What’s Inside Your Heart?

What’s Inside Your Heart?

“What’s Inside Your Heart?”
(Colossians 3:15-17)
Series: The All-Satisfying Christ (Colossians)

Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD

Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson

Take your Bibles and join me this morning in Colossians, chapter 3 (page 793; YouVersion).

We’re preaching our way, verse-by-verse, through the Book of Colossians and the Apostle Paul has been writing about the Christian’s new life in Christ. He has been describing for Christians what this “new person” as he calls it, looks like.

And he’s been doing this by using the metaphor of getting dressed, putting on clothes. He says that Christians should think of their daily lives as a sort of “putting off” and “putting on.” Because we are Christians we should look like it. There are certain “spiritual clothes” we should be wearing, putting on—and certain unspiritual clothes we should be putting off.

So he says in verse 8 of chapter 3, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth,” verse 9 “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man (or the old self) with his deeds,” verse 10, “and have put on the new man who is renewed in the image of Him who created him,” and then Paul goes on to describe these different articles of “spiritual clothes” that we should be putting on, spiritual clothing, characteristics, such as, verse 12, “tender mercies, kindness; humility, meekness, long-suffering;” verse 13 “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another,” then verse 14 “but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

And that is where we left off, but Paul continues this stream of teaching as he continues to describe the “new person” in verse 15 where he writes, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,” and so on. So this is where we pick up this morning, continuing to read about what these new creations, new persons; Christians, look like when God changes their hearts.

Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.



Recently I discovered a medical journal called Chest; Chest, as in this chest right here which contains the human heart. This journal is the, “Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians.”

I discovered it while studying this past week because the journal contains an article entitled, “Exploratory Surgery of the Heart,” exploratory surgery of the heart. There is an abstract of the article that reads this way: “Exploratory surgery of the heart is logical, simple, and when performed along the lines indicated, [is] a relatively safe procedure.” It goes on to state, “In most cases…it not only establishes…diagnosis but permits the prompt carrying out of corrective operative measures.”

You might say that the Apostle Paul is writing to us today about “Exploratory Surgery of the Heart.” He invites Christians to take a look inside their hearts. And just like the article in the Chest journal, Paul would say that such exploratory surgery is a “safe procedure” and that, in most cases, it helps to diagnose, but also “permits the prompt carrying out of corrective operative measures.”

In other words: Let’s explore our spiritual hearts this morning. Let’s do some exploratory spiral heart surgery and take a look inside, and see what we find. Does everything look okay? Or is there something we need to correct, something that needs to change?

If you are a Christian, then God has given you a new heart because He has given you a new self; you are a new creation. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

So Paul talks about what happens when God gives us new hearts. What happens when God gives us new hearts. If you are a note-taker, you might write these three things down. First, when God gives new hearts:

We Learn to end Strife (15)

We put an end to division in the church. We work for peace in the fellowship. This is the meaning of verse 15. Let’s read it again, verse 15:

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Most of the translations here have the, “peace of Christ,” which is probably better. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Look inside your heart; exploratory heart surgery. Look inside and what do you see? Do you see, “the peace of Christ?”

Christians; church members, learn to end strife in the fellowship; they “let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts,” because they were called—Paul continues in verse 15, “to which also you were called in one body…”

You’ll note the emphasis there on one body; unity. Peace ruling within the hearts of Christ’s followers means peace ruling within the church fellowship; peace with God brings peace with one another.

Remember that verse 15 follows immediately on the heels of verses 14 and preceding. Paul has just been writing about the new self and how the new self behaves; how the new self “puts on” spiritual clothing that “matches” his or her identity as God’s children. Recall the context there in verse 12, “Therefore, as the elect (or chosen) of God, holy and beloved,”—that’s who you are—therefore, in light of who you are, “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering,”—Paul’s describing the way Christians act towards one another; continuing in verse 13, “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…”

Remember from last time: Christians must forgive one another. Paul stresses this mandate by spelling it out for us in verse 13: “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” There is no excuse for a Christian’s not forgiving another brother or sister. Period.

That’s includes forgiving fellow church members. That includes forgiving fellow family members. That includes forgiving your husband, or your wife.

If troubled couples spent as much time and energy on trying to save their marriage as they did on trying to separate from one another, there would be more saved marriages.

And let the peace of Christ “rule” in your hearts. The word, “Rule” there is an athletic term and means “to arbitrate.” It is found only here in the New Testament and seems to convey the idea of something like our modern umpire, or referee.

An umpire or a ref has to “make calls.” He calls strikes or balls, or makes a call about a play being “out of bounds.” So Paul is teaching that because Christians have new hearts, they have the ability to let peace rule and reign in their hearts to the degree that they may “call out” the things that shouldn’t be inside their hearts.

