“What is Christian Unity” from John Piper (Across Boundaries, Loving One Another, The Holy SPirit, In Christ)

What Is Christian Unity?

by John Piper

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Unity among two or more people gets its virtue entirely from something else. Unity itself is neutral until it is given goodness or badness by something else. So if Herod and Pilate are unified by their common scorn for Jesus (Luke 23:12), this is not a good unity. But if Paul and Silas sing together in prison for Christ’s sake (Acts 16:25), this is a good unity.

Therefore, it is never enough to call Christians to have unity. That may be good or bad. The unified vote fifty years ago in my home church in South Carolina to forbid blacks from attending services was not a good unity. The unified vote of a mainline Protestant denomination to bless forbidden sexual acts is not a good unity.

What Makes Unity Christian?

Christian unity in the New Testament gets its goodness from a combination of its source, its views, its affections, and its aims.

Source

Paul tells us to “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). I take that to mean that the Holy Spirit is the great giver of unity. “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Views

Paul says that pastors and teachers are to equip the saints “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). In other words, the unity we pursue is unity in the truth. Of course, Christian unity is more than shared truth, but not less. Paul piles up the words for common-mindedness in Philippians 2:2, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (see also Philippians 4:2). Everything is to “accord with Christ.” “May God . . . grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).

Affections

To be sure, unifying love in the body of Christ includes a rugged commitment to do good for the family of God whether you feel like it or not (Galatians 6:10). But, as difficult as it is for diverse people, the experience of Christian unity is more than that. It includes affectionate love, not just sacrifice for those you don’t like. It is a feeling of endearment. We are to have affection for those who are our family in Christ. “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10). “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). “All of you, have . . . sympathybrotherly lovea tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).

Aims

Spirit-rooted, Christ-manifesting, truth-cherishing, humbly-loving unity is designed by God to have at least two aims: a witness to the world, and an acclamation of the glory of God. The apostle John makes the first of these most clear. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).

“Christian unity includes affectionate love, not just sacrifice for those you don’t like.”

Jesus’s famous statements in John 17 are rooted in the profound spiritual unity between the Father and the Son, and with those whom God has chosen out of the world (John 17:6). “I ask that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). Note the witness to the world is that the disciples are in the Father and the Son so that the world might believe. This is vastly more — deeply more — than being related through a common organization.

The oneness that shines with self-authenticating glory for the world to see is union with the Father and the Son so that the glory of the Father and the Son is part of our lives. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22). That glory is owing to this: “I in them and you [Father] in me” (John 17:23). From this union with God, and the glory it gives, shines something the world may see, if God gives them eyes to see. God’s aim for this vertically-rooted, horizontal, glory-displaying unity is that he might “gather into one the children of God scattered abroad” (John 11:52).

The ultimate aim of such Christian unity is the glory of God. Hence Paul prays, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:5–7).

What Implications Follow for Us?

1. Seek the fullness of the unity-creating Holy Spirit.

“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Seek to be led by the Spirit and to bear the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:1822–23) for these are the cogs in the wheels of love. If you are a stranger to the Holy Spirit, you will care little for the unity he builds.

2. Strive to know and spread true views of Christ and his ways.

Seek to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Share, by every means you can, what you see of Christ. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).

3. Love Christians across boundaries.

Cultivate affection across differences for those who are truly your brothers and sisters in Christ. Hate serious blunders, not sincere brothers. Humans have never been good at this. And the philosophical and emotional climate today makes it even harder — since truth claims are only seen as a cloak for power-grabbing. But consider what Spurgeon says and seek to become like him. Notice the intensity of hate and love.

Where the Spirit of God is there must be love, and if I have once known and recognized any man to be my brother in Christ Jesus, the love of Christ constraineth me no more to think of him as a stranger or foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints. Now I hate High Churchism as my soul hates Satan; but I love George Herbert, although George Herbert is a desperately High Churchman. I hate his High Churchism, but I love George Herbert from my very soul, and I have a warm corner in my heart for every man who is like him. Let me find a man who loves my Lord Jesus Christ as George Herbert did and I do not ask myself whether I shall love him or not; there is no room for question, for I cannot help myself; unless I can leave off loving Jesus Christ, I cannot cease loving those who love him. (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. XII, 6)

4. Serve Christians across boundaries.

For the sake of a witness to the world, seek out ways to show love for brothers and sisters across boundaries — both the kind of boundaries that should be removed, and the kind of boundaries which commitment to the truth (and unity in the truth) forbids you to remove. Do this for the glory of God. Let Francis Schaeffer be your guide.

