As I have mentioned in the past, my weekly men’s small group has been studying Christ Formed In You by Brian Hedges for the past few months. Yesterday morning we discussed the fourth chapter of the book, which deals with God’s redemptive cure for man’s sin problem beginning in the heart. One thing that grabbed my attention in the chapter is the emphasis on an oft-neglected piece of the sanctification puzzle—the changes that God makes to the deepest desires, longings, cravings; i.e. affections of our heart. In conversion, and its subsequent sanctification, God changes the wants that drive us—not merely our outward behaviors—conforming them to the image of Christ.
Hedges writes, “God will settle for nothing less than the deep affections of our hearts. The good news is that what God demands from us, he will also give to us. Here are ten affections of the heart that God both requires, and gives.” [This topic would make a great personal or small group study.]
- Godly fear – This is a trembling yet joyful reverence and awe of our Holy Lord (Ps 33:8; 34:9; Prov 3:7; Eccl 12:13; Phil 2:12; Heb 12:28).
- Hope – Fear is to be mingled with biblical hope. This kind of hope is not a mere wish, but a confident expectation of good (Ps 33:18; 146:5; 147:11; 1 Pet 1:3; 1 Thess 5:8).
- Desire – The Bible’s commendation of desire for God is so important that Augustine said, “The whole life of a good Christian is a holy desire.” (Ps 27:4; 42:1-2; 63:1; 73:25).
- Joy – This is coupled with, and follows from, holy desire (Ps 33:1; 37:4; Phil 4:4; Ps 119:14; 43:4).
- Hatred of evil – Negative affections are also necessary for the Godward heart (Ps 97:10; 101:3; Prov 8:13).
- Brokenness over sin – I cannot truly hate evil without also mourning my sinfulness (Ps 34:18; 51:17; Isa 66:2; Matt 5:4).
- Gratitude – Gratitude in all things is closely related to an understanding of God’s goodness and sovereignty (Col 3:15; Eph 5:20; 1 Thess 5:18).
- Compassion – As beneficiaries of God’s great mercy and compassion, we are called to demonstrate the same (Col 3:12; Matt 5:7; Micah 6:8).
- Zeal – Our passions are to be defined by God’s purposes (Rom 12:11; Titus 2:14; Rev 3:15-16, 19).
- Love – The Scriptures commend love as the supreme affection and the fountain of all other affections. Love fulfills the law and demonstrates true faith (Matt 22:37-40; Rom 13:8; Gal 5:14).