One of the reasons Christians can conquer fears and anxieties, for example, is because of the peace of Christ that rules in their hearts. When Christians can allow peace to be the referee, the umpire who calls “out” the stuff that shouldn’t be there. We must “call out” the stuff that doesn’t belong in our hearts by allowing the presence of peace, the peace of Christ, to dwell within us.

If you want peace, it is work. It doesn’t just happen. You have to remind yourself regularly that there is stuff that may get into your heart that shouldn’t be there. Like an umpire, “call it out.” Put off the old self and put on the new. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

And remember that Paul is writing primarily about peace in the body of Christ, about getting along with one another. Peace with God brings peace with one another.

Listen to FF Bruce here:

Christians who have been reconciled to God, who have peace with Him through Christ, should naturally manifest peace with one another. Strife is the inevitable result when men are out of touch with Him who is the one Source of true peace; but there is no reason why those who have accepted the peace which Christ established by His death on the cross should have any other than peaceful relations among themselves.

Peace with God results in peace with one another. So one reason why there may be strife between two church members, may well be because one of them—or both of them—may not have peace with God; may not actually be saved.

I think this may be why Paul adds the last three words there in verse 15: “and be thankful.” Do you see that? He writes in verse 15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

Gratitude is found in the hearts of those who have been given new hearts. Christians are forever grateful to God for their new hearts and it causes them to be thankful, and to go on being thankful, which is the sense of the phrase, “go on being thankful,” continually.

When God gives new hearts, Christians let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts by working to end strife. But not only do Christians learn to end strife, but secondly, because God has given new hearts, number two:

We Love the Scriptures (16)

We love the Word of God, the Word of Christ! Look at verse 16:

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, and there is a comma there, but the comma could possibly go right after the word richly, which is probably best. So the first part of verse 16 is simply: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

Let the word about Christ, as well as the word of Christ, the word we know because we have it written down in the Bible, in the Scriptures, “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

What’s inside your heart? Does God’s word dwell within you richly? Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

The word, “Dwell” there is a word that means “to make one’s home,” or, “to be at home.” And the sense is present and active so, “Keep making sure that the word of Christ is at home within you.” Or put the opposite way, “Don’t treat God’s Word like an unwelcome guest.” Or, “Don’t treat God’s Word as merely an occasionally visiting guest.” See that God’s Word is at home within you and that His Word continually dwells within you richly.

What do you enjoy dwelling within you richly?

Can I tell you that I am happy to allow a number of things to dwell within me richly. For example, last Sunday after our worship services, the student leaders had a leadership meeting in the student building. I sat it on it and one of the sort of “ice breakers” to get the conversation rolling was to name two foods you would want to have with you if you were on a deserted island.
And after establishing and defending the fact that coffee is a food, I said coffee is one food I would wish to have. And I didn’t have to think too long about the second food. Cheese! Glorious cheese! Cheddar cheese. Sharp, cheddar cheese. Like 15-year-old cheddar from Wisconsin.

I am happy to allow cheese “to dwell in me richly.” I savor it and enjoy it and am happy to have it every day.

This is the way we are to enjoy God’s Word, the word of Christ, the Scriptures, the Bible, God’s very food for us. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Let it get down deep within and savor it. Enjoy it. Eat this spiritual food every day.

Read the Bible every day. Whether you use one Bible reading plan or another, just be sure to take time while you read to… “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” which means, “Slow down,” and read a portion as carefully as you would eat something you really enjoy. Don’t eat it without tasting it. Slow down as you read a passage and savor it.

I am trying to do this every morning with a psalm. I am slowly reading the psalms. Just taking one a day and reading it—and re-reading it—savoring it, allowing it to get down deep within me so I can fully taste and see that the Lord is good! Let me encourage you to try that, too. You can take a psalm or a chapter of Proverbs, or a chapter of the Gospels. Watch God bless you through your “taking-in” His Word!
Paul goes on to say in verse 16:

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Christians share wisdom with one another by “teaching and admonishing one another. Christians not only teach, but “admonish,” which means to caution, to counsel, to help by warning, to reprove gently.

If we love each other, we will admonish one another, even warning one another when our behavior does not “match” our identity, when we’re wearing the wrong spiritual clothing.

And it is supremely interesting in verse 16 that one of the ways Christians teach and admonish one another is through, “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Worship music is to contain lyrics that teach Christians. Christian hymns and Christian songs are to have a teaching quality about them, even an admonishing element about them.

