Matters of the Heart: what God says about the core of man

The Bible is says followers of Jesus Christ are to live in a way that reflects Him. A Christian is a “little Christ.” This can be a difficult role to fulfill especially when other people, even Christians are not acting, speaking or living for Christ. How do I live in a dirty rotten world? How Can I shine the light in a dark world? What is God’s view of self, success, & stuff? Does it matter what I do with my free time? So how do I live in the world, but not become like the world? What is the matter with my heart?

the heart of the matter

What is the heart? The heart is not just a muscle that pumps blood, the shape of a card you receive on Valentines Day, nor where romantic feelings come from. It is said that you cannot understand a human until you understand the heart. The Bible describes the heart as your inner man [spirit, soul, mind, emotions, passions, will, etc.]. The heart is the real you, where your beliefs affect your behavior. It is the control center of a your life. [Read More]

key to understanding your heart

Have you ever had a set of keys that you just did not know what they unlocked? I use to have a small box of mysterious keys I no longer knew what they unlocked. I still keep many of them around just in case I have a door or padlock that I cannot open. Hopefully you are not missing a key to something important that I’ve borrowed and forgot to give back to you? It is frustrating not having a key to unlock something valuable to you [i.e. home, car, safe, etc.]. Sometimes it might feel like your heart is locked and you do not have the right key to understand. [Read More]

Heart Distracters & Hardeners

God, you really didn’t mean to say that?

What does it really mean not to love the world? What does it mean for me? Does it mean I have to give up listening to unchristian music, R-rated movies, MTV, video games, making lots of money, gossip magazines, or my short shorts? If you were really honest you don’t want the answers, especially from a 2000-year-old book that may seem out of touch with today’s culture and trends. [Read More]

i love the world

John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” [1 John 2:15] But then in another place John says, “For God so loved the world…” [John 3:16] and Jesus says, “As [God] sent Me into the world, so I have sent [believers] into the world.” [John 17:18] So on one hand, I am not supposed to love the world, but God loves the world. And on the other hand, I am not supposed to love things in the world, but Jesus sends His followers to live in the world. Okay, let’s decipher and answer: What is the world? Should or shouldn’t I love the world? How can I love the world? [Read More]

the colossal compromise

Compromise is a part of life. Everyday you are faced with decisions where you have to give up something good for another good. Do I study or do I play soccer? Do I visit this family member or do I visit this old friend? Do I go out to eat for pizza or a hamburger? Do we go on vacation to the beach or the mountains? Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer. Sometimes you cannot have both and you must compromise. Sometimes compromising is not this simple. Sometimes compromises can have a great affect on you and others depending on which option you choose. Sometimes people compromise deep-rooted beliefs or sacrifice morals to get what they want. [Read More]

lead me not into temptation

Temptation is something every human faces. Temptation in and of itself is not sin, but it is the first stage towards sinning. Temptation comes at you like blazing arrows at from Satan, the world, and your wicked heart. Your only vaccination to combat the constant nagging attacks of temptation is using the Word of God and loving Jesus Christ. Jesus was tempted, but did not sin [Hebrews 4:15-16]. Therefore, He knows the full weight of temptation because He did not give into it. [Read More]

hypocrisy

In the early days of acting a hypocrite was considered a good term. It described an actor who could put on many different faces or masks. Actors in the Greek theatre wore masks depicting an emotion. The masks were large, often twice the size of an actor’s face, so they could be easily seen. The Jews used the word hypocrite to describe a liar, deceiver, two-faced, or one who hid his true nature behind a mask. [Read More]

the spiritual war and your enemy

From the beginning to the end of Jesus’ ministry he warned, overturned, taught, and fought against spiritual foes. Much of Jesus’ ministry portrayed power encounters, exorcisms, and exposes a real supernatural warfare in this world. Since, spiritual warfare is real, how do we deal with it? [Read More]

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the spiritual war and your enemy

The past few weeks we have been discussing matters of the heart. Your heart is the control center of your being. Your heart defines who you are and what you do. We have already discussed two specific factors that can distract your heart from what God desires to define you heart. First, the world, an external factor that seeks to distract your heart. Second, worldliness [i.e. flesh], an internal factor that seeks to distract your heart. Today, we will look at final factor, supernatural forces of evil [Devil & demons] a spiritual factor that seeks to distract your heart from following after Christ wholeheartedly.

Spiritual warfare is the real deal [Ephesians 6:10-20]

From the beginning to the end of Jesus’ ministry he warned, overturned, taught, and fought against spiritual foes. Much of Jesus’ ministry portrayed power encounters, exorcisms, and exposes a real supernatural warfare in this world.[1] Since, spiritual warfare is real, how do we deal with it?

Paul wraps up his letter to Ephesians with a battle cry similar to that Joshua, “be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.” Right out of the box, preparation for this battle against spiritual warfare is exclaimed, “put on the whole armor of God.” There is an air of readiness for believers to put on the whole armor of God because spiritual warfare is eminent. Here are 5 truths about spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10-20:

#1 You are at war [6:10-11]. Believe it or not, and most do not realize it or try to ignore it, you are at war. From the moment you are born to the moment you die you are in the midst of a heated battle. It is the clash of the kingdom’s—the kingdom of light versus the kingdom of darkness. This world is not a playground; it’s a battlefield. This world and your heart is the battle zone. Are you ready for this spiritual warfare?

#2 You are at war with evil supernatural powers [6:11-12]. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Paul would agree that your flesh and blood is evil, but we see in this text that the conflict is also fought against supernatural, demonic forces.

#3 You are charged to stand [6:11-14]. Three times in this passage Paul tells believers to stand so you do not fall [vs.11, 13-14]. These powerful forces cannot be faced in the power of your own might. If you stand alone, you will fail.

#4 You are able to stand by the provisions made by God [6:14-17]. “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” It is nothing about what strength you have, but everything about the strength of your God [cf. victory in Christ, 1:20-23]. The provision of God is the armor. The armor must be “put on,” for the spiritual armor is an external counterpart to Paul’s emphasis on inward growth and the edification of the church [cf. 4:12, 16].

#5 You are charged to be prayerful and watchful [6:18-20]. Prayer is not a weapon of warfare, but a sounding horn to God for continual preparation in the battle and communion with Him through the battle.

This text is clear, spiritual warfare is real and ferocious. Paul gives a clarifying call to believers in the church to stand firm against the supernatural powers seeking to destroy their unity and reputation in Christ as ambassadors of the gospel of Christ. Spiritual warfare is the real deal, but what about the enemy?

Know your enemy

Throughout history, military strategists have noted the effectiveness in winning battles is to know your enemy. As Victor Hugo said, “A good general must penetrate the brain of his enemy.” As followers of Christ, you have an enemy that is well document. You have dirt on how you can win the war against him. He is not invisible and impenetrable.

First, Satan is limited. He cannot do anything he wants anytime he wants. God limits Satan because he created Satan [Genesis 3:1]. God has Satan on a short leash [Revelation 12:12]. He cannot do anything without God permitting him. Satan knows humans are limited too. God limited Satan’s ability to touch Job when tempting him [1:12]. His limitation is a tactic he uses to deceive your hearts too. He knows your limited, “You can’t win. You can’t fight. Give up!” That is a lie from the pit of hell.

Second, Satan is not like God. Satan cannot know your thoughts. He does not have the power to force you to do anything. He cannot even be everywhere at once. He gets far more credit that he deserves. He has lots of help from his fallen minions, the fallen world, and your wickedly deceived heart. He is not capable in power, wisdom and presence like God. He can’t do what God can do. Only God can do what God can do. No one is like God.

