There is one event that changed the condition of the earth more than any other since the world began. The flood of Noah’s day killed a greater percentage of the earth’s population than any other disaster before or since. God explained why He sent the flood, and His reason should cause all of us to examine ourselves. The Bible says, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The problem with the people in the old world was that the thoughts of their hearts were continually evil. How is it today?
As you read this study, please consider the condition of your own heart and your private thought life. The Bible says of a man, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). The thoughts of our hearts are the true determiner of our real condition. We are told, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). This examination is something that is impossible for others to accurately perform. This is an individual examination, not of others, but of yourself.
When the prophet, Samuel, was seeking a king for Israel he almost made a terrible choice, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
The condition of your heart is what really counts. This is very important for young people to consider when choosing a life mate. The outward appearance is of little worth compared to inner beauty that can only be attained through a connection to the source of all goodness, God (Matthew 19:17; Proverbs 31:30).
Good and Evil
Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). The difference between a “good man” and an “evil man” is the “treasure of his heart.” This will determine what kind of life a person will lead. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
Jesus explained, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).
Evil thoughts always precede evil actions, yet Jesus illustrated a deeper problem than evil thoughts: a corrupt heart that produces the evil thoughts. If you notice habitual evil thoughts in your life, it indicates a corrupt heart that needs immediate attention.*
Footnote: * Don’t misunderstand! Evil thoughts can be suggested to your mind by Satan, and it is not a sin to have these thoughts go through your mind. The Bible says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14, 15). Evil thoughts are only sinful when you decide to accept them or act upon them. Even Jesus had evil thoughts go through His mind when Satan suggested sinful ideas to Him and He responded (Matthew 4:1-10).
When evil thoughts come to your mind you have to make a choice whether to dwell upon them or reject them. Yet, even making a positive decision is useless without the power of God in your life. God promised, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalms 50:15). “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). Often, when I am tempted, God will put a verse in my mind to counteract it, such as, “love… thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Praise God for His mighty work in us (Colossians 1:29).
Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:33, 34). If you have an evil heart, no amount of band-aid fixes will work. You need a new heart. “You must be born again.” Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
A New Heart
Jeremiah informed us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Sadly, people can have a corrupt heart and be deceived into thinking they are children of God. Because of this, we must be vigilant to examine ourselves often to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
God said of the Israelites, “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29). The Bible is clear that the root of our troubles is in our hearts. To enter into God’s kingdom, we need to have a radical change of heart.
Thankfully, this is God’s plan and desire for each of us. He promised, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27).
God does not offer to transform our old heart, but to remove it and give us a heart that delights to serve Him and keep His instructions. Jesus’ experience is, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalms 40:8). This is the heart that we need, a heart in which God’s law resides.
Ever since Adam sinned, this heart is not a natural part of our existence. To have this, we must have a divine heart transplant. This is the new covenant. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10).
After his terrible sin with Bathsheba, David pleaded, “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:9, 10). It is not enough to just confess your past sins, you must be born again.
The Old Man Dies
The born-again experience includes dying to your old life. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Taking up your cross has no other purpose than to die to your old life. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Notice how completely death is described in the Bible: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6). When the old man dies, all of the love and hatred of the old man dies.
Before I gave my life to Christ, I did not have any desire to become a Christian. I thought, “If I become a Christian, I will have to give up all the things I like and start doing things that do not interest me at all. What I didn’t realize is that God promised to give me a new set of desires, of likes and dislikes. After I asked God to give me a new heart and invited Jesus to live in my heart, I was surprised to find that He gave me a new set of desires. The things I once hated I now loved and the things I once loved I now hated. I didn’t realize how thoroughly God transforms a person. He goes right to the heart and replaces it with a heart filled with God’s love. For this to happen, the old man must die.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. … Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:6, 7, 11). Considering yourselves to be dead to sin can only be done “through the faith of the operation of God” (Colossians 2:12).
The best advice I have ever received was when my earthly father explained, “Ask God for a new heart, and then believe that He gives it to you because He promised.” He added, “When you get up from that prayer, you will not feel anything different. Do not stop believing that God has given you a new heart and after a few days you will notice a change.” My dad was exactly right. At first I could not see any difference but after a few days there was no question that God had performed a miracle in my life. I responded to things differently! Things that used to bother me didn’t faze me anymore. I had a love for God and others that I had never experienced before. I could say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
This is the radical change that everyone needs in order to see the kingdom of heaven. If you have the Son of God living in your heart, you have eternal life now. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:11-13).
When Christ comes to make His abode in your heart, you cannot stay the same. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
My friends, if you have not invited Jesus to live in your heart, I beg you, please do so now. He will receive you with open arms. Jesus promised, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Jesus is received into your heart by faith, and He will remain there by faith. I pray “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17). This is the best decision you can ever make.