The Bible View #807 — Godly Advice

In This Issue:
Getting Advice
Advice on Handling People Problems
Advice on Handling Difficulties

Volume: 807    April 26, 2021
Theme: Godly Advice

Getting Advice
Bill Brinkworth

Sometimes I am surprised where some people get their “wisdom.” I remember asking a young lady, “Why would you go to your peers and ask them about dating?”

I turned to the person giving the advice, “Have you ever dated?”

“No,” the adviser replied. “My parents won’t let me yet.”

Back to the person asking the advice, I commented, “So, she has no experience in the area you are asking about, yet you would have made life-changing decisions based on what she suggested you do.”

She shrugged, “Probably.”

“Wouldn’t it be wiser if you went to a person with experience in the area you need help?” All I got that time was a nod. “And who could you go to that has that experience and is personally interested in helping you with no strings attached?”

She thought about it and replied, “Well, my parents.”

It makes more sense to go to someone who has been through the trials you face when getting advice. As the teenager in the above account, there is an entire world going to the inexperienced or poor examples for advice.

Seeking wisdom from poor sources is not limited to young folks. Adults are far guiltier. There are people following marriage advice from television-celebrity psychologists, whose own marriages are on the rocks. Other celebrities give out advice, who on the same show they are giving counsel, have the psychologists trying to help them with their problems. People unquestionably follow their suggestions.

Many go to friends, television celebrities, newspaper columnists, psychologists, and even fortune-tellers for answers. The people that are relied on for truth and wisdom often have lives as confused as those seeking guidance and who are also without solutions to life’s problems.

It is wiser to have one that made the right choices and decisions in the past to help guide the way, not one that is still stumbling to find the right solutions themselves. For Christians, we have a good reliable, always right source for advice. Our never wrong, raised-a-million-zillion-children counsel can come from God. Through prayer and the scriptures, He can direct our paths in the right way. His directions are never wrong.

He loves us so much, and because He knows we will face many difficulties through our lifetime, He left a guidebook to help us through our lives. This map-through-life is the Bible. One entire book is even dedicated to sound advice. It is the book of Proverbs.

Throughout the Bible’s pages, one will find advice on who and who not to marry, how to get friends, how to know for sure that your eternal future will be in Heaven, how to handle anger, how to be successful, and much, much more. If the Word of God were read and followed, psychologists, high school counselors, marriage counselors, and many other advisers would be looking for work.

The only way this wisdom can be extracted, however, is by reading it yourself! To whet your appetite for reading the Word of God, here is some of the Bible’s advice:

  • Advice on who to marry and who to befriend: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” II Corinthians 6:14
  • Advice on getting friends: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
  • Advice on how to get to Heaven: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3
  • Advice on getting the right advice: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:6
  • Advice about listening to advice: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15
  • Advice on how to handle a hostile person: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
  • Advice on keeping out of trouble: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I Thessalonians 5:22

Unlike fortune-tellers, television hosts, marriage counselors, and even parents, God’s advice is never wrong. Obeying God’s guidance will always guarantee counsel that is best for us. We may not always like what we read, but Father knows best. He has led many before us through the same trials and tribulations we may be facing. All the Christian needs to get His direction is to read it for themself in the Word of God and then follow it.

Advice on Handling People Problems
Bill Brinkworth

 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Matthew 18:15-17

Everybody has had a problem with somebody sometime. What does the Bible say to do when you are offended? It does not suggest starting a smear campaign and tell everybody your side of the situation to get them on “your side.”   That usually gets a bunch of people bitter at the other person. When you do that and convincingly get that person to think you are right and the other wrong, you are bringing the innocent listener “shame and folly” (Proverbs 18:13) for making them judge a situation without hearing the other side.

The Bible also does not say, when another has offended you, to hold it all in. That often results in one having a severe case of “bitterness” against that person. Waiting around for him to come to you and getting it right is also not on the Bible’s recommended list of ways to handle problems.

