Vol.XX No.X Pg.1
December 1983

Is Your Heart Right?

Robert F. Turner

One form of dualism holds that the spirit of man is so completely separate from his flesh that he could be pure in spirit while satisfying fleshly appetites. In gnosticism this led to unrestrained indulgence on the part of some. In evangelical "Christianity" some, believing God's Spirit ("grace, enabling power") has immediate influence on man's spirit, claim sins of the flesh will not be held against the "born again" person.

Paul recognized two "laws" within man (Rom. 7:22-23). He sees them both within the saint, and makes it clear that sometimes flesh prevails. This is sin, and will condemn if it is not brought to Christ for forgiveness. He says, "with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh (at times, rt) the law of sin" (v.25).

Paul was certainly no gnostic. He did not excuse sin nor deny responsibility. No more I that do it" v.20, simply means it is contrary to the life he wants to live.) The appetites of the flesh, and the desire to serve God were opposing forces within him — and all of us — and he said we must "walk after the spirit" not "after the flesh" — i.e., our manner of life must be patterned according to the desire to serve God, not the flesh. This is "spiritually minded" or "mind of the spirit" (Cf. K.J. and A.S., at Rom. 8:6, 27). Of course this desire is futile apart from the directions of the Holy Spirit (8:14-16).

The popular notion that pits "just so your heart is right" against "doing God's will" (revealed in His word) misuses Paul's statements. The heart is not right that does not go all out to learn and obey truth. Failure, missing the mark, is sin. That is why Paul was "wretched" (7:24) apart from looking thankfully to Jesus Christ. He could not "cut it" on his own.

But it is equally wrong to expect heaven on the basis of a legalistic (perfect) "doing." We do not earn forgiveness — it is a gift of God on certain conditions. And high among those conditions is a humbled heart, wholly given to God (Rom. 1:9, 2:28-29, Matt. 16:24) without which the doing itself may become an abomination. The concerned ask, IS YOUR HEART RIGHT??