Spiritual Cardiology 301: Proper Heart-Health Begins in the Mind

Friday, July 27, 2012

The right and left atria receive oxygen-depleted blood into the heart and hold it there until it is ready to be pumped into the ventricles where is re-oxygenated. In a similar fashion, our spiritual atria receive promise-depleted thoughts which are held within. It is here that we find the need to, "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). It is in this moment that we must find the sustaining need to, "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph. 6:10-17).

The battle is right here and right now, when we must "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Heb. 12:1-3). And what is the sin that entangles? What is the primary scheme of the devil? What is the thought that is at the most enmity with our souls? In a word...unbelief.

If I don't believe what God promised, I won't be able to do what He commands. Promise is the spiritual oxygen for the mind. If the spiritual ventricles of the heart aren't working properly, promise won't oxygenate our thoughts, and the spiritual blood that is then pumped from the ventricles will not adequately supply the need to our spiritual lungs or our other vital organs.

In short, we will grow spiritually weak, with little desire to do great things for God, and hardly any serious actions that get great things done in God's kingdom. We will be stuck in disobedience, bad habits, sinful behavior which we feel that we cannot break and fear we will always be stuck in. We will hear the things God has done for others and promises to do for us, but we will feel nothing in our hearts and believe that He cannot do that for us.
Legalism: The Heartworms of Spiritual Cardiology

This is called powerless Christianity. And it's rooted in legalism. Legalism is like the disease known as heartworms, diagnosed especially in dogs. Heartworms are parasites that enter the bloodstream through mosquito bites. If a dog is not on heartworm prevention medication, if and when a mosquito bites, the microscopic parasite will be introduced into the blood of the dog.

Within 70-90 days the parasites have "wormed" their way through to the animals heart where they take up residence and reproduce and multiply. What is interesting is that these parasites take up residence in the right ventricle of the heart and steal the nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream (source).

This cycle will continue for several years until the heart is so filled with heartworms that it simply cannot function properly any longer. The heart becomes incapable of re-oxygenating blood any longer, and the organs begin to shut down in the dog. My very first dog, named Benji, died of heartworm disease, hacking and gagging to death. Unfortunately, we didn't know the dog had any heartworms until the symptoms appeared. Then it was too late.

Legalism is a parasite that enters the heart and just like heartworms, it remains in the spiritual ventricle stealing away the vital nutrients and oxygen of hope and promise.

In the one ventricle, legalism presents God's commands and standards to us while stealing away promise-oxygen. Legalism lies to us again and tells us that God's promises are conditional, based on our ability to keep His commands. And the moment promise becomes disconnected from command, that non-promise-oxygenated blood is immediately pumped into our lives and we in turn immediately attempt to obey God without finding any power to do so. Part of legalism is pointing to present-day obedience to God without the past promises of God or the future hope that He will fulfill them.

About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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