...the churches of Christ salute you! Rom 16:16

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Heart Control

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When the Bible uses the word  heart, it doesn't always refer to the blood pump in our chest. We also use the word to convey the depth of feeling in the mind. We say, "she loves him with all her heart." Paul wrote of believing in the heart and obeying from the heart. Jesus spoke of understanding with the heart. The heart of man can be wrong in what it believes. God said in Jeremiah 17:9-10, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart..." In Genesis 8:21 God said, ".. .the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth..." The thought gives birth to the action. That is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Jesus said in Matthew 15:19, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." Is it any wonder that Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God"?
We are accountable to God for both the thoughts of our hearts and the actions of our bodies. In Acts 8:22 Peter told Simon, "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." Repentance begins with a change of heart. In 2nd Corinthians 10:5 Paul wrote, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." This suggests true repentance and will bring about a change in our manner of life. Paul wrote in Romans 6:20-21, "For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."
When we change our manner of living, our erstwhile friends may not be pleased. In 1st Peter 4:4 the apostle writes of this saying, "Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you." So, we are separated from what we used to call friends, and they become spiritual enemies. There is a vast difference between the mind of a Christian and the mind of worldly people. In Romans 8:6-7 Paul wrote, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
In the act of repentance we clean the carnality from our minds. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:24-25, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with "the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." The change in lifestyle or religion can cause strife and division in families. Jesus said in Matthew 10:35-37, "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Repentance may mean forsaking the religion one grew up in when they realize it teaches the doctrines of men. This can cause a rift in the family. In Mark 10:28-30 we read, "Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee." Jesus answered and said, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." Our Lord never hesitated to tell his followers there would be persecutions. He knew without warnings people would be offended and fall away because of troubles and trials. In fact, in John 16:2 he said, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." He endured much persecution. In Hebrews 12:3-4 we are told, "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
We may consider many things, and the mind is difficult to control. It can travel a thousand miles in a second. Memories come to our minds, some good, some bad, so the mind is a battle ground. That is why Paul wrote in Philippians 2:1-2, "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." Truly, in Christ there is consolation for whatever we left behind in the world. The blessings in Christ are far more valuable than the few fleeting pleasure of the world. The blessed fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ replaces the joy in friendships of the world. It is sometimes difficult to be of one accord and one mind. Too often we want our own way. In 1st Peter 5:5 we are told, "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
Having cleansed our mind of the thoughts and ideas of the world, there is a need, yea, a necessity, to fill our mind with spiritual things. In 1st Peter 2:1-2 we are told, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." In Philippians 4:8 Paul wrote, "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." This will keep our mind occupied and filled with good thoughts. The devil likes to find an empty mind. He can fill it very quickly. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." Isn't it logical that if we empty our mind of evil thoughts and fail to fill it with good that our mind is vulnerable to invasion by the devil? He has plenty of thoughts available to occupy our mind.
His best weapon is the television set. It has so many interesting things on it that it can overpower and steal our mind. In 2nd Peter 2:19-21 we have a warning, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." How much of our mind can we give to evil thoughts and still have a pure mind?
How much time do we give to reading the pure Word of God? In 1st Peter 1:22 we are admonished, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." He that search-eth the heart is not fooled by pretense. We must submit and obey from the heart, forgetting the past, looking forward to the glories of heaven. There can be no turning back.
Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." The allurement of the world is always out there, inviting us to enjoy its pleasures. People tend to forget that the Christian is to keep himself unspotted by the world. We must keep our mind focused on what is ahead, and not allow the memory to make the world attractive. As Stephen preached to the Jews in Acts 7:39, speaking of Moses he said, "To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt." They forgot the slavery and remembered the good food. We cannot afford to forget our slavery to sin and the danger therein. We must not allow our minds to be attracted to the ways of the world lest we be like Demas who left Paul because he loved this present world. We must remember our Lord is coming back to claim the faithful and punish the disobedient.
In 1st John 1:15-17 we are told, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." -105 W Jefferson Ave., Richland, MO 65556



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