The attack point of the enemy is at the intent of the heart. If your intention is to follow Christ for His name sake wherever and however you can then nothing will stop you. If your intent is to promote and comfort yourself in the name of all things “Christian”, then you will have a hard time indeed!
Jesus talks about our heart and intent as well.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Many have taught these scriptures in a way to make us think Jesus made it so much harder to live pure since He makes it a thought being a sin and not just the act. But if we look closely at the text He says if it is done with ‘lustful intent’, then it has already taken place.
This means there is something spiritual about the intention of our hearts. It doesn’t make it harder to be free, it actually makes it easier. The scripture goes on to say that if our eye causes us to sin to tear it out or if our hand causes us to sin to cut it off, this obviously is not talking about physical body parts that we need to cut off, but rather that we should choose to see differently and do life in another way.
Thoughts come and go, but what we intend in our heart, we end up doing sometime or another. It is what determines our life. This is why many people find some help with life coaching these days, because they get taught to live with intentionality and on purpose instead of letting our brains auto-pilot through every day.
A small practical example from the Mat 5:27-28. Let us say you are a man, what if your intent when looking at a woman is always to see her calling in Christ and her value in the heart of God first, would lust still be an issue? It would not.
How do we make this intentional shift? By switching from what serves us to what glorifies God. When we test our intentions, we can ask : Is this what He wants or what He is saying? Or is it for me to feel comforted and gratify my flesh while my intent is apart from seeking His heart.
Here I wish to remind you that if you feel you only have to keep punishing yourself to please God, this is where you know you have listened to lies.In God’s heart you are to find real comfort and real rest for your spirit, soul and body. Destiny and purpose is found in Christ instead of performance to earn credits with God. The idea of earning credit with God and punishing yourself to please Him is the old man, the flesh man that died with Christ on the cross. Intentionally throw out the stuff keeping you from the freedom Christ has for you, especially the lies that make you feel like you are the problem instead of the lies being the problem.
For me, I remind myself, for who’s glory is this thought or desire? Then I can look for His heart and intentionally pursue what He desires for me.