Third, Satan is the defeated enemy. Have you read the end of the Book—the Bible? God will deal with Satan [Revelation 20]. God will throw him into the lake of fire for all eternity. Satan does not win. He ultimately loses. The cross of Christ crushed Satan’s hope for victory [Colossians 2:15]. Jesus defeats the devil through His death and resurrection. Although he is defeated he is not going out quietly. He is on a rampage to inflict as much chaos and catastrophe in the world and your life as possible before his end.

Your enemy’s strategy is to destroy you

During America’s Civil war General Ulysses S. Grant’s men were impressed—even scared of—southern commander, General Robert E. Lee’s brilliant war strategies. One northern sergeant said, “You never quite know how he is going to move. Wish we had ‘im on our side.” Now Robert E. Lee is not the devil [you can still get shot is some places for making a statement like that], but my point is, the strategies of the enemy often inflict fear in those on the defense.

Don’t underestimate Satan’s power [1 Corinthians 10:12]. He is strong, sly, and stealthy. He has ruined many lives. In Jesus’ words, he tries “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” [John 10:10; cf. 1 Peter 5:8] Satan’s sole purpose is to bring you down, to take you out, and inflict you with so much fear that you have no other hope than to escape this life.

Have you ever known someone paralyzed by fear? They tell you how powerful and cleaver the devil is [Ephesians 2:2], and how scared to death they are of his strategies. They give up to his tactics in defeat. They give glory to his strength, rather than giving it to God who is infinitely mightier and more powerful.

What your enemy doesn’t want you to know [1 John 4:1-6]

Do not be intimidated by the devil. Do not give him any ground [Ephesians 4:27]. Keep short accounts with sin. You have resources in Christ to effectively counter his attacks. Believe it or not, Satan believes Jesus [Matthew 4:3]. He fears Jesus [James 2:19] because he knows Jesus will judge him. The devil does not want you to know he is out matched by the power of Christ. He does not want you to know he has been conquered and constrained through the death and resurrection of Christ [1 John 3:8]. In Christ, you have victory, authority, protection, power, and position.

Any voice, word, or idea that violates Scripture or is constantly demeaning to you [i.e. you’re fat, you’re stupid, you can’t change, God can’t help you, you should take you life, etc.], it is not of the Holy Spirit and must be ignored. Test the spirits with the Word of God [1 John 4:1]. Call on the power of God with offensive prayer. Let God fight for you. He will protect because He is the Savior and Sovereign King. He sends His heavenly angels to guard His people [Psalm 34:7; Hebrews 1:13-14]. He gives strength in Christ to stand against and resist the devil [Ephesians 6:10; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9]. You are safe with Christ. Stay close to Him, “The Lord is faithful. He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Recommended Resources on Spiritual Warfare:


[1] Matthew 4:1-12, 22-23; Luke 8:26-29; 10:17-20; 13:10-17; Acts 5:1-5; 19:13-20; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 11:1-4, 13-15; Ephesians 2:6; 6:10-17; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9; Jude 8-9; Revelation 12:10-11

hypocrisy

 

 

 

In the early days of acting a hypocrite was considered a good term. It described an actor who could put on many different faces or masks. Actors in the Greek theatre wore masks depicting an emotion. The masks were large, often twice the size of an actor’s face, so they could be easily seen. The Jews used the word hypocrite to describe a liar, deceiver, two-faced, or one who hid his true nature behind a mask.

How would you define the word hypocrite? To be a hypocrite is to believe one thing and behave contrary to your beliefs. If someone called you a hypocrite, how would that make you feel? Christians often get labeled as hypocrites. Christians are hypocrites, but so are non-Christians. Non-Christians believe people should behave a certain way based on various values, and Christians believe you should behave in a way that mimics Christ.

In the Gospels, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of hypocrisy because they used brassy actions that attracted attention, but covered their true heart intentions. They would pretend to do what was really important to God, but Jesus since He was God had x-ray vision into they hearts.

The religious are often the most hypocritical. The Pharisees were outwardly very religious people. The Pharisees controlled the synagogues, its teachings, and were regarded as the chief interpreters of Jewish legalism. They not only believed the Law, they expanded it to include 400-plus rules, and insisted everyone else follow too. Jesus used hypocrite to describe the Pharisees and pronounced seven woes on them for their hypocrisy.

What are the various faces of a hypocrite? And do you wear masks that fit?

First, hypocrites add to the message of the gospel [Matthew 23:13]. The message of the gospel is a simple message: you are rebellious sinner separated from God, but Jesus came to redeem sinful man through the cross, and only those who respond through faith and repentance will be redeemed forever. Though it is a simple message it is not easy. To make the application of the gospel message more than “repent and believe” by adding church attendance, tithing, baptism or any other work as prerequisites for salvation is duplicitous to the work of Christ.

Second, hypocrites use God to manipulate other people [14-15]. Hypocrites commonly devour people for selfish reasons. Hypocrites will injure people with their words and cover with a pious action. Some in the name of God have used and abused their listeners. That is blasphemous. Hypocrites are good at winning debates and proselytizing people to their own opinions. Jesus says the missionary efforts of hypocrites pave the way to hell. Instead of converting people to Christ, hypocrite’s covert people to their system that do not leave room for a Messiah.

Third, hypocrites seek to squeeze out of commitments [16-22]. Hypocrites are skilled liars. They know the loopholes or lingo to get out of commitments. They will make religious oaths with religious loopholes. Jesus says that all oaths are related to God and therefore binding [cf. Matthew 5:33-37]. Evasive oaths are not oath, but lies.

Some Christians say that they are committed to God because they read their Bibles everyday, pray before their meals, go to church faithfully, and give to good causes, but one glance at their life and you would see a huge disconnect. You can commit to all good things making yourself look godly [i.e. reading the Word, prayer, and serving the church], but if your commitments are not rooted in Christ they are self-centered facades.

Fourth, hypocrites are masters at making little things big and big things little [23-24]. Jesus condemns the Pharisees for not understanding God’s Law. The Law required that everything produced should be tithed to the Temple. The silly act that Jesus describes of counting every kernel of spice to make sure that it amounted to exactly 10 percent, no more and no less. Jesus was not criticizing tithing, but was pointing out that true righteousness results in godly behavior—not just an appearance of godliness.

How is it easier to focus on doing the little things—those less personal—than the big ones? Doing small duties are easy, but delving your heart, soul and mind into following Christ takes discipline, time and sacrifice. What did Jesus emphasize in His example of straining at gnats but swallowing a camel? There is great danger in focusing on the things that don’t matter, while ignoring the things that do. For example, some come to church on Sundays to worship God, but Monday through Saturday you are living separate from God. Sunday for them is a show, rather than serious occasion to worship God with His people that transform the rest of their workweek.

Fifth, hypocrites are concerned more about the outside than the inside [23:25-32]. Jesus casts two disturbing pictures of the Pharisees emphasize the outer man over the inner man. The first example is of keeping the outside of a vessel clean without taking the time to clean the inside [25-26]. Would you eat off a plate that was not fully clean, but caked with yesterday’s casserole? Or would you drink from a cup with three-day old milk marks inside? Of course not, that is just gross. That is exactly Jesus’ point. You are clean on the outside, but inside you are unclean.

The second example is decorating the outside of tombs. You can spend all your time on beautifying things that really don’t matter. People spend big bucks on making our faces look better, teeth whiter, clothes brighter, hair shinier, and body thinner. This might make you look good for a time, but in light of eternity it does not matter A beautiful tombstone does not change the condition of the decaying body within. Neither does a mask of Christian righteousness make a person who is dead to Christ inside into a true Christian [cf. Matthew 6:1-3; 15:1-11; 22:18-22]. What you do if you knew no one would see reveals who you really are and whom you really live for!

How do hypocrites stop playing with masks and start being authentic in Christ?

