Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Centrality of the Heart

I'm in the middle of reading a really great book by Paul Tripp called How People Change. Here's a great quote on the centrality of the heart.

The average Christian defines sin by talking about behavior. For example, what is the goal of most Christian parents? Is it not to get their children to do the right things? We set up all kinds of relational, motivational, and corrective structures to constrain and direct our children’s behavior. These structures are not without value, but if this is your only response to your child’s rebellion and sin, you will leave him defenseless against sin once he leaves home and the structures are no longer there.
Beneath the battle for behavior is another, more fundamental battle— the battle for the thoughts and motives of the heart.

The heart is the real or essential you. All of the ways in which the Bible refers to the inner person (mind, emotions, spirit, soul, will, etc.) are summed up with this one term: heart. The heart is the steering wheel of every human being. Everything we do is shaped and controlled by what our hearts desire.

That is why the Bible is very clear that God wants our hearts. Only when God has your heart does he have you. As much as we are affected by our broken world and the sins of others against us, our greatest problem is the sin that resides in our hearts. That is why the message of the gospel is that God transforms our lives by transforming our hearts.

Lasting change always comes through the heart. This is one of Scripture’s most thoroughly developed themes, but many of us have missed its profound implications. We need a deeper understanding of Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."


Courtney said...

This is a thought that desperately needs to be understood by pastors and evangelists today. The only way true change can be affected in a person is to change the heart, and the only One who can change the heart is God, through the preaching of His Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit. This has far reaching implications. It seems many today are looking for ways to dress up the Gospel, to try to make the message more culturally relevant or what have you, but the message of the Gospel is the same, and it is the power of God unto to salvation for all those who believe.

So, the bottom line is, with this in mind, as communicators of the Gospel we must recognize that only God can change the heart. In Acts 16:14, Luke says that God opened the heart of Lydia to enable her to believe the message of the Gospel. This must happen every time. So, our structures don't save people. Our invitations don't save people, no matter how long we drag them out. Our sinner's prayers don't save people. Our clever speaking doesn't save people. We are desperately dependent on the power of God to rest upon our speaking.

Chris said...

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Robert said...

Thanks for your thoughts Courtney!

Amrita said...

Change of heart should lead to behaviorak change, not the other way around.

Amrita from India

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