Shalom everyone, Rob here. If you’ve been pursuing the life of the heart, by now you have probably realised that it takes a great deal of deliberate effort to do so. It’s not easy. It is a battle and it’s not easily won. We have to be deliberate in seeking God and listening to him; deliberate in confessing sin and vigilant in not letting anything in that hardens the heart. As we pursue the life of the heart we realise that we can only do that by living a Spirit-led life; a life of worship, thankfulness and surrender to Jesus, our King and Friend; the lover of our souls. In other words, to live the life of the heart we need to have our heads screwed on straight and make certain decisions that move us toward Jesus and not away from him. As Ephesians 5:10 says, “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
In Ephesians 4 and 5 the apostle Paul is giving instructions on how to live. He urges his readers to stop doing what is sinful and do what is good. He has a negative teaching – “don’t” or “stop” – and a positive teaching – “do”, “let”, “Put on”. What’s interesting is that the negative teaching is for us to do:
“Live no longer as the Gentiles do” – 4:17
“throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life” – 4:22
“stop telling lies” – 4:25
“quit stealing” – 4:28
“Don’t use foul or abusive language.” – 4:29
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander…” – 4:31
“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you.” – 5:3.
This goes on. Paul is saying that because we belong to Christ we need to decide to die to everything that hinders us from having his life and light in us. It is our choice but when it comes to coming alive to the new, that’s when we start receiving divine help.
“…let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” – 4:23-24
“…be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 4:32
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” – 5:1-2
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” – 5:8-9
Christ is our example, our light and our life and the Spirit helps us to live like him. When Paul says that we need to “carefully determine what pleases the Lord”, he is inviting us to come alive to who we really are. We need to decide that we will live from our hearts that have been made new in Christ, and not from the selfishness of our old nature. Paul says that we have a new nature, we are forgiven, we are ‘identified as his own’ (4:30), we are loved, we have ‘light from the Lord’ and it lives in us. Our desire for the life of Christ in us needs to provoke us to let go of the false desires of the old nature.
So much of the battle for the life of the heart is fought in the mind. Our hearts are new but our minds are being renewed (Romans 12:2). So let’s make our choice for God and live up to who we really are this week.
Here’s a clip from Return of the King that I think illustrates the point well.