Revealing the hidden mysteries in Christ

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"The secret for growing up in Christ — part 2"

Key & keyhole with light coming from it

I'm going to continue to talk about the heart this week, because it is one of the secrets for growing up and maturing in Christ. Last week I showed you how God has designed our spiritual heart to function, as in giving us our values, perceptions and beliefs. This is important to understand because everything we approach in life will be “sifted” by these 3 things. I showed you how these 3 functions of our heart are like the water filter that one places onto their faucet, for their drinking water. Everything that we come in contact with is filtered by our values, our perceptions and our beliefs. This is why Paul said that it's a good thing for our hearts to be established by grace, so that we'll have grace-values, grace-perceptions and grace-beliefs, when faced with the things of life.

This week, I want us to keep seeing the importance of what our heart actually is, according to what the Bible says about it (and get a little snapshot of the way that they saw what the heart is).

See growing up in Christ is not so much about you DOING things, as it is being aware of what Jesus did for you, your identification with Him and what you already are and have in Him.

And this is where your heart plays an extremely important role, because God has designed your spiritual heart to be your “awareness” and “reality” gauge, making the things of Redemption personal. Take for instance what Peter said in 1 Pet 5:8 - “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Our grace-instructions are to BE — not to DO, but to BE — “sober and vigilant”. It's only the one who has his heart established in grace, that can be sober and vigilant. If we try to carry out these instructions with our minds, we'll try to do things to become sober and vigilant and that leads to confusion and frustration. Can you see the difference between the two?

God has designed your spiritual heart to help you BE what you already are.

Every person — believer and nonbeliever — IS and BECOMES what they have established in their hearts. Thank God for people like the Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale’s of this world, but one cannot think his way into being the person that he wants, because only his character will cause him to become that person. And character is formulated in one’s heart, not by his head.

so what actually is the heart?

Probably many of us have been taught that we are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body (Although this teaching, I believe, to be accurate according to Paul in the New Testament, this information is not salvific — necessary for salvation. This info about our God-given makeup gives us a basic understanding of how we function). In the same line of thinking, most of us have been taught that our soul is our mind, will and emotions. This information really helps us get a better grasp on spiritual things and how to operate in them. But for most of us, there's been a missing part in this information.

Here's something important to know about this. Because God is a spirit and therefore can only be inside of our spirit, and it's our thinking, doing and feeling (that is, all of our experiences) is in our souls, it begs to question, what's the part of our God-given design that brings this entities to work together?

It's our heart. Our heart is like the bridge that connects 2 lands together. So the question remains, “What actually is our heart?”

Let's first look at what Jesus said about this in Matt 12:33 - “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” The tree here represents your heart, see the next verse. The fruit of this tree represents what comes out of it — out words (what we just saw from James 3).

You need to know that Jesus said that one has the ability to make the tree either good or bad.

There's one more truth that I need to show you regarding the heart that these guys, that Jesus was speaking to, didn't have yet. Look at Ezek 36:26 and to what took place inside you through the new birth - “I will give you 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.”

God has given you a new kind of heart. It's a heart that can contain the new spirit that you have — it can hold the very DNA of God!

This DNA of grace will take the old heart called “the stone of your flesh” (meaning that it was cold and insensitive to God's ways) and give you “a heart of flesh” (a sensitive heart to control your flesh). I want to show you 4 elements that I believe, make up your heart. My prayer is that by seeing these things, they'll help you in making your tree good so its fruit will be good!

Element 1:

your heart is your conscience. Your conscience is your awareness gauge of morality and sensitivity — be it spiritual or physical. And as a child of God, it's your conscience that makes you aware and sensitive to what's moral, good and acceptable to Him, see Rom 12:2. Notice how John taught on this awareness of your heart — specifically your conscience — in bringing you either the conviction of God's presence or of sin’s presence. Look at this in 1 John 3:19-21 (net) - “(19) And by this we will know that we are of the truth and will convince our conscience in his presence,(20) that if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience and knows all things. (21) Dear friends, if our conscience does not condemn us, we have confidence in the presence of God”. Notice how John said that our conscience let's us know that we are of the truth and by that, convinces us of God's presence — like when you say, “I feel His presence!”. As great as that is, our conscience also let's us know when we've sinned (it convinces of sin’s presence and then condemns us when we think that “sin is in the camp!”). He specifically said in v.20, that God is greater than the conviction of our conscience —for He knows all things. What does God know that we don't, according to this verse? He knows that, because of Jesus, you're His beloved child who's clothed in His Righteousness! He knows that all of your sin has been forever wiped away and that you stand as clean before His presence as Jesus is! He knows that He has eternally, absolutely and unconditionally forgiven you of all sin! See it's one who has this kind of awareness and sensitivity in his heart (his conscience), that will have confidence towards God!

Element 2:

your heart is your memory. The memory of our heart is the characterization and realization gauge of our heart. Many people call this the “SUB-CONSCIOUS”. The kind of memory that I'm referring to here is the memories that form the foundation of our lives — who we really think we are. There are 2 kinds of memories. We understand that the memories of our minds, had to be REmembered. So where did these REmembered memories come from? They came from the memory of our hearts. These memories store the things that happened to us in our “yesterdays”, most of those things were life-changing — good and bad. And it's from those “patented” experiences of our heart, that we tend to respond to the things that presently take place in our lives.

