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“Enemies of the Heart”

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,
and this defiles a person.
Matthew 15:18

What about sin? 
We all sin. A lot. (And if you don’t think you do, ask the ones who live with you).

But do we know how to effectively fight against our particular sins?

Are we strategic with our aim?

We often try to first change our behavior. Maybe add a few new rules. Watch what we say.

And how often does that usually last? Our real problems lie deeper. Enemies-of-the-Heart

It won’t do us any good to guard our behavior more closely. Our words and deeds are simply a gauge of what’s going on inside.
ANDY STANLEY, Enemies of the Heart

The big 4
Four looming sins are at the root of many of our other sins. Andy Stanley believes that “practically every conflict and relational wound you’ve experienced can be traced back to one of these four.”

  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Greed
  • Jealousy

The power of debt
In his book Enemies of the Heart, he frames each sin in a “debt-to-debtor dynamic.” That’s the uncomfortable feeling you get when you think you owe somebody something, or they owe you. (And if we’re honest, at times we may even think that “somebody” is God.)

If you’ve ever been in a situation where someone owed you money and refused to pay, you know that the person owed can feel as powerless and as put upon as a person who’s in debt. It all depends upon the personalities (and the arrogance) of those involved.

Either way, things aren’t even. Someone has the upper hand. There’s an imbalance.

Guilt says, “I owe you.”
Anger says, “You owe me.”
Greed says, “I owe me.”
Jealousy says, “God owes me.”

4 heart medicines

There are only two ways to resolve this kind of tension: Either somebody has to pay up, or somebody has to cancel the debt. As long as the debt is unpaid or unforgiven, the debt governs the relationship.

To free your heart from guilt:

Not just to God, but to all the offended parties. And confess to change, not just to relieve a guilty conscience.

To remove your anger:

Make the choice to forgive; don’t wait for the feeling. And forgive specifically for exactly what you think was taken from you. Cancel the debt so the offending party no longer owes you anything.

To eliminate greed:

Ask yourself, “Why do I have so much? Why do I already have more than I need?” And ask God, “What do you want me to do with my extra?”

Don’t wait for God to change your heart before you start giving; start giving as the opening for him to change your heart.

To rid yourself of jealousy:

Jealousy begins when we don’t get what we want. So make a habit of congratulating others for their accomplishments, even though you don’t want to. 

Make it routine

  • Confess
  • Forgive
  • Give
  • Celebrate

Pray for an establishment of godly habits to root out temptations. Settle your outstanding debts. With yourself. With others. With God. That’s what he’s done with us.

His grace changed our debt-to-debtor dynamic forever. 
He paid the price and canceled our debt to give us a new heart.

How will we take care of these hearts (Proverbs 4:23)?

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

* * *

What strategies do you use to fight off sin?

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for the review copy of Enemies of the Heart. I’m glad I read it.


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