Spurgeon: “Unless I can leave off loving Jesus Christ, I cannot cease loving those who love him.”

It is in the midst of a difference that we have our golden opportunity. When everything is going well and we are all standing around in a nice little circle, there is not much to be seen by the world. But when we come to the place where there is a real difference, and we exhibit uncompromised principles but at the same time observable love, then there is something that the world can see, something they can use to judge that these really are Christians, and that Jesus has indeed been sent by the Father.

When all is said and done, ambiguities remain. What kinds of boundaries should define local churches, schools, denominations, conferences, para-church ministries, city-wide prayer gathering, evangelistic efforts?

Nevertheless we are not without anchors. We are not without rudder and sails. We have the stars above and our trusty sextant. In reliance on the word and the Spirit, in humility we will arrive home — together.

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.

“For the Sake of Love” Scriptures on Love, Prayer from L.Willows (Grace, Loving One Another, God’s Spirit)

Walking in Love is walking with The Holy Beloved.  We have been given a decree to love one another as we have been loved (John 15:12).  When we live and step forward for the sake of love it means that we make a promise to live with hearts that are devoted, forsaken – given up in surrender to the will of God with a gaze set beyond what the mortal eyes can see.

When our own hearts are “forsaken”, it means that we renounce and leave behind whatever we cling to that would separate us from the Love of God. We place whatever must “die to self” (Galations 2:20) with gladness and pray that sacrifice is granted. We cannot move forward while grasping to what is behind us.

When we do something for the “sake” of another means for the benefit of another or on the account of another. In the Bible, the words “for Jesus sake”, refer to the truth that all is done on the merit of Jesus, that we have none of our own.

In the same way, when we long to move forward in Love and walk in The Love of God we need to renew our Hearts. Yet we cannot “see our own hearts” by our own ability. This is one of our greatest obstacles to walking forward. We need the Power of The Holy Spirit that enables the wisdom of God to help us. We ask for revelation in prayer and seek redemption so that we can walk more closely with the Lord. David’s prayer in Psalm 139:23 (Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my concerns) is a perfect example of calling to God for the ability to know one’s, own heart.

It takes courage to encounter this kind of bold truth. Yet how can we live with anything less than truth? We pray for the strength and courage to rise above our dependency on false strength, the kind that pulls us back into a sense of power over circumstances and our own abilities rather than being true warriors of The Spirit, ones that serve God. (Romans 8:5, John 3:30, Deut. 6.5) This servitude is one that lives with hearts “forsaken” to the Truth.

because only The Truth will ever set us Free.

John 8:31-32
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Scripture on Loves’ Decree

John 17:21
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Leviticus 19:18,34
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD…

Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:17
This is My command to you: Love one another.

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.

Romans 13:8
Be indebted to no one, except to one another in love, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law.

Romans 13:10
Love does no wrong to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Galatians 5:14
The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Ephesians 5:2
and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.

1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now about brotherly love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.

Hebrews 13:1
Continue in brotherly love.

1 Peter 1:22
Since you have purified your souls by obedience to the truth so that you have a genuine love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from a pure heart.

for The Sake of Jesus Christ

Holy Father,
I run to you in worship today with awe.
My heart offers praise that lifts all to the Heavens that You alone have made.
I cannot fathom the beauty of the worlds that Your eyes can see
or the vastness of life that Your heart beholds.
I am small and here- and Father, You from the Throne of All.
Your Love is planted within my own heart and promised from the beginning.

You are my Redeemer, the Faithful One, our Healer, the Restorer of our Souls.
Your Love is more powerful than all of the tides of the oceans at sea.
It weathers all of the storms of life.
It is my rock and my fortress. You sustain me through all seasons.
I pray that you hold my heart, all hearts with protection against the forces of this world.
Father, Lord keep us safe with you in every hour.

