Archive for November, 2016

11 16th, 2016

Guarding the Heart

The Unbelieving Heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

The Hebrew word for “deceitful” was also translated “crooked” and “polluted”. And the Hebrew word for “desperately wicked” was also translated “incurable; sick; woeful”. No matter how you translate it, the heart of an unbeliever is very problematic.

In Matthew 15:18-20a, Yeshua tells us just how problematic the heart can be.

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: These are the things which defile a man:”

“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:” (Ezekiel 11:19)

Because man’s heart was hardened like stone, Yahweh made a New Covenant in which man could receive a new heart. This new heart would be flesh, not stone, and would be obedient to His laws.

This new heart would come to us through the faith of and in Messiah Yeshua.

Of course, these references to the heart do not refer to the literal heart that pumps blood in our body, but figuratively to the inner man. Here is Strong’s definition:

#3820 – the heart; also used (figuratively) very
widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect;
likewise for the centre of anything.

The Remedy

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, you know how that a good while ago Elohim made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And Elohim, which knows the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:7-9)

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)

Yeshua’s shed blood was the remedy for our sins and it is through faith in and of Yeshua that our hearts have been purified. Once the heart was purified, the Holy Spirit was given to seal us and to lead us into all truth.

So then we became this glorious new creature with a new heart and a new spirit, ready to walk in the newness of life. However, there is a problem.

The Threat

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8)

There is a roaring lion walking about that likes the taste of new flesh, especially new hearts. Satan is also spoken of as a bird that comes to eat the seeds that were planted in a person’s heart.

Listen; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up . . .The sower sows the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” (Mark 4:3-4, 14-15)

“For I am jealous over you with exceeding jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Messiah. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Messiah.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

How does a believer prevent these things from happening?

Wise Advice

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Hebrew word translated “keep” means to “guard or protect”. We need to constantly guard our hearts diligently lest the adversary steal the treasures within it. The main treasure he seeks to rob us of is Yeshua himself. There are far too many believers who are deceived into believing Yeshua is not the Messiah and who renounce him.

Satan would also like to steal Yahweh’s Torah from our hearts. How many professing believers had the Law stolen from them when the World Wide Church of God split? Many in the church retained the Laws and many others discarded them.

Some Keys for Guarding Our Hearts

At this point, I would like to share with you eight ways we can guard our hearts.

1) We guard our heart by loving Yahweh with all our heart.

“And you shall love Yahweh thy Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Proverbs 4:23)

If we love Yahweh with all our heart, there will be no room for our heart to love other things. When we love Yahweh, we love the things of Yahweh; His Son, His Torah, His people, etc. There is no place in our hearts for the love of the world or the things in it. The more we love the things of Yahweh, the more the things of the world are pushed out of our hearts.

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Master may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Master is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Master touching you, that you both do and will do the things which we command you.  And the Master direct your hearts into the love of Elohim, and into the patient waiting for Messiah.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

2) We guard our hearts by abiding in the vine.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:4-6)

To “abide” means “to remain”. If we renounce Yeshua, we no longer remain in him. We cut ourselves off from him and bring an eternal death sentence upon ourselves.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of Elohim, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of Elohim afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

When a person falls away from Yeshua and the faith, it is as though they put him to death again and bring shame upon him.

It is also possible to fall away in a less perceptive way than by outwardly renouncing Yeshua. This seems to be the case with the Ephesians.

Revelation 2:1-5 reads;

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things say he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how you cannot bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars:  And has borne, and has patience, and for my name’s sake has labored, and has not fainted.  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.”

The Ephesians were a powerful, Spirit filled assembly. They were tireless in their work and labored diligently for the Kingdom’s sake, but they needed to repent because they left their first love. I believe their first love was Yeshua to whom they were betrothed. He was their first love, but they failed to guard their heart and began drifting away.

Perhaps it was the cares of this world that drew their attention away from Yeshua. Perhaps it was their ministry that consumed all their time so that they could not develop a deeper relationship with Yeshua. Perhaps it was family or jobs that required most of their attention.

