The Power of a Good Heart

The power of God is found in our hearts.  He shows us that our mouths speak “out of the abundance of the heart” (Matt. 12:34).  Look at the power of the heart!  Most of us have much evil in our hearts.  The heart is the source of the evil and good that we do. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:18, 19).  The evil abides in the heart and is manifested when the temptation arises.  It is our responsibility to remove all of this evil out of our hearts.  He command us to: “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth (Col. 3:5, 8).

It is also our responsibility to renew the new man we put on in baptism:

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Col. 3:10-12).

We have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27) which is our ‘new man.’  The ways he commands us to put on (above) are all part of the love of Christ, which is growing in his image.  If all of the evil is taken out of our hearts and the love of Christ is put into our hearts, our mouths will speak from the abundance of hearts like Christ’s heart.  Our actions will naturally follow our tongues, for the tongue is the bridle or rudder for the whole body (James 3:3-5).  There is great power if the perfect love is in the heart.  Those with the perfect love do not err in word (James 3:2).  His heart controls his tongue because his heart has been formed with all of the parts of Christ’s love.  That same man is  “. . . able also to bridle the whole body also” (James 3:2).  When would we not obey God if our hearts are full of Jesus love and we are able to bridle the whole body?  If we are unfaithful in the least, we will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10-12). Why?  If our heart is faithful, whether we have little or much, we will be faithful.  God’s power in our hearts is found in the love of Christ!

Consider two examples of the power of a good heart.  God testifies to David’s heart – “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:33). David’s heart was formed and thus he was able to fulfill all of God’s will.  God inspired David to write: “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (Psa. 101:2). David would have to have a complete heart because he was a man after God’s own heart–and God’s heart is surely complete!  We need to remember that David was not born with a complete heart.  No doubt this Psalm was written toward the end of his life.  After David died, God gave him a tremendous testimony concerning the power of his heart:

Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1 King 15:5).

With the one exception, David did what was right and did not turn aside from anything God commanded him all the days of his life (1 Kings 15:5).  Who could claim that sort of record but Christ himself!  Some scorn David because of the horrible sin he had, but do they have a record where they have not turned aside from any command all the days of their lives except for one lapse?  There are different degrees of temptation.  We have the promise now that we will not be tempted above what we are able.  David did not have that promise.  Peter was sifted like wheat, and Jesus knew he would fall (Luke 22:31).  The promise not to be tempted above what we are able was written after Peter was sifted like wheat.  How strong was David’s temptation?  We will not know until Judgment Day.  Others claim that God’s testimony is false,  and that David did sin more than in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.  Keep in mind the statement: David did not turn aside from “any thing that he commanded him.”  When David counted the people, his heart smote him.  This was not something God had commanded him to do or not to do.  There was no law about counting or not counting the people in the Old Law, which David was under.  Sin is transgression of law.  If there is no law, sin is not imputed (Rom. 5:13).  We must walk by faith.  God made the statement above, and we need to trust God enough to believe it.  David has a marvelous record, because he has a marvelous heart after God’s own heart.

The Lord testifies: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).  This is a marvelous statement.  The phrase in this scripture, “If any man,” would include Job.  God testified that Job was a perfect man, not once but three times, and one of those was to the Devil himself (Job 1:8).  If it were not true, Satan would have contradicted God.  But he did not.  Satan knew that Job was perfect.  We would expect Job not to offend in word according to the definition in James 3:2.  God gives Job this very testimony: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22).  Even after Satan removed all of his possessions and flooded him with boils, God testifies: “In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  Keep in mind that God said that “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. . .” (James 3:2).  Some, like Job’s friends, would accuse Job of sinning, but there was no proof except their allegations.  In the end, Elihu was angry with the three friends because they could not answer Job (Job 32:1-3).  The worst that Job did (or came close to doing) was to condemn God and dis-annul his judgment (Job 40:8). Sin is transgression of God’s law.  Job lived long before the Old Testament law, and even if he were under the law, there is no such command not to dis-annul God’s judgment.  God did not accuse Job, but asked him if that were what he was doing (Job 40:8).  In the end, God himself justified Job:

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job (Job 42:7-8).

