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    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Pursuit Of A Godly Heart

John MacArthur

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . (1 Timothy 6)

The man of God is known for what he flees from and for what he pursues. What then is the pursuit of a godly heart? John MacArthur writes:

This is a life-long pursuit. Proverbs 15:9 says, “The Lord loves them that pursue righteousness.” Not success, not fame, not size, not popularity, not esteem, not reputation. We are running after righteousness. And six words are here, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Righteousness is doing right on the outside. We pursue right conduct. Godliness…is right on the inside. That’s motivation. That’s the heart. Do you pursue what’s right on the outside, and you cultivate what’s right on the inside. Your motives, your desires, your heart, then your behavior.

You pursue faith. Actually, this means confident trust in God for everything. You literally put your life and ministry and everything you have in God’s hands, and you trust Him. You live under His glorious, beneficent, gracious sovereignty. You pursue love. What is that? Selflessness. Willful sacrifice…you’re characterized by perseverance. That is endurance in trial and difficulty and trouble and persecution and suffering. And the word gentleness is actually the word meekness or humility. I mean it couldn’t be any more clear. Are you a man of God? You are if, having been called, you are faithful to the proclamation of the Word of God, and all the while you are running as fast as you can away from the love of money and all the vices that go with it. And you are running as fast as you can toward these things: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and humility. . . .

This is the pursuit of a godly heart. This is a pursuit of a godly righteous life. In Psalm 50 verses 16 and 17 it says, “To the wicked God says, ‘What right have you to tell of My statutes?'” To a wicked man, God says, “Who do you think you are opening your mouth and speaking My Word? What right have you…he says…to take My covenant into your mouth, for you hate discipline, and you cast My Words behind you.” That’s some strong indictment, isn’t it? “You stand up, and you speak of My statutes? You take My covenant? You talk about My gracious provision for salvation? You put those words in your mouth? And you hate discipline? And you cast My Words behind you? You’re wicked…God says.”

Psalm 101:6 says, “He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. He who practices deceit shall not.” So the man of God is known by what he flees from and what he follows after. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I beat my body to bring it into subjection.” Literally uses the word translated buffet in the English, but it means to strike with a fist in the face. I give a knockout punch to my body to bring it into subjection, literally to knock it out. To KO my human desire, lest in preaching to others I myself would be disqualified. I have to…I have to be a running man. I have to pursue these things…And people will feel the power of a godly life. Preaching puts the nails of truth in, but example pounds them deep…John Owen wrote, “A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouth of the public, but what he is in secret before Almighty God, that he is and no more. No more.” (“Identifying a Man of God”)

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