The Divided Heart

Bible Book: Psalms  86 : 11
Subject: Heart; Evil; Commitment

Isn’t it amazing how people fail to take responsibility for their own problems? Isn’t it simply amazing that some people simply cannot see the glaring deficiencies and needs in their own life? Listen to these excerpts from actual resumes. In a personal section, here is what one person said, “I am married with nine children. I don’t require prescription drugs.” Listen to these others.

“I am extremely loyal to my present firm, so please don’t let them know of my immediate availability.”

“Qualifications: I am a man filled with passion and integrity, and I can act on short notice. I’m a class act and do no come cheap.”

“I intentionally omitted my salary history. I’ve made money and lost money. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I prefer being rich.”

“Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping.’ I have never quit a job.”

Reasons for leaving my last job:

“Was met with a string of broken promises and lies, as well as cockroaches.”

“I was working for my mom and she decided to move.”

“The company made me a scapegoat – just like my three previous employers.”

Isn’t that amazing? Remember my beginning statements. Isn’t it sad how people fail to see what is glaringly deficient within their own selves? The truth is that we are all that way. Almost all of us have glaring blind spots in certain areas of our lives. This is because there is a part of us that truly would rather not see nor admit. Most of you know the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We’ve mentioned it before.

The book that made Robert Louis Stevenson famous in his day was The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was a bizarre story but it gained wide popularity because it dealt with a problem which was common to humanity. The hero was Dr. Jekyll, a distinguished man of science. The world saw him as brilliant and benevolent. Deep inside, however, there was another personality, quite different from the outward personality of Dr. Jekyll. It was evil, cruel, sensual, devoted to everything evil.

The story is about a potion Dr. Jekyll devised which could summon the inner personality to the surface. His second personality he named Mr. Hyde. One day, however, he discovered that he had changed to Mr. Hyde without using the potion. The evil had become dominant and had begun to control his life. This book was a warning of what evil can do in your life. The book, however, was fictitious. But, the evil is not.

You have felt divided within, pushed in different directions. Two voices inside you have often been contradictory. All of us have felt that divided heart.

Paul wrote about the problem of a divided heart long before Robert Louis Stevenson. In Ephesians 4:22-24, he tells how the new man and the old man oppose one another. He says, "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Long before Paul wrote about it, David spoke of this same problem. In Psalm

86:11, he said, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." David asked God to pull him together again. He asked God to help him overcome his divided heart.

I. What Divides The Human Heart?

To answer that, you have to go all the way back to Eden where Adam had an undivided heart. He was made in the image of God, and he lived in a perfect world. But Adam sinned, and from that moment on man has been divided. You are born with an inclination to sin. So one part of you is made in the image of God and reaches out for the good and holy and the other part is inclined toward selfishness and pride. The Scripture is right, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That bad side of us, the Mr. Hyde part takes different forms with different people.

For some, that part is a love of money. That was the problem of a young man who came to Jesus one night. He was young, rich and had a place of political prominence. He had everything. Yet he had a divided heart. Something deep inside cried out for God, while something else held tightly to his wealth and position.

Friends, you can't have a peaceful, united heart when there is a discord caused by divided allegiance. What are those things in your life that tug at you, calling for priority in your life? Whether it is a sin or not, one thing is sure: a divided heart is an unhappy heart.

II. The Divided Heart Is A Powerless Heart

Jesus said that a house divided against its self cannot stand. It is weak. An army with two generals barking commands at the same time is going to be defeated. A divided heart is weak, and cannot function spiritually. God doesn't want you to have a divided heart. He will not room with a rival in your heart. He wants all of you. When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment of all, He answered quickly, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). Look at what the psalmist said in v. 12a.

It is either all or nothing with God. That's why David prayed so fervently, "O Lord unite my heart that I may fear thy name." A divided heart is a powerless heart.

III. What Unites A Heart?

A. Seek the Gift.

We always want to do something. God's life is an acceptance of gifts. It is a gift from God. You can't unite your heart around evil, but you can around God. You can't get rid of God, but you can get rid of sin. The key to a united heart is recognition of the lordship of Christ. It is a reverential awe, a holy fear of the Lord God almighty. It is recognizing who He is and allowing His presence to be the controlling factor in our lives. We all have a divided heart at one point or another because of the presence of the old fleshly nature. That's what Paul talked about in Galatians 2:20 when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." This is how to have a united heart. It is to unite our hearts around faith in the Son of God, a fear of the Lord, and an absolute devotion to Him. It is God's gift.

B. Deal Decisively with that which Divides.

For many of us, we try to hold on to the old way of life, to the old sins, to the old burdens and seek the lordship of Christ and a united heart at the same time. Simply put, it doesn't work! I heard of a man who went to the dentist the other day.

Dentist: "Try to relax - I'll pull your aching tooth in five minutes."

Patient: "How much will it cost?"

Dentist: "It'll be $100."

Patient: "That much for just five minutes' work?"

Dentist: "Well, if you prefer, I can pull it out very slowly."

Many of us are like a person who has an aching tooth, we want it pulled out very slowly. I believe that we need to deal decisively with the sin that is in our lives and be done with it. I believe that it's time to make a decision if we truly want a united heart.

C. Thank God for the Victory.

Stevenson's book ends tragically. His last sentence is, "I bring the life of that unhappy Dr. Jekyll to an end." Evil triumphed. Paul was able to say,

"Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:57).

What Jesus did for Paul He can do for you. God has no potion, but He has grace. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." "What can wash away my sin? Nothing . . ."What can make me whole again?