First, realize hell has hypocrites [33]. Hypocrisy reveals your hearts intents. The difficult truth is, the more hypocrisy you have in your heart the harder it is to change. Followers of Christ hate hypocrisy in their hearts and are committed to change in Christ. If a hypocrite continues in hypocrisy there is a good chance he is not a follower of Christ. If there is no change hell is on your horizon.

Second, repent and open yourself to God [34-36]. The response of the Pharisee should have been, “You are the Messiah, forgive us our sins.” However, they would not respond and repent, rather they recoiled to their hardheartedness. Jesus, the Messenger of the gospel, prophesies about other messengers He will send [i.e. apostles, disciples and followers] who will confront the religious system with their wholehearted commitment to their Lord Christ Jesus. Yet just as they rejected and killed Jesus, they will reject and kill His messengers. 1 Peter 2:22-25 says,

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Third, restore intimacy with your Savior [37-39]. God is a restorer of His people. This is a great promise. When repentance is authentic, restoration of intimacy with God follows. As 1 Peter 2:1-3 says,

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Fourth, remember servanthood is your calling [23:11-12]. Not serving yourself, but serving your Master, Christ. To preface Jesus’ woeful concerns towards hypocrisy He says, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

In conclusion, do not criticize the Pharisee for his hypocrisy for Jesus shares this message not only to them, but also to you. You could be a Pharisee too. Remove your masks. Repent; allow God to restore, and remember your position under God is a humble servant. Pharisees have infected the Christian community. Subtly. But Jesus thinks the heart condition of hypocrites is a serious matter to consider.

lead me not into temptation

Computer viruses are almost like human viruses. Computer viruses have memories, can be caught anytime or anywhere, they can even be lethal to your computers health by sabotaging your files, programs, security system, and causing your hard drive to crash. Computer viruses have cause a lot of damage, cost lot’s money, and caused a lot of frustration from lost information [Solution = Buy a Mac. I just had to throw that in there!].

Temptations are a lot like computer viruses. As followers of Christ, you have incredible foolproof anti-virus software. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Before we look at how to handle temptations, let’s look at the sources of our temptations.

What is the Source of My Temptation?

The Tempter. Satan in the Scripture is called, the tempter [Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5]. He is sneaky and sly little serpent. He is like a computer hacker that seeks to cause havoc in your life. He knows when your security system is the weakest. He doesn’t know your wiring quite like God because he is not omniscient. However, he has been around humans for a long time. Therefore, he knows your heart tendencies.[1]

People tend to give into Satan’s lucrative temptations. It is too easy to blame your sin on the serpent. Therefore, when people sin, you will often hear the excuse, “The devil made me do it.” Does the devil really make you do it? Does that devil really cause you to sin? No, you decide to sin. You do not have to choose to sin no matter how enticing it is. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” [James 4:7]

The Heart. The Bible describes the heart as your inner man—the real you—where your beliefs affect your behavior. Your heart is your control center. The Bible says there is something seriously wrong with your heart. Your control center has a glitch in its main frame, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” [Jeremiah 17:9] Your heart is sick and contaminated with a spiritual virus inherited from birth by your first parents in the Garden of Eden.

The World. Your world is warped by sin and temptation. Love for the world begins in the heart. The Bible warns, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” [1 John 2:15] Worldliness is exalting yourself and excluding God, for the next verse says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of his flesh, the lust of his eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” [1 John 2:16].

The world knows you crave love and affection, fame and fortune, comfort and peace. The world makes it so appetizing you got to have it. And the devil is the world’s best promoter and commercial advertiser because he is the “god of this world.” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. He has corrupted the system by placing a lie in your mind that you are the center of the universe and God is subservient to all your wants and wishes. James 4:4 says contrary, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself and enemy of God.”

Do you believe Common Lies Concerning your Sin and Temptations?

It is common to believe lies about the temptations you face. 1 Corinthians 10:13, clears up many lies you will have about daily temptations you come across.

LIE #1: “No one else is going through what I’m going through.” Whatever temptation you face is not unique to you. Someone in human history has faced it too. Your temptation is not a “special case.” Satan would love to convince you that it is special so that you do not seek help because no one will understand. Although, a member of your church might not have walked in the shoes of your temptations more than likely they have walked through similar temptations since “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” Seek accountability through temptation for a single string by itself is weak, but strings woven together into a cord are strong [1 Corinthians 12].

LIE #2: “God must not care about me, since He caused this temptation.” God is never the cause of temptation [James 1:13-14]. God does not tempt because He is not evil. He allows temptation [Job 1-2] within certain parameters. The Bible is clear; you are tempted by your own desires [James 1]. On the flip side, “God is faithful.” He will help you through temptations, giving you the strength to overcome, and restoring those who fall seeking Him for repentance. Sinners are never beyond God’s ability to restore.

LIE #3: “My temptations are too strong for me to resist.” Temptations do become stronger the more you give in. However, you will never have a temptation too strong you can’t get out because God “will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” This is a precious promise from God.

Often we interpret this verse to have reference to temptations that test our limits to the extreme. We make the verse say something that is not really there. We use it to create an illustration that the war against Satan and temptation is no problem at all. God, will not cause us to go up against something that we are not eminently qualified to face. And when life throws things at us that are overwhelming, we wonder why our experience doesn’t match our understanding of this verse. It is easy to lose heart. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and forces of darkness [Ephesians 6:12]. He allows us to go up against these enemies, and gives us the resources to engage them and endure through the struggle [Ephesians 6:14-18].

LIE #4: “There is no way out, therefore, I must give in.” God always gives you an escape hatch, “with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” If you do not know a way out, pray. As Jesus taught you to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” [Matthew 6:13; cf. John 14:14; James 4:2] Often our only escape is to endure through it [cf. James 1:12; 1 Corinthians 6:7]. As A.B. Simpson wrote,

“Temptation exercises our faith and teaches us to pray. It is like a military drill and a taste of battle for a young soldier. It puts us under fire and compels us to exercise our weapons and prove their potency. It shows us the recourse of Christ and preciousness of the promises of God. Every victory gives us new confidence in our victorious leader and new courage for the next onslaught of the foe.”[2]

How Can I Overcome Sin, Temptation, and a Wicked Heart?

First, read, know, and rehearse the Word of God. When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, the devil undermined God’s Word, twisting it, and mixing enough truth to make it sound so tasty [Matthew 4:1-11]. Satan is crafty and cleaver with his use of Scripture. Be ready for the devil by reading the Word of God regularly and daily. Don’t just read it, know it, and memorize it. Filling your memory with God’s Word can help you detect tempting viruses. This is why David wrote, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” [Psalm 119:11] The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit [Ephesians 6:17]. It is a defensive weapon against the wiles of the devil. Wield it. Train to use it well [1 John 2:5]. Be ready to whip it out for action.

Second, run from sin, Satan, and temptation. There is no sense in sticking around to see if you are strong enough to fight sin on your own. You will lose. Guaranteed. Therefore, run like hell or else hell will have a handle on you. If you hop in a canoe and begin paddling down the Niagara River you will soon find the current moving faster and faster. It is easier to pull out far upstream than just before the falls. There comes a point of no return when you will not have strength in yourself to turn back and fight the current. It is best to not even get into the boat or go near the river. Run.[3]

Third, love your Lord Jesus Christ. When you love Jesus, things of this world and desires of your heart seem shallow compared to the depths of Christ’s riches. Think about the cross of Christ and His love for sinners [1 John 3:16]. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

In conclusion, temptation is something every human faces. Temptation in and of itself is not sin, but it is the first stage towards sinning. Temptation comes at you like blazing arrows at from Satan, the world, and your wicked heart. Your only vaccination to combat the constant nagging attacks of temptation is using the Word of God and loving Jesus Christ. Jesus was tempted, but did not sin [Hebrews 4:15-16]. Therefore, He knows the full weight of temptation because He did not give into it.

