Heart Issues

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Contributed by Toby Ward, Elder Overseer of Outreach at Image Church

”The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries.” – Luther – Concerning Christian Liberty

Recently, God has been working on me to be a better steward of His Light that He has placed within my heart. As I get older, read Scripture more, and seek to draw closer to our King, I see more clearly the inadequacies within me. These are issues of sin, that if left unchecked, can drive the divide between God and my heart deeper and deeper.

God is a constant, and we as humans are variables; subject to the whims of sin that act as clouds to the light that has been placed within us. Sin is a darkness, and cannot exist within light. Dark exists in the absence of light, and has no power over it.  Think about the sun, and the earth’s revolving around it. Darkness does not choose to invade parts of the earth. Darkness just happens as the earth turns away naturally from the sun. As the earth continues to turn, the light will again return as the earth comes back to its source of power. Darkness has no power.  It just happens as a result of another action. Therefore SIN (darkness) cannot exist within a heart occupied by GOD (Light).  “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – (1 John 1:5 ESV)

However, if darkness cannot exist within light, then the opposite is also true: Light CAN exist within darkness. Actually, light abolishes darkness. When the earth rotates towards the sun, the illumination lights up the surface, brings warmth to its inhabitants, life to its eco-system, and power to sustain life as we know it.

So it is with us that God reigns in our hearts. That Light within us is the power that sustains us. There is nothing in and of ourselves that can sustain us, because our “self” is sin. His light within us should lead to the abolishment of sin, and lead to a life of repentance. When God sits on the throne of your life there is an insatiable desire to eradicate sin. Easier said than done, but the choice lies within us in Christ. God chooses to regenerate our hearts, we accept through faith, then Satan relentlessly tries to take back what he thought was his. He invades with what I call “heart issues” that cause the gulf between God and our hearts.

One of these biggest issues I see, is the issue of entitlement. Entitlement is defined as:  to give a person the right to do or have something. Entitlement in and of itself is not a sin. However we make it one by letting our flesh dictate what we FEEL we are entitled to. It’s that manifestation of flesh that births nastier manifestations. Secondary manifestations like how we deal with our kids, those that we feel mistreat our kids, treat our neighbors, spend our money, treat our church, and unfortunately how we portray Gods character to the lost.

Our entitlement can keep us from God, and worst of all could cause others to run from Jesus. Nobody wants to follow an entitled person. Especially an entitled Christian. We are the worst.  As humans we feel that we are entitled to: what makes us feel good, culturally acceptable, the American way, and generally speaking whatever our sinful heart craves. As Christians we take all those, and apply it to the church. We treat her like a destination that we go to when its convenient, complain when things don’t fit our minds eye, and spend as little as possible while consuming as much as possible.

In giving this careful thought, study, and prayer the only thing I see we are entitled to on this earth is:  Slavery to Christ. That’s it. The bible is very clear about this. Problem is we hear the word slavery, and run when we should be embracing our new life in Christ. In Romans Paul teaches that we are to be slaves to Christ.

Romans 6:22 – But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

In Christ you are FREE from the darkness that prevails within, and get the PRIVILEGE to be a slave to Him. The Almighty, King of Kings, and Creator of all. PRIVILEGED!! Best of all we are PROMISED eternally sanctification and eternal life with God. I can’t think of a better way to live life than in servitude to the One that will sanctify me, and bring me to heaven forever in fellowship with HIM!!!

In light of that how can we do what Luther says above? How as Christians can we feel entitled to the point where our ugliest innermost thoughts are revealed by our tongues, actions, and relationships? Paul again describes it this way:

Galatians 4:9 – But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

See the language he again uses? Slaves. You will make a choice to be a slave in this life. Make no mistake about it. You will either be a slave to your entitlements, letting your ugly inner self prevail OR you can make the choice to be a slave to Christ, and let HIS Light shine. When HIS Light shines, it manifests itself in ALL areas of your life. It will be in your relationships, work, private life, finances, marriage, and ALL day-to-day activities. There are no compartments in this life.

To let sin prevail is to mock the work of the cross. Christ has given you a way out ” And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24 ESV)”.  Entitlement to the things of this earth is a sin and will cause the nastiest parts of our souls to be exposed. This is the essence of what Luther states above.

1 Corinthians 7:23 – You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

The price was paid by Christ. We had NOTHING to do with it.  As a result, we are given the PRIVILEGE of an earthly life of servitude, knowing that we have an eternal future in Heaven with our creator. Eternally entitled!!!!!!

What are your heart issues? Do you crave for His Light to shine or have your entitlements clouded that from those He called you to reach?

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