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One major spiritual problem which we make for ourselves is that we keep truths merely in our head in an intellectual sense without allowing them to affect our practical lives. Then those truths are of no use to us, but they deceive us by making us think that since we know and accept them we are fine! Many who 'believe' that Jesus died for the sins of the world still remain as unbelievers in reality because they have not yielded to that truth personally.
Let us look at one example to see how this approach can affect our daily Christian lives. We know the verse that says that when we confess our sins God forgives us (1Jn.1:9). We have heard it and we 'believe' it. Then why is it that even after we have confessed our sins we get troubled by doubts about whether God has really forgiven us or if He is angry with us? The truth from this verse is just another idea that we have filed away in our head, but it has not changed our life in a real sense. But truth is supposed to set us free once we know it (Jn.8:32)!
Someone said that in many people's lives there is a foot long gap between the head and the heart. Unless truth comes down from the head to the heart, it is not going to change our lives.
The crucial question is, "How can we move truths from our head to our heart?" The answer is so simple that it escapes our notice!
We are not to just hear the word of God but also to meditate on it. This is not to empty our mind as new age teachers say, but to think deeply and to ponder over the truths we have heard. We think about what they really mean, what the implications would be and how we can obey them in our daily life. We think of practical situations where these truths come into play, what we have done in the past, and what we ought to do from now onwards. We may be compelled in some cases to study the Bible regarding this particular subject we have seen and see what the rest of the Bible says about it. At the end we may find ourselves deciding to change our behaviour and to ask God for help to do that. This is how our heart gets changed by the truths we read from the word of God.
Now we can see how these truths will simply remain as some more ideas that we like, which are stored away somewhere in our head but which do not really have any connection with our practical life, if we just hear or read them.
If a preacher takes the trouble to go beyond merely quoting verses and stating truths to expounding the truths in all their dimensions, and we are listening carefully, we can meditate at the same time and experience the change of heart.
Jesus talked about the different responses to hearing the word of God in the parable of the sower. He explains that the one who has a good ground is the one who "hears the word and understands it, and grasps it" (Mt.13:23 AMP). He does not merely hear it, but he takes steps to understand it to the extent of grasping hold of it. It is he who can bring out fruit from his life.