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]

Advertisements

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