This works like the ROM and RAM of your computer — the ROM of your computer is your its permanent memory (this is like the memory of your heart), that is responsible for running your entire computer. The RAM on the other hand, is your computer's temporary memory (this is like your head), that only runs after you've started using the applications of your computer. In Eph 4:23, Paul called this “the spirit of your mind”. Notice what he said - “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind”. It's not the  spirit only, or the mind only, but the SPIRIT of your MIND, that causes you to not act like the heathen, see v.17. It's a spiritual part that controls your mind, which is your heart, specifically, the memory of your heart. It's interesting to note the difference of the Greek words for “renewing” that Paul uses here, as renewing the heart, and in Rom 12:2, as renewing the mind. The renewing of the mind is thinking “differently than before”, as the renewing of the heart is receiving “fresh information that results in a completely different behavior” (In Rom 12:2, Paul uses the Greek word “anakainosis”, and here, he uses the Greek word “ananeoo”).

Now you can start to understand why Paul told us that it's a good thing for us to establish grace in our hearts. It's only by the Redemptive revelation of grace, that one changes from the inside out!

Element 3:

your heart is your imagination. The imagination of your heart is your visionary and emulative gauge of your life. Many of us are familiar with our imagination — for throughout the centuries, great and wonderful things have been invented and created by it, like the industrial, mechanical and computer Revolutions. Basically we know that the imagination is where ideas and “images” are developed into plans of achievements, like the darkroom where negatives are developed into the photographs.

The main fruit that comes from our imagination is hope. One who's hopeless is one who lacks spiritual vision. This is why Paul told us that it's a good thing for us to establish grace in our hearts. Look at we're told in Heb 6:17-18 about this (amp) - “(17) Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath. (18) This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us].” Both, the promise and the oath, refer to Jesus and the Redemptive work that He did for us. These Redemptive promises, made real to us by the revelation of Jesus Christ in our heart, become a mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement. This describes our “grace-hope”, developed by the imagination of our heart!

Notice what Paul went on and said in the next verse - “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil”. It is this living, abiding hope that serves us as an anchor of the soul (our mind, will and emotions). The clearer the image that you have of these 2 unchangeable things of Redemption on the imagination of your heart, the stronger your anchor of hope will be to garrison your soul in the things of God!

Element 4:

your heart is your passion. The passions of your heart is the ardent and intense gauge of our heart, the place where your devotions and loyalties are birthed. Once again, I believe that we're very familiar with our passions, usually, coming from a negative tone. So in this little study, I want to give you 7 powerful, life-changing fruits of the passion of our hearts and briefly describe each one, so you can see why Paul said that it's a good thing to have grace established in our hearts.  

1) delight. We know that if we delight in something, it's because it gives us pleasure and enjoyment (Now you can better understand Psa 37:4).

2) honor. We know that when we truly honor something, it means that we esteem it and show great respect for it. And this kind of honor naturally reflects in our behavior.

3) loyalty. Loyalty means that one is committed to something to the very end. I think of the warrior in the tv series, “Game of Thrones”, Brienne of Tarth and her devout loyalty to Stark’s, when all kind of things came to shake her from it. Or Noah, who took 100 years to build an ark for the torrential rain, and all of that time, he never once saw it rain!

4) courage. Courage is the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty and even pain, without being overcome by fear or apprehension of any kind. Courage results from an inner knowledge.

5) gratitude. There is a big difference between being thankful and being grateful. Anyone can be thankful, but it's the attitude of gratitude, that comes from joy in one’s heart.

6) expectation. Expectancy is like our spiritual hand in receiving. Expectation is not just the anticipation of the promises of God, but it's also the assurance of them in our lives (Anticipation is from one’s emotions, as assurance is developed from one’s heart).

7) zeal. Zeal comes from one's enthusiasm and enthusiasm is from a Greek word that means “God working inside”.  True zeal is an intensified, burning passionate pursuit and flows freely towards the Lord when he knows that He's the same way towards him, see 1 John 4:19!

I believe that these 7 fruits of passion will better help you zero in to how important it is to have grace established in your heart.

the final words

There you have it. Your heart is your conscience, memory, imagination and passion. So in closing out this lesson on the heart, I just want to reemphasize about the simplicity of the information that I've given you about what your spiritual heart is and how it functions. My intent in giving you this is to help you identify this important element in your spiritual growth and maturity in Christ.

The word HEART is mentioned well over 850 throughout the Bible, over 110 of those times being in the New Testament. When most of us read the word HEART in the Bible, we don't really have an idea to what it is. We hear things like, “You need to ask Jesus into your heart, in order to be saved”, and things like this, and they have further clouded our understanding of what this important design of God is.

In conclusion, let me show you these 2 important verses from 2 of Paul's prayer for believers in the book of Ephesians (1:17-18; 3:16-17, esv) - “(1:17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (1:18) having the eyes of your HEARTS enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints… (3:16) that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (3:17) so that Christ may dwell in your HEARTS through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love...” (my emphasis added to the word HEART, of course). In Ephesians 1:18, the kjv translates the word HEART as the word UNDERSTANDING. I like that translation, because it's the place of your heart that gives you understanding and without us understanding things, we'll soon forget them — for wisdom is what makes you free, but it's understanding that causes you to walk in that freedom! As you can see from these prayers, our heart is extremely important in growing up in Christ.

Next week I'm going to show you another secret to growing up in Christ and that is learning to have faith in THE faith — the faith of Jesus Christ. Please stay tuned for more simplicity!     -    13120 Three Rivers Road Apt 3004  Gulfport, MS 39503 - 678-922-9306  


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