“SINS OF THE HEART” By Pastor YAU
Luke 15:25-32; Romans 3:23 August 12, 2007
1) The words of a dentist: During my recent visit to a dentist, an elderly professional, he was chatting with his assistant on failures of man in general while he was working on my tooth. He was talking about the sins of man and the two categories of sin: sins of commission and sins of omission. The assistant, a much younger man had a blank face, didn’t get what his boss was talking about. Apparently the dentist knew that I am a preacher from my registration form, he told his assistant to ask me for explanation. Sitting on a dentist chair with my mouth wide opened for a root-canal job, there was nothing I could tell the young man on the subject.
2) The words of the Lord: Some theologians divided sins into yet a different category: sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. This means that some sins we commit are originated from the passion of the flesh while other sins come from the spirit or the heart. In the story of the Prodigal Son as told by Jesus in Luke chapter 15, the sins of the younger son came from the flesh while the sins of the older son came from his heart. The stay-at-home son is more than just background filler. Look at his heart when he learned that his father set a big celebration for the return of his runaway brother, we see that he was as sinful or may be worse than his younger brother.
PROBLEMS OF THE HEART:
1) This is an old problem: From the very early time of history, according to the Bible, sin of the heart is real and dangerous. When God did not accept the offering from Cain because he did not do right in his life, Cain allowed his heart to fill with jealousy and anger. “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering but on Cain and his offering the Lord did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.” (Genesis 4:4-5) And we know that this anger in the heart of Cain led him to murder his brother while they were working in the field. (4:8)
2) This is a universal problem: Only two chapters in the Bible after the murder of Abel by Cain, sin of the heart had spread to all mankind at that time. In Gen. 6:5, the Bible says, “The Lord God saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” The heart of the natural man is so receptive to the temptation of sin. Regardless of class, education, race or culture, all hearts of all men are sinful without exception. That’s what Paul says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) No one is exempted from the sin of his heart.
3) This is what we need to guard: The heart is the control center of all actions of a man. We do things according to the signals given by the heart. King Solomon advised us to “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring (consequence) of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Prophet Jeremiah accurately described the sinful nature of the heart in 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” No human heart can be reformed, trained or changed by efforts of man or religion or philosophy or self discipline. It can only be replaced by born again through the new life of Jesus Christ.
4) This is the root of all evil: When Jesus answered his critics on “unclean man,” He said, “But the things that come out of his heart make him unclean. For out of his heart come evil thoughts, murder, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony and slander.” (Matt. 15:18-19)Of all the sins Jesus mentioned here they all come out from the heart of man. So, the real problem of sin is not from the action but from the heart. If you are serious in dealing with the problem of sin, you need to deal first with your heart.
SOME OF THE SINS OF THE EHART: Read the story and try to find out some of the common sins of the heart in this big brother:
1) He was angry: When he learned from the servant that his brother came home safe and sound and his father killed the fattened calf for the celebration, () instead of rejoicing for the safe return of his brother, the big brother became angry. You may interpret the evil of anger and add many aspects of his sin, the fact that he was angry to see his brother came home safe and sound and the joy of his father is beyond human understanding. How can a man become angry to see the safe return of his brother? And how can a man get so angry to see forgiveness of the father toward his son? What is in the heart of this man that triggers his anger?
2) He was self-righteous: The first reason of his anger rests on his reason of “who” deserves the special treat. He began by counting all the “good things” he did all these years. He had served the father. He had not disobeyed his father’s orders in all these years. He said in his heart: “Can you see all the good and right things I have done?” Self righteous is the cardinal sin of many, particularly the Jewish leaders at Jesus’ time. “Because of the good works I have done, I deserve I am better than others.” This is pure pride and pride is the number one sin that blocks people from the grace of God.
3) He was discontent: With all the properties he and his father had, he wasn’t happy because he didn’t have a young goat. This is a ridiculous accusation because all the father has is his. (v.31) Discontentment is the most frequent sin we have in real life, be it toward people or toward God. With all the things we have, we often times complain to God and people that we don’t have this and don’t have that.
4) He was jealous: Then he accused the father of being unfair. He began his complaint by listing all the bad things his brother had done. In fact, he did not accept the young man as brother: he called him “this son of yours” as if he had nothing to do with this young man. Since this “son of yours” has squandered all your property with prostitutes (another unforgivable sin), how can the father treat him with such forgiveness and love?
5) Other sins in his heart: He was bitter against both his father and his brother. He was ungrateful to his father’s gracious response. He is defensive for his refusal to go inside and join the celebration. He was suspicious on what is going on in his own house. He was stubborn not to accept the father’s gracious approach. He was sour in his heart that ruins the joy of others. He was not honest to his father by hiding all the anger in his heart for years. He was selfish for he cares more about his relationship with friends than about the well being of his brother. If you read the story again and again, I am sure you may add a few more “sins-of-the-heart” on the list. This is done not to point a finger at this big brother, but to see at our own hearts if we are like him in someway.
WAYS TO CONTROL THE HEART: Do not allow your heart and its sins run rampant. For sins of the heart can ruin your life, the marriage, your children and your career, alienate your friends and put you in lonely and bitter life conditions.
1) Give your heart to God: No one and nothing can make our heart clean and keep it that way better than God. The Apostle Paul advised us not to give our hearts to conform to the pattern of this world, but “to be transformed by the renewing of your mind that we will be able to test and approve the will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) This is more than just commit your life to God at salvation, but to keep our hearts close to God each and everyday.
2) Search your heart daily: Our heart is the prime target of the devil’s attack. So, we need to search our heart to see is there is anything not right, not pleasing God, not compatible with our Christian values each day, best in the morning. King David asked God to search his heart in Psalm 139:23-24, he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
3) Confess the sins of heart: When you see anything wrong, any sin or offence in your heart, don’t try to cover up or white wash it as nothing. Every sin is a stumbling block that may slow you down the progress of your spiritual journey and may cause you to be less fruitful or effective. Confess all sins of your heart to God and receive His forgiveness. (1 John 1:9) Sins of the heart are as serious and evil as sins of the flesh. They need to be confessed and be rid of if you want to have a fruitful and joyous life.
4) Fill your heart with good: One of the ways to stop the heart from being filled with sins is to fill our hearts with things that are good and honorable. Paul suggested to the early Christians to fill their hearts with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, what-ever is lovely, whatever is admirable, is anything is excellent or praise worthy, keep thinking of these.” (Phil. 4:8) If your heart is full the above, there is little room for evil and sin. If you need an example to learn from, Paul says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me---put it into practice.” (Phil. 4:9)
1) Look on the inside: Most of us tend to see sin as actions on the outside rather than evil on the inside, but sin is both. The condition of the heart has much to do with sin of the flesh. Man sees our actions but God sees our heart condition.
2) Cleanse the heart: Before we can control our acts of evil, we need to control the source of evil---the heart. Guard your heart against all worldly, sinful invasion and temptation. Fill it with God’s word and His purpose so you may do well.
3) Only help for you: To live a life that is clean, joyful and full of good results, God is the only one to help you achieve that goal. Trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He can save you.