Is there hope for me if I have given into temptation and sinned? Yes. Restoration through Christ is possible. You never can go to far from God not to be made right through Christ. Repent of your sin and restore your need of Christ for the strength to endure through temptation. Live victorious because Christ is your sin conquering King. He has crushed your foes upon the cross.

For further reading check out John Owen’s work, Overcoming Sin and Temptation.


[1] 10 Temptation Truths: 1. Satan is a real Enemy; 2. Satan will H.I.T. you (Hungry, Isolated, or Tired); 3. Jesus is your victorious Warrior-King; 4. The Holy Spirit is your power; 5. Biblical truth is your counterpunch; 6. Christ is your identity; 7. Escape is always possible; 8. Satan eventually taps out; 9. Repent whenever you tap out and fight another round; and 10. Life is a battle with many rounds.

[2] A.B. Simpson, Christ and the Bible: The Epistle of James. Christian Publications, Harrisburg, PA. 1886. 9.

the colossal compromise

A city family bought a ranch out West where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name.  “Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying-W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the J-Q-W-Y Lazy Suzy Flying Bar Ranch.” Their friends asked, “But where are all your cattle?” In disbelief they responded, “None survived the branding.”

Compromise is a part of life. Everyday you are faced with decisions where you have to give up something good for another good. Do I study or do I play soccer? Do I visit this family member or do I visit this old friend? Do I go out to eat for pizza or a hamburger? Do we go on vacation to the beach or the mountains? Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer.[1] Sometimes you cannot have both and you must compromise. Sometimes compromising is not this simple. Sometimes compromises can have a great affect on you and others depending on which option you choose. Sometimes people compromise deep-rooted beliefs or sacrifice morals to get what they want.

Why do people compromise their faith? Why do people fall away from their faith? The answer: people give into the colossal compromise. What is the colossal compromise? It is choosing to worship creation or the created thing rather than the Creator [cf. Romans 1:19-23]. Or it’s choosing to worship a man-made god or made-over god in the place of the real God.

Giving God a Makeover [Isaiah 44:6-20]

How do you give God a makeover? As the French philosopher Voltaire said, “God made man in Hus image, and man returned the favor.” In other words, giving God a makeover is to create a god in your image—a god that looks a lot like you. Creating a user-friendly god is not something that is new, since the beginning of creation man has been trying to recreate God to look more like man. Since, God is infinite, man tries to make Him more finite. Man desires a designer deity custom-made to suit out individual needs.

Have you created a god that fits your liking? People tend to cut-and-paste Scripture piecing together a nice and comfy-cozy god that puts up with their messes [by passively overlooking offenses], minds his own business [unlike a pesky parent], approves of their choices [of premarital sex, rebellious friends, and additive tendencies], and gives into their desires [like a genie in a bottle]. Thomas Jefferson made up a god like this with his Bible. He could not believe that Jesus could do supernatural miracles, so he cut out those passages in the Bible and made a version of god to his own liking that fit his own belief. Now known as the Jefferson Bible.

The Bible warns about a time when good religious Christians will compromise their faith to teachers who will tickle their ears and tell them what they want to hear, rather than speaking the truth [1 Timothy 4:1-6]. These false teachers are master sculptures at creating false caricatures of God that morphs from crowd to crowd pleasing particular peoples fancies. Like a chameleon they adapt to your ever-changing desires, helping you give God a makeover. People will go to great length to get the god of their liking [i.e. Isaiah 44:12-17]. Instead of listening to compromisers or sinful-sympathizers, challenge teachers words with the truth of God’s Word in its context—look for yourself and see if it is true.

What is the problem with giving God a makeover? You are not God. Remember, God made you. You cannot make God. Making over God is making an idol of your own god. God does not need a makeover, you do. God is a jealous God and desires no rival god, in fact, He puts your gods up for an old Western-style dual, “I am the first and the last; besides Me there is no god. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before Me…Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” [Isaiah 4:6-8]

The problem with making over your own god to fit your own image is that your god is nothing [Isaiah 44:9-11]. You become deaf, dumb and blind just like the gods you worship [44:18-20].[2] You become what you worship for ruin or restoration.[3] You always lose out when you try to compromise with sin. It will consume you in the end. Let’s observe this consuming compromise from an illustration within the Bible.

What is your golden calf of compromise? [Exodus 32:1-24]

Remember when the children of Israel were wandering in the desert and they created for themselves an idol of gold in the shape of cow? This was a colossal compromise. God commanded His people though Moses in Deuteronomy 5:7, “You shall have no other gods before me.” [cf. Exodus 20:3-4] Once Moses was out of range the people caved into to their created idols. Their idol was big and noticeable. Not all idols are so easy to spot. Here are some golden calves that might go undetected to the human eye:

Idol of people. People can become idols. Moses was idolized by the Israelites. When Moses went up to the mountain their man was gone, and Israel freaked [vs.1-20]. They looked for a loophole, “Moses is a good guy and all, but he’s gone, who knows if he’s coming back? We just can’t live up to his godly standard. He’s so spiritual. Let’s lower the bar a bit. Aaron’s a softy, surely he will cave in.” Thus people look for others who will sympathize with their sinfulness and help them to compromise. Like playing Jenga, stacking more bricks on an already unstable structure doesn’t offer a solution. Sooner or later the tower will crumble, and Christians look no different than their worldly counterparts. If your relationship with God depends upon another person, friend, or pastors that is not a good sign. People are great for growing spiritually, but your key relationship must be Jesus.

Idol of possession. Do you see stuff as an idol? Instead of owning your possessions, your possessions own you. This began in the Garden of Eden, when your first parents wanted to possess God’s wisdom. Believing a lie they had to eat the fruit to be like God. According to your world, possessing money is power. The world’s motto and mantra is, “gotta have it.”  1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Like the rich young ruler, money and material possessions can lead to an improper love and a distorted image of God [Mark 10:21; Matthew 6:24].

Idol of provision. Whether it is food, sex or additive tendencies mans desire for peace, comfort, and ease are all provisions that man idolizes [Philippians 3:18; Ecclesiastes 2:10-11]. Advertisers make millions off of products you are led to believe will make you feel better, run faster, climb higher, accomplish quicker, or make your life easier. What you find out moments after getting the thing doesn’t quite meet the hype, and its off to the next thing. Men and women are pleasure junkies, but we seek pleasure in lesser pleasures [1 Timothy 5:6; Galatians 6:7-8].

Idol of pride. Pride prizes you as the idol. In fact, all idolatry comes down to you. Idolatry of pride is Insidious—little by little, over a long period of time you become pompous and self-serving. Pride takes many shapes and comes in many sizes, most of which our culture promotes, “Love yourself. Believe in yourself. Be proud of yourself.” All balloon our heads to the size and shape of planets that we sit enthroned upon as the most-high-galactic-ruler.

Idol of piety. Being religious can be a ginormous idol. Even those who go to church regularly, read the Bible and pray everyday, and know the religious lingo to make great idolaters. Their religious habits become idols colored by stain glass windows. They say to God and others, “Look at me. Look how committed I am.” They are great actors that play the part of the second coming of the messiah. All the while under their mask they are rotten to the core riddled with pride and self-centered piety [cf. Isaiah 29:13].

God does not let idolatry go on unnoticed. He hates idols. What did God call these cattle-loving idol worshipers? [v.9] He said they were a stiff-necked people. Why would God call them stiff-necked? They had become like cow they worshiped. Have you ever noticed how stiff a cow’s neck is? Cows look like people who have seriously thrown their backs out. Worse yet, they were like stupid cows [vs.21-24; cf. Psalm 106:19-21]. They stray away from the herd like ornery calves too cool for corral. Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people do?” And Aaron responded, “You know these people, they are set on evil…I took their gold, threw into the fire, and out came this calf!” Doesn’t sin make us moooo-cho grande morons?

