The heart… we’re familiar with what the Bible says about our heart. We’re probably more familiar with what the preacher says about our heart:
“Your heart is what matters to God,” “God will judge your heart,” or “If your heart isn’t right you cannot please God.”
These statements are troubling to any Christian who desires a righteous heart, yet is keenly aware of just how wicked their heart can be.
Throughout Scripture we see the value of our heart, especially when it comes to God. It is composed of our individual desires and emotions and is the driving force behind every action.
King David was hand-picked by God to govern His people because had a heart (desire) to know God. Israel’s rebellious and hardened heart brought God’s heavy hand of chastisement. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees’ hypocritical heart and drew near to those who came to Him with a heart of faith and humility.
Our heart is a powerful energy. It has the capacity to accomplish great things, as well as horrible things. Love, kindness, goodness, and faith are life-givers. Pride, self-importance, hatred, envy, and lust are life-destroyers. The Bible tells us our hearts are deceitful, manipulative, wicked, and, in its natural state, full of nothing good (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 7:18 “…in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing…”).
So, what’s a girl to do?
Are we bound to live a life under the constant spell of our unruly heart?
The obvious answer is no, but again our heart likes to deceive us. You might think there is no hope. Or you might believe that uncontrollable emotions and overwhelming worldly desires are just a part of the 21st century teenager’s life. Maybe you feel defeated after reading verses or hearing preaching on the heart because you’ve tried to change your heart before and it didn’t work. You may have set goals, reprimanded yourself for that bad thought, or even enlisted some accountability.
Changing your heart is not something you or another person can do. It is a complete act of God. The Lord changed your heart through salvation and He will continue to change your heart – all you must do is allow Him to do the work. Are you willing?
Here are three powerful steps to changing your heart:
1. Confess what’s in your heart.
So, you want to rid your heart of negative emotions and impure thoughts? Just tell yourself to stop, and then say a quick prayer, and claim a Bible promise. Although these things could help in the moment, an important and overlooked step is confession. Confession simply means to agree with God about your sin.
It’s easy to explain away our envy or justify our anger. But the Bible says we are to confess it to God. Doubt is sin, fear is sin, gossip is sin, disobedience is sin, disrespect is sin…all of which need to be confessed as sin, without excuse.
Before confession can take place, we have to acknowledge it as sin and not just a “negative” thought or action. The world has convinced us that sin is not really sin but that it is normal human behavior and varies from person to person.
Confess the struggles of your heart to the Lord. He will ALWAYS forgive. This is so important if you want to change your desires (and your actions). Also, if you think it necessary, consider James 5:16 as an extra step when dealing with very serious sin: “Confess your faults one to another… that ye may be healed.”
2. Examine what influences your heart.
You are living in a totally different world than I grew up in. The worldly influences are louder and crueler than ever. There are many influences that are out of your control, but much more than are in your control.
Too much Instagram can make you envious, too much Netflix can spark desires for worldly trends or filthy language, and an unfit friendship can deflect any interest in godly music, Bible reading, church involvement, and prayer.
Are you willing to cut off sinful influences? Jesus said when it comes to heart defilement you need to go to the extreme – it’d be better lose your eye or hand, than to let it bring sin into your heart (Matthew 5:29-30). If you can’t control what you view on your iPod, get rid of it! If that friendship is making you a bitter, critical person, cut it off! If that job is putting you around ungodly people you can’t stand up against, then quit! You have to choose – are they more important than pleasing God?
“…[God] is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”Hebrews 11:6
3. Purify your heart.
Our hearts might be a powerful energy, but the Word of God is a magnificently more powerful tool. Ephesians 5:26 says, “…sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” In other words, the more our heart is filled with Scripture, the more worth we find in this life (sanctify, meaning set apart to be used of by God) and the more we can please God (because our heart is clean).
Do whatever you can to get more of the Word in your heart. Read It, listen to It, write It, memorize It, sing It, hang It on your wall, your mirror, your door, anywhere! Immerse yourself in the Word of God, familiarize yourself with It and let It purify your heart and change your life.
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”Isaiah 55:11
The war between flesh and Spirit is real and it is a struggle. But don’t lose hope. The One who can change your heart is greater than all else, including your own heart.
Thank you for showing how our heart can get us so much trouble. In a world where we’re told to trust our hearts this is a good message.