There are many things in general that we guard in our lives. We guard our families, our homes, our prized possessions, and our finances. We may even take a self-defense class to learn how to better guard ourselves. We set up anti-virus software to guard our computers against hackers. We set up parental controls to guard our kids against online predators, and passwords to guard our various online accounts.
As humans we have a natural tendency to be on guard for protective purposes. And we typically protect the things that we value. But how often do we think about guarding our hearts?
In this post, we will look at several bible verses about guarding our hearts to see what it means to do so, why we are called to do it, and how we should guard our hearts as Christians.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
- What Does the Bible Say About Guarding Your Heart?
- How to Guard Your Heart
- Pray for Wisdom to Guard Your Heart
What Does the Bible Say About Guarding Your Heart?
Before we can rightly understand what the bible says about guarding our hearts, it is important to first understand what the heart is from a biblical perspective.
Although it should be obvious, I want to clarify that in no way am I referring to the actual organ of the heart that is present in our physical bodies. So, what is the heart?
Our Hearts Are Who We Truly Are
Scripture uses the words heart, mind, spirit, and soul interchangeably to denote the same thing. In fact, the original Hebrew word for heart in Scripture is lêb, which means the inner person, the seat of thought and emotion, the conscience, the mind, and our understanding.
Our heart, therefore, is our mind, intellect, conscience, and emotions. It is the center of our feelings, reasoning, and thoughts. Our hearts are who we are at the very core.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior—one who manipulates]. He says to you, “Eat and drink,” Yet his heart is not with you [but it is begrudging the cost].Proverbs 23:7 AMP
The Bible is very clear when it talks about how God alone truly knows every one of us:
- But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7 NIV
- A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2 NIV
- These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Matthew 15:8 NIV
- O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. Psalm 139:1-4 NLT
God cannot be fooled by our appearance, our words, or even our actions. He knows who we really are because he sees our hearts!
Every Christian Has Two Opposing Mindsets
We must remember that because of the fall of man, we were all born sinners.
- When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 NLT
- For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5 NLT
- For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23 NLT
Therefore, by nature, our hearts (our minds) are sinful. In fact, when speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, God Himself described the hearts of man like this:
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT
And let’s not forget the very reason God destroyed the earth by flood in Genesis – because the ENTIRE civilization at that time, apart from Noah and his family, had wicked hearts:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.Genesis 6:5 NIV
And guess what? Mankind still has the same problem today that it had back then. In fact, the heart of every problem that exists on earth, is the sinful hearts of mankind. Thankfully God promised to never destroy the entire earth by flood again (Genesis 9:8-17). Otherwise, I’m pretty sure we would be living on Earth version 100 by now!
As Christians, we should have an even greater appreciation for the fact that although we still have our sinful hearts/mindsets, through the power of the Holy Spirit we have been given a new mindset as well – the mind of Christ! And this new mindset is incapable of sin and ALWAYS wants to please God:
- The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV
- When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB
- Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:3-5 NLT
Although we are equipped with the mind of Christ, it is imperative to understand that our two mindsets are ALWAYS fighting against one another:
I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures.Galatians 5:16-17 TLB
Since our minds are our hearts, whatever mindset we are obeying or catering to at any given time will control our thoughts, words, and actions.
The Devil Targets Our Hearts Constantly
Along with the internal struggle that goes on within our hearts, our spiritual enemy the devil, also targets our hearts constantly.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8 NLT
When it comes to targeting our hearts, the devil has always had one key strategy – lies and deception.
When addressing the non-Christian religious hypocrites of his day, Jesus referred to them as children of the devil, and called the devil himself ‘the father of lies’:
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44 NLT
We see this characteristic of the devil from the very beginning in the garden when he tempted Adam and Eve:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”Genesis 3:1-5 NIV
The devil knows He can’t steal our salvation or position in Christ, but he will do any and everything he can to make us as ineffective as possible for God. And to do so he will use whatever lies or deceptions are necessary to get us to question God, His character, and His Word.
Notice, his words to Eve: “did God really say . . .” And then he flat out called God a liar when he tells her “you will not certainly die”. He then goes on to make disobeying God (sin) look good by appealing to the underlying desires of their hearts (wanting to be like God). And we all know how the story ends. They quickly fall for his lies.
We must never underestimate the influence that Satan has in our lives. Although he is not equal to God, nor omnipresent like God (everywhere at once), the bible refers to him as the ‘god of this world’. His reach is global because his influence is in everything and everyone (non-Christians) that is NOT of God.
- Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT
- Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 NLT
There is a reason Scripture describes the devil as “crafty” and compares him to a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. A lion is known to be a very patient animal, as they will literally lay in wait for hours for their prey. They are also known for their stealth like attacks as they tend to maintain the element of surprise (despite their size) before they prance on their prey, and then devour them completely.
The devil doesn’t deceive people in ways that are obvious. He is always extremely subtle and patient. He will cater to the inner desires of our individual hearts. He will find ways to offer us the very things of this world that we want and crave for most, and then tempt us to sin or doubt God’s Word in order to get it. And if we are not careful, just like Adam and Eve, we too will fall right into his traps.
We Are to Guard Our Hearts Above Everything Else
Since we know that our own hearts are naturally sinful, always in constant opposition to our new Christian mindset, and is susceptible to constant attack from the devil, we must learn to heed the call of Scripture to guard our hearts:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.Proverbs 4:23 NIV
According to Webster’s dictionary the word guard means to protect from danger by watchful attention, to make secure, to preserve and to protect.