Can a god-compromiser be salvaged? [44:21-28]

A god-compromiser can be salvaged because God is a Redeemer,

“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like a mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you…Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by Myself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish.” [Isaiah 44:21-28]

God uncovers our colossal flaws, but covers them up with His redemptive plan. Like a potter can fix a leaky or cracked pot, so can God reshape us into His image [cf. Isaiah 64:8]. He reverses us from reflecting our idols to reflecting His image. It begins with repentance and restoration. Flee idolatry. Idolatry is a matter of the heart. Compromise reveals the commitment of your heart. The antidote is Jesus. Jesus is an idol crusher or killer. If you love Jesus solely you will flee from idolatry [1 Corinthians 14:14-22].

Jesus does not settle for cheap imitations or substitutes of God, He wants you to imitate God whose image you created in [Genesis 1:26-28]. Why settle for a substitute, when you can have a relationship with the real God?


[1] Merrit Malloy, Things I Meant to Say to You When We Were Old

[2] cf. Isaiah 6:9-14, 29:9-16; 32:1-4.

[3] Note: G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship. IVP, Downers Grove, IL. 2008.

i love the world

I love lots of things. I love Taco Bell, IKEA, Swedish Fish, Wisconsin, VW’s, my wife, and traveling around the world. I understand that is a random list of things. How can a list of things that are so good be so bad?  Everyday things that are good can be twisted towards evil, in turn, ruling my heart and distracting me from wholehearted worship towards God.

John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” [1 John 2:15] But then in another place John says, “For God so loved the world…” [John 3:16] and Jesus says, “As [God] sent Me into the world, so I have sent [believers] into the world.” [John 17:18] So on one hand, I am not supposed to love the world, but God loves the world. And on the other hand, I am not supposed to love things in the world, but Jesus sends His followers to live in the world. Okay, let’s decipher and answer: What is the world? Should or shouldn’t I love the world? How can I love the world?

What is the world?

I am going to begin with biblical worldview of the world. The gospel message sums up the biblical worldview of the world. The gospel is a belief that the Bible is absolutely true in that God is a loving Creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God. In other words, since God is my Creator I am responsible to Him, but I have rebelled against His authority, therefore I need a Redeemer to restore me to a right relationship with God, so I must respond the gospel of Jesus Christ with wholehearted commitment.

According to the gospel, God created the world and the world God created He created “good”. The “good news” does not begin with Jesus, it begins with the good world created by Jesus. The Bible says that God’s creation worships Him and honors Him as the Creator. However, the sinful fall of man has tainted the world. The Bible says that creation and humanity groan for the day when they will be recreated. The world I am called to love is the world God created, not the sinfully rebellious, self-centered, God-forsaken; independent-spirited that marks worldliness.

How can I love the world without loving the world?

First, love the world by enjoying the world God created. All of creation enjoys and worships God, so must I [Psalm 19:1-4]. God created the world for His glory. The created world does not just sit still in its place, it shouts out constant worship to its Creator. Creation worships a real and tangible Creator whose fingerprint is on that creation [Romans 1:19-20]. Not all created beings acknowledge God as Creator, rather they ignores Him [Romans 1:18] and worship the creature over the Creator [Romans 1:21-25].

God created the world good for you [Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; 6:17]. Eden, which means “pleasure” or “delight”, was meant to be that for the humans He created to indwell the garden. The garden was a sanctuary of God’s goodness. How can I practically enjoy the world God created? Take a walk outside and breath in the fresh air. Worship God’s worldwide beauty in how He formed the planet, scattered the stars in the sky, carved the mountains, plains, deserts. Worship God in how He made the human body works from the smallest electron to the beat of the heart to the mysterious brain. Worship the simple ways God cares for you,

“The earth feed us. And clothes us. And shelters us. Think of grass for a moment—possibly the most abundant form of vegetation on the planet, in its myriad varieties in all climates. We eat grass, one it has become meat from grazing animals whose only diet is daily grass. We drink grass, in the form of milk and curds. We wear grass, in clothing made from wool or shoes made from leather. Millions of humans still use grass for effective thatched shelter from sun and rain. Grasses are woven in ropes baskets, and floor coverings. Grass alone provides humans with incalculable benefits and supplies so much of our needs, even before we go on to talk about cultivated grasses that produce the vast variety of nourishing grains we shake into our cereal bowls in the morning.”[1]

God created the world as your home, a temporary home. The world is your temporary residence, not your eternal dwelling place. You are a temporary steward of the home God has given you. The Bible says in this present world you are strangers and aliens to this world [Hebrews 11:13]. You are homeless and God is calling you home. Your time here on earth is worship practice for what is to come afterwards. To a home that He will recreate [Revelation 21:14] not filled with worldliness.

Second, love the world by serving of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God give you a creation mandate: care for creation as a royal steward [cf. Genesis 2:15]. As a dominioneer, you are charged to take care of everything God has created on earth, spread yourselves out in population, and spread the popularity of God’s fame through your obedience. You were made in the image of God to bear His name, to work, to rule, and to serve as God’s steward [Genesis 9:1].

Remember at the end of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when Sam was giving a speech to Frodo to continue on the journey of carrying the ring of burden?

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo; the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going… because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

What is good in this world? What in this world is worth fighting for? God. God is what this world is about. Your life now matters. Your work, family, sleep, and daily routine all matter. Every square inch of the earth you trod matters. Every second of life is significant. God rules it all. He owns it all. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!”[2] God is supreme over every sphere you enter and roam.

Third, love the world by shining the light to the darkened world. People tend to fight for the spotlight. We want the spot to shine on us. However, the gospel reminds us that we are not the central actors in this divine drama. It is not about me. My fame will fade. The story that matters, which all history focuses upon is: Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world [John 8:12]. He is the primary light. We are just secondary reflectors of His light, like the sun and the moon.

The best way you can love the world is to be an ambassador of the gospel to a darkened world. Shining His light into it through your words and deeds. The way you live, the way you work, and the way you talk all reflect on the God you love. Your first mandate was to subdue the earth [Genesis 1:28] and your final mandate is to make disciples of all peoples [Matthew 28:19-20]. Both mandates spread the fame of God’s name along the way putting the gospel on display.

In conclusion, Should or shouldn’t I love the world? Yes and no. No, I should not love the things in the world that steal my affection for God and rob me of wholehearted worship. Yes, I should love the world God created. How can I love the world? I can love the world by enjoying God’s creation, ruling over His creation as a servant, and shine His light to the darkened world.


[1] The Mission of God’s People, Christopher J.H. Wright, Zonderzan, Grand Rapids, MI. 2010. Pg. 54

[2] Abraham Kuyper, Sphere Sovereignty. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI. 1988. 488.

modesty is a matter of the heart

When it comes to clothing I don’t care very much. I do like style, but I value comfort more. Now my wife on the other hand likes style. And I am glad she is. There are a lot of opinions on what is appropriate or inappropriate style of clothing. Should I wear a black burke [legalism] or Brazilian bikini [license]? This is not a message giving you a list of what you should or should not wear, but in grace we are going to pursue godliness through modesty. What is modesty, you ask? Modesty is humility expressed in dress.[1]

What does the Bible say about dress? [1 Timothy 2:8-10]

Modesty is a Matter of the Heart. Clothing is a concern for God. How can clothing be a matter of the heart? How do you discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of your heart. You should examine the motives and goals for the way you dress: Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or is it to call attention to you or attempts to lure others sexually or provocatively? A godly heart that focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how you dress, because your heart will dictate your wardrobe and appearance.[2]

Mind-set of a Modest Heart [v. 9, “with modesty and self-control].

Modesty is centered in the heart. Modesty should always address the heart before the hemline.[3] Your wardrobe is a public profession or your private motivation. In other words, the way you dress is motivated by your hearts desires.