Give us pure hearts, Lord.
I pray that Your Spirit reveal new ways that I need to grow; help us all to see.
Show me the impurities of my heart in this hour, keep us apart from what binds us to sin.
Help me in my need to repent and surrender, let us find humility as we bend to You.
To return with gladness and rejoicing to your lap of Love.
Renew my faith and give me the perseverance to walk with courage and leave behind all that would keeps me apart from You.

You are our watchtower, our protection night and day.
Your strength upholds us, the righteousness of Your heart gives direction and boldness to ours. Your Spirit indwells and prompts as our cause.
Lord, we stand, walk and move only because of You.

Fasten our Hearts to Yours.
We walk forward with You and for the sake of You.
Our hearts beat and breathe because You. You have given us first breath.
I praise and breathe gratitude from all that I am.
For the sake of Christ Jesus.
Let Love Be. Let it walk forward in me.

In the Name of Jesus

Amen

“Lord, Give Us Undivided Hearts”, from Precept Austin (Spiritual Integrity, Blessed in Believing, Unified)

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LORD, GIVE US UNDIVIDED HEARTS, from Precept Austin

(Psalm 86:11)

Integrity is derived from “integer” (a whole number as opposed to a fraction) and speaks of the quality of being undivided. O, to be men and women of integrity, lights shining in the midst of the darkness in such a way that the world might see our undivided hearts and this would bring glory to our Father Who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16note, cf Php 2:15note).

A great prayer to pray (daily) would be David’s words…

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth.
UNITE MY HEART to fear Your Name.”

(Ps 86:11note)

The NIV has “Give me an UNDIVIDED HEART.” Pastor Ray Pritchard paraphrases Ps 86:11b “Put me together, Lord, because right now my life is scattered in a thousand directions!” (from The Undivided Heart)

An UNDIVIDED HEART, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way.
-D De Haan

The men of the tribe of Zebulon “helped David with an UNDIVIDED HEART” (literally “without a double heart” = undivided loyalty) (1Chr 12:33note) They were “all in,” of one heart, all the time, nothing held back.

Spurgeon commenting on Ps 86:11note said “Having taught me ONE WAY, give me ONE HEART to walk therein, for too often I feel ‘a heart and a heart’ (In Ps 12:2note “double heart” in Hebrew literally = “a heart and a heart”), two natures contending, two principles struggling for sovereignty (Gal 5:17note).

Our minds are apt to be divided between a variety of objects, like trickling streamlets which waste their force in a hundred rivulets. Our great desire should be to have all our life floods poured into one channel and to have that channel directed towards the Lord Alone.

A man of DIVIDED HEART is weak (cf Jas 1:6-8note), the man of one object is the man.

God Who created the bands of our nature can draw them together, tighten, strengthen, and fasten them, and so braced and inwardly knit by His uniting grace, we shall be powerful for good, but not otherwise. To fear God is both the beginning, the growth, and the maturity of wisdom (Pr 9:10noteJob 28:28note), therefore should we be undividedly given up to it, heart, and soul (cf Mk 12:29-31Spurgeon’s sermon).”

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
(Listen to Fernando Ortega’s vocal)

May we all be motivated and enabled by the Spirit (Php 2:13NLTnote) to imitate men like Paul (1Cor 11:1noteHeb 6:11-12note) who said “this ONE THING I DO. forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:13-14note)

“And remember that “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

(2Chr 16:9Spurgeon’s sermon)

Lord, by Your amazing grace and enabled by the power of Your Spirit, give us undivided hearts to fear Your Name, in the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names (Php 2:9-11note). Amen

Listen to Rich Mullins‘ great song “MY ONE THING” that speaks of an UNDIVIDED HEART.

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION OF AN UNDIVIDED HEART

Jesus describes an undivided heart in the Sermon on the Mount

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ” (Matthew 5:8note)

In Mt 5:8note the Greek word for pure is katharos which describes a heart that is pure in motive and which exhibits single mindednessundivided devotion and spiritual integrity. The idea is “This one thing I do” (as Paul said in Php 3:13 [note]). So although, “pure in heart” includes the ideas of moral purity or freedom from sensuality, that is not the primary idea in the word katharosPure (katharos) has to do with attitudes, integrity, and singleness of heart as opposed to duplicity and double mindedness (cf Jas 4:8note). Thus, one might paraphrase Jesus’ words in this beatitude as…”I desire a heart that is unmixed in its devotion and motivation.”

