INTRO: The heart of man ... the seat of knowledge ... the seat of understanding ... the seat of affection. It is so important, then, that the inclinations of the heart be in right directions. It is out of those inclinations that a persons life is formed and fashioned. With that apparently in his mind the psalmist prays for Gods help in the inclining of his heart. So obstinate can the heart be that Gods help must be sought if it is to incline in wholesome directions. This little sentence prayer is full of reality ... full of what should be of concern to us.
I THE HEARTS INCLINATIONS?
A. The usual inclination of human hearts is toward self
1. what will make self happy? what will make self successful
2. 1 Jno 2:16 - this little verse is absolutely full of self
3. self is what was the undoing of Adam and Eve
B. Affections, attractions, then, determine how hearts are inclined
1. you can see this in the lives of people all around you
2. affection determines action ... for good or ill!
3. 1 Jno 2:15 reminds us of a very important truth - if our affection is toward the world and worldliness, there will be no room for God
C. The problem of covetousness?
1. Prov 27:20 - here is indisputably a most serious heart problem
2. Col 3:5 - ...covetousness, which is idolatry...
3. and what is idolatry? notice Ezek 14:3
II INCLINE MY HEART UNTO...
A. Reality: there is a struggle going on here!
1. the struggle is between two very different life choices! that of the world (covetousness) and that of the Lord (thy testimonies)
2. many hearts have divided interests - life objectives
3. those divided interests invariable work against our spiritual strength!
4. Mt 6:24 and Mt 12:30 - the Lord puts this into perspective for us
C. Hearts must find their way to inclination toward the Lord
1. I know the struggle is not always (ever?) easy - Rom 7:23
2. Prov 28:26 - and it takes more than following our hearts to gain momentum toward the Lord and His testimonies
3. we must recognize the struggle if we are going to move to spiritual gains
4. Mt 13:22,23 - these verses show us the struggle in a very practical way!
III SO, HOW IS THE HEART INCLINED?
A. Prov 23:26 - Choice is involved here
1. while I admit the difficulty of the struggle, choices must be made
2. I have always loved the challenge of Deut 19,20 - ...choose life...
B. Josh 24:23 - Deliberate action is involved here
1. choosing is one thing; taking action based on choices is another
2. Joshua understood that hearts could not be inclined toward the Lord until people had begun putting away their idols
C. Ps 78:1 - There must be the hearing of the word of God
1. this, of course, is the psalmists plea in our text - incline my heart unto thy testimonies
2. we cannot successfully engage in the struggle between godliness and worldliness if we are not hearing God speak through His word
D. Hos 11:4 - There must be consideration of how much God loves us
1. there is no doubting the role of the drawing power of His love here
2. not wanting to disappoint His love has its place in our hearts inclining to His testimonies
E. Some of the realities of this struggle...
1. some people do seem more naturally inclined toward spiritual interests
2. some people, more analytical perhaps, seek conclusions based more on logic than natural inclinations ... I have to have proof
3. some people, accepting of inspiration, readily accept as authoritative the word of scripture - are readily taught by it because they accept it
4. some people need more reassuring (Mk 9:23,24)
F. Ps 119:24 - The place to which we want to come!
1. we must grow to seeing Gods way as a truly happy choice we delight to make
2. if we see the testimonies of God as onerous, but necessary, Im not sure we will ever have hearts truly inclined toward the spiritual!
CLOSE: Be careful, oh, so careful, of the affections of your heart. Or, as the apostle Paul said it, Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Phil 3:2).
Cecil A. Hutson
19 December 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)