It does say, if one is a Christian, to go to the other person. Many times, that person may not even know they have offended you. Going to the person one-on-one will often solve the problem. When you go to that person, you may discover:

  • He did not mean it the way you understood it.
  • That you heard it wrong!
  • An alternative way of looking at a matter.
  • That you were 100% wrong!

I have often been embarrassed when I talked with a person and found that my being upset was not justified. It takes courage to face a person when they have offended you, and they may not always accept your confronting them. That is why the next step to get the problem solved is found in Matthew 18:17-18.

There may be a time to settle the differences between you and another person, you may have to bring an unbiased person with you to be a witness in further communications with the one that offended you. Rarely, it may even be necessary to take the matter in front of the church if the Christian is a member of your church.

People shudder at the Bible’s way of handling a problem. Most do not address the situation correctly. It may be one reason there are many disgruntled people in churches. It is also why many “… soweth discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:19) and why there are so many trying to live with bitterness.

Follow God’s advice in solving a problem between one another. Our heavenly Father knows best; He has raised billions of children!

“Sin hurts!  Once burned, twice learned — hopefully” — Author Unknown

Advice on Handling Difficulties
Bill Brinkworth

James, who some believe to be the brother of Jesus, gives practical advice in this writing. One of the most helpful and oft-experienced situations for all people, including believers, is discussed here. The “good” side of going through difficulties is examined in James 1:2-6.

Here James identifies the difficulties, trials, and enticements all face as “divers temptations.” Although most initially shudder at even the thought of going through different problems, James exposes what can positively be gained by going through our individual “valleys.”  Instead of agreeing how terrible it is to have problems, James encourages Christians to “… count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (James 1:2).

How could anyone be joyful when facing joblessness, heartaches, financial problems, family problems, or the thousands of difficulties we all face in our lifetime? James tells us we can be “joyful” because:

  • The trying of our faith during the hard times builds our patience (James 1:3). Since there usually is not much we can do but wait until the trial passes, we learn to wait patiently and trust the Lord during those hard times.
  • The practical lessons on patience we learn build a good Christian into a “tested” believer. Most of us have some person in our life that we have observed as more spiritual than ourselves. We are often amazed at how calm and patient they are when they face difficulties. They did not wake up one morning and decide to be patient for the rest of their lives. They got that way because they went through hard times, got close to God, and saw that His help sufficed to deliver and guide them. The next time they faced an unfavorable situation, they remembered all He had done in the past and did not get frazzled. Their learned patience (James 1:4) built their character and trust in the Lord.
  • When we go through a “temptation,” we go to the Lord in prayer more than we ever have before. In doing so, we get closer to the Lord, see how he supplies wisdom as to how to handle our trial (James 1:5), and have the potential to have our faith increased.

Trials and tribulations are not something anyone desires to go through, but after going through many of them and drawing close to God during those times, we can learn that they are not so bad. The valley of “temptation” can be joyous, as our God guides us through the treacherous pathways.

“…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

The Bible View #806 — Christian Living

In This Issue:
The Flesh Is Alive and Kicking
Other Verses about Our Flesh’s Weakness
A Blessing or A Curse
Stand Up And Tell Them

Volume: 806    April 19, 2021
Theme: Christian Living

The Flesh Is Alive And Kicking
Bill Brinkworth

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Romans 7:15-20

On one early winter day, I cut down many small trees and brush hoping to build a new garden there in the future. My friend and I stacked them in a large pile to burn later.

Three months later, I burned that well-dried pile of brush and trees. As I was feeding the “dead” cut limbs into the fire, I noticed something very unusual.  Most of the old foliage, except the pines, had sprouted buds, and in some cases, little wisps of green leaves were showing.  I thought they were dead even before they were cut down, but there was still life in those old limbs. The plants must have been feeding off stored sugars in their branches, even though they were long severed from their roots.

