Note: The following message comes from a sermon preached May 23, 1957, during Mr. Graham’s historic New York Crusade.
Now tonight I want you to turn with me to Proverbs, the 23rd chapter and the seventh verse: “For as [man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
The word heart is used in different ways all the way through the Scriptures. I want you to see tonight the meaning of the word heart from the Biblical point of view.
The Bible says that “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). When God looks at a man, He doesn’t look to see the color of his skin. He doesn’t look to see the kind of clothes he wears. Nor does He consider his social position. The Bible says that God looks upon the heart to see what you are on the inside—the thoughts, motives and intents of the heart.
The question I want to ask every one of you tonight is this: Is your heart right with God? And if it’s not right, before you leave here tonight I hope you’ll allow God to make it right.
The Bible indicates a great deal about the condition of the average person’s heart. In Proverbs 6:18, the Bible speaks of a “heart that deviseth wicked imaginations.” In other words, the Bible says that your heart is full of evil imaginations. And the Bible says, in Jeremiah 17:9, that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Your heart is deceitful. You can’t trust it, if you’re outside of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, in Matthew 15:8, that our hearts are far from God: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Think of it now. There are many of you here tonight who go to church. You sing on Sunday morning. You go through the ritual of the liturgy of your church. With your mouth, you honor God. But your heart is far from Him. Your heart—your real self—is taken up with the things of this world.
You have very little time in private for God. You spend far more time watching television than you do reading the Bible. You spend far more time reading the press and reading novels than you do in prayer. You don’t have time for God. Your heart is a long way from God tonight.
The Bible says that our hearts are dark. Romans 1:21, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” The Bible teaches that your heart is dark because your spiritual eyes have been blinded by the god of this age. Let Him open the eyes of your heart.
And do you know the greatest stumbling block to the Kingdom of God? Murder? No. Drunkenness? No. Adultery? No, pride. More people stay out of the Kingdom of God because they’re proud than any other reason. We don’t like to humble ourselves and come to the cross of Christ, and say, “O God, I’m a sinner.”
The Bible says that our hearts are rebellious. “But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone” (Jeremiah 5:23).
And the Bible teaches that your heart can be hardened. The same sun that shines on the clay hardens the clay, but it melts butter. And the same Gospel that is preached here tonight will soften some hearts until they will yield to Christ, but it will harden others. And it’s possible for you to harden your heart by delaying to receive Christ until it is so hard that, when God speaks, you no longer hear Him.
Now, what is God’s attitude toward our hearts? The Bible says He knows the heart: “Shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). He knows all your secrets. You don’t hide anything from God. He knows every single thing that goes on there.
The Bible says that He searches the heart. Think of it. The great God of Heaven searching your heart. He’s in there searching and probing. “I the Lord search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10).
Then the Bible says that God ponders the heart. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2). You can rationalize that the way you’re living and the way you’re doing is all right. But the Bible says God doesn’t take your evaluation and your judgment. The Bible says that God ponders your heart—meditating on it, evaluating it.
And the Bible says God weighs the heart. I want to ask: Do you weigh enough? He weighs your spiritual life in comparison to the Ten Commandments. And the Bible says that every one of us have broken those Ten Commandments. He weighs you by the law of conscience—the times your conscience spoke to you, and the times you rejected the voice of your conscience. He also weighs you by the life of Christ. And none of us weigh enough. We all come short of the glory of God (see Romans 3:23). We’re all sinners in the sight of God tonight.
Now, there’s something else in Scripture. The Bible talks about the heart of Jesus. The Bible talks about the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. And all the way through the New Testament, you have the expression the blood of Christ. What does that mean? That means that the heart of Christ, in its compassion and in its love, bled on the cross for our sinful hearts. His pure heart, His perfect heart, His glorious heart, His loving heart, His tender heart, His compassionate heart—bled on the cross.
And when they put spikes in His hands and a spike through His feet, and they put a spear in His side, near His heart, His heart bled literal drops of blood for us.
God says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin” (Cf. Hebrews 9:22). What did He mean? He meant that without the death of Christ, there could be no forgiveness of sin. Do you know why? Because you and I have broken the laws of God. We deserve death, judgment and hell. But Jesus Christ went to the cross and bled and died in our place.
And now God says, “I commend my love toward you, that, while you were yet sinners, Christ died for you’ (Cf. Romans 5:8). And God says, “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). It’s a mystery, that death of Christ, the great atonement of Christ. None of us can understand its depths, its height or its breadth. But we do know this: that in some mysterious and glorious way, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself at the cross. He bled, and His heart was broken for us.
The Bible says that God also prepares your heart by the Holy Spirit. “The preparations of the heart in man … is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1).
And last of all, the Bible gives us this glorious promise—that God will give you a new heart. If you will come to Christ and surrender your heart to Him, God says, “I’ll take out the old heart. I’ll put in a new one.” An old heart will not do. He must give you a completely new heart. God doesn’t just patch you up when you come to Him. The Bible says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
And in Ezekiel 36, the Bible says, “A new heart also will I give you, 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.”
Would you like to have a new heart tonight? Change the whole direction of your living. Change your whole moral life. Change your affections. Surrender your life to Christ and have Him give you a new heart.
It’s called regeneration. It means that God will give you a new life—a new direction to your life, new thoughts, new energies, new ambitions, new directions.
The Bible says that three things are necessary. First, you must be willing to turn from your sins. You must be willing to renounce sin. Second, you must commit and surrender your life to Christ. By that, I mean you give in to Christ as your only Savior. You’re not saved by joining a church. You’re not saved by living a good moral life. You’re saved only because of the grace of God in Christ. And you must commit yourself to Christ as your only Savior. Are you willing to do that?
Then the third thing: You must be willing to follow Him, serve Him, confess Him and acknowledge Him. You must be willing to go back to the factory and the home, and stand up for Christ.
Are you willing to do that? Let Him change your life and forgive your sins.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version.