Matthew 12:25 “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and ever city or house divided against itself will not stand.

Chemical Engineering classes at the University of Delaware is one area of my life that I do not miss. Professors would give weekly homework assignments that sometimes required 20 or so pages of work in length, and would often be completed in the early hours of the morning. The tests and class projects were very time consuming and stressful. To get a good grade in these classes required great diligence and focus. During this time, I never took a job to make money, because I knew it would take me away from my studies. It would be impossible for me to take a full-time job and devote myself to these college classes in getting a good grade at the same time. I could have tried to played both sides of the fence, where I could take the full-time job, but this would have greatly hinder my performance in these classes and at the job.  My energy levels would be drained. I think you get the picture of the devastating ending. This example will help us understand of the grave consequences that result from a person who has a divided heart. A person who has a divided heart has set its mind to get both sides of the fence at once, wherein they are trying get the things of this world, while maintain their relationship with Jesus. In the above Bible passage, we see that this results in a condition that will cause you to not stand, and will lead you to a place of destruction. Listen to what James has to say about the divided of heart:

James 1:6-8 ” For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

We see the term double-minded man, which is analogous to having a divided heart, which always leads one to be unstable in all his ways. The trials or situations will dictate the outcome, rather than standing firm on the truth of the word of God that leads to victory over trials or situations. Jesus used the word “overcomer” in the Book of Revelation to describe one that is gaining the victory over pressing trials and tribulations. The last church that Jesus addressed was the church of the Laodiceans, which is a clear example from Scripture of how Jesus feels about those who have a divided heart.

Revelation 3:15,16 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

Strong words from the Lord. Jesus wishes that we have an “all or nothing” attitude. The world is cold toward the things of God, while the Lord wants a church that is hot towards  Him. Taking the position of the middle ground is lukewarm to the stomach, and causes the Lord to be sick. Listen to what was inside the hearts of the Laodiceans:

Revelation 3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

The Laodiceans were still trying to gain the world and Christ at the same time. Their view of riches was in terms of money, which is how the world values riches. I am sure this word from Jesus was a complete shock to them, because they were self-satisfied with their lives in saying “We have need of nothing.” The Lord does not see as man sees, He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The Laodiceans’ spiritual condition was characterized as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” These are the conditions of those who have a divided heart, where they are overcome by bad moods, depression, worry, fear, pride, love of money, etc. Riches in the eyes of the Lord is the character of the heart that He imputes to us, while we are going through the fiery trials.

Revelations 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be fire.”

The Book of James is filled with admonishment of those who have their hearts divided. Let’s take a look:

James 1:14,15 “ But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

James 2:17 “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”

James 4:4 “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

James 4:8 “Purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

From these verses we can easy find that these believers lacked a heart of commitment to the Lord. The Lord is looking for people who are committed to Him come hell or high water. People come to Christ for all kinds of reasons, usually they are selfish reasons, like I don’t want to go to hell, I need peace, I need God to fix my life, etc. Jesus is saving people unto discipleship, where they walk as He has walked (1 John 2:6).   The instructions of what Jesus gave to the Laodiceans is similar to James 4:8, their hearts need to be purified by the Holy Spirit. Being purified is a painful process, since we are being chasten by the Lord.

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” 

Recall what James says in chapter 1 of his letter:

James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

There is great peace and joy after we come through the fire of testing, our character will be matured and our lives will be more dependent on the Lord. We will see the Lord as our shepherd, who is leading us and cause us to lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).

Revelation 3:19,20 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

I wanted to tie everything together with the correction that Jesus gave the Laodiceans. Firstly, the Lord chastens those he loves, since believers are sons of God. Think of the contrast between the lives of Jacob and Esau. After Jacob deceitfully took Esau birthright, he fled his homeland, since Esau had it in his heart to kill him. Jacob went through a tough road after that, the Lord was chastening Jacob, because he was chosen of God. We see quite the opposite with Esau, who married a non-Israelite, which brought grief to his parents. Esau was a man of the flesh, and followed the dictates of his own heart. Secondly, the Lord commanded the Laodiceans to be zealous for the things of God, and repent, which means to do a 180 degree turn in the other direction. Turn away from the world, and draw near to me. When we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Thirdly, Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” We can’t follow the world and Jesus at the same time. The world also has voices that are speaking to our hearts to get more money, to fulfill our own lusts, etc. I know in my life that the Lord only will speak to our hearts when I am drawing near to Him. Lastly, Jesus wants us to have an abiding relationship with Him. Where not only are we sharing our hearts with Him, but He will also share with us His heart.

 

 

 

 

Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."

1 Kings 18:21