SPIRITUAL “TUNNEL VISION”

The word undivided means not divided, separated, or broken into parts, not mixed with other feelings or intentions. The idea in Matthew 5:8note is that it is a heart that is concentrated on or devoted completely to one object, specifically the true and living eternal God not the idols of this fallen, temporal world. To use an medical term from my days in medical school, it is a heart with “tunnel vision” which is literally a defect of one’s vision, but which has a spiritual application.

Wikipedia writes that tunnel vision “is the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision.” Look at this depiction of literal tunnel vision which helps understand that while physical “tunnel vision” is a bad thing, spiritual “tunnel vision” is a good thing because it describes a heart fully fixed on the object of its devotion, specifically on God Himself!

See also the description of “Vertical Vision” which is the type of vision associated with an undivided heart.

Another description for an undivided heart is a single-minded heart, one having but one aim, a heart that is dedicated to God, a heart having one driving purpose which is to live pleasing to God, a heart whose attention is fixed on God alone and does not allow itself to be distracted or influenced by the passing pleasures of sin.

MacArthur adds (commenting on Mt 5:8 “pure in heart”) explains that in secular Greek usage katharos “was often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated. Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive-of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true righteousness. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)

SPIRITUAL “DOUBLE-VISION”

In a similar sense Jesus said that “double vision” will radically impact your inner spiritual man, especially your heart (cf Mt 6:21) teaching that…

The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You (ABSOLUTELY) cannot serve God and mammon. (Mt 6:22-23noteMt 6:24note)

The phrase “if your eye is clear” is translated variously as – “if therefore thine eye is single” (KJV), ” If then your eye is healthy” (NET, ESV), ” If your eye is good” (CSB), ” if, therefore, thine eye may be perfect” (Young’s Literal). The key word Jesus used is the adjective “clear” (NAS) which is the Greek word haplous which strictly speaking means single (as rendered in the KJV) or without folds which came to mean simple, sincere, innocent, healthy, clear (“clear vision” – cp spiritual vision discussed above) and finally conveying the sense of generous.

BDAG says haplous “pertains to being motivated by singleness of purpose so as to be open and aboveboard, single, without guile, sincere, straightforward i.e. without a hidden agenda.” Marvin Vincent a respected Greek scholar says “The picture underlying this adjective (haplous) is that of a piece of cloth or other material, neatly folded once, and without a variety of complicated folds. Hence the idea of simplicity or singleness (compare simplicity from the Latin simplex; semel, once; plicare, to fold). So, in a moral sense, artless, plain, pure. Here sound, as opposed to evil or diseased. Possibly with reference to the double-mindedness and indecision condemned in Mt 6:24note.”

Wiersbe suggests that we “Compare Abraham and Lot in Ge 13:5-18 for an illustration of the “single eye.” The eye here speaks of the outlook of the heart. A single eye means one that is fixed on the spiritual (Ed: cp an “undivided heart”). It is the opposite of the double-minded person in James 1:8noteJas 4:4noteJas 4:8note. (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Zodhiates adds that “Haploús stands in contrast to diploús (double or many). Even though we have two eyes, they are designed to pick up a single object, preferably the Lord Himself, as David counseled. Jesus connected the purity of the body with the holy character of an eye that does not vacillate between treasures on earth and treasures in heaven. Similarly, in James 1:8note we read that the “double minded [dipsuchos] man is unstable [akatastatos from a = without, not; and kathistemi = to settle] in all his ways” (cf. James 4:8note).

A circularity of “unsettling” effects exists between the soul and the physical eye. Just as double-minded (“two-souled”) persons can direct their physical eyes between good and bad objects, so physical eyes can transmit good and bad signals into the soul (Ed: And I would add into our heart). If we think about the blurred and conflicting (double vision) messages our brains attempt to process when we merely cross our eyes, we can understand how our physical eyes can destabilize our souls (Ed: hearts) when they receive and transmit conflicting data. The “eyes of [our] understanding” (Eph. 1:18note)-our spiritual eyes-work in conjunction with our physical eyes to our good or to our detriment. (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew)

William MacDonald  applies the truth about haplous – “The good eye belongs to the person whose motives are pure, who has a single desire for God’s interests, and who is willing to accept Christ’s teachings literally. His whole life is flooded with light. He believes Jesus’ words, he forsakes earthly riches, he lays up treasures in heaven, and he knows that this is the only true security. On the other hand, the bad eye belongs to the person who is trying to live for two worlds. He doesn’t want to let go of his earthly treasures, yet he wants treasures in heaven too. The teachings of Jesus seem impractical and impossible to him. He lacks clear guidance since he is full of darkness.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary-excellent).