This curiosity reminds me of the dilemma that most Christians battle their entire life. They may have accepted Christ as their Saviour and even repented of most of their sins, but every once in a while, their old sinful habits, thoughts, and actions rear their ugly heads.

We may be saved from the wages of our sins and are forgiven by our Creator, but we still have the same flesh with which we were born. Our flesh still would like to sin. If we do not keep a tight rein on it, it will certainly take back its control and do what it wants, rather than what the indwelling Spirit of God desires us to do.

It is a battle that we all face. When we least expect it, our old life can pop up and try to grow.  That is why those saved and serving God for a long time can fall as quickly as those saved for a shorter time. If sin creeps in, anyone can fall.  Temptation or sin allows the old ways to attempt to flourish in our lives again.  The “old man” (Rom. 6:6) in us will come back to life if we let him.

With God’s help, we can avoid many temptations by obeying His commandments, having a regular prayer life, and feeding daily on the Word of God.  It is possible to limit the damage done by our old sinful nature. Being stronger spiritually is the only way to keep one of our main enemies, our flesh, under subjection.

We can be victorious in living the way the Lord desires. He would not command us to do something that is not possible. Our old, sinful nature does not have to be fed. Make the right spiritual decisions.  Do not give in to the flesh’s desires. Be obedient to the Spirit’s calling, not the flesh’s weaknesses.
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Mat. 26:41

“If you were perfect, your first name would be Jesus, and you would have holes in your hands!

Other Verses about Our Flesh’s Weakness
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen. 6:5
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Mat. 12:43-45
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Mat. 15:19
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Rom. 7:18
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3

A Blessing Or A Curse?
Bill Brinkworth

In Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated to Israel some of what God had shown and done for them. He also made it clear to them that as God was with them in the past, He could be with them in their future.  Although the proper context of the following verses was to Israel, there is certainly application to those that are saved (Romans 10:9, John 3:3) today.
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Christians, as well as the people of Moses’ day, can receive a blessing from God. If one hears the commandments of God, be it from the reading of His Word or hearing it, and obeys what one hears, one can have God’s blessing on one’s life.

The choice is up to us what we do with God’s message. Do we get convicted about something as we read the Bible, or get that gnawing guilty feeling when we are reminded of our sin?  Do we obey the Holy Spirit’s reminder to our conscience as a warning from Him and do our best to change our behavior to what is pleasing to our heavenly Father, or do we ignore it? Obeying conviction and doing our best to live a life approved by God is the way to get His blessing on our life.  There may still be trials and difficulties in our lives, but one living for Him can have God’s blessing, protection, and guidance on one’s life.

Unfortunately, too many hear the commandments from God and make wrong choices not to obey what they have been told to do. Excuses for not heeding the Holy Spirit’s tugging on our hearts can creep in and justify our not following what we are told.

It is easy to be convicted of our lying lips, but quickly write it off to, “Well, I had to lie, or I would have gotten in trouble.” A temptation to justify not going to church because of work or “being too tired from a week’s work” hardens one’s conscience, so it is easier to ignore what God’s Word instructs us to do.  Refusing to tithe because “I hardly have enough to live on, let alone give to the cause of Christ” is one more act of disobedience that can bring God’s curse on your life or even His not helping and protecting you.

All Christians have similar opportunities to obey or disobey the still, quiet, convicting voice of God. The difference between a flourishing, growing Christian and a stagnant, disobedient Christian is that the one growing is the one that said “Yes” to what they were convicted of and did their best to obey.  The one that may be “cursed” or have God’s helping and guiding hand removed from his life may be the one that ignored what he was told or shown to do by the convicting Holy Spirit.

Are you receiving the blessing of God on your life because of your obedience, or are you suffering because God’s hand is not guiding and helping you in your life? The choice is up to you.  Whom do you choose to obey: God or your own will?

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Stand Up and Tell Them
Bill Brinkworth

Continuing from Acts 6, it is read in Acts 7 that religious Jews and their leaders persecuted Stephen. He turned their time of questioning him into an opportunity to preach to them.

