Vol.VIII No.III Pg.5
May 1971

Good Heart-Keeping

Dan S. Shipley

In his popular little book Flesh And Spirit, William Barclay recounts an interesting history of the Greek word akatharsia. He reveals that when transferring ownership of a house in ancient Greece, the sales contract would often require the outgoing tenant to leave the house clean of all akatharsia (dirt). Later, in medical parlance, this same term was used to denote impure substances in sores and wounds. In the Septuagint, ritual and ceremonial impurities were referred to as akatharsia. Such uncleanness could cause one to he cut off from Jehovah (Jer. 22:5).

In the New Testament. akatharsia appears as uncleanness and is found in company with such words as fornication, lasciviousness and covetousness. Such uncleanness is listed as a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19), to he repented of (2 Cor. 12:21), not to be named among saints (Eph. 5:5), and can keep one from heaven (Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5). Thayer defines akatharsia as the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living. Considering all evidence, it becomes apparent that in this word is conveyed the idea of a general moral uncleanness such as to be avoided by the people of God.

From other New Testament teaching we learn that defiled lives are hut the products of defiled hearts. For out of the heart cometh forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: these are the things which defile the man... (Matt. 15:19,20). As the seat of mans moral nature, the heart—house is to be kept clean from all akatharsia. Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). Heeding the admonition to keep thyself pure begins with the heart — it requires good heart- keeping.

Mans heart—house has many doors through which uncleanness may enter and defile; such as those of seeing, hearing and thinking (note 1 Cor. 2:9). Leaving these doors open to all sorts of indiscriminate traffic degrades the heart to little more than a moral trash dump. Through the open eye —door is tracked in the smut of salacious literature, immodesty, and even the respectable pornography of television to defile the purest of hearts. Other pollution enters through the ear —door left open to obscene, vile, and evil language. In addition, there passes through the unguarded heart— door the re-runs of this seen and heard filth, plus such soil—soiling guests as lust, greed, hate, envy, and jealousy. No heart- house can host such company without flavoring ones conduct accordingly — a lesson that many have not yet learned. It is useless to think of attaining a clean heart without first controlling these sources of defilement.

Accordingly, good heart— keeping demands diligence; the continual exercise of will power and self-control . Satan and his polluting devices only need resisting (Jas. 4:7); with Gods help we endure (1 Cor. 10:15).

As man repents and obeys in faith, God cleanses the heart-house with His forgive- ness, thus making it fit for the King who seeks a dwelling place there (Eph. 3: 1 7).