Preventing a Heart That Devises Wicked Plans
Many in modern culture might shudder that God would hate any behavior or personal trait. Yet the Bible makes it crystal clear that there are things God hates (Prov. 6:16-19). These seven things should remind the people of God that their heavenly Father is just, righteous, and holy. The fourth on the list is “a heart that devises wicked plans” (Prov. 6:18a). Considering that a heart that devises wicked plans is hated by the Lord, we should do everything we can to avoid having such a heart. Here are some biblical steps we can take to prevent having a heart that devises wicked plans.
First, Christians must be sure to keep their hearts with all vigilance (Pro. 4:23). Every aspect of one’s life flows from his heart; so the heart must be guarded at all costs. The heart can be guarded with vigilance when we exercise self-control over: 1) what we say (Pro. 4:24); 2) what we set our eyes on (Pro. 4:25); 3) where we go (Pro. 4:26); and 4) how we walk (Pro. 4:27).
Second, in order to prevent having a heart that devises wicked plans, we as Christians should be vigilant and watchful in prayer (Matt. 26:41; Col. 4:2). The saint’s defense against the schemes of Satan is not complete without constant prayer, coupled with alertness and perseverance (Eph. 6:18). There are few things Satan desires more than for a Christian to develop a heart that devises wicked plans. Therefore, Christians must watch and pray that they do not enter into temptation (Mat. 26:41). Going to God in prayer to make our requests known allows the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).
Third, a heart that devises wicked plans can be avoided by cultivating one’s heart as a storehouse of good. Jesus declared that good or evil comes from the storehouse of one’s heart (Matt. 12:34-35), and the good news is that each individual can decide what he stores in his heart. The psalmist declared, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). A Christian’s heart should be so full of God’s Word that there is no space left for wicked plans. Instead of dwelling on that which tempts us or plans to sin, Christians should dwell on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Therefore, we will make no provision to gratify the desires of the flesh (Phil. 4:8; Rom. 13: 14).
Fourth, in order to take heed against the temptation of having a heart that devises wicked plans, Christians should “be careful to devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:8; cf. 3:14). It has been said many times that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Christians can guard against having a heart that devises wicked plans by mindfully cultivating a heart that devises good: “Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness” (Pro. 14:22). Christians should be schemers—for good. Christians should have hearts that devise plans, but the plans should be plans for good works, evangelism, overcoming temptation, helping their neighbor, etc.
Fifth, Christians must fight against our own hearts going astray by being sure to assemble with the saints. The author of Hebrews warns by inspiration:
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13).
Notice a few things about this section of Scripture. First, the command to “take care” indicates that the condition of one’s heart is the individual’s responsibility. Therefore, it must be in accord with an individual’s own choices.
Second, contrary to the claims of many in the religious world, it is possible for a believer (a brother) to develop an evil, unbelieving heart that causes one to fall away from God. This fact highlights the graveness of the responsibility to keep one’s heart with all vigilance.
Third, the remedy for developing an evil, unbelieving heart is found at least partially in being exhorted by fellow brethren daily. This daily exhortation is impossible if one does not assemble with fellow Christians or seek the accountability of brethren. The assembling of the saints is a God-given safeguard so that the people of God can guard against developing a heart that devises wicked plans and instead be stimulated unto love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25).