Paul Tripp is one of my favorite authors/speakers when it comes to dealing with heart issues. I have been reading his book Sex and Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies. I greatly appreciate his willingness to not deal with the peripheral or secondary matters when it comes to the subjects of sex and money. How easy it would be to write a book about the danger of pornography or the foolishness of getting into debt.
In this book, Tripp prefers to leave those matters for others. His approach to the issues of sex and money is to address the heart, for that is the root of all kinds of evil (Mark 7:20-23).
And in Chapter 3 of this book, entitled “So Why Do We Do the Things We Do?”, he explains the principles of the heart.
First, we must understand “what the Bible is talking about when it talks about the heart.” The heart is the core of all of our emotions, will, thoughts, desires, etc. No one forces us to think or do anything; it all originates in the heart. That is our “control center.”
Second, we must understand “that the heart is always functioning under the rule of something.” It has been informed or educated by something or someone.
Third, we must understand that “what controls your heart will direct your behavior.” In the Christian life, and especially discipleship and counseling, our goal is not outward behavioral change but heart change. Jesus said, “… out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Our behavior is dictates by what is in our heart. Therefore, when addressing problems, we address the core issues in the heart. Our thoughts, actions and behaviors all come from the heart (Prov 4:23). Evil and obedience comes from the heart (Ps 4:7; Prov 16:5).
Fourth, we must understand “that this side of eternity” our “heart is susceptible.” We need grace because our hearts are not always pure. We desire and crave impurities too often. Our hearts are always at risk of an attack from evil. Thus, we need to be ready and engaged to defend the heart.
Fifth, we must “admit that this side of eternity” our “heart is fickle.” This side of heaven, we will not have the loyalty God deserved and the more we allow sin to dwell in our hearts, the less loyal to the Lord we will become.
Sixth, we must understand “that this side of eternity” our “heart is deceptive.” Jeremiah didn’t even understand his own heart and knew it couldn’t be trusted (Jer 17:9).
Tripp suggests that dealing with your heart should begin with confession, and he recommends Psalm 51 as the language to use. This was the Psalm David wrote in reflection of his sins with Bathsheba.
When on the road of sanctification, always address your heart first. The outward man’s behavior is only changed by the inner man’s softening.