June 8, 2010

A Clean Heart

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- June 8, 2010

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’”. Matthew 15:18-20a

Maintaining a clean heart is a daily choice, and one that has a multitude of options. Intellectual images bombard our beliefs like Germany’s blitzkrieg. Good and bad thoughts compete for our heart’s affection. It is a haven for hellish or heavenly deliberation. If I give in to stinking thinking I soil my soul with unsavory influence and miss my sweet Savior’s soothing protection. A heart given to heaven keeps the hounds of hell away.

It is contemplation on Christ and His character that flushes out unseemly fantasy and fills my mind with the realities of His righteousness. Yes, there is a struggle to keep a clean heart until we see Jesus face to face, however, in the interim it is intimacy with our Lord that invites integrity of heart. “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you” (Psalm 25:1). Intimacy leads to integrity, which creates a clean heart.

One strategy of Satan’s is for Christians to compartmentalize their heart between good and bad, sacred and secular, clean and unclean. This is deceptive because clean and unclean do not mix any more than oil and water blend together. The black oil of an impure heart contaminates a heart cleansed by the saving grace of Christ. Only the power of Almighty God can cap the spewing influence of sin deep in the depths of our heart.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9a).

So—as a follower of Jesus—how do you keep the barnacles of bad behavior from the hull of your heart? Daily surrender and submission to God is an exceptional governor for good behavior. This allows you to harness humility, receive the grace of God and defeat the devil. Battle bad behavior alone and you are overwhelmed, but by grace you overcome.

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Keeping a clean heart is everyone’s battle, so stay accountable to God and people. Perhaps you give permission to a small group that examines your heart with loving questions like, “Are you filling your mind with clean images?” “Are you harboring any anger in your heart?” “Is your heart hurting in need of healing?” A clean heart comes as we submit to Christ, invite accountability from others and confess our sins.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

Do I have a regular routine of allowing Christ to cleanse my heart? Am I being accountable?

Related Readings: Psalm 24:3-5; Proverbs 20:7-11; Matthew 22:16; Titus 2:6-8

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