By Chette Nichols Jr
When I first got saved one of the things that troubled me most were not my outward appearance of sin as that was something that was evidently seen. But it was the inward acceptance of certain sins and attitudes that I still struggled with. It took many years to slowly recognizing that I am dead to sin and alive to the Holy Ghost. This recognition process was not easy but in order to for it to begin I first had to recognize that my heart is not into recognition of sin and attitudes that are not godly or acceptable to God. It is in this area of recognition of the heart that one will begin to affect true and godly change in ones sin and attitude. The lack of recognition of these heart sins and attitudes are the core to why so many feel so far from God or feel they have failed him. While these emotions are good to drive us to God in deeper ways the enemy of our soul will also use them to drives our hearts away from God.
To begin to develop a heart after We need to start with a set of core verses that will need to be memorized, meditated on and prayed through regularly that you begin to understand the deep implications of the thought and intent of the heart.
First off, we must understand that the heart is more than the center of emotion it is the center of all thought and if we are going to change it must be with the word of God. There are many programs out there that are based upon the individual going through a process of analyzing of ones thoughts and words, attempting to rephrase certain “command phrases”. But this leaves it up to man to do the work. The activity of changing our heart is not that of mans, it is the job of the Holy Ghost. So we need to recognize our sinful, self-centered thoughts that lead to sin only enough to allow the Holy Ghost to make the change as this is done you will be developing a moment by moment prayer life.
Now take a moment to read and meditate on this verse. Put it to memory if you have not already.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
This verse must be accepted as a foundation of Changing our heart. Memorize, meditate and believe this verse for in so doing you will enforce in your heart to have trust in the word of God for change, and not in man or humanistic ways. The key here is “the word of God” this entails that you must have familiarity with God’s word for the Holy Ghost to work with. You will be surprised how much you have in your mind/heart and the Holy Ghost will bring it to remembrance as needed.
Secondly, this next verse is necessary and possibly the hardest one for many to accept it is Jeremiah 17:9. This verse is true of you and I and we must admit this before we can go any further in developing the Christ like attitudes and love, a true heart after God. The whole process of deep heart development pivots on this verse. If you do not believe this is true about you, you are already deceived and will not be able to overcome sin and hurtful attitudes.
Jeremiah 17:9 , and desperately wicked: who can know it?
I ask that you will memorize this verse and deeply meditate on it. Come to the point of acceptance that God’s word is true even for the born again Saint of God. Just because you got saved and are in a new position before God does not mean you are practically walking that out. If that were true Saints wouldn’t sin but we do. The cause of our sin is our heart. I have had people tell me they have a heart after God but in the very next statements lie to me. How can one say these things when they are not walking the talk? Well it is because their heart is deceitful above all things even a born again heart with God indwelling it.
The truth of this verse must be accepted by the man of God if he truly desires to develop a heart after God. I understand that at first you may want to rebel at this verse and claim it just can’t be true for the born again man of God but that is simply in your inability to separate position from practical. You are fully saved and a new creature in Christ but at the same time you are still living in a body of flesh with all the same desires, drives and motives that you have developed through your heart since you were born. It is this heart that God wants to change but one must first recognize that change takes time and doesn’t change easily. So memorize Jeremiah 17:9 and accept it as God’s truth.
A third is a set of verses needed is a key to the understanding that sin starts in the heart. Seeing nor touching causes a person to sin it is the mind that is connected to seeing and touching that lusts and sins first then if left unchecked comes tot he surface and manifests itself outward.
It is James 1:14, 15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Inward thinking is where right or wrong actions and attitudes begin. What is true about sin can be used to conquer sinfulness and wrong attitudes. Don’t misunderstand the word lust used in this verse. Lust means to have strong desire for something or someone. It is not just limited to sexual drive as many have come to understand it today. But when ever you have strong feeling or desires that cause you to have a wrong attitude or sin that is a form of lust.
A strong desire to have peoples attention or admiration leads many to the sin of lying. We don’t recognize it mainly because we have developed an attitude of embellishments or enhancement of personal abilities, situations and circumstances for the benefit of the hearer. That is as we share we will add to the narrative embellishments to make the story more interesting but these embellishments while not wrong in and of themselves may not be entirely true and a partial truth is a whole lie.
Three things we have seen in all three of these verses is that all thought starts in the heart. It is here that the Holy Ghost will work and it is in the heart that change must take place if it will show on the outward.
Another verse that is helpful for our understanding as we start to recognize sin that we may proclaim that we are dead to sin and alive to God Romans 6 is 1Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Realizing this is always helpful in that as you are tempted to given it any heart development of thoughts that may eventually lead you to sin. Also remembering 1John 4:4 ¶ Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. And Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This verse is a recognition that even when you struggle and fail that it is all part of the Process of recognition of your sin and your desire to be dead to it and alive to God Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So lets take a moment to present a sample process by which you will want to follow. This is not doing it yourself it is a daily and moment by moment habit you will want to develop to help you to recognize and realize your thoughts that are wrong that will lead to sin if not addressed by the Holy Ghost.
1) Start your day with prayer making sure you add your desire that the Holy Ghost help you to recognize your erring thoughts and self centered attitudes.
2) Read, meditate and memorize the verses above. But don’t stop there remember the Holy Ghost can use the word of God so take time to read through the Holy Bible chapter by chapter so that God can use the scriptures to divide the thought and intents of the heart.
3) Set your mind to recognize that thoughts lead to sin. This process comes by sometimes falling (but not necessary) into the sin you are trying to have victory over don’t get discouraged but remember Romans 8:28 that this fall was the working of good in your life so you could look at the sin or recognize it and the processes of thought that led up to your failing. Then confess it to Jesus, Rehearse your desire to repent of it, and ask for the Holy Ghost to help you to repent, overcome and change the thoughts that proceed the sin.
4) End your day with prayer and remember what God has done for you in this area of your life. Ask him to reveal any sinful thoughts or sin that you were unable too and meditate on his words. And do some more Bible reading.
Now before I conclude there is one thought that must be overcome. It is said by well meaning Pastors and Christians alike but reenforces a thought pattern that gives people a reason to sin. While this statement is true it structures your attitude toward sin and falling that gives you the ability to see it as normal. Here is the statement “I am a SINNER saved by grace”. While this is true the problem it causes is that this thought is what is termed a negative in calling yourself a sinner that reinforces the fact that yo0u sin and allows your unconscious mind to accept sinful behaviour and not see it as it is sin. If you enforce the negative statement like I am a sinner, the sinful flesh will use it to take advantage. It is best to make it a positive to enforce a positive. A positive statement would be “I am saved by Grace so that I can live unto righteousness. Read 1 Peter 2:24 on the purpose of Christ’s death for you.
Remember you have three enemies once you were saved the world, the flesh and the devil and these three will be a work against the Christian’s victory and development of a heart after God. There is no put on and peal off way to developing a heart after God it takes prayer, perseverance and the power of God. Just be open to him and you will find it a less painful and more joyful procedure.