The Care and Feeding of the New Heart: True Truth
Hey, ho, my race-running (Philippians 2:16) friends in Christ! Great to have you back at the Training Table to chow down on some spiritually nutritious fare. RE: “a feast of the heart”. There’s a ton of junk food in the world today so please be discerning—as our heart is what we eat!
For the foreseeable future, we’re going to chew on a smorgasbord of fundamentally important and life-giving taste treats about your born-again, Spirit-filled, saved-being-sanctified-to-serve… heart.
Whoa! A Key Definition Before the Details
Before we build this house of “The Care and Feeding of the New Heart” room-by-room, let’s make sure the foundation of what exactly we mean by “the heart” is really clear—which also means after you read the quote just below, be sure to go to your Bible Concordance and look-up the word “heart”: Wrap your heart, your affections, your mind, soul, strength… around how God treats this profoundly important part of your “spiritual anatomy”—that He (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) created within you for a very specific purpose.
“One of the keys is in how we define ‘the heart.’ Remember that according to the Bible, the heart is not primarily the emotions but rather the seat of our fundamental commitments and trusts, and therefore it is the control center of the whole life. So to preach to the heart means to go right for the commanding commitments of people’s lives that drive their desires, thinking, feeling, and action.” (Pastor Tim Keller, RPC, NYC)
This truism about mankind’s “heart origins” and make-up is something I referenced in my book about redemptive suffering—and returning the heart to its original state: “Even though there is no explicit Biblical evidence for my musings, I have long imagined God reaching down into the clay and forming Adam. He breathed life into his creation’s nostrils and with great delight noticed Adam’s heart, instantly animated, begins to beat. I imagine Adam’s beautiful heart as the dominant feature of God’s creative work, which initiated the creation of all mankind. God made Adam’s heart in his own image, albeit a “spirit image” (Genesis 5:1).” (WWW)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
It has been said that the most important care and feeding of your heart is keeping good freshly oxygenated blood flowing through your coronary arteries. As a corollary to this coronary advice, spiritually-speaking the most important care and feeding of the newly created heart (2 Corinthians 5:17) is keeping God’s True Truth flowing through your “spiritual coronary arteries”.
God’s True Truth is to the spiritually-healthy heart as vital (basic, requisite, significant, animating, essential, life-sustaining) as freshly oxygenated blood flowing through your biological coronary arteries!
The Heart of True Truth: It Gets Us In… And Grows Us Up!
God’s True Truth is what brings us into the faith by helping us see the truth of God’s perfection and the Truth of our gross imperfection—and hence the need for our repentance (1 John 1:9) and the one and only Savoir in Jesus Christ to die, atone for our Sinfulness (in Adam) and sins (in our every way, day); and a Lord to rule our lives as His disciples—in word and deed to help redeem a horribly broken world.
But also, God’s True Truth is what then sanctifies and grows and makes us more and more holy in the faith by the “cycle of Spirit-led catharsis and heart transformation” (Ezekiel 36:22-32; John 17:17)—as we serve as Jesus did in joyful obedience, continual repentance, and dying to self for the sake of others, True Truth expands to press out more and more of the falsehoods from our heart—and leaves more and more of Jesus (by the Spirit) in our heart: The endgame being Union with Christ.
The creation in perfect, True relationship to its Creator: Love God Truthfully. Love Self Truthfully. Love Neighbor Truthfully. That’s all!: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
A heart filled with Truth overflows in love: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)
The daily internalization of God’s True Truth in the Bible is where the care and feeding of the heart begins (after conversion): “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-18)
Faith in the Truth of Jesus Christ creates a clear conscience and frees us to love others: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask; because we keep his commands (True Truth of the Law) and do what pleases him (True Truth of Grace). And this is his command: to believe (by faith in True Truth) in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ (God’s “Truest Truth”: Himself incarnated), and to love one another as he commanded us (by the power of the True Truth, Holy Spirit).
Salvation adopts us into a new family, eradicates shame, grows us up… ever-thankful: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved (born-again) through the sanctifying (growing up) work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
In Christ, everyday interaction, communication, leads to love, conformation, “Kingdom-come transformation”: “… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become (be conformed) in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
The more we allow God’s True Truth to conform our hearts to that of Jesus Christ, the more we can not simply survive under the burdens of unavoidable suffering, but in all things delightful and daunting, we can rejoice: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
The Neglect and Famishing of the Heart: True Falsehood… Lies… Darkness
Yes, this is key, and there should be absolutely no question whatsoever that Satan himself (the world’s ways, and our own sinful, fleshly desires) is so aptly named, “The Deceiver”; “The Father of Lies”; “The Accuser”—lying to the Saints; “The Tempter”—by using falsehoods laced with a thread of the truth; “The Power of Darkness”—where light, True Truth doesn’t exist. Satan (the world, the flesh) hates God’s True Truth: He will keep unbelievers in the dark by sustaining the lie; and he will keep believers ineffective by the lie of ever-diminishing who we are in Christ.
Please consider this very closely, Beloved in Christ: In an age of relativism (all truth is relative, and in the domain of every person to choose what’s true for him/her, True Truth purportedly no longer exists… like hell!) like no other time in all of history, consider the #1 and #2 spiritual and physical diseases?
1) Spiritual Heart Dis-ease… is caused by believing, embracing a lie of some sort, any sort. And the more “whole-hearted”, fundamental, core, deep, identifying, personalized the lie, the worse the hardening of our spiritual arteries and spiritual heart dis-ease!
“The great truth-lie exchange” occurred at the Fall (Genesis 3) and from that point on suppressing the truth has been the bane of humankind’s existence: “Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:25)
Worldliness, anxiety, and worry are heavy burdens to bear; love and encouragement can bear any burden: “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:15)
Hopelessness creates heart disease; the True Truth, good news of the Gospel restores the heart to its Garden of Eden-state: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
Compartmentalizing, putting on a happy face works for a time, but the heart desires deeper healing: “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” (Proverbs 14:13)
True Truth at peace is powerful and pervasive, while discontentedness is as deadly as a fast-spreading cancer. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy [a lie at the core of our identity] rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
A True, blessed heart makes for a happy demeanor; wisdom and foolishness, the lie, perpetually vie for control through the journey of faith: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.” (Proverbs 15:13-14)
Subjectivity, perpetuating a lie to one’s self, is never innocent. God is a God Who is True Truth, knows all, and intervenes to help us discern our true (or false) intentions: “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:2)
A lie-ridden, guilty conscience is all-consuming; being right with God, His True Truth, creates a humbly confident heart the world will never understand. “The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions.” (Proverbs 28:1)
2) …and Physical Heart Disease!
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in theU.S.for both men and women! And it’s not at all by coincidence that as we as a culture have become increasingly, startlingly, unabashedly more and more secular (God out, humanism in; this world is all that exists) in the last several decades, heart disease has risen to the #1 killer!
The chain reaction begun by enlarging The Lie of any kind within our heart (designed by God to contain True Truth) will always lead to spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical ailments of many and destructive kinds.
But, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have “interdependently and independently” created a cure: And His True Truth can and will set you and I free!
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10)
Truth Truth in Trinity, Come Down! The Father and the Son have come to indwell your heart, my heart, any repentant, contrite, believing heart… through the person and power of the Holy Spirit. There are only two sorts of folks in the whole world who need to know this True Truth within their heart: Unbelievers to be saved; and believers to be sanctified.
See you all next week as we chew on, The Care and Feeding of the New Heart: Love.
‘Till then, keep running the good race, Beloved of God!