He started by preaching a condensed history of the Jews. I am sure all who were listening agreed with him as Stephen gave a synopsis of their Jewish past, starting with Abraham. Heads may have been nodding as he progressed through the experiences of Joseph, Moses, and David. All must have agreed as he spoke of David and Solomon.

Then Stephen’s history lesson ceased, and he got to the reason for his reviewing the great prophets and leaders of the Jews. Stephen reminded them that the Jews had persecuted all the past prophets (Acts 7:51-52) and, because of their hardened hearts, were not even obeying the law they were given. I can imagine for a brief minute, heads stopped nodding, and a silence came over the crowd.

After that brief, silent second, anger burst out of every person in the room. “Who does Stephen think he is accusing us of being disobedient to the law?” certainly had to be the majority attitude. Shouting ensued. Hands went over their ears in a vain attempt to keep them from hearing any more of Stephen’s accusations.

The mob grabbed Stephen and took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. As their anger at the preacher caused them to hurl rocks at the man, they saw a scene they did not expect. They saw Stephen kneel, ask the Lord not to lay this sin to the murderers’ charges, and saw the man fall asleep peacefully!

Knowing what he said would anger and certainly would rile this crowd, Stephen selflessly preached the truth, no matter what their reaction and the cost to him. Stephen knew what they had done to Jesus for preaching the truth. He most likely knew how they would react to what he was telling them, but he spoke the truth no matter what.

If we had more preachers like Stephen today that would be more interested in telling the truth, no matter the reaction, our churches would be much different. The country would not be the same.

If we had more Christians that would also adopt a similar attitude and would say what needs to be said, rather than what is safe to say, Christianity would certainly have more influence in this world than it has. The truth can set a world free from the bondage of sin and godlessness.

The Bible View #805 — Just Jesus

In This Issue:
Christ, Our Middleman
Jesus, Our High Priest
Our Mediator
Christ Is Our Intercessor

Volume: 805    April 12, 2021
Theme: Just Jesus

Christ, Our Middleman
Bill Brinkworth

During Old Testament times, priests served as mediators between God and man, presenting their prayers and sacrifices to Him. Before Moses, the priests’ duties were often done by the head of a household, as did Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Moses’ day, God appointed priests from the Levite lineage. These practices were intended only to continue until the perfect priest came, Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament priesthood was not perfect. Its limitations were because:

  • The priests were ordained (“appointed by”) by men, although they were of an ancestry ordered by God (Hebrews 5:1). Not just any man could be a priest.
  • They had to go to God with sacrifices and gifts (Hebrews 5:1, 3). The offerings were not a one-time gift. They had to be offered more than once. They were only temporary appeasements to a Holy God.
  • The priests themselves were sinners. They also had to give an offering for themselves (Hebrews 5:2, 3).

Soon the priesthood stopped. The sacrifices halted. Intercessory prayers and gifts to God ceased, but man still desperately needed a mediator between him and God.

God then sent mankind the perfect priest. Man did not appoint him. That priest only had to make one offering for ALL of mankind’s sins. That sacrifice covered sins past, present, and even into the future. This priest was not of Levi’s lineage. He was very much like a priest of Abraham’s time — Melchisedec.

Like Melchisedec, whose name means “king of righteousness,” this God-appointed priest was the real King of righteousness. This priest was God’s only begotten son — Jesus! Jesus’ one-time sacrifice that never had to be re-offered was His own life.

Unfortunately, many have not allowed God’s High priest to be the sacrifice for their sins. Too many have rejected Jesus and are still appointing priests. No matter what those sincere people offer to God, it will be refused by the Creator. They are doing it their way and are rejecting the one-time sacrifice Jesus made for them on Calvary’s cross.