To dress immodestly is to dress in a way that is flashy, catching, lures lustfully, and sexually revealing. Fashion designers motive is sexual and provocative senses. Sex sells. Immodesty comes from a heart rooted in pride—desiring to draw attention to you. Immodesty is pride on display by what you wear. Immodesty stretches the boundaries of being too tight, too short, and too much information on it [i.e. writing on the butt, ungodly bands, drug paraphernalia, etc.].

To dress with modesty and self-control is to dress with restraint for the purpose of purity and protecting your heart and others. Modesty makes the decision to worship God and make Him know rather than self. Modesty is humility expressed in dress.

Questions to consider about your wardrobe: What statement do your clothes say about your heart? Whose attention do you crave? When you shop for clothes are you informed and governed by modesty and self-control? Do you take God to American Eagle, Abercrombie, Aeropostle, The Buckle, Hot-Topic, or Zumez?

Façade of a Modest Heart [v.10, “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel…not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly attire”]

To understand this verse properly we have to step into the first century church. Remember, Paul is writing to a local church. He is concerned how their behavior in the church doesn’t match their belief in God. The men were arguing causing disruptions in church [v.8] and the women were dressing sensually [i.e. like the wealthy or whores] causing distractions in church [vs.9-10]. The issue is not so much about the façade of cultural clothing as it is about heart of the worshiper.

Paul is not promoting frumpiness or looking like Plain Jane with no make-up, jewelry or modern haircuts. If the barn needs painting, paint it. God values beauty and personal care for your body [cf. Proverbs 31; i.e. Esther]. Modesty is most attractive. Church should be a safe haven from the barrage of lusts and sinful temptations.

Women, do not misunderstand modesty. As your pastor, I care that you follow God with your whole self. God wants the attention of your heart. I am grateful for our youth leaders who dress modestly modeling grace and beauty. Know if someone comes to our church with immodest clothing we will love her and give her a warm welcome in Christ. We will humbly confront her clothing after we access her relationship with Christ. Not with condemnation or self-righteousness, but genuine care for her growth in Christ. The church’s responsibility is to care and correct a person who is immodest by modeling and teaching modesty. What is most important is your attitude towards Christ.

Many girls who dress immodesty are ignorant that guys battle with lust. In the mind of a man he struggles with the woman’s body and beauty. The heart of men are sexual stimulated by what they see. To serve you ladies, following this series you are no longer ignorant.

Men, do not pass the blame on the way women dress. Combat your lusts. Here are three ways to proactively defeat lust: first, look, don’t see. To see is to dwell on an object to think about it. If you pick a beautiful flower to enjoy, you will kill it. Second, look women in the eyes. Looking in the eyes looks at the women as a women rather than an object for your enjoyment. Some guy once said to me, “What about looking at a woman for her God-given beauty?” To this I would respond, “How would you define beauty?” Usually outward physical features and culture determine beauty, rather than inward characteristics. Love the women you see as one made in the image of God—a sister in Christ—beloved of God. Third, run like hell [i.e. Joseph and Potiphar’s wife].

Questions to consider: Is your wardrobe more like the world or the God you worship? Is the appearance of your dress distracting or manipulating to others? Who inspires the way your dress? Who are you identifying with when you dress? [i.e. Lady Gaga, Kay Perry, Lindsay Lohan, or Debra, Sarah, Ruth and Esther?]

What makes a woman most attractive in appearance is not her clothing, but her good works. What attracted me my Sarah the most was her contagious love for God, sensitivity to sin, and care for others more than herself. As a bonus I think she is the most gorgeous gal on planet earth, for the sake of modest conversation I will stop right there!

Loyalty of a Modest Heart [the gospel, vs.1:12-17; 2:3-6].

Being rooted in the gospel gives you the purest motivation that defines who you are [vs.8-10]. If you love Christ, you will watch the way you look and the way you live before the world because you want them to see the gospel in and through you. The gospel message is the motivation for modesty.

These verses are not an appeal for virtuous living, charm courses, or religious rules, but to show the transforming effect of the gospel. Where your loyalties lie, will rule the way you think, speak, and live. Dress yourself in the garments of the gospel.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness acts are like filthy rags.” [Isaiah 64:6]

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” [Isaiah 61:10]

Modesty Resources:

Resources to Fight Lust:


[1] Worldliness, C.J. Mahaney, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL. 2008. p.120

[2] Adapted from John MacArthur, 1 Timothy, The McArthur New Testament Commentaries, Chicago, IL. Moody, 1995. Pgs.80-81.

[3] Worldliness, 119.

God, you really didn’t mean to say that?

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.” [1 John 2:15] Why do people—even Christians—not like this verse? Why would I rather cut it out of our Bibles than paste it into my lives? This is not a verse you underline as a favorite, claim as your life verse, or even care to like. In fact, most would say, “You can’t be serious? This verse sounds so Puritan. This verse is awfully intrusive. Shouldn’t it say, ‘Don’t love some things, rather than anything?’ Surely this verse is for people in Jesus’ day, not us?” No. It is for you. There is no way around it. And God is serious. He does not want to be equal or lesser loved than anything in this world.

What does it really mean not to love the world? What does it mean for me? Does it mean I have to give up listening to unchristian music, R-rated movies, MTV, video games, making lots of money, gossip magazines, or my short shorts? If you were really honest you don’t want the answers, especially from a 2000-year-old book that may seem out of touch with today’s culture and trends.

There is a great danger to treating this verse—and for that matter, God’s Word—as trivial. God intended His Word to be heard. Every word He wrote is intended for created man to be listened and adhered to. Do not subtract from the simplicity of this verse because it makes you uncomfortable nor add complexity to it with legalistic rules impossible to follow. Do not empty its authority, nor add your own authority to it. If you ignore this verse or others like it you are being seduced by the very world that God asks you not to love.

Love for the World forsakes Love for God

What does it mean to not love the world? Is it that I am supposed to recycle and keep this world a greener place for the next generation? That is true, but that is not what world means in 1 John 2:15 [kosmos = order]. God created the people in this world with order and said it was very good.[1] However, those God created would rather worship the creation than the Creator. Therefore sin—an enemy of God—entered the world and creation fell into chaos away from God. To love the world is to love the fallen world, which Satan dominates and manipulates [John 12:31; 1 John 5:19]. Worldliness has a way of desensitizing [making you soft] towards sin making you think you are in control of the chaos.

To love the world is to worship self and stuff above the God-King who created the world. Does that describe you? Do you love the world more than God who created the world? Are you driven more by money, success, skills, and security than following the purposes of God? Are you ruled and dominated by the world? Are you waging war with God?

Don’t Disregard, but Learn from the Downfall of Demas

Demas is an example of one who was “in love with this present world” and drifted from God [2 Timothy 4:10]. The drift did not happen over night, it happened subtly, quietly and gradually. Demas was like a spiritual meteorite. One day he was burning bright, but the next faded into nothing. I have seen many Demas’ that have shot through the spiritual skies for .04 of a second. Only to fade and drift just as fast from the fellowship of the church, from reading the Word of God, from listening and applying the Word, from sharing their faith, from singing the songs and meaning it, from faithfully attending church, and from fighting against sin.

You too can become gradually weakened by the world nagging for your attention, subtly poisoned by the world’s promises, and eventually become conformed and accustomed to the world.  Are you drifting? Was there a time when you were passionate about God and doing things for God? Were you once devoted and committed to following Christ but seemingly lost that spark? Demas was like that too. Demas’ downfall from following Christ came from a lack of love for Christ; instead he cultivated his love for the world, which spoiled his spiritual taste buds.

Worldliness is Matter of the Heart and the Heart of the Matter is what you Worship

Love for the world begins in the heart. Your heart is your control center, which is where you entertain and energize your desires and passions [i.e. root produces fruit]. If your are rooted in loving the world according to 1 John 2:16 the fruit you will bear is, “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.” Craving, lusts and boasts are all rooted in the heart and their fruit is sinful chaos.

