Restoration of the Heart

The Human heart is, in biblical terms, the very soul or being of man. 

It is where his emotions, ambitions, desires, and thoughts ebb and flow, and circulate.

It is the home of man’s reasoning and decision making.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about the heart:-

Jeremiah 17: 1,9,10 reads: “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the tablet of their heart,…”

In this text, the Lord is talking about the kingdom of Judah in the natural sense.

After the death of King Solomon of Israel, the 12 tribes of Israel were divided into two kingdoms.


Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, became king of the southern kingdom of Judah, which was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and much of the tribe of Levi, the tribe that served at the temple.

Jeroboam, a former servant of King Solomon, became king of the northern kingdom of Israel, which was comprised of the remaining 10 tribes (1 Kings 11 and 12)

When God punished Israel and scattered the kingdom due to its disobedience and idolatry, Judah was watching. Judah had an example of what would befall it, if it too, departed from the Lord’s ways; yet, the kingdom of Judah as well, fell into disobedience and came under the wrath of God. This is why in Jeremiah 17, verse 1, the Bible says, 

“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond.” i.e. ‘almost impossible to erase’.

Now seeing that we all have fallen from the grace of God, and are continually prey to sinful thoughts and desires on account of our fallen nature, the Lord is emphasizing our helplessness by saying, ‘here in the seat of man’s very soul’, where He, as a Creator and Savior hopes to dwell…on the tablet of the heart is engraved - ‘SIN’.

Now look closely at the terms used in this sentence:

-        -  A pen of iron

-        - The point of a diamond

-        - The tablet of the heart

If you have seen ancient engravings on stone or metal tablets at a museum, you’ll know how the letters or symbols are scratched into the base, hard, almost tearing into the substance of the base be it rock or wood, or any other material…. It perforates the material, penetrating the surface….digging into it to leave a mark which can never be naturally erased….deep and biting….

We all know the metal - iron, which is used in the manufacture of steel, tin, and aluminium, and constitutes a common material in all of our global infrastructure today.


And we also know that there is nothing purer or sharper than a diamond. Diamonds today, besides being used as jewelry, are also used in most high precision industries for precision cutting, shaping, and polishing.


Now try to imagine a pen made out of iron, with the point of a diamond engraving something on a human heart! What a mess that would make, with the sharp blade like point goring into the flesh.

But, no, that is not what the Lord means. It is a metaphor trying to convey how deep we have wounded Him by our sin. It is an illustration of how futile our self-effort at cleaning up our lives is. How can you patch together a gored heart? How can you naturally restore a surface to what it was before it had been engraved?

In addressing Judah, the Lord is addressing us all and saying, “Your sin is like a deep engraving which can never be erased.”

Let us move to verse 9:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

So our hearts can even deceive ourselves. Our thoughts, our intents, our desires, our logic, can even turn against us and leads us one way when we know deep down we should be going another. Our very hearts can take ‘the wrong’ and convince ourselves, that it is ‘the right’.

And our hearts are ‘desperately wicked’, very hard words these….Our hearts? Our good hearts in which we carry good thoughts, care and concern for others, love and peace….desperately wicked…?

DESPERATEadjective
having a great need or desire for something.
(Synonyms: in great need of, urgently requiring, craving, in want of, lacking, wanting; )

Our hearts are prone to sin, prone to wander, prone to deceive our very selves, prone to wickedness because of the great desperation that lies within; without the righteousness and redemption of God.

The heart of man is almost like a fish – slippery, hard to catch, hard to rein in, and hard to hold on to with a firm grip without it slipping out of hands. This is probably why the Lord compared men to fish when He told Peter, 

“….Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19).

Indeed the Lord proved this to His disciples twice, while they were in their fishing boats. Both those times, they had caught nothing. And, each time, on obeying the Lord’s word, when He told them to cast the nets, they hadn’t been able to haul in the catch due to the multitude of fish!


What the Lord was trying to say was: ‘Although you may be experienced fishermen, it is I who move the fish into the nets’, or, ‘Although I send you out to win the hearts of men for my kingdom, it is I who give you the yield.’ This is because the Creator of man alone has the power to draw in, hold, and cleanse man's heart.

But we find comfort in this…our hopelessness…in Jeremiah 17:10:-

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins,…”

“Try the reins” in modern English literally translates into “Test the mind.”

The Holy Spirit brings into our hearts the conviction of sin. And this is how the Lord ‘searches the hearts’ and ‘tests the mind’ of man….through the insight of the Holy Spirit.


This conviction of sin bears fruit in the heart of man. It is the means for inviting the Creator of the Universe to dwell within it, and fill the huge void that sin has made with its harsh engravings upon it.

So the brutal piercing and tearing up of the heart of man by sin is covered and healed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God.


It is then that we can say like David,

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.  

“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

(Psalms 119: 9-11, 105)

So, here, we see the sequence of the renewal of the heart of man:-

a.       Taking heed to the Word of God (Obeying the Lord’s commandments)

b.      Seeking the Lord with our WHOLE HEARTS (Bringing our thoughts into complete subjection to Him)

c.       Hiding His Word in our hearts (Allowing His Word to become part of our nature)

d.      Considering the Word of God our guide (Honoring the Word of God in our way of life)

In conclusion, the heart of man which had once been ravished and torn by sin, once it acknowledges the sacrifice of the sinless Lamb that took its place on Calvary, and bore the shame of sin’s scars and the pain of sin’s wounds, so that it may be restored to its former pure and undefiled condition; is softened, healed, and renewed. The engravings of sin upon this tablet, even though carved deep, have now been erased and it’s marks filled in by the blood of the Savior.