The Old Testament priesthood was for another time, a time before God had sent the perfect Priest. Today we have the privilege of going to that High Priest, which is not sitting in some earthly temple or church but is sitting at the right hand of the Father, in Heaven. We can accept His offering on the Cross to cover all our sins. After we have accepted Him as our Saviour, we can go to Him anytime with our prayers and needs. We no longer need an imperfect middle man. We have the perfect mediator — Christ Jesus.

Jesus, Our High Priest
Bill Brinkworth

In Hebrews 8, Paul gives the Hebrew believers five more reasons Christ is the better High Priest:

  1. Christ, our High Priest, is sitting. No Levitical priest ever sat because their work was never done. There were no chairs in the tabernacle or temple. Here, our Priest’s one-time sacrifice is complete, and Jesus is seated (Hebrews 8:1). Jesus’ earthly ministry is finished!
  2. Christ, our High Priest, is at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 8:1). No Old Testament priest ever saw God, let alone sat next to Him, as does Jesus.
  3. Christ is the minister of the “sanctuary and the true tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:2-4). All the Levitical priests ministered in a God-ordered but man-made tabernacle and later a man-made temple. The tabernacle was not perfect, although created as God relayed its design to Moses.
  4. All the earlier levitical priests presented a “shadow,” or picture, of heavenly things to come (Hebrews 8:5). Christ’s ministry is not a picture of anything to come. It is the real thing!
  5. Christ’s ministry is a “more excellent ministry” than any earthly priest ever had. The Old Testament priests represented all people. They mediated with God for all the people; however, few had a direct audience with the priest. We, as Christians, have an audience with the perfect High Priest, no matter who we are.

Christ’s ministry is “more excellent” because it comes with a “better covenant,” a better agreement between God and man. Although Paul sites the old covenant as faulted (Hebrews 8:7), it does not imply that God made a mistake with the old agreement. That agreement was good for that time and met its purpose — to show man could not make a worthy sacrifice himself. The sacrifice had to be made by His perfect Son, Jesus!

This explanation of the past priests and our current Priest can help today’s believers understand more of what Jesus did for them and who He is. He is the most “excellent” priest (Hebrews 8:6), with a ministry many throughout past ages have awaited.

Our Mediator
Bill Brinkworth

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I Timothy 2:5

What wonderful news it must have been to the Jews, who were familiar with Old Testament-worshiping when they learned they could go to God themselves in prayer. Before Jesus’ death on the cross, they had priests go to God as middlemen for them. After the sacrificial death of Christ, they could enter the “Holiest of Holies,” the closest place any man could be to God, by themselves through their prayers (I Timothy 2:1).

However, then and even today, many believe they cannot go to God themselves. Those folks still, if they realize it or not, are attempting to worship the way it was done in Old Testament times.

Some go to a “priest” in a confessional and tell him their sins. With his words and doing what he tells them to do, they believe he can order their sins to be forgiven. They trust the “priest” to be their mediator between them and God.

Some pray to deceased biblical characters hoping that a “saint” can be the middleman between them and God to have their sins forgiven or requests granted.

Sincere as those people are, what they are doing is contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures. I Timothy 2:5 tells us there is only one mediator between God and us, and that is Jesus Christ.

We no longer must present a perfect, unblemished animal sacrifice for the high priest to take its blood through the temple’s curtain to the Holiest of Holies, as in the Old Testament. When Christ died, God ripped that veil in two from top to bottom. Now, any believer can go to God in prayer through Jesus Christ.

Telling a person, be it priest, parent, or any other person, one’s sins will not remove the consequences of one’s iniquity from God’s memory. Those people may want to help, but they too are sinners in need of the only true Mediator, Jesus Christ.

Going to anyone else other than Christ to meet a need in one’s life or receive help from God will not result in God answering one’s prayers. The one qualified to go to the Father on our behalf is His Son, Jesus. He is the only mediator between God and man.