It is all about what you love and worship. This is why not only John but also Paul and James hold out the promises of life only to those who love God: “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28] “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived…God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Corinthians 2:9] “If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed!” [1 Corinthians 16:22] “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?” [James 2:5, cf. 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12]

The world demands and commands you to be preoccupied, captivated and obsessed with whatever is newest, greatest, and best. The world begs you to never be satisfied that you have enough. It makes you believe that you need the big title, the most attractive mate, the classy car, the fit figure, the fad clothing, and the thick wallet. Nothing of this world lasts. Clothes go out of style. Music fades. Movies go from the theater to DVD to the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. Famous people die and become forgotten. The glitter and glamour of this world lasts for its 15 minutes. Yet the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ last forever. It is His fame that will stand the test of time. Sooner or later everyone will know that He is greater. Do you know Him? Does your heart faint for Him?

The Reward for Walking Away from Worldliness is out of this World

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” [1 John 2:17] If you choose worldliness you choose today. However, if you choose Christ you choose eternity. Worldliness is always about the now, not the later. Worldliness is about immediate gratification, not eternal satisfaction. If you do the will of God you will live forever. The choice is yours. What will you choose?

God will finally and ultimately deal with the prince and power of this world and create a new world where His Son will rule with righteousness and holiness, and I willingly subject myself to Him humbly, lovingly and joyfully. Look at Jesus. He lived in the world and walked your same sod. He could have demanded the riches, become king of the world, and wielded His power, but He chose the route of a humble servant. The power of the cross is able to help you defeat the strangle hold of the world upon your heart. As John Owen said, “When someone sets his affections upon the cross and the love of Christ, he crucifies the world as dead and undesirable thing. The baits of sin lose their attraction and disappear. Fill your affections with the cross of Christ and you will find no room for sin.”[2]

In summary, does God really mean to keep 1 John 2:15 in the Bible? Yes, He is serious as a heart attack about you avoiding affection for the world. Affection for your Heavenly Father chooses an Everlasting Kingdom. Either the kingdom of this world or the kingdom of Christ rules you. If you love the world, you don’t love God. If you love the world, you will perish with the world. And if you love God instead of the world, you will live with God forever.

You might be saying to yourself, “I don’t feel very much love for God right now.” There are two possible reasons for that. First, you are not part of the kingdom of Christ, or secondly, your love for God has been forsaken for love of the world. Love for God and the world cannot co-exist peacefully. This world is a battlefield, not a playground [cf. Ephesians 6:10-20]. Do not let your guard down, armor up. Victory is sure, but resistance is required. While being in this world, do not be like this world, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” [Romans 12:1-2] “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your heart on things above not on things that are on earth” [Colossians 3:1-2]. With the psalmist say, “Whom have I in heaven but You, and on earth there is nothing that I desire besides You.”


[1] Cf. Genesis 1:31; Psalm 24:1; John 3:16; 4:42; 6:51; 1 John 2:2; 4:14

[2] John Owen, Sin and Temptation, Vancouver, Regent, 1995, 62

key to understanding your heart

Have you ever had a set of keys that you just did not know what they unlocked? I use to have a small box of mysterious keys I no longer knew what they unlocked. I still keep many of them around just incase I have a door or padlock that I cannot open. Hopefully you are not missing a key to something important that I’ve borrowed and forgot to give back to you? It is frustrating not having a key to unlock something valuable to you [i.e. home, car, safe, etc.]. Sometimes it might feel like your heart is locked and you do not have the right key to understand.

In review, last week was a discovery of what is the matter with your heart. Luke 6:43-46 describes your heart like roots. Whatever you root yourself in that is the fruit you will grow. If you are rooted in evil you will bear evil fruit. If you are rooted in Christ you will bear Christlikeness. The only way you can change your heart is to understand what rules it. According to Ezekiel 14:1-5, your heart is infected by idols. The Bible is like a locksmith that opens the door to your heart and remedies its perilous condition. Today, let’s allow the Bible to be like a locksmith.

An examination of the condition of your heart shows a serious inner conflict [James 4:1-10]

James 4:1-10 is an expansion of the fruit and root illustration. James begins with the fruits and makes his way down the tree trunk to the roots. James reveals the fruit that hangs from everyone’s life is: conflict. Humans have a huge amount of conflict in their lives. You might not realize the amount because you are so used to it. Conflict might be as casual as who gets to use the bathroom first, who gets the last donut in the box, or what pizza toppings you want. Or the conflict might be as colossal as an abusive spouse, disgruntled boss, or rebellious children.

James calls you to do something radically different with your angry responses to human conflict. Rather than looking outside yourself to explain your anger, look inside your heart. James says your fights and quarrels “are at war within you.” You are angry and fight because that is what you desire and what you allow to rule your heart [i.e. idolatry]. Desires come from your heart. Desires of the heart are not all wrong nor are the fights always evil. The ability to desire was designed by God for good. However, human desires have become distorted through sin because you exchange worship of Creator for creation, which is spiritual adultery [4:4]. You give away your love for God to something else.

The heart is your control center. Your heart thinks, remembers, feels, desires, craves, experiences, makes choices, and acts. In other words, your heart is the base of operation for your cognition, affection, and volition. What your heart believes will affect your attitude, behavior and actions. Relationships, society, and culture might all influence your heart, but they are not the cause of your hearts control. You are in control of your internal responses to what is happening externally. What should your response be to sinful external influences? “With confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that you may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.” [Hebrews 4:14-16]

There are a few common influencers on your heart that if not examined carefully can cause damage swiftly: anger, foolishness, despair and fear. Anger is like a like a hot flame that can inflict pain in its path and forgets about forgiveness and service. Foolishness does not think about the consequences of immediate satisfaction and forsakes seeking wisdom. Despair is like a wandering vagabond that gives up too soon on the path to paradise and foregoes trusting Gods promises. Fear has a firm grip on the opinions of man and an eye on the trial, rather than being unleashed by the love of God. How do desires take control of your heart? Let’s discover a deeper look at how our desires can be influenced towards sinful responses. Here is the digression how desires take the escalator downward:[1]

Changing your desires does not begin with controlling your temper, watching your tongue, or 4-step conflict resolution. Change is initiated when you “submit to God.” [4:7] You have to give up bowing your heart to foe-gods. Smash those idols and restore your allegiance to the One True God. Wash your hands clean and purify your hearts. When you radically destroy your idols and humbly restore with your Creator by drawing near to Him, He draws near to you [4:8].

Your heart problem can only be remedied by the power of Christ [Galatians 5:13-26]

God is like a master physician who knows your greatest need, gives your heart a true diagnosis, and provides you ultimate healing through the gospel. Do not be swayed by the allure of an alternate gospel, cheap grace or self-help. These will wreak havoc on your heart filling you with bondage, darkness and desperation. It is only the power of Christ that will remedy the sinful condition of your heart and give you the motivation for future healthy heart change. Christ does not desire you to be conformed to the image of this world, but to be transformed in the renewing of your mind. How does this transformation take place?

First, serve one another in love [5:13-14]. It is much easier to stir up a conflict that to serve another in love. “I want that donut,” is a natural response fighting for the right to eat the lonely donut in the empty box. It shouldn’t sound so Sesame Street to share that donut because you desire to serve someone else. To serve is the reason Jesus came. He did not come to be served. That makes Jesus strange. What King would stoop so low as to be a servant? Jesus did.

Second, understand the conflict is between your flesh and the Spirit [5:15-23]. Your flesh still desires to be rooted in the old dirt of your former sinful life [vs.19-21, 26], but your new life desires to be rooted in Christ [vs.22-25]. The fight is over the sacred territory of your heart. Who will you allow to be king, captain and champion of your heart—you or God?