It follows that a single eye is necessary for an undivided heart. Do you need to schedule an appointment with the “Divine Optometrist” for a checkup of you spiritual eyesight. Perhaps you’ve been having “double vision” and are in need of a new “prescription” from the Spirit of Jesus Christ! He and He Alone can give you the desire and the power (Php 2:13NLTnote) to obey Paul’s command to “Set your mind (your heart) (present imperative = command to make this your daily delight!) on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2note) Truth be told we all still have fallen flesh and therefore daily wrestle with “spiritual diplopia” and thus are continually in need of casting off our natural tendency to rely on self (e.g, in a vain attempt to obey Paul’s command in Col 3:2note) and instead to wholly lean on Jesus’ blood and righteousness, trusting wholly in His Holy Spirit to correct our daily “diplopia!”

Are you arising each morning firmly convinced that YOU by yourself cannot continually set your mind on the things above throughout the day?

If you think for a second you can succeed, you are already deceived and will soon be defeated! If you think you are immune to “spiritual diplopia” then here is a little test – take a look at this picture – how many watches do you see? If you see more than one watch than you are afflicted with spiritual diplopia and must daily depend on the Great Physician to enable you to see with single vision (Mt 6:22-23)! Brethren the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick (Jer 17:9) and the same can be said of our spiritual vision! So it follows, dear fellow follower of Jesus, if we desire an undivided heart, we need to resolve to arise each morning with the words of David’s prayer on our lips

 “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth. UNITE MY HEART to fear Your Name.” (Ps 86:11note)

SINGLE HEART PURE HEART

Two songs for your heart

Take a moment to listen to this song, one of my favorites from Craig Smith, entitled Single Heart...

He had only one aim
In placing us here
This is His domain
And His message is clear.

Single heart, Single mind.
My eyes forward all the time.
Single heart, purified.
Undivided, unified.
Single heart, Single mind.

May You find in us,
Solitary trust
May you find a single heart!

Here is another song Pure Heart — take a moment to ponder your life in light the words sung by Craig Smith and make it your prayer to the Father today:

Over and over I hear it again
That the Father desires pure heart
Not to seek earthly treasure or the favor of man
But to be found with pureness of heart

Chorus
Pure heart is what the Father desires
Holy heart purified by God’s holy fire
Broken heart, proven to be faithful and true
Fashion in me a heart that’s thirsting for You

Search ever chamber, expose them to me
Create motives of honor and simplicity
May you find faithfulness, integrity
A heart which is worthy for Your eyes to see
Chorus

My only ambition is to stand before You
And find I was pleasing in Your sight
An obedient child of God, faithful and true
Found with pureness of heart
Chorus

THE NEW COVENANT AND AN UNDIVIDED HEART

In Ezekiel 11:19note in a prophetic promise to Israel which speaks of the New Covenant

“And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

The NIV translates it

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

This description of one heart, an undivided heart, is the miracle that occurs at conversion when a spiritual and moral transformation takes place which enables God’s people to follow Him wholeheartedly.

So an undivided heart is described as it were our “position” but may not always describe our “practice.”

That is where we must learn to relinquish all vestiges of self-reliance (“I will grit my teeth and follow God with an undivided heart.”) and instead learn daily (and even moment by moment) to rely wholly on the Holy Spirit Ezekiel describes in Ezekiel 36:26-27note

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

This is clearly a promise of the New Covenant and in that covenant we do well to carefully note “the spiritual cooperation” between God and man.

So in Ezekiel 36:27 first God’s Spirit will cause those in the New Covenant to walk in His statues The New Testament parallel is described by Paul who teaches that the Spirit is in us continually giving us the desire and the power to be pleasing to our Father (to walk with an undivided heart) (Php 2:13NLTnote).

