With a True Heart.
X.-22. Let us draw near with a true heart.
We have been looking at the four great blessings of the new worship by which God encourages us to draw near to Him. We shall now see what the four chief things are that God seeks for in us as we come to Him. Of these the first is, a true heart.
In man's nature the heart is the central power. As the heart is, so is the man. The desire and the choice, the love and the hatred of the heart prove what a man is already, and decide what he is to become. Just as we judge of a man's physical character, his size and strength and age and habits, by his outward appearance, so the heart gives the real inward man his character; and "the hidden man of the heart" is what God looks to. God has in Christ given us access to the secret place of His dwelling, to the inner sanctuary of His presence and His heart; no wonder that the first thing He asks, as He calls us unto Him, is the heart—a true heart; our inmost being must in truth be yielded to Him, true to Him.
True religion is a thing of the heart, an inward life. It is only as the desire of the heart is fixed upon God, the whole heart seeking for God, giving its love and finding its joy in God, that a man can draw near to God. The heart of man was expressly planned and created and endowed with all its powers, that it might be capable of receiving and enjoying God and His love. A man can have no more of religion, or holiness, or love, or salvation, or of God, than he has in his heart. As much as a man has of the inward heart religion, so much has he of salvation, and no more. As far as Christ through His Spirit is within the heart, making the thoughts and will likeminded with Himself, so far can a man's worship and service be acceptable to God. The Kingdom of God consists entirely in the state of the heart. Therefore God can ask for nothing else and nothing less than the heart—than a true heart.
What the word true means we see from the use of it made previously (viii. 2 and ix. 24), the true tabernacle, and, the Holy Place, which are figures of the true. The first tabernacle was only a figure and a shadow of the true. There was, indeed, a religious service, and worship, but it had no real abiding power; it could not make the worshipper perfect. The very image, the substance and reality, of the heavenly things themselves, were only brought by Christ. And God now asks that, to correspond with the true sanctuary, there shall be a true heart. The old covenant, with its tabernacle and its worship, which was but a shadow, could not put the heart of Israel right. In the new covenant God's first promise is, / will write my law in the heart: a new heart will I give thee. As He has given His Son, full of grace and truth, in the power of an endless life, to work all in us as the Mediator of a new covenant, to write His law in our hearts, He calls us to draw nigh with a true heart.
God asks for the heart. Alas, how many Christians serve Him still with the service of the old covenant! There are seasons for Bible-reading and praying and church-going. But when one notices how speedily and naturally and happily, as soon as it is freed from restraint, the heart turns to worldly things, ono feels how little there is of the heart in it: it is not the worship of a true heart, of the whole heart. The heart, with its life and love and joy, has not yet found in God its highest good. Keligion is much more a thing of the head and its activities, of imagination and conception and wishes, which are but the old figures and shadows over again, than of the heart and its life; much more a thing of the human will and its power, than of that Spirit which God gives within us. The Spirit of Jesus makes every word of confession of sin, or of surrender to God's will, every act of trust in His grace, a living reality, the true expression of our inmost being. This constitutes the true heart.
The invitation comes: Let us draw near with a true heart. Let no one hold back for fear, "my heart is not true." There is no way for obtaining the true heart, but by acting it. God has given you, as His child, a new heart—a wonderful gift, if you but knew it. Through ignorance or unbelief or disobedience it has grown feeble and withered; its beating can, nevertheless, still be felt. The Epistle, with its solemn warnings and its blessed teaching, has come to bring arousing and healing. Even as Christ said to the man with the withered hand, Stand forth, He calls to you from His throne in heaven, Rise, and come and enter in with a true heart. As you hesitate, and look within to feel and to find out if the heart is true, and in vain seek to do what is needed to make it true, He calls again, Stretch forth thy hand. When He spake that to him of the withered arm, whom He had called to rise up and stand before Him, the man felt the power of Jesus' eye and voice, and he stretched it forth. Do thou, likewise, stretch forth, lift up, reach out that withered heart of thine, that has so been cherishing its own impotence,—stretch forth, and it will bo made whole. In the very act of obeying the call to enter in, it will prove itself a true heart —a heart ready to obey and to trust its blessed Lord, a heart ready to give up all, and find its life in the secret of His presence. Yes, Jesus, the great Priest over the house of God, the Mediator of the new covenant, with the new heart secured thee, calls, Draw nigh with a true heart.
During these last years God has been rousing His people to the pursuit of holiness, that is, to seek the entrance into the Holiest, a life in full fellowship with Himself, the Holy One. In the teaching which He has been using to this end, two words have been very much in the foreground—Consecration and Faith. These are just what are here put first—a true heart and the fulness of faith. The true heart is nothing but true consecration, the spirit that longs to live wholly for God, that gladly gives up everything that it may live wholly for Him, and that above all yields up itself, as the key of the inner life, into His keeping and rule. True religion is an inward life, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The true heart does indeed enter into the true sanctuary, the blessed secret of God's presence, to abide there all the life through. Let us enter in into the inner sanctuary of God's love, and the Spirit will enter into the inner sanctuary of our love, into our heart. Let us draw nigh with a true heart—longing, ready, utterly given up to desire—and receive the blessing.
1. If you look at your own constitution, you ses how the head and the heart are the two great centres of life and action. Much thought and study make the head weary. Strong emotion or excitement affects the heart. It is the heart Bod asks—the power of desire and affection and will. The head and the heart are In partnership. Bod tells us that the heart must rule and lead, that It is the heart He wants. Our religion has been too much that of the head—hearing and reading and thinking. Let us beware of allowing thess to lead us astray. Let them stand aside at times. Let us glve the heart time to assert Its supremacy. Let us draw nigh with a true heart.
2. A true heart—true In what It says that It thinks of Itself; true In what It says that It belieacs of Bod; true In what It professes to take from Bod and to glee to Him.
3. It is the heart Bod wants to dwell In. It is In the state of the heart Bod wants to prove His power to bless. It is In the heart the Iocs and the Joy of Boa are to be known, let us dnv.v near with a true heart.