Truly David and Job are examples of the power of a good heart.

Look at the hope of glory!  The hope of glory is to have the eternal marvelous and beautiful love of Christ in our own hearts.  (Col. 1:26, 27)!  Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).  God is love.  God is eternal.  His love is eternal.  What is unseen is eternal.  If we grow in that love, we grow in what is unseen and thus in was is eternal (1 Cor. 4:18).  If we do not grow in that love, but keep the hatred and/or evil we have in our hearts, those unseen things will also last eternally.  If we grow in the heart of Christ, we will have that love forever and ever.  If we inherit the new body and a new mansion in heaven, and have the heart of Satan, what can God expect?  “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).  God can expect us to speak evil from the abundance of an evil heart. Heaven will not be heaven if we arrive there with an evil heart.  There is no glory to having an evil heart or even an empty heart.  If we are filled with the heart of Christ we will surely be faithful as Christ was faithful (He 3:1,2).  It is no wonder that “perfect love” gives boldness on the day of judgment and casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).  The heart of Christ is truly the hope of glory (Col. 1:26, 27).  There is a way to overcome the world!  There is a way to obey all the commands of God.

SCRIPTURAL LOVE: Comprised of Many Parts

Love is not merely one entity but is made up of many different parts.  There are many different kinds of love.  Bible love is by no means the same as the world’s love.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).  God is surely not the same as the world!  God’s love is comprised of many different parts.  He lists several of these parts in what has been called the ‘love chapter’ (1 Cor. 13).

Love  1)  “suffereth long, and  2)  is kind; charity  3)  envieth not; charity  4)  vaunteth not itself,  5)  is not puffed up, 6)  Doth not behave itself unseemly,  7)  seeketh not her own,  8)  is not easily provoked,  9)  thinketh no evil;  10)  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but  11)  rejoiceth in the truth;” (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

Someone may counter that these qualities are mostly negative. Though many of these parts are negative, we can understand that for every negative there is generally a corresponding positive. if love does not vaunt itself, it must be humble.  If it does not behave itself ‘unseemly,’ it must behave itself ‘seemly.’  If love does not seek her own, then  it must seek other’s good, etc.  There are many other parts of God’s love which are not listed in 1 Corinthians 13.    Every good part of God is a part of his love and the love of Christ, who is “. . .the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). If we grow in Christ’s love we are growing in the love of God.

If our love lacks kindness, longsuffering, humility, or any other part, it is not the complete (perfect) love of Christ.  We need to acquire each part to be “in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”  We grow into that complete love by keeping his commandments – which is the third part of the great commission – “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”  (Matt. 28:20).   We note what happens when someone has completely fulfilled the third part of the Great Commission.  He declares: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (I John 2:5).  Full obedience to the great commission ends in forming the perfect love of God in the disciple’s heart.  Willing obedience to even one of the commandments of God, will give us a part of the love of Christ.  Willingly obeying all of his commands will surely perfect (complete) all of the parts of Christ’s love in us.  This is in line with the definition of love that Jesus gave the apostles just before his crucifixion.

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.  (John 14:21-24)

Loving God with some of our heart, soul and mind, means obeying some of his commandments.  Obeying the greatest command to “. . .love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37), is to keep all of his commandments.  Obedience to all of the commands will produce the complete love in our hearts (1 John 2:5).  This is identical to John’s definition in the last chapter of first John.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 Jn 5:2-3).

Thus, if we obey the first part of the great commission, we will make disciples whose aim and goal is to be like their master by obeying all things whatsoever Christ commands (Matt. 28:19, 20).

PERFECT LOVE

Perfection’ in the scriptures seen in the last posts seems to be an abstract description.  In what are we to be perfect?  He identifies his perfection as he describes what it means to be perfect.  “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (I John 4:17). The complete expression is “perfect love.”  The “perfect love” is defined in this scripture as being “as he is,” that is, like Christ.  This is not after judgment day.  He says “Herein is our love made perfect . . . in this world” (I John 4:17).  Earlier the Lord gave the same definition for perfection as being like Christ in his letter to the Ephesians:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph. 4:11-12).