The second part of Ezekiel 36:27 describes our responsibility to act on the provided “desire and power.” While we are 100% dependent on God’s Spirit, we are (somewhat enigmatically or mysteriously) 100% responsible to be careful to observe God’s ordinances. As we learn to walk by the Spirit’s enabling power, we will not carry out the desire of the flesh (a manifestation of a divided heart!) (See Galatians 5:16note).

In summary to manifest an undivided heart toward God and His law is our divinely given potential, and yet we must daily work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Php 2:12note), learning to depend on the Spirit Who will enable us to walk with an undivided heart. And this is a process of progressive sanctification that will continue all the days of our life on earth. And realizing our continual need for supernatural power and grace, we cry out to our Father as did David…

Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; Unite my heart to fear Thy name. I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Thy name forever. (Psalm 86:1112)

Have you prayed this way beloved? It would be good for us to daily humble ourselves at the Throne of God beseeching Him to have mercy on us in the time of need and bestowing upon us by His enabling Spirit an undivided heart, a whole heart that gives thanks to Him and seeks to glorify His Name forever. Amen


“BAD FAITH”

Wikipedia has an interesting article on “bad faith” that essentially describes the opposite of an undivided heart:

Bad faith (Latinmala fides) is double mindedness or double heartedness in duplicityfraud, or deception.It may involve intentional deceit of others, or self-deception. The expression “bad faith” is associated with “double heartedness”, which is also translated as “double mindedness”. A bad faith belief may be formed through self-deception, being double minded, or “of two minds”, which is associated with faith, belief, attitude, and loyalty. In the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary, bad faith was equated with being double hearted, “of two hearts”, or “a sustained form of deception which consists in entertaining or pretending to entertain one set of feelings, and acting as if influenced by another” The concept is similar to perfidy, or being “without faith”, in which deception is achieved when one side in a conflict promises to act in good faith (e.g. by raising a flag of surrender) with the intention of breaking that promise once the enemy has exposed himself. (See full article)


AN UNDIVIDED HEART 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8note)

The apostle Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead …” (Philippians 3:13). Now there is a person who had an undivided heart. Many of us today could say, “These eight things I do …” or “These four things I do …” instead of saying, “This one thing I do. …” It’s the problem of a divided heart.
The word, “pure,” in Matthew 5:8 means “undivided.” In other words, blessed, or happy, is the person who has an undivided heart. Happy is the man or woman with a pure heart. Happy is the person who knows where he or she is going in life, who has priorities and lives by them. Happy is the person who isn’t trying to live in two worlds. We live in such a wicked time in which we are exposed to so many things that could be spiritually harmful. It seems that we are lacking purity today. But according to Romans 16:19, we as believers are “to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” Another translation reads, “I would have you well versed and wise as to what is good and innocent and guileless as to what is evil” (AMPLIFIED). God is offering you true happiness, which is not contingent on how much you have, but who you know. If you don’t get your life properly aligned with God, you will always be chasing an elusive dream. But if you get your life aligned with God and start seeking Him, you will find purpose in life. You will find the happiness you are seeking. (Greg Laurie – For Every Season: Daily Devotions)


In Deut 18:13 God says “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.” The NAS marginal note reads “Lit complete, perfect; or having integrity.” Wiersbe explains that “It speaks of integrity and an undivided heart, what David meant when he wrote, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (Ps. 101:2NKJV). The Jewish “Shema” declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5NIV).”

Blameless (without defect or blemish, perfect, integrity) (08549)(tamim) from the verb tamam = to be complete, entire or whole (literal sense in Lev 3:9Ezek 15:5), refers to a action which is completed) has both physical (without defect) and spiritual (blameless, devout, upright) significance. Tamim has the fundamental idea of completeness or wholeness. In Deut 18:13 tamim is translated in the Septuagint with  teleios means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. In the Septuagint (Lxx) teleios is used several times to describe a heart that is wholly devoted (Heb = shalem). This begs the question beloved “Is my heart teleios? Would God describe me as wholly devoted to Him? Or have become like Solomon, who began “wholly devoted” but ended his race not “wholly devoted?” David had a whole heart but Solomon a divided heart! And as a result God divided the 12 tribes into 10 northern and 2 southern! There are serious consequences for not seeking to maintain an undivided heart!