We MUST learn to do everything we can to protect our hearts accordingly. And notice that the verse says we are to do this above all else. Guarding our hearts should be a priority! I want to list the same verse from other bible translations here for greater emphasis:
- Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 AMP
- Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 ESV
- Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs 4:23 GNT
- Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life. Proverbs 4:23 TLB
- Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT
Why is it so important that we guard our hearts? Because our hearts essentially will produce our thoughts, which will dictate to some degree everything we say and do.
It will affect the kind of people we are in relation to our family, friends, co-workers, authority figures, and strangers. It will determine the choices we make in life about relationships, finances, our education, our health, our careers, and everything else.
So, the question is, how do we guard our hearts?
How to Guard Your Heart
To guard anything requires action on our part. And when it comes to guarding our hearts for Christ, we absolutely must be intentional about it.
Typically, when you are guarding anything, it comes down to two things: preserving and protecting the “good” and valuable thing(s), and keeping the “bad” stuff out. Guarding our hearts is no different.
Fill Your Mind With God’s Word Regularly
If we truly want to our guard our hearts so that our Christian mindset can regularly defeat our sinful mindset, and stand against the lies of the devil, then we must feed our Christian mindset regularly. And the way to do that is with the Word of God.
In fact, Scripture teaches very clearly that we need God’s Word to help us guard our hearts:
- Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4 NIV
- Like newborn babies [you should] long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may be nurtured and grow in respect to salvation [its ultimate fulfillment]. 2 Peter 1:2 AMP
- All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
- Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 NLT
Just by waking up every day we are susceptible to the devil and his influence all around us, whether we leave our homes or not! Even if you sit alone in a room all day and stare at a wall, you will still be left with your thoughts. And guess what? If you don’t fill your mind with God’s Word, I promise you that most, if not all, of your thoughts will be those of your sinful mindset.
How can we focus on the positive things about God and life that Scripture teaches us if we don’t spend time reading His Word? Yes we have the mind of Christ which enables us to understand spiritual things and see things in a new perspective through the power of the Holy Spirit. But, Scripture is clear, we MUST cultivate the Christian mindset that God has given us.
We don’t magically know the Bible without ever reading it. We must be intentional about spending time with God, and then and ONLY then will we reap the many benefits of doing so (spiritual growth, wisdom and guidance for life, peace and comfort, hope, endurance, discernment of truth, blessings, etc.)
- You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 NLT
- Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. Colossians 3:2 AMP
- And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
- My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Psalm 119:28 NIV
How can we fix our thoughts on biblical truths and the precious promises of God’s Word if we only consume the negative and sinful things that the world has to offer? No wonder why so many Christians are overly stressed, depressed, sad, angry, anxious, worried, frustrated, and even suicidal.
This is why it is imperative that we consume God’s Word on a regular basis!
Proactively Filter What Your Mind Consumes
Just as important as filling our mind with the right thing is, we also must learn to guard ourselves from consuming the wrong things.
Since we know that the devil targets us through all forms of entertainment (TV, movies, and music), social media, the internet, the news, people and many other things in this world, we must learn to take the necessary steps to eliminate and avoid some of these outside influences when necessary.
Because we are all different, what may be a hindrance for you, may not be a hindrance for me, and vice versa. It is all about identifying what YOUR problem areas of influence are.
An easy way to do this is, is to take some time to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do any of the things I do in my free time tempt me to sin, or cause me to feel negative emotions?
- Does anything I view, read, or listen to regularly, tempt me to sin, or cause me to feel negative emotions?
- Do the people I associate with regularly (in person or virtually), tempt me to sin or cause me to feel negative emotions?
Be sure to give enough thought to each of the questions, and be honest with yourself. After doing so, you will be at a good starting point to begin to evaluate the things you are regularly consuming into your mind. And those people or things that are tempting you to sin or causing you to feel negative emotions are things you need to find ways to proactively filter out of your life.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy waiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
You may have to take some time away from social media. You may have to unsubscribe to some TV channels or streaming services for a while. You may need to limit or restrict your internet usage. You may need to stop watching the news for a month (I did this once and it worked wonders for my mental health).
You may need to choose some new hobbies or come up with alternatives for how you spend your free time.
You may have some relationships that you need to put on pause, or some people you need to unfollow or unfriend on social media. You may have some people that you literally need to cut out of your life altogether.
Pray for Wisdom to Guard Your Heart
We have learned that as Christians, we have two opposing mindsets that are always at work within us and that the devil, through his influence in this world, targets our hearts constantly. Therefore, guarding our heart is essential and should be a priority for us.
That is not to say that it will be easy. In fact, I can almost guarantee that once you start intentionally guarding your heart, that your sinful mindset will begin to fight even harder to control you, the devil will spew even more lies, and the temptation and deception from the world will increase.
But I can also promise you that spending time in God’s Word regularly will strengthen your Christian mindset exponentially! It will build your spiritual endurance, arm you will truth and discernment, and fill you with peace unlike anything else. And the good news is that you don’t have to try and do it all on your own.
The struggles will come, but we can commit the entire task of guarding our hearts to God and ask Him for help and wisdom throughout the entire journey.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
As we pay more attention to our thoughts, identify which mindset we are living by in any given moment, watch out for the deception of the enemy, fill our minds with God’s Word, and filter what we allow our minds to consume, we will find ourselves often praying like David did:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.Psalm 19:14 NLT
BE SURE TO READ: 3 Crucial Things to Guard Your Heart Against as a Christian
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