“It is easy to mistake a morally restrained heart for a spiritually changed heart… you must be born again.” – Tim Keller
Where does this land for you? Have you ever thought about the difference between these two things… a morally restrained heart and a spiritually changed heart?
A morally restrained heart is an unregenerate heart that still has yet to be revived by the good news of the gospel and be born again. The person’s life may look religious and pious, but underneath the surface lies a heart enslaved by sin, in love with their own glory, and a person still confident in their own goodness. They haven’t come to the end of themselves and seen their sinful heart for what it truly is before Yahweh.
And this isn’t new today. In Deuteronomy 29:2-4, “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharoah and to all his servants and to al his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. BUT to this day the LORD has not give you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”
And again in 29:18-19; “Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who when he hears the words of this covenant, blesses himself in his heart saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ “
But a changed heart, a heart that has been born again… it has come to the end of itself and found a resting place in Jesus. His righteousness is their only hope and their greatest boast. A person born again sees that their sin goes much deeper than exterior manifestations but knows they arise from their heart. Their biggest problem isn’t the outward act of sin but the place it comes from.
Like Jesus says in Mark 7:20-23, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sexuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Wow, ok Jesus, you just went there. Ok, I see you.
Well that is a nice quote Jon and some good verses, but what do I do with this? Here are two things?
FIRST. Step back and ask yourself, have I been born again by the Holy Spirit? Is my salvation a miracle by God’s grace? Am I in awe that God would save me despite all I’ve done to live in my own wisdom for my own glory and satisfaction? Have I been curating an external appearance of righteousness without coming to Jesus with empty hands to let him get at the source of it all… my wicked heart?
SECOND. As you minister to others, never let an appearance of surface level righteousness overly impress you. Don’t assume the gospel has been driven deep into their soul just because they have memorized a few verses and consistently attend a Bible study. Observe their life, probe with good and honest questions. Share your own journey of transformation and see how God works.
The Navs at K-State are committed to bringing on and spurring about not just to an outward conforming and appearance of obedience… but true heartfelt worship from a heart that has been born again and brought back from death to life that results in a lifestyle of deep love, reverence, and obedience to King Jesus.
Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; “4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
There are no boring testimonies. Any story of faith in Jesus is a miracle. A person that was blind can seen, who was dead to sin is now alive! We are pleading with God to shine into the hearts of students this year and bring about only what he can: a born again heart overcome with love and affection for God.
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