The Breastplate of Righteousness
In the book of Ephesians it talks about how we must put on the armor of God. Part of this armor is the breastplate of righteousness (6:14). This is how we guard our hearts. Elsewhere it says that if our hearts donít condemn us we will have confidence before God (1 John 3:21). When guilt seeps into our hearts our hearts should convict us not condemn us. To have a condemning heart means to have a heart of judgment. This type of heart knows its sin but doesnít ask for and receive forgiveness for those sins. The breastplate of righteousness means that we must keep our hearts clean from sin since righteousness is the opposite of sinfulness. To do this, to keep a clean conscience, we must repent from our sin since sin is inevitable for humans and then receive Christís forgiveness. When one truly believes they are saved and that Christ has the power to forgive sins — that is, He is Godís Son, we wear the righteousness of God that is in Christ Jesus.
Forgiveness Is Contagious
A heart that doesnít forgive is one that condemns and doesnít know Jesus. When we truly believe that Christís righteousness is our righteousness we will be less likely to sin and faster to ask for forgiveness when we do. Christ forgiveness blossoms in our hearts and causes us to become forgiving and loving toward our neighbor, brother or sister, ourselves and to our enemies. Because Christ first forgave us we have the gift of forgiveness in our hearts. We sin less and become more like Christ by loving more. Forgiveness is like a facial expression in that when you receive forgiveness like when you see a facial expression, (like a smile) you are compelled to pass on the gift youíve been given.
How to Guard Your Heart
To guard your heart is to keep Christís righteousness, mercy and love inside. It means not to allow evil to seep in. How do we keep evil from seeping in? We must guard our thoughts and make sure they are pleasing to God — not condemnatory or judgmental (Philippians 4:8). When a seed of judgment becomes planted in our heart due to unforgiveness if it is not corrected with meditation on grace and God it will become a root of bitterness. Sin starts as thoughts. When we think sinful thoughts we open our hearts to evil behaviors. If you want to start walking with Christ in terms of mimicking His forgiveness and mercy you must keep His word in your heart and keep the thoughts of the Holy Spirit in your mind. The bible tells us that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Since we have the mind of Christ we must put out all thoughts that are negative or detrimental to us or others. Christís benign nature will only show in us when we choose to listen to and obey Him.
When we read and meditate on scripture and the works of God we open ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit. You canít keep Godís word in your heart and entertain bitterness at the same time. When we think about Godís works, His miracles, and His nature we condition our minds to think positively. When we think positively we will be compelled to obey Christ in action and in thought.
Meditate on God
Part of meditation is putting or filling your mind with certain thoughts and savoring them like choice morsels of food. The wicked meditate on angry thoughts and their nature is angry. Music and media are very important components to our spiritual walk. If we allow music with lyrics that are contrary to Godís love in our minds we set ourselves to meditate on evil things. Since evil should never come out of a Christianís mouth we have to be careful with what we fill our hearts with. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). I donít recommend completely shutting out the secular if it were possible but I do recommend shutting out things that go against the values God instills in us when He endows us with the Holy Spirit.
How we talk to ourselves is also very important in establishing a good foundation in Christ. If we constantly criticize or judge ourselves and others our hearts will be far from Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us to see the good in things if we let it. If we donít meditate on good things, by default, negative things will come into our minds and eventually our hearts and ultimately out of our mouth. If you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, stop it before you speak it.
I hope todayís posting has given you some insight on how to guard your heart. As long as you remain forgiving, repentant, and open to the Holy Spiritís leading you will be able to keep your thoughts positive. If you struggle with negative thinking patterns, I recommend praying to God for help because apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).