I hope you agree with me that we live in a very blessed time. As bleak and unpromising as the future of this world and its cultures appear, I am extremely excited to see God increasingly unveiling His knowledge in more and more rapid surges of revelation. I mean, we have access to podcasts and books and in-depth studies of Scripture by men and women who are making it their life's work to cast aside man-made religious doctrines in order to fully understand what God says and wants from His people.
Now, before you go and give me any kind of praise for this explanation, I must give credit where credit is due. I am going to present a new understanding that I have been gleaning and formulating about our spirituality from one of those young men who is truly a blessing to this generation. Dan Duval is among a group of young and bold and faithful disciples of Christ (including Justen Faull, Russ Dizdar, Michael Heiser) who have not only immersed themselves in studying the Greek and Hebrew Bibles for greater insight into God, but have gone where the Church is either too afraid or too unenlightened to venture -- spiritual warfare, deliverance and healing, satanic ritual abuse, and the application of Jesus's Power and Authority through us, His commissioned followers. But they have also taken advantage of the internet, social media, and technology -- tools that satan has successfully used to lure our younger generation and society into spiritual bondage -- and they all have ministries whose goals are to bring more souls into the Kingdom of God. They have successful podcasts, blogs, books, videos, and even online church services that are reaching multitudes for Christ. And their work is all done to glorify God from a Scriptural foundation and according to the dictates of His Word!
All that being said, Dan Duval has written a couple of books that incorporate an idea that is opening up a new understanding of Scripture for me everyday. It concerns the matters of our heart, and I literally have a more expansive vision of the Word, and am seeing the application of this new understanding as I read old, familiar verses. I know I can't express all of it in one blog post, so I hope you will continue to follow me as I try to explain how Scripture has opened up to me.
To begin with, I approached this subject of the heart in a post on the Parable of the Sower, and that is really where I began to see how central our hearts are to the application of our faith, and how important it was to Jesus that we understand that. I also wrote about how the conditions of our hearts affect everything we think, say, and do in this post. But Dan Duval has pointed me to further examples in Scripture and I am beginning to see how I have glossed over these verses, without seeing how fundamental they are to my Christian walk. So, I am going to try to lay out the process I am undergoing and share with you these new facts of God's Truth.
First, we need to gain an understanding of just how the heart plays into God's creation of Man. I am not a scholarly person, so please excuse me if this seems elementary, but it is the steps I have taken to enter into the higher and deeper dimensions of God... We all know that the completion of His creation is evidenced in our spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We're pretty clear on what constitutes our spirit and our body, but we need to understand that our soul consists of our mind, will, and emotions. So where does the heart fit into all this?
If we understand that the heart is kind of a gateway, or entry point, from our soul to our spirit, then we can see that it plays a very important part in how we act out our faith. Think of it as a processing plant between our soul and spirit -- the spirit feeds spiritual information into the heart, and the soul feeds carnal information into our hearts (from our minds, our emotions, and our life experiences, or will). The heart then processes all that information, and sends information out that shapes the activity of both the soul and spirit based on the belief system that is operating in us. In this way, whatever the heart is convinced of, shapes the person's reality. This is what is meant when Scripture tells us, "as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). (Join me on Sunday as I show how this played out in the life of Ananais and his wife Sapphira in the Book of Acts).
As we contemplate the heart, it is vital that we understand that the collection of all the information coming from our soul and our spirit into our heart, is what makes up, or forms, our worldview. So, if you have no relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, you will not have much spiritual knowledge flowing into your heart; only the carnal knowledge coming from your thoughts and how the world affects you through your experiences ... so you will likely have a secular, humanist worldview. On the other hand, if you are saved, and have a personal relationship with Jesus, then that knowledge will mix with your fleshly thoughts, your feelings and what the world throws at you, to bring you into some form of spiritual or Biblical worldview. If you are of the latter persuasion, then how you respond to this life on earth will be determined by how your heart processes that mixture of information. In other words, what are the "thoughts of your heart"? And can they be changed or programmed to respond in one direction or another?
Dan Duval exposits that there are three main ways to program the heart. The programming is dependent on which kingdom has created the program (or, as I understand it, who wields the most influence in your heart). Who sits on the throne of the kingdom of your heart -- God, man, or the Prince of Darkness? Although we have three kinds of kingdoms in operation here, there are really only two agendas -- the Christ agenda for the redemption of mankind and the antichrist agenda that denies Jesus is Lord. There is no middle ground, and no other alternative. The kingdoms that we set up for ourselves (both in the heart and in the world) either further the Christ agenda by submitting to it, or stand in its way by resisting it.
So how are our hearts programmed by each of these kingdom sources? Again, Mr. Duval presents an interesting paradigm.... In the Kingdom of God, our hearts are programmed through revelation. God's revelations of Himself yield a love-based paradigm, in which we think and act like God thinks and acts. In the Kingdom of Men, our hearts are programmed through repetition, which becomes tradition. This is the difference between religion and relationship. We will think and act like our forefathers thought and acted. We see that in the centuries old doctrines of our churches. And in the Kingdom of Darkness, our hearts are programmed through trauma, which opens doors for bondage and satan's lies, which generates fear. We begin to think and act according to the lies he whispers and the way he acts.
I don't want to overwhelm you with a difficult concept, but I hope you can see that there is a war for our hearts. The spirit and the soul are in a perpetual battle for the thoughts of our hearts. For us Christians, while the spirit is attempting to program the heart according to the truths of God and His kingdom, the soul is attempting to program the heart according to the experiences of our lives. That is why the Bible tells us that we must continually renew our minds with the Word of God. Our minds are such a strong component of our soul that we will serve what we yield ourselves to, and what we yield to will become the primary influence upon our hearts. So what we think greatly affects our hearts and how we ultimately act. That's why the Bible tells us to take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.
I think the best example I can show you of how we, as humans, must program our hearts is found in the first chapter of the Book of Daniel. I have read and studied this inspiring book with my Home Church group, but am reading it again as I make my way through the Bible ... one more time. In Daniel 1:8, the King James version reads, But Daniel purposed in his heart, that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank... The Amplified version reads, But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the [a]king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank...
Can you see this concept of programming our hearts played out in Daniel's faithful act? Can you see the struggle within his heart -- how he had to process the information coming from his spirit with the information coming from his mind, emotions, and will? Daniel knew that the king's food would have been sacrificed to pagan gods; and he knows that because his name has been changed from Daniel ("God is my Judge") to Belteshazzar ("The pagan god Bel will protect my life"), if he participates in eating the king's food, he will be giving the impression that he agreed to follow the pagan practices. This is where Daniel "purposed his heart" according to the belief system of the Kingdom that lived within his heart. Daniel's heart was programmed by the Kingdom of God, so he acted and thought like God, and out of his love for God, he chose not to compromise. He made up his mind; "for as he thinks, so in his heart, is he". Do you see just how powerful our minds can be in overwhelming our hearts?
I challenge you to look up all the verses in the Bible about the heart. I believe that, like me, you will find new inspiration and revelation as to how important the state of our heart is to our faith and our salvation journey. And I think you will discover just how important renewing our mind is to programming our hearts. Also, I believe that you will find new meaning in verses like this: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10); and this one: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
Finally, I will be showing you with my Scripture choice on Sunday, how the Enemy targets the heart to influence us and take us captive, filling it with his deception and wickedness. But when our heart is circumcised with the love and commands of the Lord, everything that flows out of it is for the glory of God's Kingdom. Stay tuned!
Proverbs 4:23 "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life."