It now appears as just as it had been in the day it was created through the resurrection power of Christ.




Repentance & Confession


We who are Christians are familiar with the term Repentance.

REPENTANCE :

the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.”

We know that in order to be saved we need to feel repentance, to repent of our past sins and mistakes.


We feel sorry for our sins, our failings, our weaknesses. We recognize that we have been wrong, done wrong, are wrong; and we accept the rightness of God.


In Christian terms we recognize that we are sinners, have sinned, have fallen short of the glory of God, have distanced ourselves from our Maker either knowingly or unknowingly, have lived in a state of arrogance, negligence, and rebelliousness.

The Bible says in Romans 3: 23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”

This inward admission of our sin or guilt is Repentance.

It is this repentance that fuels our need or desire to be saved, to be made right with God, to put on the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

Repentance then, goes hand in hand with Confession.

CONFESSION:

“a formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.”

“a statement setting out essential religious doctrine.”

I like the first definition better.

We indeed are guilty of the crime of crucifying the Son of God on that cross on Calvary so many years ago. It was our sins that nailed Him to the tree.

Isaiah 53: 5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; ”


Once we enter a state of repentance, once we understand that we cannot clean up our past and neither redeem ourselves by ourselves, once we realize that we need a Saviour who can clean up the dross and filth from our lives, justify us, sanctify us, make us whole, and finally make us right with God, we need to confess our sin, confess our need for a Savior, confess that we are nothing by ourselves, and that we need the governing care of Christ in our lives.


Repentance is incomplete by itself. It needs a Confession of one’s sins, and one’s faith in the Savior to be complete.

So, Repentance and Confession are partners.



Repentance takes place in the heart.

Confession is the outward expression of a repentant heart.


Let us take a look at this scripture from Lamentations 3: 40,41

“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.”

“Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.”

Here the Bible tells us to:-

A.      Search our ways

B.      Try our ways

C.      Turn to God

D.      Lift up our hearts with our hands to God

The book of Lamentations is a book of woe – it was the burden of the Lord for the children of Israel laid upon the heart of one of His prophets – Jeremiah.

In this chapter Jeremiah is heavy hearted with the burden of the affliction and captivity of Israel. In the spirit of intercession he acknowledges all the hardships that have come upon them, at the same time recognizing the sin that brought it about. He then lists these phases of repentance.

A.      To search our ways means to examine our lives, the paths we have taken, the decisions we have made, and see if we have offended God through them in any way.

B.      To try our ways means to check whether or not our deeds and plans are/have been in line with God’s Word, and according to His will.

C.      To turn again to God obviously means that at one point of time we have turned away from him. So, we would need to turn back to Him.


(What does the Bible mean by ‘ways’?

Ways in biblical parlance means deeds, actions, or manner of living.

These ways can be either physical or spiritual.

Our physical ways when not under the authority of the Holy Spirit, fall prey to the sins of the world.

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I John 2:16)

Our spiritual ways when dimmed by the world take on a form of religiousness, i.e. we use traditions and rituals to satisfy our spiritual hunger and give ourselves and air of self –righteousness in what we do.

“For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3)

John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”) )


In the course of our lives as Christians, even those who have been born again, we start out with such gusto and enthusiasm. After a while this enthusiasm dims as we are caught up in life’s hullaballoo. It is when we shift our focus from our Lord to the things of the world, and give worldly attractions or our own self weaknesses and indulgences priority over our God, that we lose sight of Him.


It is then that we feel ourselves drawing away from Him, and are so negligent of our walk with Him, cocooned in the comfort of our own worlds that we do not even make an effort to lessen the distance, to bridge the gap, to stop ourselves from becoming totally shut off from His presence.



At this point we have begun to trust and depend less on His ever wise counsel, and choose instead to follow our own, albeit we may sometime go down the wrong road. Still, to admit that we are weak and in need of strength, or are fearful and in need of courage, or are lost and in need of direction, is out of the question.

So we make our own plans, frame our own ambitions, take our own decisions, and choose our own paths, God’s will or not. We are now the masters of our own destinies, the captains of our own ships.
We have forgotten to search and try our ways before the Lord, forgotten to go to Him for guidance and help. We have adopted an ‘I can do fine by myself’ attitude. And it’s working out great for us so far…



We have turned away from God. We do not recognize His worth as a counsellor, a confidant, a guide. The first love that we had for Him has died down. Oh yes, we still carry it deep down in the bottom recesses of our hearts, but that love is no more violently passionate. It has ebbed to an irregular memory.




So to turn again warrants a 180 degree head tilt. We have to look back, once again, to the source of our original courage, strength, and confidence. We have to re-love, re-depend, re-ask for all that has gone missing. It is only when the hard times come that some of us turn back.

Once we turn back to God in repentance and with a true confession, the next step is easy:

D.      Lifting up our hearts with our hands to God means, we have come back, we have acknowledged our wrongs, we have reconciled with our Maker, He has forgiven us, and we can now give Him back the love that He expects of us without the shadows of guilt.



Notice the wording in the above verse of scripture: “Lift up our hearts with our hands to God”. Not just lift up our hearts, but lift up our hearts with our hands, OR Lift up our hearts along with our hands to God. This means we have to give our lives to God voluntarily, whole heartedly, with all our being, by ourselves. Once offer our hearts to God, our hearts stay hidden in Him, but our hands will still be outstretched overhead towards Him as a loving statement of our unending dependence on Him as our Heavenly Father.

Pastor Shadrach K. Joseph


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