Keeping The Heart.Was it only for OT saints?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Iconoclast, May 11, 2016.

  1. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast
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    Here is a free ebook on this topic of keeping the heart......This verse was written in the Old Covenant time.
    Has it EXPIRED? or is it a command for all saints of all time? How do you obey this command?


    On Keeping the Heart (eBook)
    [​IMG]by John Flavel
    In ePub, .mobi and .pdf formats

    Proverbs 4:23 says to keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Our hearts are like fortresses under attack, and we must guard them accordingly. Most people will diligently guard their fortunes and homes, which are of temporal value, but they are very careless about guarding that which is of eternal value their very souls! In this work, originally titled A Saint Indeed, John Flavel (1627 1691) looks at what it means to keep the heart, how to keep the heart, and why keeping the heart is the greatest business of every person.

    The heart of man is his worst part before it is regenerated—and the best afterward. It is the seat of principles, and the fountain of actions. The eye of God is fixed upon it—and the eye of the Christian ought to be principally fixed upon it.

    The greatest difficulty in conversion—is to win the heart to God. The greatest difficulty after conversion—is to keep the heart with God. Here lies the very force and stress of religion; here is that which makes the way to life a narrow way, and the gate of heaven a strait gate. Direction and help in this great work, are the scope of the text: wherein we have,

    An EXHORTATION, "Keep your heart with all diligence."

    In the exhortation I shall consider,

    First, The matter of the duty.

    Secondly, The manner of performing it.

    The MATTER of the duty. Keep your heart. By heart, in a metaphor, the Scripture sometimes represents some particular noble faculty of the soul. In Rom. 1:21, it is put for the understanding; their foolish heart, that is, their foolish understanding was darkened. Psalm 119:11, it is put for the memory; "Your word have I hid in my heart:" and 1 John 3:10, it is put for the conscience, which includes both the light of the understanding and the recognitions of the memory; if our heart condemns us, that is, if our conscience, whose proper office it is to condemn.

    But in the text we are to take it more generally, for the whole soul, or inner man. What the heart is to the body—that the soul is to the man. What health is to the heart—that holiness is to the soul. The state of the whole body depends upon the soundness and vigor of the heart—and the everlasting state of the whole man upon the good or ill condition of the soul.

    By keeping the heart, we mean the diligent and constant use of all holy means to preserve the soul from sin, and maintaining its sweet and free communion with God. I say constant, for the reason added in the text extends the duty to all the states and conditions of a Christian's life, and makes it binding always. If the heart must be kept, because out of it are the issues of life, then as long as these issues of life do flow out of it, we are obliged to keep it.

    Lavater on the text will have the word taken from a besieged garrison, beset by many enemies without, and in danger of being betrayed by treacherous citizens within, in which danger the soldiers, upon pain of death, are commanded to watch; and though the expression, Keep your heart, seems to put it upon us as our work, yet it does not imply a sufficiency in us to do it. We are as able to stop the sun in its course, or to make the rivers run backward—as by our own will and power to rule and order our hearts. We may as well be our own saviors as our own keepers; and yet Solomon speaks properly enough when he says, "Keep your heart," because the duty is ours, though the power is of God; what power we have depends upon the exciting and assisting strength of Christ. Grace within us is beholden to grace outside us. "Without me you can do nothing." So much for the matter of the duty.

    The MANNER of performing it, is with all diligence. The Hebrew is very emphatic; keep with all keeping, or, "keep, keep"—set double guards. This vehemence of expression with which the duty is urged, plainly implies how difficult it is to keep our hearts, how dangerous to neglect them!

    The MOTIVE to this duty is very forcible and weighty: "For out of the heart are the issues of life." That is, the heart is the source of all vital operations; it is the spring and original of both good and evil, as the spring in a watch that sets all the wheels in motion. The heart is the treasury, the hand and tongue but the shops; what is in these, comes from that; the hand and tongue always begin where the heart ends. The heart contrives, and the members execute: "a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth that which is good; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." So then, if the heart errors in its work, these must miscarry in theirs; for heart errors are like the errors of the first concoction, which cannot be rectified afterward; or like the misplacing and inverting of the stamps and letters in the press, which must cause so many errata in all the copies that are printed. O then how important a duty is that which is contained in the following.

    PROPOSITION—The keeping and right managing of the heart in every condition, is one great business of a Christian's life.

    What the philosopher says of waters, is as properly applicable to hearts; it is hard to keep them within any bounds. God has set limits to our hearts, yet how frequently do they transgress not only the bounds of grace and religion, but even of reason and common honesty? This is that which affords the Christian matter of labor and watchfulness, to his dying day. It is not the cleaning of the hand that makes the Christian, for many a hypocrite can show as fair a hand as he; but the purifying watching, and right ordering of the heart! This is the thing that provokes so many sad complaints and costs so many deep groans and tears. It was the pride of Hezekiah's heart that made him lie in the dust, mourning before the Lord. It was the fear of hypocrisy's invading the heart that made David cry, "Let my heart be sound in your statutes, that I be not ashamed." It was the sad experience he had of the divisions and distractions of his own heart in the service of God, that made him pour out the prayer, "Unite my heart to fear your name."

    The method in which I propose to improve the proposition it this:

    First, I shall inquire what the keeping of the heart supposes and imports.