Whatever the cause, had they nurtured that loving relationship with Yeshua, the life giving sap from the true vine would have kept them from becoming fruitless to the point of having their candlestick removed.

We need to search our hearts and make sure we have not left our first love in favor of ministry, doctrine, worldliness or anything else.

3) We guard our hearts by believing.

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the good news preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world . . . Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limits a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts . . . Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:1-3, 6-7, 11)

The word “believed” in verse 3 comes from the Greek word for “faith” in verse 2. “Belief” and “faith” have basically the same meaning.

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39)

“Faith” in verse 38 is the same Greek word as “believe” in verse 39. We shall live by faith or by believing, but our hearts will become hardened by unbelief.

The adversary loves to cause us to doubt. “Doubt” is a synonym for “unbelief”. We see this in Mark 11:23;

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says.”

Satan tries to get us to doubt or walk in unbelief by saying things like, “If you are a believer, then why are you suffering so”? Or, “If you were really a believer, you would never have committed that sin.”

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to [Yahweh] must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

We cannot please the Almighty unless we believe or have faith.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Elohim:” (Ephesians 2:8)

For by grace are we saved through believing. And even that faith or that ability to believe does not come from our own wills. It is a gift from Yahweh. Once we receive that gift of believing or that gift of faith, we must walk in it.

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the good news, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” (Colossians 1:21-23)

4) We guard our hearts by abounding in grace.

“Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.” (Hebrews 13:9)

The word “established” has the meaning of stability. Grace stabilizes the heart; “grace” being Yahweh’s divine favor upon us. That divine influence upon our hearts is reflected in the life we live. When grace is lacking, the heart begins to weaken and grow hard and callous. We become impatient, quick to get angry, unkind, and worst of all, unforgiving.

“Therefore, as you abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that you abound in this grace also.” (2 Corinthians 8:7)

Here, Paul admonishes the Corinthians to abound in the grace of charity in liberally giving to the saints in need. The more we abound in grace, the more our hearts will be stabilized. The more stable our heart is, the less likely it will be defiled. But how do we “abound” in grace?

“Do you think that the scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy? But he gives more grace. Wherefore he says, Elohim resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.” (James 4:5-6)

We need to humble ourselves in the sight of Yahweh and He will give us more grace. Grace is something we can never have too much of.

5) We guard our hearts through prayer.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Master Yeshua Messiah, 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 Messiah may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, 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 Messiah, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of Elohim.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian brethren that they would be strengthened in the inner man (including the heart). More importantly, however, is that he prayed that Messiah would dwell in their hearts by faith. If Yeshua lives in our hearts, it is the best form of protection we can have.

The point of reading this verse is this; we need to pray for each other, as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, that our hearts will be kept or guarded by the power of Yahweh and we need to pray the same thing upon ourselves. Yet, the very act of prayer will keep our hearts as we see in this next passage.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto Elohim. And the peace of Elohim, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Messiah Yeshua.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Prayer creates within us a sense of peace with Yahweh. It will keep us from sinning in our trials and tribulations and keep us from sinking under them. A sense of calm, composure and inner peace will fill our hearts.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” (Isaiah 26:3).

6) We guard our hearts by thinking correctly.

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7a)

The word “thinks” in this verse means to act as a gate keeper in Hebrew. We are only to allow things to enter our minds and hearts that are acceptable and good. We are the gate keepers who should not allow our eyes to look upon evil or our ears to hear filth. This would include pornography and many T.V. shows, movies, and commercials. It would also include many unrighteous forms of music with unrighteous lyrics and/or a sensuous or carnal beat that is specifically designed to arouse the flesh.

Those of us who have a deep hatred for sin tend to be very hard on ourselves when we sin. We want so much to obey the Almighty, but we find ourselves having difficulty walking perfectly in His sight. Then we cry out as the man in Romans 7, “Oh wretched man that I am!” We can fall into the rut of thinking that we are such great sinners, that we actually become what we think; great sinners. If we think in our hearts that we are sinners, we will surely sin, but if we fill our minds with thoughts of who we really are in Messiah, then that is what we will become.

