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Matters of the Heart
By Juanita Bynum
Charisma HouseCopyright © 2002 Juanita Bynum, Ph.D.
All right reserved.
We Need a New Heart
Yes, we have a problem. Jeremiah 17 says that the heart is desperately wicked and "deceitful above all things ... Who can know it" (v. 9). Yet before we can begin to look at this problem of the deceitful heart, we need to address another problem-an issue that has been part of Christendom for generations.
The Impossible Dream
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God has brought me into relationship with a few secular people. In other words, they are not saved, and they do not go to church. They were, however, born and raised in the church. In my witnessing to them, one of them said to me, "We look over into Christendom and see either people who are very dogmatic about what they believe or who are so shallow in their beliefs that it is hard to accept that God can stabilize a person's life."
That surprised me. I was amazed, first, that he would even say it, and second, that he had made a valid point. Then this gentleman made a statement that knocked me off my feet: "If you can find a way," he said, "if somebody in Christendom can find a way to make living for God attainable and reachable, then you do not know how many people would come to Christ."
I do not believe his standpoint was that the church should teach mediocrity. It struck a note inside of me concerning the Word that God had spoken to me about the new heart. While we were talking, I began to reflect about this new heart, and I remembered the reason why God had prompted me to write this message.
Take Me Back ...
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I had first heard about the new heart from Mother Estella Boyd, a powerful woman of God from Detroit. A lot of people know Mother Boyd and how powerful she is in the Spirit. There are times that she would say "deep" things, things that would scare me, because she ministers and speaks revelation from the third realm.
One night I was in a church meeting that Mother Boyd was leading. On this particular night, we were in one of those "afterglow" services (that is what we call it when we have had church and the power of God has fallen, leaving everyone kneeling and prostrate all over the place, praising God and wiped out-lying there in the presence of the Lord or sitting still in His presence), Mother Boyd spoke out, "We gonna be alright when we get that new heart." Half of us were on the floor or resting in the pews, clothing disheveled and hair out of place after persevering in worship during the service that night. It was unsettling to hear Mother Boyd telling us that we needed a "new heart" and that we would be all right when we got it. It was five years ago that Mother Boyd spoke that Word, and it has never left my spirit.
At some point I stored it away in the deep part of my mind, thinking to myself, You know what? That is deep. When I was first saved I believed that if I just kept working at it-kept letting God do what He was going to do in me-eventually, He would "fix" my heart. So I had learned to stash away such revelations deep within my mind so God could somehow just use that information to do His "fix" on me.
Mother Boyd's words about the new heart had really stung me, and they were always there in my mind, just deep enough that I never forgot them. Yet I never acted upon them. Then after my experience in Chicago in May of 2000, I started "guarding" my heart. But I did not begin to pursue the "new heart" until almost a year later, sometime around January 2001.
That day when the gentleman suggested to me that people were looking for a God who was attainable and reachable, I asked myself, "Is God attainable?" I realized I could not answer that question. But I stood there trying to figure out how and why the Lord had brought back to my memory His earlier message to me as I sat in my driveway about the "new heart."
Why is this happening? I thought. I did not understand exactly what the Lord was doing.
Time to Walk Out the Problem
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I began to question God about this new heart. I felt strange, like some kind of cancer was eating away at me, something that I could not shake off. I knew that I was getting some signals from God. Not only would I preach this message-I was about to learn how to "walk it out."
I realized that since the night I first heard Mother Boyd speak about a new heart, I had felt as if I were falling all over myself trying to understand what she meant. I had to come to terms with God and with myself.
I started to observe people in ministry. I looked at the church-perfectly structured. I saw the choirs dressed in beautiful robes and the praise and worship teams with their matching outfits. One pastor would have on a nice, Versace suit and tie, and his wife would be sitting there with a St. John knit on-it all looked so perfect. It oozed "spiritual perfection" to the point that it became a problem for me.
The more I looked at the problem, the more I was forced to turn around and look within myself at my own situation. "OK, Juanita," I said to myself, "what is your problem? What is it that bothers you about this so-called walk with the Lord?" I began to examine this, and I remembered the lives of people who had stood before me throughout the years. I almost felt like a mouse that was chasing a piece of cheese, one it will never catch because it is tied to a cat's tail. That eat was running me all over the building! I could smell the cheese; I could come near the cheese; but I could never get a grip on the cheese because the cat was always moving.
So I said, "What is my problem?" I realized that through the years my problem had been my own feelings of spiritual inadequacy. I would look at my spiritual superiors and think to myself, I can never become that. I can never be like Mother Boyd. I cannot ever be like Bishop Stacks. I could never be like the many people that God has placed in my life as spiritual examples. I felt that I could never be like them because they were the epitome of spiritual perfection. Their status, to me, was unattainable.
Once I started my ministry, God helped me to realize the error of my heart. People began to come up to me and say, "Prophetess Bynum, you are such a blessing." "Prophetess Bynum, you have really blessed my life. You are such a woman of God."
Yet during that time there were areas in my life where God was still dealing with me. God was breaking some things in me and breaking other things off me. In other people's sight, my own image had become unattainable, but that was not reality. God began dealing intensely with me about my need to preach the "new heart" message.
If we consistently paint a picture that everything is perfect, beautiful and wonderful-"You know you have reached God when you look like me ... dress like me ... walk and talk like me"-then we have totally missed God! We have become a group of people who constantly pursue an image-not God! Is this reality? When we pursue the "image" of perfection, we cannot strive to understand the heart of God.
