THE HEART CONDITION
by Gbile Akanni
THE heart condition is a basic issue in Christian living. It is for this reason that we want to look at the primary place the condition of your heart occupies in your experience with the LORD Jesus Christ. I believe that God will use His word which He is bringing across your way here to set you on course towards eternity, and to make you useful for God’s kingdom.
‘And He began to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that He entered into a ship, and sat in the sea: and the whole multitude was by the sea in the land. And he taught them many things by parable, and said unto them in His doctrine. Hearken, Behold, there went out a sower to sow; And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and fowls of the air came and come and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up, it was scorched: and because it had not root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it and it yielded no fruit it: And another fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased: and brought forth some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about Him with the twe1ve asked of Him the parable. And He said unto them., unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive, hearing they may hear, and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted. and their sins should be forgiven them. And He said unto them, know ye not the parable? and how then will ye know all parables? (Mark 4: 1-13)
The first thing we shall consider briefly as regards the condition of a man’s heart in the Christian life is what the word of God says in verses one and two of the above scriptural quotation. You may note here that the scriptures say Jesus had ‘taught them many things …. ! Men gathered unto Him and He began to speak to them concerning the kingdom of God. But how Jesus started this parable calls for very careful consideration of this particular parable. Jesus started in verse three by saying:
Verse 3: Hearken, Behold there went out a sower to sow’
The word “hearken” is like a word of command. It could mean “listen to this!” or “Give me your attention!” or “Give me your ears!”. That was what Jesus was saying when He said “Hearken”. And when the Lord Jesus begins by saying “hearken” to a multitude or to you dear reader, it means, put aside whatever you are doing and listen.
When Jesus says hearken, you need to listen; you need to pay close attention. You may think this message is coming to you by mistake, yet God is saying “hearken” or pay attention.
God is saying listen or hearken unto this. Do not be too busy to listen to God; do not be too busy to consider this basic issue that the LORD Jesus is lifting up before your eyes.
The second thing that makes this parable of a primary importance in considering entering into the kingdom of God is found in verse nine.
Verse 9: And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’
Note that when Jesus finished this parable, He seemed to be so final about it: that whosoever has ears to hear things of eternal consequence, whoso-ever wants to hear the things of the kingdom or whosoever has ears to hear the reality and the things that will take him to heaven, let him hear it. He seems to say “I have spoken my mind: I have told you that if you have ears to hear, better listen”. This scripture reveals to us that this particular parable must have been so important in the heart of the LORD Jesus Christ that when He began, He said:
“Hearken” and when He had finished He said “If you have ears to hear”: if your ears are not blocked to things that will benefit you, consider what has been said; if the devil is not tempting you just to destroy your life for nothing, then consider.
Here, Jesus is being particular. He is not speaking to you as a group: you and your friends, you and your husband, nor even to you and your company; but to you as an individual. You should not compare your response to God’s word with your neighbours’ or to that of the person next to you. Jesus said, ‘He that hath ears…’ We do not know whether that your friend, your husband, your wife, even your pastor, your business partner or your acquaintances have ears to hear the things of God; maybe they do not have ears to hear the things of eternity, they only have ears to hear the things of the devil and of the world. But then, the word of God says, ‘He that hath ears to hear; let him hear this’. Do you have ears? Then listen or pay attention to what Jesus has to say through this parable.
The next thing which makes this parable very important for us to consider and pray about is found in verses ten and eleven.
“And when He was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
And He said unto them, unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.”
Jesus said, to understand the parable is like a privilege. It is a key to understanding the mystery of the kingdom of God. It looks like if you do not understand this issue, you have not yet got anything concerning the kingdom of God.
Verse 13: And He said unto them, know ye not this parable? And how will you know all parables?
The parable of the sower is a prerequisite to knowing anything from God, for it deals with the question of the condition of your heart. There is no way you can know anything, or retain anything concerning the kingdom of God; if you have not dealt with your heart condition. If we just presume that since you have been going to church, since you have been listening to the word of God, and you have been here and there attending conferences, going for retreats; as a member of the choir or even a pastor, you do not need to start here: the Lord Jesus says it will be a very serious mistake, if you do not know anything about this parable. What else will God say to you that will be meaningful when you do not consider this issue of your heart condition? Therefore, having looked at why we must not neglect the issue of the heart if we are intending to get into the kingdom of God, or live the Christian life; what exactly does this parable talk about? What exactly does this parable emphasize to you, and what must you consider right now as you are reading this message? I pray that God Himself will open your eyes of understanding and open your heart not to miss this all-important prerequisite and all-important condition of receiving, maintaining, walking and living in the kingdom of God.
Verse, 3: Hearken; Behold there went out a sower to sow…
Verse, 14: The Sower soweth the word…
Verse, 26: And He said, so is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground.
Every time the kingdom of God is to begin in a man’s life, it does not start because of where or to whom one is born. Even if one’s mother was praying at the point of delivery, that does not mean one was born into the kingdom of God; one was still born a sinner (psalm 51:5). You ask some people if they are Christians, they will answer in the affirmative. But ask how they know it, and they will say they were born Christians. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Thus, we discover that to live the Christian life, there has to be a beginning – a sowing of the seed; and the seed we are talking about here is the word of God.
