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Acts 8:9-25 Warning against False Conversion and the Right Heart

 

(a) The right and good heart is a “new heart.” (Ezek. 36:26.) It is not the heart with which a man is born, but another heart put in him by the Holy Ghost. It is a heart which has new tastes, new joys, new sorrows, new desires, new hopes, new fears, new likes, new dislikes. It has new views about the soul, and sin, and God, and Christ, and salvation, and the Bible, and prayer, and Sunday, and heaven, and hell, and the world, and holiness. It is like a farm with a new and good tenant. “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17.) Is this heart your own?

(b) The right and good heart is a “broken and a contrite heart.” (Psalm 51:17.) It is broken off from pride, self-conceit, and self-righteousness. Its former high thoughts of self are cracked, shattered, and shivered to atoms. It thinks itself guilty, unworthy, and corrupt. Its former stubbornness, heaviness, and insensibility have thawed, disappeared, and passed away. It no longer thinks lightly of offending God. It is tender, sensitive, and jealously fearful of running into sin. (2 Kings 22:19.) It is humble and lowly, and sees in itself no good thing. Is this heart your own?

(c) A right and good heart is a heart that believes on Christ alone for salvation, and in which Christ dwells by faith. (Rom. 10:10; Ephes. 3:17.) It rests all its hopes of pardon and eternal life on Christ’s atonement, Christ’s mediation, and Christ’s intercession. It is sprinkled in Christ’s blood from an evil conscience. (Heb. 10:22.) It turns to Christ as the compass needle turns to the north. It looks to Christ for daily peace, mercy, and grace, as the sunflower looks to the sun. It feeds on Christ for its daily sustenance, as Israel fed on the manna in the desert. It sees in Christ a special fitness to supply all its wants and requirements. It leans on Him, hangs on Him, builds on Him, cleaves to Him, as its physician, guardian, husband, and friend. Is this heart your own?

(d) A right and good heart is a purified heart. (Acts 15:9; Matt. 5:8.) It loves holiness and hates sin. It strives daily to cleanse itself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. (2 Cor. 12:1.) It abhors that which is evil, and cleaves to that which is good. (Rom. 12:9.) It delights in the law of God, and has that law engraven on it, that it may not forget it. (Psalm 119:11.) It longs to keep the law more perfectly, and takes pleasure in those who love the law. It loves God and man. Its affections are set on things above. It never feels so light and happy as when it is most holy; and it looks forward to heaven with joy, as the place where perfect holiness will at length be attained. Is this heart your own?

(e) A right and good heart is a praying heart. It has within it “the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15.) Its daily feeling is, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” (Psalm 27:8.) It is drawn by an habitual inclination to speak to God about spiritual things,—weakly, feebly, and imperfectly perhaps, but speak it must. It finds it necessary to pour out itself before God, as before a friend, and to spread before Him all its wants and desires. It tells Him all its secrets. It keeps back nothing from Him. You might as well try to persuade a man to live without breathing, as to persuade the possessor of a right heart to live without praying. Is this heart your own?

(f) A right and good heart is a heart that feels within a conflict. (Gal. 5:17.) It finds within itself two opposing principles contending one with another for the mastery,—the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. It knows by experience what St. Paul means when he says, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.” (Rom. 7:23.) The wrong heart knows nothing of this strife. The strong man armed keeps the wrong heart as his palace, and his goods are at peace. (Luke 11:21.) But when the rightful King takes possession of the heart, a struggle begins which never ends till death. The right heart may be known by its warfare, quite as much as by its peace. Is this heart your own?

(g) Last, but not least, the right and good heart is honest, and single, and true. (Luke 8:15; 1 Chron. 12:33; Heb. 10:22.) There is nothing about it of falsehood, hypocrisy, or part-acting. It is not double or divided. It really is what it professes to be, feels what it professes to feel, and believes what it professes to believe. Its faith may be feeble. Its obedience may be very imperfect. But one thing will always distinguish the right heart. Its religion will be real, genuine, thorough, and sincere. Is this heart your own?

 

JC Ryle

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Heart Preparation Read Acts 8:9-25. Consider the issues of Simon’s heart in misunderstanding the gospel in its implications and consider the questions above about the right heart: “Is this heart your own?”

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Posted on: August 7, 2013 - 12:48PM

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