Have you ever watched a designer at work? I have had many occasions to watch my husband at work as a builder. However, before he ever begins to build, he fully designs the project in his mind. Once he thoroughly knows the design, he meticulously works at the drawing table to create every detail of the design before he ever lifts a finger to build. Then, and only then, he begins to build – and he only builds according to that design.
Have you ever thought that God has a design for your heart? You may wonder why He chooses to work on the heart. Scripture teaches that every action that we make, every word that we speak, and even every thought that we think comes from the heart. In essence, the whole of our life is directed by the heart.
However, the human heart has a great problem. Because of the Fall described in Genesis 3, sin entered the human heart. The human heart fell from perfect communion with God to a self-focused, selfish life. Make no mistake. The selfishness make take shape in the form of the most terrible sins that one could imagine or it may take form in pride and self-exaltation that may be manifested in a variety of ways. But no matter where along this spectrum that self manifests itself, it is still a fallen human heart. Scripture describes the human heart as deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
Our gracious and holy God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to forgive sin by His death on the cross, but He also came to give the one who has trusted in Him a new heart. And, praise be to our God and Father, He has already designed what the heart of the Christian will be.
We must remember that what the Father is doing is two-fold. He is removing the the fallen human heart controlled by sin and self and is creating a new heart in the Christian. What will this new heart be like? How has God designed it to be? In essence, God has designed the new heart to be just like His! But how can we know the heart of God? We can know the heart of God because it has been revealed in the Scriptures.
Listen to the Scriptures as the saints of old describe God:
Moses in Numbers 14:18 says: The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty …
The psalmist in Psalm 86:15 declares: But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
David in Psalm 145:8 proclaims: The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy.
Nehemiah as he prays in Nehemiah 9:17: But thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness …
There are other passages as well. Those Old Testament saints knew their God. They called out to Him and trusted Him to act because of Who He is. But they also knew God’s heart, because God Himself had made it known.
In Exodus 33, in a beautiful exchange between God and Moses, Moses finally begs God to show him His glory. Chapter 34 continues as God Himself places Moses in the cleft of the rock, and covers him with His hand, as He passes by and declares the name of the Lord: The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious and long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
And in response, Moses bowed before Him and worshipped.
These saints of old had come to know God – as He had revealed Himself to be.
What happens then in the New Testament? Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is born and the Scriptures declare that God now lives among us in the Person of Jesus. We can read the gospels to see the heart of Jesus. How often the Scriptures describe Him of being full of compassion.
Hebrews 1:3 describes Jesus as: the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person.
In other words, the Scripture is teaching that Jesus is exactly like and is God.
Jesus even declares of Himself in John 14:9: If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.
Now let us take a look at the Holy Spirit. What is it that is produced by the Holy Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:22).
The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. (Ephesians 5:9).
Now, we are beginning to see our God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one. They are the same. Did you notice how the descriptions of them parallel so closely?
But let us return to our first question. What is God’s design for the Christian heart? As has already been mentioned, He has designed our new heart to be like His! At the Creation, man had a perfect, sinless heart. He had been made in the image of God. After the Fall, sin entered and every human being that has ever been born has been born with that fallen human heart. But God does an amazing work when He saves someone. Colossians 3:10 teaches us that the new man is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. Did you see the connection? Originally man was created in God’s image and after salvation a person is renewed after His image! What a glorious blessing!
When Jesus first began preaching, in His first recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, He describes the heart of the ones who have entered the kingdom of heaven. Listen to the description of their heart. Poor in spirit (empty of self), mourning (grieving when have sinned), meek (humble under God’s hand, not self-assertive), hungering and thirsting after true righteous, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker, rejoicing even in persecution. Do you see the parallels to God’s own heart?
Do you recall the fruit that the Spirit will be producing in the Christian’s heart? Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control, along with goodness, righteousness, and truth. Can you see the design of the Christian heart is to have a heart like God Himself? And, of course, we know that it is a human impossibility. The Christian can only live in that way when the Holy Spirit lives within, and the believer walks in the Spirit of God.
Listen how the Apostle Paul exhorts the believers at Ephesus to walk worthy … with all lowliness, and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. Can you see the same characteristics of the heart?
Paul in writing to the Colossians says: Put on therefore , as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
The New Testament is full of exhortations for the Christian to walk in a way that honors our Lord.
Oh, my friend, can you see God’s design for the Christian heart? The Master Designer planned it from the beginning … that we would be conformed to the image of Christ!
Now let us look at these truths in a very practical manner. It is quite evident that, apart from God Himself doing this work in us, it will be an absolute impossibility. The ultimate goal for the Christian is that we glorify the Father in heaven. How is that done? In the simplest form, it means that you reflect Him as He truly is! In your daily interactions with God Himself and with those around you, your words, deeds, and thoughts simply reflect God as He is because He lives within you. Your life is no longer about self. It is about your Father in heaven.
Now for the tests … How much of your Christian life is spent alone with the Father in true fellowship with Him as opposed to doing “spiritual” things to be admired by your own self or by others?
And how do you interact with others? How do you speak to others? Perhaps the most revealing test is not how you speak to or about others in Christian circles? But how do you speak to your husband? And how do you speak to your children? Jesus said your words reveal your heart. What is found in your own heart? Do you have a heart like God?
I recently had to ask myself all of these same questions as the Lord began speaking to me, saying that He wants all of my heart. Daily I see thoughts, words, and deeds that I must turn away from. Truly, my self must die daily, so that the Spirit of God may rule my heart, and thus, my life.
I return in my thoughts to the Master Designer of the Christian heart. He has specifically and carefully designed the Christian heart to be a reflection of Him. To God be the glory!
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!