We are children of Almighty Yahweh who are a sanctified, holy people in His sight. We are positionally perfect through our Savior Yeshua. We were once sinners through Adam, but now we are righteous through Messiah.

Philippians 4:6-8 tell us what we should be filling our minds with.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto Elohim. And the peace of Elohim, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Messiah Yeshua. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

We should not value or place our happiness on the things that can be seen, temporal things. Our treasure can be either carnal or spiritual, earthly or heavenly. If our minds are storing up spiritual treasures in heaven, our hearts will be there as well.

7) We guard our hearts by guiding our hearts.

“Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.” (Proverbs 23:19)

We cannot guide our hearts very well on our own, but Yahweh has provided a means to assist us. He has provided the Holy Spirit to be our guide.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: ” (John 16:13a)

As we allow the Spirit to lead us and guide us, we can’t help but guard our hearts in the process because the Holy Spirit will never lead us to do something that would harm our hearts.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, it is called, “walking in the Spirit”. The opposite is to “walk in the flesh”.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yeshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, Elohim sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit . . . For as many as are led by the Spirit of Elohim, they are the sons of Elohim.” (Romans 8:1-4, 14)

8) We guard our hearts by hiding Yahweh’s Word in it.

As part of the New Covenant, Yahweh says He will write His laws in our hearts and minds.

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says [Yahweh], I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;” (Hebrews 10:16)

Once those laws are written there, we need to guard our hearts from allowing anyone to deceive us into believing those laws are abolished. But not only that, we should not be deceived into accepting substitutes for Yahweh’s laws, ie; Sunday for Sabbath, pagan holidays for Yahweh’s holy feast days, sprinkling for baptism instead of total immersion, eating unclean instead of clean, etc.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalms 119:11)

“Thy word” refers to the things Yahweh has spoken. David hid those spoken words in his heart to avoid sinning. What is sin? 1 John.3:4 says sin is transgression of the law. Therefore, these spoken words must refer to the commandments, statutes, and laws that Yahweh spoke to Israel through Moses.

We can extend this concept of hiding the Word in our hearts to include the words of Yeshua. Yeshua said he spoke the words his Father gave him to speak. So to hide Yeshua’s words in our hearts is to hide Yahweh’s words as well.

“For the word of Elohim is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Once the Word is in our hearts, it will discern where our hearts need correction and begin to cut and pierce, with surgical precision, that which needs removal.

Critical Seasons

We should be diligent to guard our hearts at all times. However, there are certain seasons of our lives when we need to be far more vigilant than usual. I will list a few of them for your consideration.

1) During times of prosperity:

“And it shall be, when Yahweh your Elohim shall have brought you into the land which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities which you built not, and houses full of all good things which you filled not, . . . then beware lest you forget Yahweh.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

And so it came to pass:

“But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: you are waxen fat, you are grown thick, you are covered with fatness; then he forsook him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. (Deuteronomy 32:15)

The words of Yeshua are weighty in light of this:

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:24)

Outward gains often result in inward losses.

2) During times of chastening:

When Yahweh frowns upon you and afflicts you because of your unrighteousness, then guard your heart with all diligence and do not faint under His hand. Yahweh’s chastening can be very grievous. All sorts of thoughts can race through one’s heart/mind; thoughts that He no longer loves us; that He has forsaken us; that we are lost forever; etc. It is not easy to maintain composure under great afflictions.

“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening of [Yahweh], nor faint when you are rebuked of him: For whom [Yahweh] loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If you endure chastening, Elohim deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised there by.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)

3) When we go through persecution:

When we are persecuted for righteousness sake it is easy to become depressed and fearful, thereby rendering ourselves useless. We should not sit like Eliyah under the juniper tree saying, “Ah, Yahweh Elohim! It is enough, take away my life also.” We should not become overwhelmed by the burden of our troubles.

Remember these great truths in your heart; that no trouble can befall us but by the permission of our Elohim; and whatsoever He permits will be for our good.