“A mediator is considered in two ways, by nature or by office.  Jesus is a mediator by nature, as partaking of both natures, divine and human.   Our Saviour is a mediator by office, as transacting matters between God and man.”   — Waterland

Christ Is Our Intercessor
F. C. Feus

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation [atonement; reconciliation of God and man] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” I John 2:1-2

Christ is our intercessor (a negotiator between two parties) to the Father. He is there today advocating (pleading the cause of another; another’s defender) our cause. Whether He presents His petitions in words or not, I cannot tell. Perhaps His presence there is quite enough.

We read that Qischylus was condemned to death by the Athenians and about to be led to execution. His brother, Amyntas, had distinguished himself in his country’s service, and just as his brother was condemned, he entered the court. He came in, and, without saying a word, he lifted his arm — the stump of his arm, for he had lost his hand in battle. He lifted it up in the sight of all but said not a word. When the judges saw this mark of suffering, they forgave the guilty brother for the sake of him who had imperiled his life on behalf of the country. 

Perhaps Jesus Christ has only to present Himself before His Father’s throne and show the marks of suffering to get acquittal and pardon for us transgressors.

The Bible View #804 — “Heart” Problems

In This Issue:
Heart Problems
A Hardened Heart
Our Hearts — Summed Up
Muddy Water
If the Heart Is Right

Volume: 804    April 5, 2021
Theme: Spiritual Heart Problems

 Heart Problems
Bill Brinkworth

There are many excuses available for any mistake or sin in our lives.  Psychologists often blame a patient’s difficulty on their environment. Social workers label many behaviors as peer-pressure related. Income, hereditary, age, and race are also some of the popular excuses for wrongdoing.

Sometimes, the excuses mentioned above are legitimate, but they are often scapegoated justifications for the problem’s real source. The Bible often speaks of the heart as the origin of wickedness.

By “heart,” the blood-pumping organ is not what is referred to but is more the center of thoughts, feelings, and our will. There is no one location where a surgeon could, under dissection, point to and identify as, “this is where lying comes from” or “this organ generates the desire to steal.”

It is this “heart” that Mark speaks of when he writes, “… Do ye not perceive that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly…” Mark 7:1-19

Things entering the body cannot make us do wrong unless our “heart” is in such a state as it would allow our bodies to perform the sin. Although many under the influence of drugs and alcohol do wrong things, it is not totally what went into their bloodstream that is at fault. Their “heart” was most likely in a tolerant-to-sin state to allow such a thing to happen in the first place.

If this were not true, then anyone partaking of alcohol or drugs would have the same desire to fight, rape, curse, steal, and get into more sin. This, however, does not happen every time booze is swallowed. It is the already willing, desensitized-to-sin heart that allows a person to sin further.

Nothing entering the belly can defile the man. There is not one un-Koshered pickle, a third scoop of vanilla ice cream, or anything man puts into his mouth that he should blame as the reason for his wrongdoing. The source of sin generates fromman’s own “heart.”

“Don’t put off doing what the Lord has shown you to do today.  You may not have another opportunity or another tomorrow!”

A Hardened Heart
Bill Brinkworth

One of the most dangerous conditions for anyone to have, Christian or non-Christian, is mentioned in Hebrews. That condition is having one’s heart “hardened” (Hebrews 3:8). It is not a problem with one’s physical heart. It is the spiritual part of a person that has determined not to do what God had urged it to do. By refusing to do what God has shown it to do, it is directly disobeying God — a most serious situation!

To make it clear to the Hebrews, Paul reminded them what hard-heartedness cost their forefathers in the wilderness. While in the wilderness, the Jews had a wonderful opportunity to follow God to a land He had reserved for them. By day, God led them in His direction by going before them in a column of cloud that stretched from Heaven to Earth. When it moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped. At night, it changed to a column of fire. Although they had many proofs of God’s helping them, they still doubted. Unbelief, the root cause of hard-heartedness (Hebrews 3:12), crept into their thoughts, and they doubted God. 

