You can’t not know what’s in your heart and what can proceed from it. If you’re old enough to read these words and understand them, you know by now that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, yet the advice I hear Christians give other Christians is to follow their heart or some variation thereof. But why? Why would you tell someone to follow something so deceitful and wicked when it will likely lead them further from the truth and the light?
In my younger years, I gave people looking for the devil behind every tree and bush the benefit of the doubt. I'd tell myself they might be overly zealous, but they’re not hurting anyone. The more I thought about it, the more I realized some folks would do anything but deal with their own hearts and the things lurking therein.
It’s like washing the dishes after dinner. I’ll find an excuse to put it off for as long as possible, including going to the store for milk when there’s still a half gallon sitting in the fridge. We procrastinate when we don’t want to do something we know will be taxing, unpleasant, difficult, or compel us to confront the flesh once and for all. That’s the one some will try to avoid at all costs, even though they know they cannot mature spiritually until they’ve dealt with it.
I would crucify the flesh today, but I don’t have the right hammer. Tomorrow you won’t have the right nails, and the day after just doesn’t work because you have too much on your plate. That’s the game the enemy’s always playing, hoping that if you put it off long enough, one day turns into a week, a week turns into a month, and eventually, a pattern emerges wherein there’s always an excuse handy because putting the old man to death takes work, and procrastination doesn’t.
It’s a binary choice, and one that we each make consciously, with full awareness of what the choice means and what the ramifications are. We choose either God or the world because we can’t have both. Love of the world is enmity with God. By the same logic, the love of God is enmity with the world. God’s not willing to go halfsies, and neither is the world. They’re both proprietary but for different reasons. While God wants you to have life and have it more abundantly, the world desires to steal, kill and destroy.
If it’s so cut and dry, why isn’t everyone running into the arms of Jesus? There’s no one size fits all answer to that question, but for the most part, it’s because instant gratification is more enticing to many than eternity. Pretty boxes with naught, but emptiness inside draw the eye more readily than the cross does. There’s also a good portion who do not believe they deserve forgiveness, some who are self-loathing, and some who are comfortable in the dungeon and chains they’ve fashioned for themselves. The reasons vary, but the result is the same. They know God offers them the power to overcome sin, but they love the sin they’re in and so reject His offer.
1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
The second source of temptation for the believer is the world. This is why we are told not to love the world or the things thereof. John makes it clear that if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. It doesn’t say unless you sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, or play the tambourine in church. If you love the world, the love of God cannot reside in your heart. It doesn’t matter how one might try to compensate or do good work to balance the scales; the only way that the love of the Father can reside in a heart is for the love of the world to be absent.
How is it that the Bible tells us that the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are of the world, but the best-known preachers of our day insist that your best life now is all that matters? Look good, feel good, and have the most toys! That’s the message of the hour, but it’s not the message of the Bible.
The world endorses and promotes that which keeps the masses focused on the world. It despises and attempts to destroy that which draws the eye away from the here and now and fixes it on eternity.
As I tell my youngest daughter whenever we go out for breakfast, “you have to pick one. You can’t have an omelet, waffle, and French toast; you have to pick one.”
God tells us the same thing. We can’t have Him and the world; we must pick one. Rather than go searching for nonexistent boogeymen in hedges, perhaps that time would be better spent searching our hearts and making sure that nothing of the world is still hiding in some dark corner. The best way to do that is to let the light of truth shine bright to the point that there are no dark corners, there are no inky shadows, there is no place for the world to hide any longer, for all things have been brought into the light and dealt with judiciously.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
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