************ Sermon on Proverbs 4:23 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on August 1, 2004

Proverbs 4:20-27
verse 23
"Guard Your Heart"

Ask kids to bring a treasure to Sunday morning service. Check what they have. What do they do with it? Where do they keep it?

"Guard your heart." Think about that for a moment. "Guard your heart."

What sorts of things do you guard? (jewels, money, business, family)

Why do you guard these things?
It is worth protecting; it is precious.
It needs protecting.

Example: I just finished reading a book on the U.S. Secret Service. Its job, among others, is to guard the President of the United States. The President needs guarding because he is the most important man in the world, the leader of Democracy and freedom everywhere. The President needs guarding because there are so many out there who would attack and hurt him if they could.

Conclusion: "Guard you heart." Your heart is important. Your heart is under attack.

I The Heart is Worth Protecting
A We have to guard the heart because the heart is precious.
According to our text, how important, how precious, is the heart?
Guard your heart, for it is the "wellspring of life."

To see what this means I want to go through the Bible and look at all the different ways the Bible speaks of the heart.

(Gen 18:5 KJV) And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
(Gen 18:5) Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way--now that you have come to your servant." "Very well," they answered, "do as you say."

(Judg 19:5 KJV) And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel's father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.

(Judg 19:5) On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Refresh yourself with something to eat; then you can go."

(Acts 14:17) Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

In the Bible the word heart refers first to the physical organs and is considered to be the center of physical life. Food and drink, we are told, strengthen or comfort the heart.

B Second:
(Luke 2:19) But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

In the Bible the heart is the focus of intellectual life. The heart is connected with thinking.

B Third:
(Acts 5:4 KJV) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

(Acts 5:4) Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."

(Acts 13:22) And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

In the Bible acts of the will are considered to arise in the heart.

C Fourth:
(Ps 4:7) You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.

(Isa 65:14) My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts, but you will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit.

(1 Sam 25:37) Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone.

(John 16:6 KJV) But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

(Lev 19:17) "'Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.

(Mark 12:30) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

In the Bible the heart is closely connected to the feelings and affections of a person: joy, fear, discouragement, sorrow, hate, love.

D Fifth:
(Job 27:6 KJV) My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

(Job 27:6) I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.

(1 John 3:19-21) This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence (20) whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (21) Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

The heart is spoken of as the conscience.

E Sixth:
(Judg 16:17) That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

(Judg 16:17) So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."

(1 Sam 16:7) But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

The heart represents a person's true nature or character.

F Seventh:
(Rom 2:15) since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

(Luke 8:15) But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

(1 Sam 10:9) As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.

The heart is the place where God does His work in the individual.

G Eighth:
(2 Cor 1:22) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

(Eph 3:17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

The heart is the dwelling place of God.

What is clear is that in the Bible the heart is the center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans. As such, the heart came to stand for the person as a whole. It is the "wellspring of life." The heart, in other words, is very important. So, "guard you heart."

II The Heart is Under Attack
A We have to guard the heart because the heart is under attack.

The first enemy:
We said before that the heart is the place where God dwells. It is the place where God does His marvellous work of rebirth and renewal.

Two texts tell us that it is also the place of sin and Satan:
(Jer 17:9) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

(Mat 15:19) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

God lives in our heart. But so does sin and Satan. The two cannot coexist. This means that our heart is a what? (It is a battleground.) It is a battleground between God and Satan. Both lay claim to our heart. Both want to be master of our heart. Both want the allegiance of our heart.

The Bible tells us that at one time the age-long war between good and evil, between light and darkness, between righteousness and wickedness, took place in heaven: Michael and his angels on one side, Satan and his demons on the other. But when Satan got kicked out of heaven the war got moved to earth and the battleground became the hearts of men. Satan's hosts attack the hearts of God's people for that is the only way they have of attacking God. This is no distant war in some far off land. This is war in our hometown, our backyards, our family rooms, our churches, our hearts. You and I find ourselves not only on the front lines; we find ourselves to be the battlefield.

B A second enemy:
(John 15:18-21) "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. (19) If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (20) Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (21) They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

(Mark 13:9) "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.

C A third enemy:
(Galatians 5:19-21) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (21) and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

D Now, consider these three enemies that attack our hearts. The devil is our opponent who attacks us from the outside. The world is the hostile environment in which we live. And our own "flesh" is the enemy within us. This means that our enemies are all around us. This is what makes our enemies so dangerous. In this life, in this flesh, on this earth, we can never get away from them. So, "guard your heart." These days, if you don't guard your heart, no one else will either. When it comes to guarding your heart, it is you or no one.

III Guard Your Heart
A Your heart is precious. Your heart is under attack. So, "guard your heart."

How do we do that?

You guard your heart if you do not give your heart away to just anything or anyone.