    Secondly, Assign diverse reasons why Christians must make this a leading business of their lives.

    Thirdly, Point out those seasons which especially call for this diligence in keeping the heart.

    Fourthly, Apply the whole.
     
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  2. SovereignGrace

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    It is directed towards all believers, imo.
     
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  3. SovereignGrace

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    John Flavel stated it best...

    "The duty is ours, the power is God's."
     
  4. tyndale1946

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    First of all Iconoclast this quite a lengthy article and I am now on page 10 of 50... I was struck by this quote so far by Flavel... A little pride, vanity, or carelessness will dash to pieces all that for which they have been a long time laboring in many a weary duty.
    Since then the joy of our life, the comfort of our souls, rises and falls with our diligence in this work, keep your heart with all diligence.
    As of this time I am also reading and studying The Treasury Of David by Spurgeon and Spurgeon and other writers he quotes say the same thing in regards to the heart... I also agree with SG that this applies to all saints of all time not just the OT saints... May have more thoughts on the article you posted as I peruse through it... Brother Glen
     
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  5. Iconoclast

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    yes it is for sure. This wisdom is timeless. Those who would dismiss the OT as not for Christians are gravely mistaken.;

    Flavel says-
    (1) It is the hardest work. Heart-work is hard work indeed

    (2) It is a constant work. The keeping of the heart is a work that is never done till life is ended. There is no time or condition in the life of a Christian which will suffer an intermission of this work. It is in keeping watch over our hearts,

    (3) It is the most important business of a Christian's life. Without this we are but formalists in religion: all our professions, gifts and duties signify nothing. " My son, give me thine heart," is God’s request. God is pleased to call that a gift which is indeed a debt; he will put this honor upon the creature, to receive it from him in the way of a gift; but if this be not given him, he regards not whatever else you bring to him

    Look how his understanding of scripture clicks in here;

    Secondly, To assign some reasons why Christians must make this the great business of their lives.
    The importance and necessity of making this our great business will manifestly appear from several considerations:
    1. The glory of God is much concerned. Heart-evils are very provoking evils to the Lord. The Schools correctly observe, that outward sins are " sins of great infamy:" but that the heart-sins are " sins of deeper guilt." How severely has the great God declared his wrath from heaven against heart wickedness! The crime for which the old world stands indicted is heart-wickedness! " God saw that every imagination of their hearts was only evil, and that continually;" for which he sent the most dreadful judgments that were ever inflicted since time began. We find not their murders, adulteries, blasphemies, (though they were defiled with these) particularly alleged against them; but the evils of their hearts. That by which God was so provoked as to give up his peculiar inheritance into the enemy's hand, was the evil of their hearts. " O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved; how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?"
     
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  6. Iconoclast

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    Yes indeed.....I can only read small portions at a time as these godly teachers open up the scriptures in a way that provokes meditation on the verses that is more profitable than just a quick read will do.
    Take your time and enjoy sitting with brother Flavel as he offers edifying instruction.
    I keep pausing as the teaching suggests other verses to me that offer correction.

    yes combining it with CHS or thomas watson increases the strength of the teaching as each one see's a bit differently than the other even though they are clearly on the same page!
     
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  7. tyndale1946

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    The problem I see is that when one becomes a Christian oftimes they feel that the battle is over... Not so!... Guarding your heart is a constant battle... When you walk with Christ you better have on the whole armor of God... Your adversary Satan is your enemy and he not only hates God he hates anyone who as a disciple follows him and will do anything to rob you of your peace, joy and truth as it in in Christ Jesus... Sometimes you can become your own worst enemy if you don't... Speaking from experience!... Been there done that!... Brother Glen
     
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  8. Iconoclast

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    from pg7


    Here he pulls from ezk 33

     
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  9. Iconoclast

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    on pg 8...this is key;
    I find that in many a" fellowship of the saints" if this duty is lacking in private, the outward conversation and fellowship will be off. Churches can either dry up and die, or people wind up looking to substitute entertainment to make up for the lack of preparation to gather with the saints .
     
  10. Iconoclast

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    on pg9/10 he gets into defective heart work;
     
  11. Internet Theologian

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    Excellent OP. I never once wondered if this were only for OT saints. I always saw the Scriptures as the whole counsel of God.
     
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  12. Iconoclast

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    Exactly....and yet some might suggest that things written in the OT was only for israel in the theocracy, but that would rob us of the psalms, proverbs eccl. and many other rich portions of the word.

    Clearly all the reformers and puritans had no such confusion and these Old dead theologians still teach us!
     
  13. Iconoclast

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    Here Flavel gets me..this is why I have never made big money,lol;
    It reminds me of prov 30;
    ;
    8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

    9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
     
  14. Iconoclast

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    from pg 12
     
  15. Iconoclast

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    on page 17 God's sovereignty is highlighted;
     
  16. tyndale1946

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    I agree and not only do they teach us but I find their deep doctrinal truths are so rich in the word of God and so much of what they have written grips our very heart, soul and mind!... Todays writer express to much doctrinal fluff... Love the writing of the Old Theologians!... My next undertaking is The Christian In Complete Armor by William Gurnall... Brother Glen
     
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  17. Iconoclast

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    pg20-22;
     

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