A Pure Heart
Thoughts and beliefs are powerful things. Jesus said that to look with lust at a woman was to commit adultery, and to be angry at someone without a cause is to murder him. Ultimately, it is what you think and what you believe that will either deliver you or condemn you to an eternal judgement of hell.
We can tend to look at our actions primarily, in the Christian life, but the unsurrendered self is perhaps the most dangerous weapon against the Kingdom, even as a believer. Yet one sinner can destroy much good (Ecclesiastes 9:18).
Thoughts come out of the heart, which the Bible points out there are both thoughts and intents of the heart. There are both thoughts, and then there are the intent of the thoughts. You could have good sounding thoughts, but if the intents of those thoughts are evil, the thoughts themselves are evil. Likewise, if your heart lacks appropriate language or expression, your thoughts might not be the best thing ever, but there is the intent of the heart, what the heart is really after, that is important as well. While the thoughts themselves may need to improve, the intent of the heart may be acceptable. It was said in Noah’s day, that every intent of the thoughts of men’s heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). ”Only evil continually” is a phrase that depicts the great depravity of mankind at that time.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
Proverbs 23:7 says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The depths of the heart are exceedingly deep waters. The hidden drives and motivations are quite out of reach for mankind. This led Jeremiah to exclaim that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). He was speaking prophetically about the condition of the fallen heart of man’s ability to deceive even itself, often just to get its own means. This is also the context for John saying in 1 John 4:7-8 that everyone that loves is born of God. The unregenerate man cannot love without a hook, cannot love purely, with no self motive. Yet, Jesus has brought us His Spirit, and by His Spirit, and His word has become that divider of soul and spirit, and a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart.
Every thought there is connected in some way with the spirit of a man. If you consider any great world institution, they are all held in place through the establishment of certain tenants, certain principles and under-girding thoughts, often completely unseen and considered common sense, when, considering the human population as a whole, are not all necessarily common and, quite often, do not make sense. These are the cultural norms and the societal boundaries we work in and out of every day without questioning. Some of these are good, however, some can be downright evil. For example, in the South, when it was often culturally assumed that if your skin color was dark, you were not a real person.
There are, in fact, certain thoughts that demand identification specifically as demonic. John himself points out that anyone claiming that Jesus did not come in the flesh is operating in the spirit of the anti-christ. It doesn’t not matter how well they can develop their point, or what conclusions seem to have led them to it, according to the Bible, this statement alone is proof positive of the presence of a spirit, and it’s name, according to the Bible, is “anti-christ” (1 John 4:3 KJV).
While this one is specifically identified in scripture, and we could certainly identify others throughout history as being so (such as a large segment of what was taught in Nazi Germany, for instance), this is also true of many other thoughts that people hold today. Certainly, thoughts that deny the Lordship of Jesus, or other tenets of scripture are held in the realm of the spirit where there is warfare over men’s souls. Others tie into the world and the world’s systems. Sometimes, our even some church doctrines are explicitly derived from the demonic spirit realm, where Paul told Timothy that people would espouse to “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). The thoughts we think, while we may think they are all our own machinations, are often quite tied in with the invisible realms of either light or dark.
Some thoughts may be simple cultural and family thoughts, but when you enter into the arenas where great divisions occur, where people take sides with hate, factions, bitterness, jealousy, rivalry, and murders, you can guarantee that the thoughts you are interacting with are indeed directly related to the spirits behind them. But, if you take the time to notice, the thoughts always travel in “packs”. Certain lies always tend to congregate together. The groupings may change over time, so the particular arrangement isn’t laid out as scripture, but they are observable trends in a people in a particular time and season, because the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places have a pattern and a reason for controlling thus.
Put simply, if there wasn’t a spirit behind something like, say, communism, there would be no draw to the philosophy. The concepts are not all that new or revolutionary. They have been looked at in the past and discarded. But, when they are energized by a particular unseen power or force in the heavenlies (Ephesians 6:12), all of a sudden, they look attractive to men. And, how can you tell the difference? Because they always appeal somehow to the soul of man, they result in political and control structures, and usually end up killing, stealing, and lying, all the work of the father of lies (John 8:44).