The antithesis of an undivided heart is a “Divided Heart” – Herbert Vander Lugt has a devotional on THE DIVIDED HEART – Hosea describes this heart

Ephraim mixes himself with the nations; Ephraim has become a cake not turned. 9  Strangers devour his strength, Yet he does not know it; Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, Yet he does not know it. 10  Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, Yet they have neither returned to the LORD their God, Nor have they sought Him, for all this. 11  So Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without sense; They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. 12  When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will chastise them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly. (Hosea 7:8-12)

The Israelites of Hosea’s day were trying to worship both pagan idols and the one true and living God. So the prophet Hosea used three colorful figures of speech to describe their divided hearts. First, they were like a half-baked cake—palatable neither to God nor the pagans (7:8). Second, they were like a proud man who can’t see the signs of his aging—they were unaware of their spiritual decline (Hosea 7:9-10). Third, they were like a senseless dove—flying from one pagan nation to another in a vain quest for help (Hosea 7:11). Today, we as Christians are often afflicted with the same divided-heart syndrome. We believe on Jesus but are reluctant to commit every area of our lives to Him. We go to church but don’t want to live out our faith each day if it deprives us of worldly success or pleasure. A divided heart, though, results in some serious consequences. First, we don’t please God or attract nonbelievers to Christ. Second, it may take a crisis to show us our true spiritual decline. And third, we live unfulfilled lives, even though we flit from one worldly pleasure to another. Let’s pray each day, “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11). —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

An undivided heart, O Lord,
Is what we need each day,
For we are prone to compromise
And wander from Your way.

—D. De Haan

A divided heart multiplies our problems.

Beloved, yes, we need an undivided heart each day, but the only way possible to humanly maintain an undivided heart is by continually relying on the superhuman power of the indwelling Spirit. When we wander (which we will) we need to quickly confess and repent, and even those actions are enabled by the Spirit, Who gives us the desire and the power to walk in a manner pleasing to our Father (Php 2:13NLT).


UNDIVIDED –  Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Ps 86:11)

IN WORD – A divided heart. It’s a Christian’s greatest enemy, and it should be our greatest fear. It wreaks havoc on our contentment and undermines our devotion. It corrupts our worship because one side of our heart competes with the other. The competition causes us to tell God we want to love and honor Him, while simultaneously telling ourselves we can pursue our own agenda at will. A divided heart has multiple loves, and multiple loves are always weak. That’s what Jesus said too. He told His disciples they couldn’t serve two masters because they would end up loving one and hating the other (Matthew 6:24). That’s what divided hearts do; they are eventually compelled to choose one of their loves over the other. They have too many choices to start with, so they compromise. David prays in this psalm that God might give him an undivided heart so that he might fear God’s name. He knows that when a person tolerates other loves, it’s because that person has grown casual with God. An undivided heart solves the problem; single-mindedness toward God makes a person free to serve and love Him with everything at his or her disposal. It reintroduces respect and awe. It puts things in the proper perspective.

IN DEED – Pursue an undivided heart. Ask God for it. A divided heart will ruin your spiritual life, introducing apathy, removing godly fear, and tempting you with other loves. Worship cannot exist under such conditions.

A divided love is hardly love at all. David’s remedy isn’t within himself. He knows that his heart is God’s domain, and only God can change it. He resolves to praise God with all his heart and glorify God’s name forever (Ps 86:12), but pure resolve isn’t the answer. So David asked God for His resources, His strength, and His work within him. We can too. We can trust Him with the greatest enemy to our worship and ask Him to give us a single, focused love.

Blessed are the single-hearted; for they shall enjoy much peace.
—THOMAS À KEMPIS


Blessed in Believing

“She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!”(Luke 1:45) In the kingdom of God, believing is a prerequisite to receiving.

God spoke to Mary and gave the assurances He always gives when He assigns the impossible to His people. Everything was in place for God to act. Everything waited on Mary to believe Him. Once she believed, it was done! It takes an undivided heart to believe under such circumstances and a pure heart to see God (Matt. 5:8Heb. 12:14).