He first lists the gifts Christ gave which comprises the entire teaching force of his church.  Then he describes the purpose of his giving these teachers to the church.  The first purpose listed is “for the perfecting of the saints.”  The word ‘Perfect’ here (katartismos) is the noun form of the same word for perfect in Luke 6:40 (katartizo) – which is to be like Christ.  The teaching force of God’s church was thus to make us like Christ.  This same teaching force wrote the scriptures – which, he states, were written for the same purpose: “All scripture is inspired of God and profitable. . .  That the man of God may be perfect (artios)” (2 Tim. 3:17).

He states this same truth in yet another way.  The description is even more specific in his definition in the next verse.

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  (Eph. 4:13).

His ultimate purpose is to go on “unto a perfect man.”  In verse 12 he used the word ‘katartismos’ but in 13 he uses a different Greek word; ‘teleios.’  ‘Teleios’ is the most common word which is translated ‘perfect’ in the New Testament scriptures.  He then defines this word ‘perfection (teleios)’ as being in “. . . the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  No matter which Greek word is used, perfection is defined as being like Christ.  Nor is that all.  This is the identical purpose he gives in the previous chapter – stated in different terms.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Eph. 3:14-20).

The Lord’s ultimate purpose is that the Ephesians would be “filled with all the fulness of God.”  This is the same as being like Christ.  Christ has all the fulness of God in him (Col. 2:9) for he is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:1-3).  Whether his disciples are “filled with all the fulness of God,” “partakers of the divine nature,” ‘perfect’ (artios), “perfect” (teleios), or are in “the image Christ,” it is all one and the same.  This is God’s purpose, aim, goal, or mark for the race, for each of his children.  The automatic response is often: “I can’t do it.”  That is correct.  We can not fulfill God’s purpose – alone.  The power is not in man but it is in the God who, immediately after he states his ultimate purpose states that He is: “. . . able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).

We can not do it, but God can work in us!  What is our part?  He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask!”  We can not do it, but we can ask God to work this in us.  We can ask to become like Christ, and God is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask. . .”  We can ask to be rooted and grounded in love and to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.  We can ask to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge.  Our Father is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask. . .”  The power of God is not what is lacking!  The faith in us is what is lacking!  We need to seek and trust him!  If we ask for a fish, he will not give us a scorpion.  If we ask for the heart of Christ, “. . .  how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him” (Matt. 7:11)?  He knows how to give good gifts to his children.  He knows how to give eternal gifts (2 Cor. 4:18) which includes the hope of glory, which is Christ in us (Col. 1:27).  This was Paul’s ultimate goal. Paul pointed to this very mark in his description of his race to the mark (for the prize).

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:12)

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: (Col. 1:28).

Paul’s aim for all of God’s children was to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”  If that were Paul’s goal, it ought to be our goal also.  This was God’s purpose, for Paul said: “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:29). God was working mightily in Paul for the same purpose – to present every man perfect in Christ.  The Hebrew writer encouraged God’s children to go on unto the same goal: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection” (Heb. 6:1).  Paul told the Corinthians: “For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection” (2 Cor. 13:9). “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect” (2 Cor. 9:11). Paul’s testified to his fellow-laborer’s prayer: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12). James shows God’s highest purpose for each of his children when he says:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).

Peter was used to teach the very same purpose:

 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet. 5:10).

John tells how to attain perfection and shows the power it has on judgment day: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him”  (I John 2:5).

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us (I John 4:12).

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world (I John 4:17).

One major reason that the New Testament was required to replace the Old Testament is because the Old Testament law could not make the comers perfect.

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? (Heb. 7:11) “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Heb. 7:19).

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience (Heb. 9:9).

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (Heb. 10:1)

Four times the Lord states that the reason there had to be a new covenant is because the Old Testament could not make a man perfect.  What was his goal in the Old Testament?  What is his goal now?  Paul was used to show us that the New Testament scriptures were given for that very purpose, “That the man of God may be perfect” (2 Tim. 3:17).  Thus far we have seen that God used Matthew, Luke John, Paul, Peter, James and (if it were not Paul) the writer of the Hebrew letter, to direct us to go on unto perfection.  Keep in mind that “perfection” in the scripture is to be like Christ (Luke 6:40).