Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Heart

At times "grace" and "obedience" seem at odds with each other. They are not! It's the sequence which is critical. Since everyone shall be saved by grace then doing "good" things is of no avail. Salvation is a gift. Being righteous without accepting the gift of salvation is depending on yourself to be saved. One of the most important things to understand from scripture is that your god (you) is powerless to save you and that the ONLY way to salvation is to accept the price which Jesus paid for our sins, his death! The moment a person realizes that truth, the person is enlightened and that impregnation of light is called "born again"!

On the other hand there is an expectation which God has for us all!
Mark 12:30 (ESV) "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
It follows that out of gratitude for the free gift of redemption that God EXPECTS love as a show of gratitude.  People who are "born-again" are removed from their evil natural father (Satan) and adopted by their spiritual Father, God! When abused children are saved by a good foster parent, most are thankful enough to show gratitude. Indeed if the adopted Father is ALL GOOD, then there is no reason for resentment or distress. Becoming part of God's family is an ameliorating experience and as a consequence love is eminent.

If love was merely an emotion then it would be forthcoming only with the heart. Of course it's not the physical heart, but all ones thoughts and feelings. It seems odd to me that we were made in the image of God with body, mind and spirit, but don't see the parallel with how we show God our love. We are to love with heart, mind and soul.

Of course Adam was born with a soul full of Holy Spirit, but he died spiritually and emptied his soul. Because of Adam's sin, all mankind is born with a soul, but without the Holy Spirit which comes only with being born-again. Therefore men are born with body, mind and soul. Somehow this must be comparable with heart, mind and soul and therefore body and heart are equivalencies!

Our body is much more than what meets the eye and can be measured. It is substance, personality, the senses, and emotion.  The heart is the center of emotion. Feelings are detected by changes in the respiratory and circulatory systems as well as brain waves. As thoughts are processed the heart announces the feelings. The beat of the heart announces serenity, excitement and happiness. These are all emotions.

We are to love God with all our emotions, but thoughts are processed by the mind to emit feelings. Therefore we are to love God with all our mind as well because the two facets of our being are never totally independent of one another. They must cooperate! 

Lastly, when the mind and heart are in cooperation the soul is filled when the new person is created. Because of that return to the original birth of mankind the mind is thankful and the heart emotive. It feels elated!  Some people are emotional and some are not. That's part of our personality. The heart may react to thoughts easily for some and less so for others. It takes a strong mind to make feelings happen. This is where "strength" comes forth. It takes work to love God!
1 John 5:3 (ESV)  "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."
God EXPECTS us to keep his commandments because that is the least we can do to  demonstrate to God that we love him. Some may be emotional, but love is not entirely an emotion. It's a work and the willingness to work for God is the love of God. That brings us now to what Paul says:

Romans 2:1 "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality."
These verses are about God's righteous judgment. Paul starts by saying that it's not our place to judge, but God's (verses 1-3). This reinforces Matthew who also admonished us not to judge. Then Paul speaks of "your impenitent heart". "Impenitent" is a lack of regret for one's disobedience and lacking the FEELING of shame for disobedience. The person neglects to FEEL guilt. "Guilt" is the body's and mind's response to drive one to repentance. In order for the malady of the soul to be corrected by the filling of the spirit, the heart and mind must be adjusted. That adjustment is when one is enlightened (mind) and faith with love comes about. That enlightenment instills hope in the soul because it is no longer empty, but filled with the very essence of God. The unity between body, mind an spirit is how man was originally made and the person is now complete again! Being born-again is when the filling of the soul brings the hope of salvation.

The old person was dead, but the new person is alive. In modern terms we live as zombies whose eternity is death until life is restored to the soul by the blood of Jesus Christ! It's not the vampires who need the blood, but the walking dead!

To be born again we must repent. If not, the person remains dead and suffers the wrath of God. (Verse 5). To repent the heart must feel something! That is remorse or sorrow for one's sins. If we look back with thoughts of pleasure as Lot's wife did, that's not true repentance. We are still spiritually dead and destined  to see the anger of God. The mind must convince the heart this: "The pleasure was not worth eternal death. You deserve to die because you disappointed your Father!" When the mind realizes that through God's word, then the heart feels sorry. As that happens God restores you to mankind's original state. You are reborn or "born-again" and are just as Adam was when he was created; in full communion with God!

Those who are unrepentant endeavor to skip that step. Their heart and mind suffers guilt, but Satan twists that guilt until it's no longer there. The person believes, but has yet to trust God. Satan short-circuits the "sorry" part and the person has never truly repented. They are doomed, but think they shall be saved!

Obedience is a work described by Paul (verses 6-7). If the new person changes (i.e., obeys) then repentance was effectual and the person was truly born again. If there is little change (i.e, disobedient), then the change was not effectual and the deceived person will have the wrath of God.

Therefore, obedience is not a route to salvation, but is a symptom of being born-again. Obedience is a measure of faith and it takes faith to be born-again. As such great obedience is the assurance of salvation and God is convinced that you love him by the self-sacrifice of obedience. Of course God knows your heart because he knows all of you, but your obedience is just like the burning incense with tabernacle worship in ancient times; he loves the aroma. Your obedience is incense to please God! That incense is the work of love because it reveals the emotions of the heart! 

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