The Bare Soul
January 8, 2012
Proverbs 4:23 - Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
What is the heart of a man? Some might suggest it is the inward person as manifested by the workings of the mind, emotion, and will. These are often equated as the soul of a man, which give definition to individual character. However, the soul left to its own devices will always defer to its natural inclinations which is carnality. For when Adam sinned, the spirit within man died, no longer providing guidance to the soul (Ephesians 2:1). The great story of Christ's redemption is how He once again quickened the spirit of man with His Spirit, making us born again through His eternal life (I Corinthians 15:22; I Peter 1:3). Therefore, the heart of man could once again be led by the regenerated spirit within the man---empowered by the Holy Spirit. When Christ is allowed to reign supreme in the heart of a man, He thereby drives the mind, emotion, and will to do according to His will. This "holy bridle" causes the body to be turned in whatever direction the Lord so desires, much like a horse is turned by the reins and bridle of its rider. The degree of submissiveness, much like a horse, will depend on its brokenness toward its master.
Solomon tells us in our lead verse to put a "watch" over our hearts to protect it with all diligence. As suggested previously, this is impossible without the spirit of a man knowing the regeneration of the Holy Spirit of God. The spirit of man is dead without Christ and incapable of supporting the man in any measure. However, once the spirit is enlivened by God, then the understanding to set a watch over the heart is possible. So, in practical terms, what does this mean to the Christian believer? I believe the ability to set a guard over our hearts is grounded in surrender and humility of mind and spirit. Just as the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), so this reverent brokenness toward the Lord invokes the spirit of wisdom to direct our lives according to His great purpose. While Proverbs 4:23 commands us to watch over our heart, verses 24 through 27 provide the process or the mechanics on how to successfully protect the treasure within. The impossibility of this task by the unregenerate man is only juxtaposed by those born of God's spirit and equipped with His power.
Consecration is only possible with God's help. In the following verses, the Lord shows us through Solomon's wisdom how to achieve the carnally impossible with the help of His Spirit of wisdom.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
In verse 24, we are told we must surrender our speech to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. No man can tame the tongue, according to James the brother of our Lord (James 3:8). Only the Lord through His Spirit can make our speech, as it were, full of grace and edification for the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). However, we must submit our spirits to allow Him to control our mouths in all instances, not allowing our words to tear down but to build up through His direction. With our mouths muzzled only for His bridled bidding, we then direct our attention to verse 25 where we are told to be careful what we behold with our eyes. It is true that whatever we continue to behold, we will eventually become. Just as David declared, "I will set no worthless thing before my eyes" (Psalm 101:3), so we must also consciously and willingly submit our gaze to the Lord rather than on the world and its lusts. As we command our soul to return its gaze to the Lord within, then we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, causing us to grow in maturity (Ephesians 4:23). Finally, we see how the direction of our lives is determined by the choices we make, or the paths we take. Verses 26 and 27 teach us how to discern our choices through the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17-19). By choosing the "straight and narrow" path before us, we ensure salvation both for us and also those whom God has appointed to benefit from our obedience.
Simply put, if we will but yield our members (Romans 6:19) according to God's wisdom through the power of the Holy Spirit in our inner man, we will be watching over our hearts with all diligence. This, beloved, is consecration empowered by the Spirit of Christ within. A marvelous outcome is the eventual result. A deepening sanctification will overtake the man or woman who would continue to surrender their spirit in this manner, allowing God's wisdom to flood their inner person. The glorious manifestation is an individual becoming more and more like their Savior. They are being revealed as the righteousness of God in Christ---not only positionally but now conditionally by God's sanctifying power.
If it seems hard to "watch over your heart with all diligence," I would suggest that we must surrender to Christ before we can procure His help. We cannot do this in our own power, beloved. We must draw upon His wisdom through brokenness and humility. It is imperative that we protect our "springs of life" through His strength. For without the Lord enabling us to consecrate ourselves for His purposes, we will never know the joy of His sanctifying grace. May we all experience His holiness in this lifetime which ensures us entrance in the life to come! (Hebrews 12:14)
Heavenly Father, grant us the wisdom to watch over our hearts with the diligence You provide. Allow us the power to consecrate ourselves to You, thereby granting us the holiness of Your grace through sanctification. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,
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