This has always been God’s way with His people. Mary could not see all that had been arranged and assembled in the courts of heaven. She could not see the legions of angels prepared to protect her and her baby. She was unaware of the future and all that she and her child would face. All she knew was that God had spoken to her, and that was enough. So she responded: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). When God speaks about His plans, He does so with everything already in place to fulfill His word.

God never speaks hypothetically. He knows exactly what will come to pass. He simply asks you to believe Him. You will experience great blessing when you place your absolute trust in Him. Mary could not have dreamed all that would result from her faithful obedience. Likewise, you cannot possibly imagine all that God has in store for you when you trust Him. He knows exactly what He will do to bring salvation to someone you have prayed for or to heal your friend or to provide for your needs. God has everything in place. Will you believe Him? (Henry Blackaby – Experiencing God Day by Day)


AN UNDIVIDED HEART (Lutheran devotional published in 1799) – THE heart should not be divided. I say to the hypocrite, God has given you two eyes, that you may look both above and beneath you; that you may contemplate both heaven and hell. He has given you two ears, that you may hearken both to the accuser and the accused, when you have to judge between them; two hands, that you may raise one upwards to God, and receive, and stretch forth the other towards your neighbour, and give; two feet, that you may serve yourself and your master; but you have only one head, and one heart.

God approves not of those who are double-minded, or double-tongued; from whose lips comes forth at the same time that which is cold and hot; and who speak not the same when they sit as when they stand; who divide their heart between Him and the devil. A double-hearted man is a monster, which God will not accept as an offering. God demands an undivided heart. Such, also, is the demand of Satan; for though he may not immediately persuade you that you should give him your heart, and seems to be satisfied with a part of it, yet he aims at the whole. He knows full well that God will not receive a divided heart, and that therefore the whole shall yet be his own, being rejected of God.

The heart is but of small capacity; but if it were greater, it would be your duty to make it the undivided dwelling-place of Him from whom you have received it, and who alone can make it better. Who has given you authority to dispose of that which was not yours, but God’s? To Him the whole belongs, and not merely a portion. How is it possible that you can unite God and Satan within you? How can they both take a part of one heart? Satan tempts to that which is evil; God moves you to that which is good. God destroys the work of Satan; Satan, on the other hand, would throw down the work of God. Where God dwells is heaven, where Satan dwells is hell. How can your heart, at the same time, be in heaven and in hell? Where God dwells, he is served and obeyed; where Satan dwells, he also is obeyed. Can you serve two masters so opposite in every respect?

God has given me my whole heart, not to use it at its uncontrolled possessor, but as a steward, answerable to Him. I will, by his grace, not abuse my trust; but restore him his own. My heart is His, not mine! (Henry Muller – Hours of Spiritual Refreshment)


Horatius Bonar writes that “God’s desire that we should be clean. He desireth truth in the inward parts. He is faithful to us, and he wishes us to be faithful to him. God is not indifferent to our unfaithfulness, as if it mattered not to him.

Nor does he treat it as a mere affront, or only as a sin, with which he is angry and which he condemns and will avenge. He wants our heart, our whole undivided heart; he wants it all for himself; he wants to fill it. He is a jealous God. Moreover he pities us because of the misery which our unfaithfulness brings on us. He sees us gaining nothing, but losing everything by it; and he pities us; he yearns over us; for our own sakes he desires to see us faithful to himself. Such is the God with whom we have to do. He is one who takes a deep and loving interest in our welfare, and who pities us even when he judges us. (Light and Truth)

Ruth 1:14note  “And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung ( dabaq) to her.”  Bonar comments on Ruth and her cleaving. “Orpah kissed, but Ruth clave. Orpah kissed that she might not cleave. Ruth cleaves silently, and without show or demonstration. She lingers not nor halts. Moab is behind her, Israel is before her, Naomi is at her side. Her choice is made. She falters not either in heart or in step. Yonder are Judah’s hills; behind them lies Bethlehem; she presses forward. Jehovah must be her God, and Jehovah’s land her heritage. Nothing shall come between. She forgets her kindred and her father’s house. What are Moab’s hills, or cities, or temples, or gods? Jehovah, God of Israel, is now her God for ever…

Here is cleaving; here is decision; here are faith and love; here is the undivided heart.

Source: Precept Austin (issue 1.4.2020)