Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Many Christians treat the Bible like a collection of stories. We read it, we admire it, we may even teach it to others, but we never allow it to perform its real job of penetrating and renovating our hearts. But God gave us His Word not to just read, admire, or even defend; He gave us His Word to convict us and to change us.
Hebrews 4:12 talks about the purpose and power of the Word of God: “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
All sin starts with “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions. For example, adultery does not begin in the bedroom. Adultery begins with a thought. Murder does not begin with picking up a gun. It begins with hatred in the heart. That is why Proverbs says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23) and “As [a person] thinks within himself, so he is” (23:7). All sin begins in the mind.
Here is the problem: every one of us is born with a defective operating system. We default to a wrong way of thinking. For example, our natural thought is we are responsible for our future, so we are enslaved to worry. We default to thinking money is the answer to our every need, so we are bound up in greed. We naturally think it is our responsibility to avenge wrongs committed against us, so we are bound up in bitterness. But the Word of God slices through that wrong way of thinking and allows us to experience God’s freedom and rest. That is what the writer of Hebrews was talking about.
That is also what Jesus was talking about when He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). It is not academic truth that a university teaches that makes you free. The truth Jesus was talking about is God’s truth. God’s truth is what sets you free. It frees you from the pattern of wrong thinking and wrong acting that causes you to miss God’s rest.
Do you remember the story of the Gordian knot? Gordius made an intricate knot that nobody could unravel. They placed it in the center of the town square, and people would come from all around trying to untie the Gordian knot. One day, Alexander the Great came to the village, and they told him that no one had been able to untie the knot. He examined it and could not find any loose strands. So he got out his sword and sliced right through the knot. And that is exactly what God’s Word does. God’s Word is like a sword that slices through our wrong thinking and frees us to experience God’s rest.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Truth That Transforms” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.