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The Word in the Heart

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart.”

His heart would be kept by the word because he kept the word in his heart. All that he had of the word … he had stored away in his affections, as a treasure to be safely preserved, or as a choice seed to be buried in a fruitful soil: what soil more fruitful than a renewed heart, wholly seeking the Lord?

The word was God’s own, and therefore precious to God’s servant.

He did not wear a text on his heart as a charm, but he hid it in his heart as a rule. He laid it up in the place of love and life, and it filled the chamber with sweetness and light. We must in this imitate David, copying his heart-work as well as his outward character.

1) We must mind that what we believe is truly God’s word; that being done, we must hide or treasure it each man for himself.

2) We must see that this is done, not as a mere feat of the memory, but as the joyful act of the affections.

“That I might not sin against thee.”

Here was the object aimed at. As one has well said,—Here is the best thing,—”thy word”; hidden in the best place,— “in my heart”; for the best of purposes,—”that I might not sin against thee.”

This was done by the Psalmist with personal care, as a man carefully hides away his money when he fears thieves: in this case the thief dreaded was sin. Sinning “against God” is the believer’s view of moral evil; other men care only when they offend against men. God’s word is the best preventive against offending God, for it tells us his mind and will, and tends to bring our spirit into conformity with the divine Spirit. No cure for sin in the life is equal to the word in the seat of life, which is the heart.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Adapted from The Golden Alphabet (Passmore and Alabaster, 1887), Ps 119:11.

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Kill the Root, Not Just the Fruit

A man may beat down the bitter fruit from an evil tree until he is weary; whilst the root abides in strength and vigour, the beating down of the present fruit will not hinder it from bringing forth more. This is the folly of some men; they set themselves with all earnestness and diligence against the appearing eruption of lust, but leaving the principle and root untouched, perhaps unsearched out, they make but little or no progress in this work of mortification.

—John Owen
Mortification of Sin

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A Christian’s Greatest Work Is in the Heart

The first and great work of a Christian is about his heart. There it is that God dwells by his Spirit, in his saints; and there it is that sin and Satan reign, in the ungodly. The great duties and the great sins are those of the heart. There is the root of good and evil: the tongue and life are but the fruits and expressions of that which dwells within.

—Richard Baxter
Adapted from  The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, 2:531.

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The Perfect Heart

And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” — Job 2:3

An upright heart is first a perfect [or complete: teleios] heart, as the Scripture terms it. It is an entirely whole heart, which is when all the powers go one and the same way, when the whole soul is bent after God and is driven only to seek and honor Him.

You may best know it by the contrary; the hypocrite’s heart is a divided heart. He looks two ways at once, as one power and faculty of the soul is against another. There is (‘tis true) a fight within the best people, but then it is between grace and flesh, between a man and his enemy. But in the hypocrite, one faculty takes part against the other. Here is reason and conscience against affection, and one affection against another.

There is a wise difference between civil war, where one neighbor is against another, and a national war, where they all join together against a common enemy. The Christian man’s fight is of the whole regenerated part against corruption; but in the hypocrite’s heart there is civil war. The powers are altogether at odds with themselves, as if one member in the body should fight against another. Passion commends a thing, reason condemns it; lust affects a thing, conscience refuses it; one part would have one thing, and another part another.

In the upright man it is far otherwise; his heart is entire, and goes all one way; he desires in all things to please God and fight against sin.

—Robert Harris
Member of the Westminster Assembly
President of Trinity College, Oxford
A.D. 1581-1658

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Give Your Heart

Let it be your art in duty to give God your heart in duty: “My son, give me thy heart” (Prov. 23:26). You see God calls for the heart; the heart is that field from which God expects the utmost plentiful crop of glory. God bears a greater respect to your hearts than He does to your works. God looks most where man looks least. If the heart is for God, then all is for God—our affections, our wills, our desires, our designs, our time, our strength, our tears, our alms, our prayers, our estates, our bodies, our souls—for the heart is the fort-royal that commands all the rest; the eye, the ear, the hand, the tongue, the head, the foot—the heart commands all these. Now if God has the heart, He has all. If He has not the heart, He has none. The heart of obedience is the obedience of the heart. As the body is at the command of the soul that rules it, so should the soul be at the command of God that gave it. “Ye are bought with a price,” says the apostle, “therefore glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits” (1 Cor. 6:20). He that is all in all for us would have that which is all in all in us. The heart is the presence-chamber, where the King of glory takes up His lodging. That which is most worthy in us should be given to Him who is most worthy of us. The body is but the cabinet, the soul is the jewel; the body is but the shell, the soul is the kernel. The soul is the breath of God, the beauty of man, the wonder of angels, and the envy of devils.

—William Dyer