I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? For what is the allotment of God from above, And the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is it not destruction for the wicked, And disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does He not see my ways, And count all my steps? Job 31:1-4
In chapter 31, Job lays out for God ten sins that he is not guilty of, beginning with lust. I read that and said to myself, “Really Job? You’re not guilty of lust? Every other guy I know is; how did you achieve this impressive feat?”
Is Job lying?
The short answer is no. What Job is more accurately declaring before God is that the sin of lust is no longer an issue in his heart because he has changed his mind regarding the misbehavior. Job has in reality committed himself to what the Apostle Paul would later prescribe in Colossians 3:2; he has “Set (his) mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
At this point we might be asking ourselves what does changing our minds have to do with changing our hearts? Well, the very first thing we need to understand is that we are not capable of changing our hearts.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
In God’s opinion Job was a faithful follower and a righteous man, therefore it stands to reason that Job knew that a man’s heart is deceitfully wicked. In the same regard, Job likely knew what God knew, ‘That every intent of the thoughts of his heart (that is, a man’s heart) was only evil continually.’ (Genesis 6:5). This knowledge compelled Job to forget about changing that which he couldn’t change (his own heart) and focus on the thing he could change; his mind. Here’s why…
I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10
Job came to realize that only God can change a man’s heart and that He will only do so if first the person changes his mind; if he makes a conscious decision in his mind to reject the evil that percolates up from the heart and submit himself to God’s will.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
The Work is God’s
We cannot clean our own heart — it is impossible.
In Job’s case, he made a choice and God did the work. Doesn’t that make perfect sense? I don’t know about you, but that information is marvelously freeing to me — the bonds of sin are loosed when by choice we mindfully decide to not sin. Incredibly, and in God’s perfect timing, He changes our hearts and the illicit urges that once gurgled within slow and eventually will cease. I can certainly bear witness to that slowing part. Now, when I read a passage like,
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
…I understand the implications! When I (when we) purpose in our minds to change behavior, God will honor those decisions by changing our hearts. This doesn’t mean we won’t sin (although we do possess the power of God to not sin), but rather we sin less and less as we’re mindfully submitted to His refining process. Consider how setting our minds on Heavenly things jives with this promise of God:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Now consider the flip-side — those who would opt to not change their thinking face this reality:
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. Romans 1:28b
Those who have been given over to debased minds are those who are stubbornly determined to pursue the lusts of their deceitful hearts. That doesn’t sound all that appealing to me. Like most of you, I partook (in great excess) to what the world had to offer and I found it to be severely lacking of anything of substance or eternal worth. It was only when I decided to listen to wise, godly counsel that I discovered the purpose the Father had planned for my life.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
- What do these verses say about God?
- What do they say about us?
- What kind of changes should we be considering?
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