Heart and Belief
I want to sin.
That is just the plain and natural truth. Everything in my fallen self desires that which is contrary to the Spirit of God. It’s so frustrating!
Unfortunately church and religion often don’t help us much on that front. Why? Well, because most of our teaching in the church is geared at encouraging us (or worse yet, shaming us) into right behaviours. Now, right behaviours are indeed good things and certainly should be evidenced in the life of every person who calls himself or herself a Christian. But I think we spend more time thinking about our actions than we do our motivations for those actions. And to be honest, we can all “manage” our behaviours for some period of time, but that rarely changes the desires of our heart.
For true change we have to first understand where does sin come from? Why do we still sin even after we have acknowledged something as sin, and perhaps repented of it, over and over and over? “Sinful acts always have their origin in some kind of unbelief; behind every sin is a lie. The root of all our emotions and behaviour is the heart, what it trusts and what it treasures. People are given over to sinful desires because they “exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” Romans 1:25 “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23. Another word for faith is belief, and these verses suggest that all sin comes from not believing what is true about God.
Typically people want to blame their sin on their circumstances. I got angry because someone cut me off in traffic. I started to worry all the time because my husband lost his job. I yelled at the kids because they weren’t obeying me. But the reality is that our circumstances merely illuminate what is already on our hearts.
Our struggles reveal our hearts. This heart level perspective is a radical view of sin and repentance but this perspective is also a helpful view of sin and transformation. It clearly shows us the way out of our struggle with sin. Most of us think that the way to stop sinning is to change our behaviour, employing “sin management” techniques to try to be a better Christian. The problems is that these techniques usually don’t address the real sin problem.
If behind every sin is a lie about God, that what really needs to change is what I am believing in my heart.
The word heart occurs over 850 times in the Bible and means more than just a muscle in our chest pumping blood around. Our heart makes decisions. Our heart feels emotions. Our heart can be deceived, desire things, lust, think and reason. The word heart in the Bible stands for the real you. The heart includes your mind, will and emotions. We believe in our hearts. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10. What we really believe in our hearts comes out in our actions. We might be able to manage our sin and behaviour for a while, but ultimately we get tired of faking it, and dive head long into the sin we so passionately desire.
God wants your heart.
Not many Christians think of themselves and “unbelievers.” That’s usually a term we use for people who have not trusted in Jesus as Saviour yet. But there are many things about God that we do not believe. There is often a gap between what we say we believe in our heads and what we really believe in our hearts. The process of closing that gap between what we know in our head and believe in our hearts is called “sanctification.” Sanctification is about becoming more like Jesus. We will only become more like Jesus when our actions are consistent to what we say we believe.