I think this fact is more important than taking the time to try figuring out whether there is some kind of distinction between a psalm, a hymn, or a spiritual song. People have written volumes on what they think these three things are or represent; you know, what is the difference between s psalm, a hymn, or a spiritual song. It is best to just go with what is clear—and what is clear is that there is a variety of Christian music, but all Christian music should contain lyrics that contain the word of Christ, either words of Christ, or words about Christ, words that teach the church, words that admonish the church.

And note that attitude of gratitude again here in verse 16. Just as verse 15 concluded with an element of gratitude, “and be thankful,” so verse 16 concludes with the statement, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

“Singing with grace” is singing “with thankfulness in your hearts” (ESV) or with “gratitude in your hearts” (NIV). Thankful people can worship God meaningfully.

If you have received God’s forgiveness and you know what it is to be forgiven of sin, you can sing. Paul writes, “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Don’t say you can’t sing. You can. You may feel that you do not sing well, but that is to compare yourself with others. Don’t compare yourself with others. Sing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. You are not singing to others. You are singing to the Lord. God loves the way you sing!

Every single mom or dad loves to hear his or her child sing to them! Parents love to hear their children sing. Our heavenly Father is no different. Sing with grace, sing with thankfulness, in your hearts to the Lord.

Has God ever given you a song to sing, like one that isn’t already written down? Some years ago, God blessed me with a song to sing as I was driving around one day working. Many years ago, now, long before I was in the ministry and was working in Northeast Georgia as a parole officer—my preparation for pastoral ministry! But I was driving around and I just began to praise the Lord. Gratitude within was spilling out in song. And so I have my own personal “praise hymn” that is my own personal “spiritual song.” Would you like to hear it? Too bad. It’s for the Lord!

I sing this praise to You, dear Jesus
With my whole heart I praise You, Lord
I sing this praise to You, dear Jesus
And I thank You for Your Word,
Because on it my life is anchored
Your Word stands forever true,
Thank you, Jesus! Hallelujah! I love You

That’s it. Come back tonight and I’ll sing the second verse.

Thankfulness and gratitude are the means by which we may allow Christ and His Word to dwell within us and to enable us to put on love.

We learn to end strife, we love the Scriptures, thirdly:

We Live for the Savior (17)

Verse 17 is both a summary verse of what precedes it and a transitional verse to what follows it:

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Glorify Jesus through every spoken word and every activity of every day. To do all “in the name of the Lord Jesus” highlights the truth that we live for the Savior and are His ambassadors everywhere we go, acting on His behalf and living our lives to bring honor and glory to Him.

People are watching us and their impressions of Christ are drawn largely from their impressions of us.

Whatever you do, whatever!! Paul’s not talking only about so-called religious activities. He says, “Whatever you do in word or deed.” Whatever you do.

I read where Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Graham, used to have a sign above her kitchen sink that read: “Divine services held here three times a day!”

Yes, even washing dishes can be done in the name of the Lord, done as an act of worship. Do it unto the Lord.

Homework can be an act of worship when you pray before you study—and during your study—not just praying during the test! Do it into the Lord. This verse is similar to another verse a little later where Paul writes in Colossians 3:23: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

We’ll expand further upon verse 17 this evening, Lord willing.

When God gives new hearts: we learn to end strife; we love the Scriptures; and we live for the Savior. Strife is nullified; the Scriptures are internalized; the Savior is glorified.

And note again, for the third and final time, note this recurring theme of gratitude at the end of verse 17, right there at the end:

“Giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We’ve seen it now three times; gratitude.

Gratitude is found in the hearts of those who have been given new hearts.


I heard about two little girls who were goofing around once at dinnertime; in fact, I believe it was at Thanksgiving, the time most of us do our best to be thankful for all things. These two littler girls were misbehaving and acting badly. So their father said to them, “You are dismissed from the table. As your punishment, Go to your room.” So the two girls got up rather dejectedly and went to their room.

And after a little while, the girls’ mother called upstairs, “Girls, girls! Come on downstairs to dinner.” The girls were surprised and slowly came downstairs and tiptoed into the dinning room where their mother invited them to sit back down at the table to finish eating their Thanksgiving dinner. As they slowly found their places, they noted that their father wasn’t there. And after some hesitation, one of them asked, “Where’s father?”

And the mother replied, “Well, your father loves you. So he went to his room because he wanted his punishment of you to stand, but he also wanted you to enjoy the blessings of all he has provided for you. So he went to his room to pay your price for misbehaving.”

Here is what God has done for us in Christ. We were misbehaving, acting badly. We are sinners. Because God is just, He must deal with our sinful actions. He must punish us. But the beauty of God’s actions is seen in His taking the punishment upon Himself, and paying our price for sin. So in Christ Jesus, God takes our punishment and deals with it Himself, so that we can sit down at His table and enjoy all that He has provided for us.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Stand for prayer.

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