The heart is key to holiness concerning the eyes, the mouth, and the feet, and disciplining our minds and bodies. Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37). David says, ‘Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee’ (Psa. 119:11). Al Baker offers us his insights into this area of our lives:
Watch over your own heart with diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
I have known men who began well, who began their careers and families with a steadfast commitment to honor God, to be faithful to their wives and children, and to keep a lid on their fleshly desires. Sadly, many of those men, as their careers wind down and they move into their retirement years are divorced, estranged from their children, and giving little evidence of the commitment to Christ they so long ago professed. I have often wondered, if asked to preach their funerals, what I would say. Would I tell their loved ones and friends, ‘Yes, I know he was a Christian and I can give you biblical assurance that he is now with Jesus.’ Would I be able to say that?
What went wrong? How did this happen? And what can I say to instruct you so that the same does not happen to you, so that you finish your race well without bringing shame to Christ, your family, or yourself? Solomon is instructing his son on how to live in the midst of a plethora of temptations, not the least of which are lurid women and bad friends. Within this context he tells his son what he must do, how he must do it, and what results from it. Note first of all his instruction. ‘My son, watch over your own heart.’ By heart he means the very citadel of his soul, the gateway to the rest of his body. A citadel is a military fortress which serves to protect an army and the people they serve. . . .
To watch over one’s heart is to pursue a personal inquisition of the heart. David asked God to search him, to know his heart, to try him and know his anxious thoughts, to see if there is any hurtful way in him, and to lead him in the everlasting way (Psa. 139:23-24). And in order to pursue this personal inquisition of the heart you must know yourself well, your sinful proclivities, your patterns of recurring sin, those things that seem constantly to bring you down. A recovering alcoholic knows he cannot be around alcohol or anyone who drinks. He must stay away from them. A man who is tempted to sexual sin while on business trips must ask his friends to pray for him, even to check in with him each night in his hotel room, or if possible and practical to take his wife with him. A man tempted to spend money frivolously learns that he cannot carry a credit card with him, except perhaps his business credit card, that he must pay cash for only what he needs.
And how can you guard your heart, the citadel of your soul? Solomon says we do it with all diligence. I suggest three things, the first of which I have just mentioned. First, you must nightly pursue a personal inquisition of the soul. By this I mean, at the end of the day, as you prepare for bed that night, ask yourself a series of questions like these — ‘how have I sinned in my speech today, how have I sinned in my thoughts, what have I done contrary to God’s law, what are the deep seated idols that manifest themselves in sinful values, words, and deeds? And when the Holy Spirit shows you your sin, be quick to humble yourself, to confess it as sin, to ask Jesus for his grace and holiness, and once again to claim Christ’s mercy and renewal. (“Pursuing a Personal Inquisition of the Heart”)
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, Church Leadership, Devotional, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Prayer, Preaching | Tagged: Christ, Christianity, David, God, Holy Spirit, Inquisition, Jesus, Sin | 2 Comments »