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Our hearts kept for Jesus.
‘It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace,’ and yet some of us go on as if it were not a good thing even to hope for it to be so.
We should be ashamed to say that we had behaved treacherously to a friend; that we had played him false again and again; that we had said scores of times what we did not really mean; that we had professed and promised what, all the while, we had no sort of purpose of performing. We should be ready to go off by next ship to New Zealand rather than calmly own to all this, or rather than ever face our friends again after we had owned it. And yet we are not ashamed (some of us) to say that we are always dealing treacherously with our Lord; nay, more, we own it with an inexplicable complacency, as if there were a kind of virtue in saying how fickle and faithless and desperately wicked our hearts are; and we actually plume ourselves on the easy confession, which we think proves our 105 humility, and which does not lower us in the eyes of others, nor in our own eyes, half so much as if we had to say, ‘I have told a story,’ or, ‘I have broken my promise.’ Nay, more, we have not the slightest hope, and therefore not the smallest intention of aiming at an utterly different state of things. Well for us if we do not go a step farther, and call those by hard and false names who do seek to have an established heart, and who believe that as the Lord meant what He said when He promised, ‘No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly,’ so He will not withhold this good thing.
Prayer must be based upon promise, but, thank God, His promises are always broader than our prayers. No fear of building inverted pyramids here, for Jesus Christ is the foundation, and this and all the other ‘promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us.’ So it shall be unto His glory to fulfil this one to us, and to answer our prayer for a ‘kept’ or ‘established’ heart. And its fulfilment shall work out His glory, not in spite of us, but ‘by us.’
We find both the means and the result of the keeping in the 112th Psalm: ‘His heart is fixed.’ Whose heart? An angel? A saint in glory? No! Simply the heart of the man that feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in His commandments. Therefore yours and mine, as God would have them be; just the normal idea of a God-fearing heart, nothing extremely and hopelessly beyond attainment.106
‘Fixed.’ How does that tally with the deceitfulness and waywardness and fickleness about which we really talk as if we were rather proud of them than utterly ashamed of them?
Does our heavenly Bridegroom expect nothing more of us? Does His mighty, all-constraining love intend to do no more for us than to leave us in this deplorable state, when He is undoubtedly able to heal the desperately wicked heart (compare verses 9 and 14 of Jeremiah xvii.), to rule the wayward one with His peace, and to establish the fickle one with His grace? Are we not ‘without excuse’?
‘Fixed, trusting in the Lord.’ Here is the means of the fixing—trust. He works the trust in us by sending the Holy Spirit to reveal God in Christ to us as absolutely, infinitely worthy of our trust. When we ‘see Jesus’ by Spirit-wrought faith, we cannot but trust Him; we distrust our hearts more truly than ever before, but we trust our Lord entirely, because we trust Him only. For, entrusting our trust to Him, we know that He is able to keep that which we commit (i. e. entrust) to Him. It is His own way of winning and fixing our hearts for Himself. Is it not a beautiful one? Thus ‘his heart is established.’ But we have not quite faith enough to believe that. So what is the very first doubting, and therefore sad thought that crops up? ‘Yes, but I am afraid it will not remain fixed.’
That is your thought. Now see what is God’s thought about the case. ‘His heart is established, he shall not be afraid.’107
Is not that enough? What is, if such plain and yet divine words are not? Well, the Gracious One bears with us, and gives line upon line to His poor little children. And so He says, ‘The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus.’ And again, ‘Thy thoughts shall be established.’ And again, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.’
And to prove to us that these promises can be realized in present experience, He sends down to us through nearly 3000 years the words of the man who prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God,’ and lets us hear twice over the new song put by the same Holy Spirit into his mouth: ‘My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed’ (Ps. lvii. 7, cviii. 1).
The heart that is established in Christ is also established for Christ. It becomes His royal throne, no longer occupied by His foe, no longer tottering and unstable. And then we see the beauty and preciousness of the promise, ‘He shall be a Priest upon His throne.’ Not only reigning, but atoning. Not only ruling, but cleansing. Thus the throne is established ‘in mercy,’ but ‘by righteousness.’
I think we lose ground sometimes by parleying with the tempter. We have no business to parley with an usurper. The throne is no longer his when we have surrendered it to our Lord Jesus. And why should we allow him to argue with us for one instant, as if it were still an open question? 108 Don’t listen; simply tell him that Jesus Christ is on the long-disputed throne, and no more about it, but turn at once to your King and claim the glorious protection of His sovereignty over you. It is a splendid reality, and you will find it so. He will not abdicate and leave you kingless and defenceless. For verily, ‘The Lord is our King; He will save us’ (Isa. xxxiii. 22).
|Our hearts are naturally—||God can make them—|
|Evil,||Heb. iii. 12.||Clean,||Ps. li. 10.|
|Desperately wicked,||Jer. xvii. 9.||Good,||Luke viii. 15.|
|Weak,||Ezek. xvi. 30.||Fixed,||Ps. cxii. 7.|
|Deceitful,||Jer. xvii. 9.||Faithful,||Neh. ix. 8.|
|Deceived,||Isa. xliv. 20.||Understanding,||1 Kings iii. 9.|
|Double,||Ps. xii. 2.||Honest,||Luke viii. 15.|
|Impenitent,||Rom. ii. 5.||Contrite,||Ps. li. 17.|
|Rebellious,||Jer. v. 23.||True,||Heb. x. 22.|
|Hard,||Ezek. iii. 7.||Soft,||Job xxiii. 16.|
|Stony,||Ezek. xi. 19.||New,||Ezek. xviii. 31.|
|Froward,||Prov. xvii. 20.||Sound,||Ps. cxix. 80.|
|Despiteful,||Ezek. xxv. 15.||Glad,||Ps. xvi. 9.|
|Stout,||Isa. x. 12.||Established,||Ps. cxii. 8.|
|Haughty,||Prov. xviii. 12.||Tender,||Ephes. iv. 32.|
|Proud,||Prov. xxi. 4.||Pure,||Matt. v. 8.|
|Perverse,||Prov. xii. 8.||Perfect,||1 Chron. xxix. 9.|
|Foolish,||Rom. i. 21.||Wise,||Prov. xi. 29.|
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