So, we come to the thoughts of Jesus. He said that His yoke was easy, and His burden was light (Matthew 11:30). This means that to follow Him does not weary the soul like other ways of pursuing God do. It is not tiresome or fatiguing; it is not a fretful or burdensome thing to follow after Jesus.
His words, too, have direct connection to the spiritual world that we do not see with our natural eyes. They connect to a power, merely by thinking them, to a spirit, for an end result of life. He is the life-giving spirit. His Spirit is clean, holy, and pure. He is God Himself, the only true God, the God who is love. And, believing on Him, which of course means to agree with His thoughts and His way of looking things, is life everlasting! Simply believing connects you to an everlasting Kingdom, which will never be shaken, nor will it be left to another people. Thoughts themselves, through faith, change the eternal destiny of a soul, and change the world! (Mark 11:23).
Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Not every thought that comes through our head is our own, but can be from ourselves, heaven, or hell.
So, every thought of anger, every thought of blasphemy, every thought of murder, theft, lying, cheating, stealing, gossip, slander, or any of the others is either a fiery missile from the evil one or it is originating out of our own heart. If it is the enemy, we simply stand with the shield of faith, able to extinguish every flaming dart. If it is originating out of our heart, there is a reason for it’s existence that is within ourselves. There is an area of unsurrendered self, where we are not living as fully out of the Spirit of Christ as is available.
The way of the cross is to lose oneself to another’s mission. Jesus gave everything to set us free, so that we could, eventually, give everything to let other people know (Colossians 1:24). It is our responsibility, to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of the flesh, to put on Christ, and to make no provision for the flesh. Now that God has given us the ability to do so, by breaking the chains, we continue in faith, love, and obedience, by making our calling and election sure, and by losing everything pertaining to our old, sinful life.
The key is this: The least is the one who lives unholy, and teaches others that it is okay to do (Matthew 5:19). The greatest will be the absolute last, the servant of all (Mark 9:35).
What way could possibly compel someone to make this decision to live life last? Only a treasure great enough to make it worth it in the end (Matthew 13:44). But, even having made the decision to walk it out, what is the thing that lets you stand against the pressures that come, the opposition from man, the devil, and life itself? An eye that’s single (Matthew 6:22).
Jesus warned of other types of yeast, such as the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod, that being their teachings and lifestyles (Mark 8:15). Paul talked about types of yeast to avoid (1 Corinthians 5:8). But, His words are also a yeast (Matthew 13:33). His words are life itself (John 6:63). Don’t think you can get the fullness of it without them, nor share it with others (Luke 6:46).
One of the most enduring words to me personally is one of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
[Most Happy] are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
No life is more important than that of a pure heart. It is not arrived at by chance, or by sloppy living, or even by self effort. But, it comes at a cost of everything that you hold dear, ever, no matter what it is, no matter what it means to you, because it is precisely why it matters that is at stake.
Jesus demands that you worship Him (John 4:24), and that you always seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). Yet, the reward for living a heart of absolute devotion, absolute purity, is that so Beyond the Beyond, that even as no eye has seen Him, you have no way to know what it holds. You must let the Spirit of the Lord dig deep (Luke 6:48) in your heart, uncover the parts of you that still want to hold onto you, your way, your agenda, and what you want, and do it God’s way.
It really is the best way to go. As Jesus said, “I know that his command leads to eternal life.” (John 12:50).
We must be willing to trust Him, for in the end, the battle is really just faith. Can you look upon Him, the author and finisher of our faith, and, even as He looked to the Father and obeyed going to the cross, be willing to do the same, great and small, but simply to follow.
The summation of Jesus’ whole ministry could be described as thus. He did only what He saw someone else doing, and repeated only those exact words that proceeded out of someone else’s mouth. John 5:19, John 8:28. He had no mission of His own, but as a willing servant, He obeyed, even unto death.
And, as God records, because of this, He was exalted to the highest position, in both this age, and in the age to come, higher than any name, or title, or any other honor that could possibly be given, forever.
These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Ephesians 1:19-21 (portion)
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6). And, love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith is the goal of all our instruction (1 Timothy 1:5).