not victims. We know better than to allow certain images, words, and thoughts to enter and roost – but we let them in anyway. At best, they’re enjoyable, fleeting, temporary. But we know that they are wrong. Romans 1:20 tells us that men are without excuse. Yes, that “men” includes you, whether you’re a man, woman or child.
When we sin, we have failed to protect our hearts. Our hearts are the sources, and we need to put up fences, walls, doors and locks to keep them safe. Along the way we have failed, because the diligence is just too taxing. But we know, before too long, that we messed up. Our sinfulness has led to heartaches. To prevent further sins, it’s time to put up guards. Here are some ideas.
Get a good hobby, and have fun with it.
Learn more about your job.”Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Colossians 3:23). God has given you the job you have for many reasons, in part to prove your stewardship. You may not have any kind of exciting job, but you have a duty to learn more about your job because God gave it to you to train you for something. You’ll only find out by digging in and doing your best.
Get married. Yes, there are details involved, but marriage is a great guard. You automatically decrease your options and increase your accountability.
Have children (this is AFTER marriage). You again greatly increase your accountability. Now with a spouse and a child, your time spent with family increases and with others decreases (stay with me – I know you have 1 or more thoughts and questions at this point).
Get another hobby, with your spouse. More time with family. You need to accept that by spending more time with family, you give up one or more previous external (to the home) activities, but you’ve strengthened multiple relationships (home-based) by foregoing others.
Study the Bible. There are many great resources available. You very likely feel inadequate regarding spiritual and biblical matters. It’s your responsibility to learn more about your faith, and that includes the Scriptures.
The suggestions above are merely suggestions, but they are trustworthy guardians. If they don’t fit you, then go and find your own – there’s not ONE sacred list. The items I’ve mentioned are mundane, but you’ll find that every trusty guard is mundane. But those mundane protections are glorious!
A fence is a wonderful thing, but it’s not too long before it gets broken in places, worn and torn, in need of repair. It takes maintenance to protect your investment. When it comes to weapons, a gun is not necessarily beautiful, yet it can be artistic or magnificent. Part of the gloriousness is that, when new, they are bright and shiny. But, as with anything, the shiny wears off. This is true of everything – fences, weapons, cars, computers, homes, books…without proper care, they wear out, get rusty, gather dust, fall apart, fail to live up to their original purpose. It’s the diligence of cleaning, protection and care that keeps them beautiful and useful. It’s the same with our guardians. Marriage, children, jobs, hobbies, relationships, study – they are daily, and sometimes drudgery, sometimes dreary. But that daily care and protection will keep them glorious.
The foundation of a clean heart is faith in Jesus Christ. Because you follow Jesus Christ, there’s an ambiguous and uncomfortable feeling – you can’t see Him, hear Him or touch Him. Yet you’ve seen His power and now follow Him. It now follows that you obey your conscience. This obedience is sharpened by becoming purer and purer. The heart is not static or stable – the inner man is constantly subjected to good and bad influences. We have to guard our hearts, with the goal of keeping clean and pure.
The goal is purity. If our goal is shine, beauty, and glory, then we’ll end up disenchanted with the whole deal. But when our goal remains to be pure, then whatever we do to remain pure is a welcome responsibility.
A couple things before leaving this post: the first is God’s glory, and the second is Put Off, Put On.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We are working on purity NOT to get the blessings, but to glorify the triune God. So the end is not to get blessed by the means of purity. The end is Jesus by the means of the Holy Spirit.
Put off your old self and Put On the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24). To become pure, you need to put off the old things (e.g., anger, greed, OCD, lust, manipulation) AND put on new things (e.g., faithfulness, good hobbies, new habits, education). You can’t simply put off old things OR try out new things – the Bible knows you.
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