Third, if you serve only yourself you will destroy all your relationships [5:14, 26]. Living in the flesh will crush others faith, break others hearts, crush their spirits, and grieve the Holy Spirit. The way you respond to conflict can either devastate or rejuvenate your relationships. Use your conflicts as an opportunity to influence others towards restoration.

Fourth, saying “no” to sinful desires is possible through the cross of Christ [v.24]. As a follower of Christ you have been united with Christ through His crucifixion. In other words, you died with Christ. When Christ rose you were raised to new life. In Christ, you have been given a Samurai Spirit, which in whom your have the daily help and power to resist the control of your sinful desires.

It is wise to ask yourself tough heart questions as if you are getting a thorough examination from the heart doctor.[2] You would not want to be careless because your condition could be as serious as an impending heart attack. When you ask questions of the heart do not rebuttal. Willingly accept the facts as they are and use them to motivate you towards change. Heart change sometimes seems like you are rowing upstream, but don’t stop midstream because you will swiftly drift backwards [cf. 1 Peter 3:18].

In conclusion, the gospel, particularly the cross, is the only remedy for your sinful heart condition. If you have never opened up the door to your heart to God today is the day. He holds the keys to your kingdom. He is the door to new life. Only He can give you a new heart that is fully satisfied in Him. Make Christ the passion of your heart today.

For further reading on the heart check out:

Idols of the Heart and “Vanity Fair” [David Powlison]

Understanding Influences on the Human Heart[Mike Emlet]

4 Common Heart Themes [Garrett Higbee]


[1] Chart is adapted from How People Change, Paul David Tripp, P.??

[2] 5 Heart Revealing Questions to Ask Yourself: 1) How important is ____ to you? 2) What do you like about ____? 3) How does ____ help you deal with life? 4) How is ____ helping you with God? 5) How can God and other help you with ___?

the heart of the matter

Why do I do the things I do? Why am I so angry? Why is my friend so depressed? Why was my family awesome one day, but now it seems like guerilla warfare? Why do I get angry in traffic? Why is she so critical and controlling? Why is he so ungrateful? Why is she so afraid? Why won’t he talk? Why am I the way I am? The simple answer is: the heart.

What is the heart? The heart is not just a muscle that pumps blood, the shape of a card you receive on Valentines Day, nor where romantic feelings come from. It is said that you cannot understand a human until you understand the heart. The Bible describes the heart as your inner man [spirit, soul, mind, emotions, passions, will, etc.]. The heart is the real you, where your beliefs affect your behavior. It is the control center of a your life.

There is something seriously wrong with your heart. Your control center has a glitch in the main frame. What is the matter with the heart? It is stained with sin. Sin is like the fat that clogs your heart from functioning properly. Sin is like eating a constant diet of junk that will eventually kill you if you do not do something about it. Sadly, there is nothing you can do about it. However, God has done something about it. He has given you Christ whom if allowed will do surgery on your heart opening up the clogged arteries and capillaries so His life-giving power can clean you from the consequences of sinful living.

The Bible Uses a Tree to Illustrate Heart Change: Fruits & Roots [Luke 6:43-46]

When the Bible speaks about fruit, it is usually referring to the responses to your behavior [what you do and think based on what you believe]. The fruit is what speaks in Luke 6:43-46. Jesus says something very powerful about words [i.e. fruit]: they flow from the heart [cf. Matthew 5:21-30].

Now it is important to understand that people and situations do not cause you say what you say or do what you do. Why can’t people cause you to sin? This may fly in the face of modern psychology and self-esteem talk, but you alone are responsible for the way you respond to people and situation. People and situations might influence you to sin because you are being blamed, threatened, manipulated, piled on with guilt, or spoken to unjustly, but you are the root causer of your responses to these influencers. Your words and responses are revealed in the fruits of your heart.

You can recognize a tree by the fruit it bears. If you plant apples what do you expect to take root? What if you plant giant pumpkin seeds? How about an acorn? The type of seed you plant is the plant that will grow. It is unnatural to plant a pumpkin seed and discover a few years later an oak tree. When you are dealing with plants you recognize there is an organic connection between the roots and fruit. The same is true with people—the roots of your belief bear the fruits that resemble

When the Bible speaks about roots, it is usually referring to your heart [where beliefs are born, incubated and grow]. You have the kind of fruit you bear because of your roots. You will speak and act the way you do because of what is in your hearts. The heart is how you function. Your sin problem is a result of our heart [cf. Matthew 23:25-26; clean cup]. You cannot change your behavior until you change your heart.

How can you change your heart? It begins by a change of belief [roots], which will affect your behavior [fruit]. When I was growing up my gramps had an apple tree. The apple tree didn’t produce many apples. It began to produce dry, wrinkled, brown and mushy apples. Knowing my gramps he would try to remedy this problem. Let’s say gramps went out to the tree with trimmers, a staple gun, stepladder and a box of Washington apples he bought from the grocery store. He decides to cut off the bad apples and puts on the new store bought ones. Did he fix the tree? Stapling apples will not help because the new apples will rot too. Change that doesn’t reach the heart [roots] does not last. Cosmetic changes never satisfy. Are you stapling? What kind of fruits are you trying to staple in place of actually changing?

To Change Your Heart You Need to Understand What Rules Your Heart [Ezekiel 14:1-5]

In Ezekiel, the spiritual leaders of Israel come to the prophet because they have questions they want to ask of God. As they come to the prophet he sees something is wrong with them. What is wrong with them? [Idolatry] What kind of idols? [In their hearts] These idols run deeper than cultural or religious idols they are idols inside the heart of man.

What is God’s response? Idols in the heart are a ”stumbling block before the face” Ezekiel 14:3 If you put your hands in front of face and walk about the room you will not make it far without stumbling. That is exactly God’s point about idols of your heart; eventually, they will cause you to sin.

An idol is anything that rules me other than God. Sin is fundamentally idolatry [cf. Romans 1:21-25 & Matthew 6:19-24]. Idolatry is the great exchange: creation for the Creator. Here is a great truth from this passage: Whatever rules your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your life and behavior. You live for some kind of treasure. Whatever you treasure will control your heart, “where your treasure is your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:21] Whatever controls your heart will control your behavior, “no one can serve two masters.” [Matthew 6:24]

Isn’t it impossible to know the heart of another man? Yes, you can only see the outside of a man [behavior]. However, Hebrews 4:12-13 tells you that the Bible is like a scalpel. It cuts through layers of flesh and exposes the condition of your heart. Although you do not have x-ray vision to any mans heart, God and His Word do. The Bible is a heart-revealer. The Word of God has the power to change your heart. That is the Bible compares itself to a surgical tool that can cut to the innermost part of your soul—the heart. For without heart change, there is no real change. Here are some great x-ray questions to ask to see the condition of your heart, preparing you for potential heart change:

What do you love? Hate? What or who do you trust? Who do you seek to please? Whose opinion matters most? Who are your role models? Who do you want to be like? What makes you tick? If this were your last day on earth what would you do? How would others describe you on your deathbed? What is your definition of success? What would make you feel rich? What brings you greatest joy? What do you desire, crave, lust, and wish for? What desires do you serve and obey? What is your life aim? Goal? Purpose? Where do you bank your hopes? What do you fear or worry about? Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape or security? What do you pray for? How do you live with yourself? Where do you find your identity? How do you define what you are?[1]

Next week we will talk more about understanding your heart and in the weeks that follow how to guard your heart from influencers in our world seeking to distract you from giving all your heart toward God.


[1] Taken from an article by David Powlison, X-ray Questions: Drawing Out the Whys and Wherefores of Human Behavior, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Volume 18, Number 1, Fall 1999. Pgs. 2-9