You could have no power against me, except it were given you from above.” (John 19:11)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Elohim, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

There may come upon us times when we are physically injured and abused. It is then that our hearts may seek revenge rather than committing ourselves to Yahweh. It is at times like this that we must remember the words of our Saviour.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)

We are to recompense to no man evil for evil.

“Avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says [Yahweh].” (Romans 12:19)

4) During times of great need:

When the meal in the barrel and the oil in the jar are almost gone, our faith and patience too are almost gone. It is an easy thing to talk of trusting Yahweh for our daily bread while we have fully stocked pantries and full wallets, but will we maintain that same trust when we don’t know when our next meal will be or where it will come from?

It is helpful at such times to keep in mind that some of the holiest men that ever lived experienced similar needs. Consider the Apostle Paul who wrote of himself and his fellow saints:

“Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;” (1 Corinthians 4:11)

Consider, also, David who hungered along with his men, desiring anything to eat from the hand of Nabal. Or the famine that came upon Israel which forced him to send his sons to Egypt in search of food.

Let us be cautious not to complain at such times, knowing our need is not from a lack of the love of Yahweh towards us just as it wasn’t towards these men of faith. There are millions of people starving to death around the world, yet they have no hope. Surely our need is not as great as theirs. We may be poor and hungry, but we are spiritually rich having been clothed with a robe of righteousness, fed with the bread from heaven and soon to be sheltered with a mansion from heaven.

5) During times of temptation:

Satan is prowling about seeking whom he may devour. He will use every deception he can to entice us to sin. We must especially guard our hearts at such times. He may allure us to sin by putting before us irresistible pleasure or offer us the opportunity to sin without anyone finding out. He may offer us wealth or a promotion at work if we will only yield to his temptation to sin. He may trivialize the sin by getting us to believe it is only a minor sin, easily forgiven by Yahweh. He may even try to deceive us into believing Yahweh is so merciful that the sin we commit will be easily forgiven even if it is a great sin.

Sin is a grievous affront to Yahweh and will cost one severely. Not only will it grieve the One we love, but it will bring His chastening hand upon us. We will have no peace and will cry out as David did:

“For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presses me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.” (Psalm 38:2-8)

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Satan’s greatest deception will be to lure us away from our only hope of salvation, Messiah Yeshua. He will not hold back in this effort, but will, with any means possible, attempt to make us renounce Yeshua as our Saviour.

He will use the Scriptures themselves, via twisting them, to put doubt in our minds that our interpretations are correct. He will try to convince us that we have taken things out of context and not rightly divided the Word. He will try to convince us that obedience to Torah is all that is required for salvation. He will try to convince us that Paul was a false apostle. He will even go so far as to convince us that the entire New Testament is a fable.

Guard your hearts against receiving the lies of the father of lies.

6) During sickness and impending death:

When we become aware that our time in this earthly tabernacle is nearing an end, when death is reaching out it’s cold hand to us, then Satan comes to make one more attempt at securing us as his own. He will attempt to awaken fears of death in our hearts; to cause us to desire this life more than the next; to look back and long for our present life, as Lot’s wife did, rather than longing for an eternal life with our Creator and His Son; to convince us that we are not ready to die because we are unworthy of eternal life.

We must guard our hearts from such deception, knowing that nothing can separate us from Yahweh or Yeshua and that what lies ahead is far more blessed than what we are leaving behind. Death is actually the means to bring us what our heart has always desired, eternal life in Yahweh’s Kingdom. For it is appointed unto all men to die once and then face judgment. However, Yeshua took our judgment upon himself and died for us. He has already paid the price for our sins, death, rendering death powerless over us. It has no sting for the believer in Messiah Yeshua.

Conclusion

“Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Master Yeshua Messiah, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Yeshua Messiah from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of [Yahweh] through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

While there are steps we can take to guard our hearts, it is Yahweh’s keeping power that is most effective, but only through faith. If we lose faith and end up renouncing Yeshua, we lose that keeping power.

 “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13) 

It’s only going to get worse. Guard your hearts!