How true is that! The book of proverbs says: as a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7). The bible said that the heart of man is desperately wicked who can know it? That is a statement about the wickedness of man (Jeremiah 17:9).The wicked heart of man is in opposition to the loving heart of God.
The bible also says that man was made perfect, complete, but he sought ways to complicate his life (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Adam was made full of God, and he decided to become full of self (Genesis 3), compromising his pureness, corrupting his essence with sin.
That is why an important part of the salvation process is the changing of our hearts, from being made of stone to flesh (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). A salvation that does not offer a change of heart is no salvation at all, because it has to do with the core of man.
A stony heart is unresponsive to God, it is static, it is heavy, and cannot move with God; it is inaccessible, it is closed, un-shifting, callous, wicked. So the heart needs to be changed, or nothing gets done. For there to be a restoration of relationship with God and with one another, a changed heart is the answer; God does not need to change but man does.
The stony heart is insensitive, and no life can grow on it; as the parable of the seed word made by Jesus explained, God’s life cannot be expressed in that heart. It stands in resistance to God. It was dead to God. But with the new heart formed in us by the Holy Spirit, it becomes accessible to the God again.
In the Garden of Eden, after the sin of Adam, though God could still enter the garden but he could not enter the heart of man, God was shut out. The question God asked: Adam: “where are you Adam?” was not a tongue-in-cheek question, the man God made was nowhere to be found, that man had died with the sin, he had died to God.
It was not the same man anymore. His heart was turned away from God, a la the devil. The relationship was changed for a long time to come, by that singular act of disobedience. Man hid from God. He was a different version from what God made, a lesser version, the corrupted-by-sin version. God made man perfect, but he remade himself corrupt.
Man could not have full interaction with God, and to that extent, God was deprived of the relationship he sought with man, who removed himself from His orbit, the orbit of his love and power, the orbit of his grace and glory, and that was a great fall. Paul said that all have sinned (i.e. in Adam [Romans 5:12]) and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Man put himself out of the orbit of the glory of God, moved himself into the dark “embrace” of the devil.
So when Paul was describing the new relationship with God through Jesus Christ, he said: we are known by God. John said he who loves God is known by God, it is not the knowing of information (God knows all things all the time), but the knowing of access.
Truly the sinner Adam was a strange creature to God, a corruption of what God made, so the solution in Christ had to include being made into new creatures (2Corinthians 5:17).
Change of heart starts with repentance (a turnaround of the mind). The first call of Jesus was: repent. He said: “repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).” So repentance and believing are two sides of the same coin, needed to bring about a change of heart.
They correspond to the first part of the elementary teaching of Christ as mentioned in the book of Hebrews, which was stated thus: repentance from dead works and faith towards God (Hebrews 6:1-3).
No wonder a major part of the teaching and lifestyle expression of Jesus had to do with faith; impressing on faith principles on the disciples. He even asked a question from the disciples, saying: when the son of man comes back, will he find faith on the earth, showing how important that is (Luke 18:8).
We would now explore the implication of faith as it has to do with two diagnosis of the heart of man the Jesus gave.
Jesus said that two disciples on their way to Emmaus after his resurrection were slow of heart to believe what the prophets recorded beforehand about his suffering, death and resurrection (Luke 24:13-27).
Their problem was about not being able to connect the dots in scriptures and come to the right conclusions in the interpretation of the events around concerning the resurrection of Jesus and the news of some women went to his tomb and found it empty.
If you do not believe the literal seven days of creation, and you are a Christian, you are not a bad person, just slow of heart.
The two disciples were expected to have faith in the words of scriptures, but they did not, so they were referred to as being slow of heart, unable to see beyond their doubt and experience, their logical thinking, to embrace the amazing conclusion that the scripture points to, in the resurrection of Jesus (and whatever it is our case).
After Jesus did two miracles in the multiplication of bread for thousands to eat, they still entertained the idea that Jesus can be stranded when it comes to food (Mark 8:10-29). Those two events did not make a sufficient impression on them, to see Jesus in a new light, to believe in him in the now, for their situations. Then Jesus rebuked his disciples of not standing in faith, saying their heart is hardened.
When you have having a hard time to believe the scriptures, it means you are of a slow heart, but if after some miracles in your life and you are still in unbelief, there is hardness. If the works of God does not impress you with a new perspective of him, you are hardened. In science you see the work of God all the time, if that did not change your perspective of him, you are hardened. Everyone is slow of heart and hardened to a measure, what we need is to renew our minds constantly (Romans 12:1-2), continue on a path of change, to progress on the path of faith, since the heart matter is a faith matter, and the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). The life of God flow more in a heart full of faith than others, hence the difference in the productivity: 30, 60 and 100 fold for the good heart, in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20).
- I’ll Take Back what the Devil Stole from Me. A Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent (adw.org)
- Message for 04-06-14…scripture is John 11:1-45 (haagrb.wordpress.com)
- Bible Reading Thoughts for March 31st (therugbychristadelphians.wordpress.com)