If you are married or engaged or going with someone, in love with someone, what do you do with your heart? (You give it to the someone you love). Today is Barry & Brenda's anniversary. Ask Barry how he proposed: on bended knee.

As a Christian we give our heart to whom? (God) We get down on our knees before God and give Him our love and we give it to Him alone.

So let me ask you: who or what does your heart belong to? Does it belong to drugs, alcohol, sex? Does it belong to money, possessions, and things? Does it belong to a friend or a club? Does it belong to golfing, fishing, and camping? Does it belong to a sports hero, or a favorite team? Does it belong to work or school? Does it belong to games, toys, dolls, and computers? Who or what does your heart belong to?

To "guard your heart" your heart needs to belong to God. You need a heart that's right with God, that is full of Christ, and that is led by the Spirit. Christ has to take hold of your heart. The Holy Spirit needs to transform your heart into a vessel of God. You see, it is only when your heart is full of Christ that you have the strength to guard your heart. Our text says that the heart "is the wellspring of life." Well, Jesus is the water of life that you need to have bubbling up in your heart.

So let me ask you: have you given your heart to Jesus? Have you trusted Him as Savior and accepted Him as Lord? Are you walking in step with the Spirit? If you are, then you are guarding your heart.

B "Guard your heart." When we look at Proverbs as well as the rest of the Bible it becomes clear that we need to listen to the Word of God if we want to guard our heart.
(Prov 4:1) Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.

(Prov 4:10) Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.

(Prov 4:13) Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

(Prov 4:20-22) My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. (21) Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; (22) for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.

(Deut 4:9) Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

The Bible is road map, an owner's manual, that tells us how to live and to walk in a sin-filled world. It tells us how to "guard the heart." Ask Ed Boersma to explain his GPS system and what he uses for directions. The Bible is our GPS. It tells us where to go.

C "Guard your heart." Be a part of a church, of a group of believers, who encourage you and hold you accountable and help you in your relationship with God, and pick your friends from this group. Find your companionship from among those who love God. You know the saying: "Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Cor 15:33). But the opposite is also true: Good friends lead to good character. Says Proverbs 13:20, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." If you have the right kind of friends, they will help you "guard your heart." But if you have the wrong kind of friends, they will help you lose your heart.

D "Guard you heart." It becomes clear that to guard our heart we also have to steer clear of sin.
(Prov 4:24-27) Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (25) Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. (26) Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. (27) Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

You need to recognize and avoid the situations that are most tempting to you. For instance, if you struggle with lust, avoid anything that tempts you to lust. If you struggle with pornography, keep away from stores that sell it, and put a blocking program on your computer. Steer clear of situations where you will be alone in an intimate atmosphere with someone who is not your spouse.

If your struggle is with alcohol or drugs, refuse to allow them into your house under any circumstances.

If your struggle is with greed, avoid situations where you will be alone with money that is not your own.

Your heart is precious. Your heart is under attack. So, "guard your heart."

Guard your heart by being full of Christ, by spending time with the Word, by being involved in a church, and by avoiding sin.
Tell me, do you "guard your heart"?

Proverbs 4:20-27
verse 23
"Guard Your Heart"

1. "Guard your heart." Think of the things that you guard and why. What two things does "guard" imply about your heart?

2. What phrase does Proverbs 4:23 use to describe the heart? It calls the heart the:

3. To understand this phrase we have to look at the different ways the word "heart" is used in the (Greek/Hebrew) Bible (this is not an exhaustive list):
a. Gen 18:5; Judg 19:5; Acts14:17 ______________________________________________________________
b. Lk 2:19 _________________________________________________________________________________
c. Acts 5:4; Acts 13:22 _______________________________________________________________________
d. Ps 4:7; Is 65:14; 1 Sam 25:37; Jn 16:6; Lev 19:17; Mk 12:30 _______________________________________
e. Job 27:6; 1 John 3:19-21 ____________________________________________________________________
f. Judg 16:17; 1 Sam 16:7 _____________________________________________________________________
g. Rom 2:15; Luke 8:15; 1 Sam 10:9 ____________________________________________________________
h. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 3:17 _______________________________________________________________________
All of this shows us how important/precious the heart really is.

4. Our hearts are under attack.
a. Jer 17:9; Mt 15:19 God lives in our hearts. But so does __________________________________________
This means that our hearts are a ________________________________________________________________
b. Our second enemy is (Jn 15:18-21; Mk 13:9) ___________________________________________________
c. Our third enemy is (Gal 5:19-21) _____________________________________________________________
Those who attack our hearts are all around us. So we need to ________________________________________

5. Four ways to guard our heart (not an exhaustive list):
First, we need to give our heart to ______________________________________________________________
Second, we need to Prov 4:1; Prov 4:10; Prov 4:13; Prov 4:20-22 _____________________________________
Third, we need to have 1 Cor 15:33; Proverbs 13:20 ________________________________________________
Fourth, Prov 4:24-27 _________________________________________________________________________
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