In 1 Samuel 16:7 an important truth about God and our hearts is communicated to Samuel, the prophet, by God Himself in the selection of David as the new King of Israel. It is clear here that God measures people by a different standard then we do.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
The heart is symbolic of the center of our thoughts, motivation, desires and that which affects our behavior.
The Bible, God’s Word, gives us clear teaching about the state of our hearts. Because of Adam’s sin and fall we have inherited from him, our represented head, a heart that is depraved, dead, sinful, wicked, deceitful, and with a propensity to evil. Two verses that describe the state of our fallen hearts are in Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9.
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
But our God is a God of mercy and grace and part of His redemptive promise and purpose for His people is to give them a new heart. This was promised and foreseen in the Old Testament and secured by Christ by His obedience, death and resurrection with the coming of the new and final covenant. In the letter to the Hebrews the writer ties the promise in the Old and the fulfillment in Christ in the New.
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The blessings of the New Covenant are that those “in Christ” will be regenerated (born-again) by God and given a new heart that knows God in a personal way and experiences the freedom of full and complete forgiveness of sins. This is why the Gospel we proclaim is ‘good news’!
God has given the believer now the capacity to know Him, obey Him, love Him and follow Him because He has given them a new heart! The believer did not have this capacity before the gift of regeneration.
So it is our responsibility to guard what God has given us by His grace; that is to guard our hearts toward Him. Though we have a new capacity and spiritual ability as believers we still have enemies that want to ‘dull our hearts’ toward God and have us wander from loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. These enemies are the sin nature that still remains, the fallen world system, and Satan which all wage war against our souls trying to capture our hearts from God. Every day we wage war with these enemies as we try to love God with all our hearts.
Therefore we must keep ‘heart healthy’ in the spiritual sense and guard our hearts. This involves daily and privately spending in God’s Word, seeking His presence, open our hearts to God and letting His Word speak to us. Also it involves worshipping God consistently and corporately with God’s people in singing hymns, spiritual songs and prayers and in the hearing God’s Word preached with an open and sincere heart. Finally, we must seek out opportunities for fellowship and service with God’s people with the goal of encouraging one another to love and good deeds.
Beloved, if we don’t actively and intentionally ‘guard our hearts’ we will drift away and our hearts will become hardened to the things of God. Let us remember the exhortation in Hebrews 3:12-13, Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We must remember that God sees not as we do. He looks beyond the outward appearances and sees our hearts. He knows if our hearts are clean, pure and devoted to Him. We can fool others but we cannot fool God. He knows all things. The summer is coming and we must not let down our guard for a moment because the enemies of our soul do not rest! But if we turn to God through Jesus Christ with an honest and sincere heart He will embrace us in His grace.
Hebrews 4:14–16, Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I love you,