The Heart of the Matter is the Matter of the Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luke 13:3,5

As I sat in church listening to an awesome message about repentance, the pastor emphasized these words: “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” He talked about true repentance. Repentance, as defined by McMillan’s Dictionary, is “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for wrongdoing”. I think that definition is pretty clear. In a nutshell, when one repents of his wrongdoing, there has been a change in his heart that makes him no longer desire to be bound by that wrongdoing.

I am thinking very deeply about this because we live in an age where people do not acknowledge sin for what it really is: sin. We re-name everything. Phobias. Insanity. Addictions. These are just a few of the names we give to our sin. It makes my blood boil to hear someone say that someone is “not guilty by reason of insanity” or they were incompetent to stand trial or some garbage like that. The label that I detest is addiction. People throw that word around like the wind. Every time someone does something that they know they should not do, and the compulsion to do it is so great that they will not restrain their flesh, they call it an addiction. I have never, nor will I ever buy into that garbage. These people are not addicted. What they are is sinful. What they need, more than counseling, or a pill, or a shoulder to cry on, is a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus. They need to be in God’s Word constantly, and if they surrender themselves to the power of the Holy Spirit, I cannot be convinced that change would not come.

The pastor’s statement stuck in my mind all the way home: the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. In other words, in order to gain deliverance from the sins that have us bound, we must decide in our minds and be convicted in our hearts that the sin is wrong. We have to change the way we think about the sin. That is the only that we will be able to stand against the temptation that the world uses as bait.

I have personal experience with repentance and changing my heart concerning my sin. Growing up in a musical family, I was exposed to all types of music very early on. I listened to everything: gospel, Christian, pop, r&b, funk, rock, country, jazz, classical, and anything else you can think of. I was really into music. The music had such an influence on me that I thought that the music must be imitating life, and I should behave the way the music suggested that I behave. Music is so powerful that it can have a person living in some kind of fantasy world that is not even possible. My grandmother, who was a godly woman, talked to me about my “obsession” with music. She told me that if I were serious about my walk with the Lord, that I could not take in all kinds of music and still present myself holy and acceptable to the Lord. It wasn’t until many years later, after my oldest daughter was born, and I witnessed her attraction to music. The same kind of music that had influenced me years earlier was beginning to sneak into my daughter’s spirit. I sought the Lord and He began to convict me that neither she nor I needed to be listening to the “devil’s music” (which is what my grandmother used to call it). The Lord convicted my heart suddenly and completely, and from the time my daughter was very young until right now, and now she is an adult, I did not allow her or anyone else to listen to secular music in our house.

My struggle was with music. Now, there are many other struggles out there. Some people struggle with drugs or alcohol. Others struggle with internet pornography. Still others struggle with over eating. Whatever the struggle, the only way that one is going to change the behavior associated with that thing is to change the way that they think about it.

Do not fear, my brothers and sisters. God is able to deliver you from anything that may be bringing you distress. God loves you and wants you to be free to serve Him in spirit and in truth. He is a God of another chance and another chance and another chance. He gave me lots of chances and I thank Him for them.

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God sacrificed His Son for all of us, and none of us deserved it. Take advantage of a privilege that you do not deserve. If you want something for nothing, the grace of God is the only place where you can get it!

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