Who is trying to understand what God requires of us? Who is trying to understand that our life in Christ, though part of Christendom, is founded on an individual relationship that each one of us must have with the Lord ... alone?
The Brain Has Assumed Control
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When I began to understand the basic truth God was birthing in me about the new heart, I started to understand that the heart is "desperately wicked."
We are all struggling in our own way, trying to make sure that we "do right" from our heart. Through my study, I discovered that this world has become a brain world. It functions from the activities of the brain, out of the intellect of our finite brains. We are consumed with brain knowledge, and because we are consumed with this knowledge, our lives are constantly being constructed and operated by the laws of the intellect. What that means is this: If you do me wrong, then my intellect (based on the information that I have gathered from you) reacts and says, "I am going to do you wrong."
The brain teaches us how to scheme, lie, connive and manipulate. Here is the truth. God has put a spirit of conviction in our hearts, which corrects us when we do something wrong. The world, however, has trained us to bypass our heart's conviction and to operate within the realm of our mind and emotions. For this reason, we have a chaotic world.
This is also the reason why no one is seeking after God for a changed, new heart. We do not want to change; we only want to feel better-for the moment. In order to get eternal gratification, we have to give up something right now.
My mother used to say, "You know that you are growing when you give up your right to 'be right.'" You are maturing when you are the first to apologize, the first to keep the peace, when you are the first to say, "What did I do wrong?" rather than nailing the other person to the wall for what they did to you. You evaluate yourself and say, "What did I do to that person? Was there something that I did to provoke his or her response?" When you look at the issue this way, then you can overcome a situation that has stagnated our society.
Everybody is moved by their emotions through their logical minds, which always look out for "Number 1." Emotions and logic react to the "threats" they perceive around them-everybody else is always wrong. This is how the "old heart" rules. It is the reason power struggles are so prevalent in our world.
What Does the Bible Say About It?
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The Bible says that we are born in sin and shaped in iniquity (Ps. 51:5). We are born with an "old heart" nature that is already coated with the potential to do wrong. When we come into the world, our hearts are already shaped for this sin.
Iniquity is anything you do that God is not in. It is anything done against the will of God or against the laws or nature of God. If something is contrary to His character, it is iniquity. You have been shaped in that area by what society has taught you.
Because your heart is composed of the potential to sin, your mind is gradually trained to become a professional sinner. When your heart and mind "match up" in the spirit, then you have the heart described in Jeremiah 17:9 as "desperately wicked" (KJV). It is desperately deceitful ... who can know it? Who can understand the depths of that heart?
How do I know that what I am saying is correct? In Deuteronomy 8:11-14 we read:
Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His precepts, and His statutes which I command you today, lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied, then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
When you look at our society, you see that this is true-and I am not just talking about the secular world; I am talking about the church! We are in church, dancing and shouting and speaking in tongues, yet we have hearts of iniquity just like the world. How do I know this? Our barns are filled, our flocks are fed, our herds are gathered, and we have multiplied. We have built houses, and we have multiplied our strength. Our silver has been multiplied, our gold has been multiplied, and now our minds and our hearts are lifted up-against God and against each other full of pride. We have forgotten the Lord.
It took the disaster of September 11 to bring a "seek" back into this country. It took this attack and the fear of ongoing terrorist attacks from another country to bring us to our knees. It took this incident to help us realize that in spite of all the cars, houses and everything we have, we need the Lord. Before September 11, our hearts and minds had left the Lord. We were not seeking Him. When we walk with hearts that are "shaped in iniquity," hearts that are born into sin, seeking the Lord is not important in them. This kind of heart does not come with a "Yes, Lord," in it.
What Is Our First Priority?
* * *
We have a people and a church society that are doing everything they possibly can to walk in the ways of God. But Deuteronomy 10:12 says that there is no way to walk in the ways of God unless you fear the Lord and love Him "with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (KJV).
In this scripture the word soul indicates all of your mind and all of your emotions. Thus you cannot walk in God's ways unless you fear Him as God-with a fear unto obedience, not a fear that tries to escape Him-a fear that submits to Him, totally and completely. Above this, you cannot walk in His ways unless, number one, you love Him from the center of your being, your heart.
So how can this "old heart," which was "born in sin" and "shaped in iniquity," love God? Real love cannot come out of this heart. Only a phileo kind of love (which means the natural human affection, with its strong feeling, or sentiment) can come from a wicked heart. Agape love (unconditional and eternal) is never found in our "old hearts." The only way that you can truly love God is to love Him with the same love that He has given to you. It has to match in the third realm. You cannot love God from an earthly level, because God is eternal, and it can never work to love Him from an earthly perspective.
Anything that is of the earth is temporal. That is why 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, "... we consider and look not to the things that are seen ... for the things that are visible are temporal ..." Those things never last. We must look toward the things that are eternal, because only these things will endure throughout eternity. Whether you realize it or not, you have already been "built" to see the eternal-the choice is yours.
Loving God brings about a commitment to Him. When you love somebody, you are committed to him in every way. There is nothing that you will not do for someone you love. You would be willing to lay down your life for your loved one. So when you say, "I love You, Lord," but still walk in your own ways, then you do not really love the Lord. You are still going about in your "religious affairs," and you do not have a real relationship with Him, which will bring about a change of character and a change in the way you walk. A real relationship with Him enables you to walk in His commandments.
Excerpted from Matters of the Heart by Juanita Bynum Copyright © 2002 by Juanita Bynum, Ph.D.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.