Considering verses 3 and 14 together, Jesus said, “Behold a sower went out to sow and to sow the word of God as the seed“. What is the meaning of this? What are the implications? I want to say to you that the Christian life begins when the proper word of God is sown into a life, if the heart is a good ground. Every time God wants to save a soul, the first thing He does is to sow His word into that life. Each time God wants to change a man’s life, or each time God wants to change a destiny, there is no other method He uses except by sowing His word into that life. The Bible says, the gospel is God’s powerful method of changing men (Rom. 1:6}. There is no other way to correct your life, to change you, or for your home to be redirected; for your life to take a correct shape, to make you a better man; than for the sower to come out, and sow a seed of the word of God in your heart. God may be sending this message as a seed into your heart to cause a new beginning in your life. As you are reading the word of God here, you are taking in the seed of life, the seed of the divine nature or the incorruptible seed of the word of God. In the kingdom God, the Christian life and the divine nature of God only begins in a man by the sowing of a seed; and that seed is the word of God. It is an incorruptible seed: There can be nothing wrong with the word of God. That seed is eternal. It is perfect. It can never fail. The word of God which you have been reading, which some of you carry, sleep with, open and put under the pillow; I would like to say is the same word that has changed many lives! It is the same word that has brought others into revival. It is the same word that has changed the destiny of many lives. God has always made men by His word. He has always fashioned men to live a holy life, to be righteous, to be victorious and to be delivered from their sicknesses and problems with His word. There is nothing wrong with the seed. So if the word of God is perfect and if it will ever remain relevant; if it is incorruptible, then the basic issue to consider in the matter of Christian living will be your heart condition. On what kind of ground does the seed of the word of God fall, as far as you are concerned?
Some of you have been listening to the word of God for many years now; some even claim to have been born in mission houses, but the question is, “How much of the kingdom life, how much of Jesus has sprung out of your life?” What kind of heart do you possess?”
THE WAYSIDE HEART
Verse, 4: And it came to pass, as He sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
Let us study the above scripture very carefully because it is very important, and we are trusting God to help us. Now, what is a wayside heart? There are some of you that are reading this article; it seems anytime the word of God comes to you, it does not make any impact. Each time you listen to the word of God, there is no result. You listen, you tremble physically; you even say you will do something about it, but eventually, it looks like the devil just takes it away from you. Does that not show you have a wayside heart?
Many times when the word of God comes, it seems as if it is falling on a flat surface. It is as if nothing happens to it.
The Characteristics of a wayside heart.
When you consider a house that is built by a roadside, the first thing you will notice is that the house is always full of dust because every vehicle that passes blows dust which settles on it. When you are living in that house you may sweep it twenty times a day; it will still be dirty. The reason is because it is close to the road. And I want to say to you, if your heart is always at the periphery of sin, if you are the first person to be attacked with a particle of sin most of the time, if all the things that go on in the world settles upon your heart, if you fall at every temptation, if every girl or every woman that is passing by catches your attention and you cannot just look and turn away, if your heart must run after them even though you are married; could it be that your heart is on the roadside?
There are some of you that say you are Christians, or that you are born again; but look at your heart, look at the particles of sins, look at the thoughts of sin, look at the thoughts of lust that are going on in your heart and look at the evil imaginations going on all around in your heart. You cannot kneel down to pray because particles of sin have covered the surface of your heart, so to speak. I want to ask you today:
What is the condition of your heart?
Again when you look at a roadside house, it is full of noise: the noise of all the vehicles that are passing by. You cannot stay in that house without some distraction. That is a house you can stay without being able to concentrate because of the external noise. Are you so close to the world system that you cannot concentrate on Jesus? Are you so close to the kingdom of darkness that your heart gets distracted all the time? Are you unable to focus on the things of God? Spiritual things do not really last in your heart simply because you are distracted such that little things turn you away. Little things make you get so confused.
A further characteristic of a roadside house is that because of its proximity to the road, it is the victim of most accidents. Every little mistake comes down on the roadside house. I still want to ask you my friend: Are you always falling at just any little temptation? Are you always falling into predicaments? Are you always having accidents: unconscious accident, unplanned accidents, accidents that take you into mistakes? And you are unable to walk in the light of the word of God? Another thing about the wayside heart you need to consider right now is that apart from collisions that happen accidentally, it is a marginal heart. It is the heart at the boundary, the one that stays at the periphery of sin and periphery of the world system. When any problem comes, that is the first heart it will meet and it is the last heart to the kingdom of God. I want to ask you, why can you not go deep with Jesus? Why are you staying on the surface? Why are you a boundary Christian? Why are you living your life with one leg inside, one leg outside? Why do you like to stay on the road side? Why are you so interested in looking at everybody: you look at all the passers-by or all the travellers? Why are you accessible to men that are unstable? Why are you accessible to the things of the world? My friend, where is your heart?
The final thing to note about the roadside house is this: the roadside house is always available for unwanted visitors. Many people on sighting a house by the wayside would not get to their real destinations before dumping their loads, since there is a house where they could dump their loads quickly and return after about one hour. So the owner keeps a lot of loads because he is the closest man they see around. Does the devil find it easy to dump all his useless loads on you? Does he dump useless dreams on you? Does he dump unnecessary relationships on your life? Does that not show that you are on the boundary? Does that not show that you are the closest person he can touch? Why has the word of God not been able to affect you over the years? Yet there is a promise in the word of God which I want to share with you.
Ezekie136:26 A new heart also will I give, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
You do not have to die with a wayside heart. You do not have to die with particles of sin on your heart. You do not have to die to miss heaven; but this your heart must be changed. You need a divine heart surgery right away. Jesus explained:
Mark 4:15 And these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown; but when they are heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
What will you do with this message? Will you again allow Satan to take away these convictions before you act in repentance? Why procrastinate?
Why will you remain with a roadside and divided heart while eternity is just few seconds away? Why not bow down and open your heart and say:
“Lord, this is my condition. Jesus, come and create in me a new heart.”
As you pray, the Lord Jesus is willing to give you a new heart. Just humble yourself, and He will do so. May God bless you as you ask Him in Jesus’ name. Amen.