This provoked God (Hebrews 3:8) and caused the Israelites to have many unnecessary testings, trials, and tribulations. They missed many of the blessings they could have had because their hearts were fixed not to believe or trust God. Because of their hardened hearts, a possibly six-day march to the land God had prepared for them took 40 years. None of the hard-hearted people ever got to see the promised land, although their offspring did. Their hearts of unbelief cost them much.

A hard-hearted condition can just as easily be obtained today as it was then. When God shows a person what salvation is and that they should trust Christ as Saviour today, they are hardening their heart when they postpone the decision.  When their heart is shown to do something, such as being saved, faithful in church attendance, praying, reading their Bible, tithing, or telling others about salvation, their not doing it is a direct refusal to God. Even slow obedience to a command, or justification in not doing as they were shown, is still unbelief and distrust.

Four times (Hebrews 3:7, 12, 13, 4:7), Paul mentioned the key to not having a hardened heart. The key is “today.”  When God shows you something or quietly speaks to your heart in conviction, you must obey Him then! Not tomorrow! Not later! It should not be open to debate!  Doing it when we want, and not when He commands, is a step in hardening one’s spiritual heart. 

Slow obedience is no obedience.”   — Author Unknown

Our Hearts — Summed Up

He who makes a watch or engine knows all the workmanship in it. God, that made the heart, knows all the motions and fallacies of it.”  —Watson, 1696

“God sees hearts as we see faces.” — George Herbert.

“Before men, we stand as opaque bee-hives. Others can see the thoughts go in and out of us, but they cannot tell what work is done inside. Before God, we are like a glass bee-hive.  He knows, sees, and understands all our thoughts.”  — Beecher.


Muddy Water
Scriver (edited), 1629-1693

In a vessel filled with muddy water, the heavy sludge soon settles to the bottom. It leaves the water “clearer” until it seems perfectly clean. However, the slightest motion brings the sediment again to the top and makes the water as thick and turbid as before.

Here we have a picture of the human “heart.”  The heart is full of the mud of sinful lusts and carnal desires.  No good and holy thoughts can flow from it. It is filthy and contaminated, no matter how it appears.

A man’s “heart” is a miry pit and slough of sin, in which all sorts of ugly reptiles are bred and crawl. Many are deceived by their spiritual condition and never imagine their heart half so wicked as it is.

At times, one’s lusts are at rest and sink, as it were, to the bottom. The iniquities of one’s past are often forgotten. On some occasions, one’s thoughts appear to be holy and devout, desires pure and temperate, words charitable and edifying, and works useful and Christian.

This period of apparent “Christianity” and good living lasts only so long as one is not “shaken.”   As long as one is without opportunity or incitement to sin, a wicked heart is hidden.   However, when worldly lusts are aroused, one’s thoughts, words, and works show no trace of anything but slime and impurity.

A sinner is meek as long as he is not thwarted, but cross him, and he is like powder, ignited by the smallest spark, and loudly explodes.  Some are temperate, if he is separated from the wrong companions or while others’ eyes are upon him.  The “mud” is still there, at the bottom, do not shake it up.

Slow obedience is no obedience.”   — Author Unknown

If the Heart Is Right
Author Unknown

It doesn’t so much matter
What path our feet may tread,
Or, whether the cheering hopes we knew
In youth are vanished — dead.
We shall find a gleam in the darkness
To guide in the dreary night,
And a joyful song as we journey along,
If we go with a heart that’s right.

We sip from the cup of sweetness
And then the bitter gall;
Blossoms and friends are swept away,
Dreams are forgotten — all.
And you have known the tugging
That comes to the heartstrings tight,
Know of the balm, the peace, and calm
That comes from a heart that’s right.

The thorns that beset the causeway
May fester and wound the feet;
The cup you drink may end with gall,
Drowning the cherished sweet;
But the nectar for which you hunger,
The roses that suffered blight,
Will be yours to taste and smell again
If you go with a heart that’s right.

“To sin is to walk the way of the heart.”  — Matthew Henry