“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24–26).

IF ITS PROPER OCCUPANCY IS NEGLECTED, THE HUMAN HEART FALLS INTO A GHOSTLY RUIN. A certain kind of work is necessary to make our hearts the joyous abode of God which they were created to be. When we make the mistake of neglecting this work, for whatever reason, a deadly chaos begins to develop.

Perhaps the word “focus” best describes the effort we must make. Having been given minds that can choose the objects of their thought, it is absolutely essential that we exercise this choice in such a way as to elevate our hearts rather than allow them to be degraded. To those who would be Christians, this simple instruction is given: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Not only can we choose to focus on truths that keep our hearts from deteriorating, but we must do so. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). To ignore this admonition is to bring about the almost certain disintegration of our own hearts.

Just how badly can a neglected heart deteriorate? Paul gives an ominous hint of the possibilities when he describes those who were living “in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17–19).

Great damage is done by the simple decision to do nothing about God. Between actively growing toward Him and actively growing away from Him, there is no safe middle course. To do nothing is to deteriorate. Either we choose to seek God diligently or our hearts will fall into darkness, decay, and finally . . . death.

“A house with no one living in it deteriorates rapidly. The soul that does not celebrate God becomes a dark, ruined, deserted place” (Pseudo-Macarius).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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