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with all their heart

"And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul..."  (2 Chronicles 15:12 ESV)

There are moments in the Old Testament when God's people responded wholeheartedly to the Lord.  Kings and Chronicles tells us about these times.  For example, King Asa in response to a prophet's warning (2 Chronicles 15), leads the people to destroy the detestable idols in the land and to renew their commitment to serve the Lord as the only true God.

This has been God's intent all along for his people, for all time -- wholehearted love:  "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?"  (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ESV) 

This hasn't changed in the New Testament.  Our Lord Jesus said that this call to wholehearted love toward God was the greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  (Matthew 22:37; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5) 

The Apostle Paul calls us to become living sacrifices, which is very much a total response:  "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."  (Romans 12:1)  The declaration he made to the Galatians is the same one we make too:  "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  (Galatians 2:20) 

There is ever the danger that we think of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ as merely a part or component of our total life.  Like the circle below (on the left), there are the aspects of our life, such as work, possessions, relationships, education, leisure, life goals, and the purposes we have.  "Me" is at the center.  And spiritual life becomes just another section.   Conversely, what God is looking for is like the circle on the right.  Christ is at the center.  All of the life -- every part of our life -- is oriented to knowing, loving, honoring, and serving the Lord Jesus for the glory of God.   This involves the full engagement of our mind, our heart, our will, and our actions.  We glorify and obey God wholeheartedly, not in piecemeal fashion.  

The great 20th century preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, describes it this way:  

"A great gospel like this takes up the whole man, and if the whole man is not taken up, think again as to where you stand.  'You have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine delivered unto you.' [Rom. 6:17] What a gospel!  What a glorious message!  It can satisfy man's mind completely, it can move his heart entirely, and it can lead to wholehearted obedience in the realm of the will.  That is the gospel.  Christ has died that we might be complete men, not merely that parts of us may be saved; not that we might be lop-sided Christians, but that there may be a balanced finality about us." 

~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, quoted by Jason Meyer, Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life (Crossway, 2018)


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