The Devastation of a Wandering Heart

Solomon warned about the destruction of an unguarded, wandering heart in Proverbs 4:20-27. Verse 23 gets most of the attention in this passage:

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

However it is important not to miss the warning that follows to keep your feet and eyes, that is, your heart and your body, from wandering away from what is right:

Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Solomon is retelling the hard lessons he learned from his father, King David. Solomon is the son who is being taught in this intimate, transparent narrative. David knew first-hand of the destruction caused by a wandering heart. Don’t miss the heaviness and sense of ominous warning in his words to his son. David knew the heart must be protected, not only by intentions but by concrete action!

 Respected commentator Bruce Waltke says this:

“It is not enough just to restrain the heart. One must also keep track of the body’s members through which the inner life manifests itself.” 

The heart that wanders sexually from God’s path enters the realm of porneia. Porneia is sexual intercourse and sexual interaction of any kind that is unlawful before God. Matthew warns against adultery of the heart. This is actually a form of porneia of the heart.  Pornography is about sexually explicit story-telling. These toxic narratives of sexual sin etch themselves deeply into the heart. The ugly reality is that they live on in the theatre of the mind until they are totally replaced by a repentant heart longing for and practicing purity.

Thus, pornography of the heart drains the lifeblood from young men and women.  This narrative is deeply engraved into the soul of the consumer of pornography. It is the writing of porneia on the heart that gives rise to the tsunami of abuse and casual sexual practice that is devastating our culture, our marriages, and our young people. Here is what Jesus says about the pornography of the heart:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

The pornographic writing of the heart leads to the consumption of pornography with the eyes. The dark light of visual pornography shines back into the heart and causes the objectification and devaluing of women. Pornography leads men to view all women as objects as they attempt to satisfy raging desires that will never be satisfied. Engaging in porn means that sacrificial love is impossible. There are no exceptions!  

This is the message we must give to women and especially our daughters: Do not think that you can be valued and loved by someone who is doing porn. Porneia of the heart is toxic to everyone and everything it touches. 

Over against the enslaving narrative of the pornographic heart is the liberating story of a dynamic, pure heart.  The story of porneia is one of ugly, selfish destruction. In sharp contrast, the story of a pure heart is one of freedom. How does the Bible describe purity?

Purity is a dynamic expression of godly character. It radiates through the whole person. Purity is rare. Purity is not simply the absence of lust. It is the embodiment of all that is special and honorable. It is a vibrant quality. It is at once all that being made in the image of God encompasses. Purity is the essence of what is noble and praiseworthy about the human spirit.  A person is not pure because of what he was, but because of who he is. True purity produces peaceful contentment that cannot be duplicated by lust and self-gratification! True purity flows from having your identity genuinely rooted in Christ. The pursuit of purity is one of joy, beauty, and excitement. Purity in men means that women are valued and honored.

The pursuit of purity is the dynamic that will guard the heart from pornography’s destruction. More on this purity in future posts.

Shepherd Press