WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 20, 2021
TOPIC: GUARD YOUR HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE
BY T. O. BANSO
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 New Living Translation).
Your heart is very central to all you do in life. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do” (New Living Translation). The heart referred to here is not the muscular organ that pumps blood through the body, but your thought life.
The World English Bibles says out of your heart is the wellspring of life. In other words, your heart is the source of all life. According to Young’s Literal Translation, out of your heart are the outgoings of life. “And keep watch over your heart with all care; so you will have life” (Bible in Basic English).
Satan always wants to possess it by sowing evil seeds there. Your heart now becomes fertile soil for breeding sin. Matthew 15:18-20 gives us a list of sins that proceed from the heart. “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them” (New International Version).
Evil words that come out of someone’s mouth emanate from his heart and defile him. All the other sins listed – Murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies – first start as evil thoughts and defile a human being. No wonder Peter asked Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” (Acts 5:3 New King James Version). And as a man thinks in his heart so he is (Proverbs 23:7a).
How do you guard your heart with all diligence? Don’t harbor any sinful thought that could grow to become a desire in your heart. Don’t tolerate it. James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (New King James Version). Did you see that? Evil desire gives birth to temptation and temptation results in sin, which brings forth death. The Greek word translated desire is epithumia which means a longing especially for what is forbidden. :
You cannot gain victory over evil or sinful thoughts by resisting them, but by replacing them with godly thoughts. That’s how to displace evil or sinful thoughts. Philippians 4:8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (New Living Translation).
Furthermore, you need a renewal of your mind; you must receive a new mind, which is the mind of God. You will thereby be able to unlearn the wrong things you’ve learnt. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (New King James version).
You cannot renew your mind yourself. You can only expose your mind to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will transform your mind in line with the Word you have exposed your mind to. The New Living Translation renders Romans 12:2 thus: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.”
Did you see that phrase? – God will transform you into a new person. God does that through the Holy Spirit working on the Word of God you have received.
In addition, keep the Word of God in your heart. Don’t just read or study the Word and forget about it. Keep it in your heart, so that when temptation comes, you have different scriptures coming up in your heart to tell you what God says and why you must not do what the devil is telling you to do. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (New Living Translation).
Furthermore, keep the gates to your heart from any sinful thing. These gates are your eyes, mouth, ears, mind, and feet (activities) (Proverbs 4:20-27). So what do you do? Don’t watch (or read), hear, say, and think what will make you fall into temptation, and don’t go where you’ll be tempted.
There’s a time to stand to resist the devil and he’ll flee (James 4:7; Hebrews 12:4). And there is a time that to resist the devil, you’re the one who must flee from temptation; you don’t stand there commanding the person Satan is using to tempt you to flee. Joseph had to run away from Mrs. Potiphar (Genesis 39:7-13).
The Bible says you should abstain or keep from all appearances of evil or every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). And that is why Psalm 1:1 says you should avoid walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful.“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22-23 New King James Version).
There’s no way you can be exposing your eyes and mind to pornographic materials that you’ll be able to withstand sexual temptation. You can’t be listening to sexually suggestive songs and be able to keep yourself holy. It’s impossible for you to be engaged in foolish talk and unbefitting jokes, and not go deeper into sin.
Ephesians 5:3-5 says, “But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints; nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks. Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God” (World English Bible).
You have to discipline yourself just as Job did, making a covenant with his eyes not to look with lust upon a young woman (Job 31:1). David failed in this regard and committed sexual immorality with Bathsheba, plus killing the husband to cover up (2 Samuel 11). But David’s sin found him out.
Protect your heart. Don’t let Satan enter into you. “Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went over to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them” (Luke 22:3-4 New Living Translation).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I repent of the sinful thoughts in my heart. Lord Jesus, purge my heart of every sin that defiles me. I receive the help of the Holy Spirit to keep watch over my heart with all care. Satan shall no more fill my heart with evil and sinful thoughts in Jesus’ name.
(For over 260 in-depth and insightful messages by T.O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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