Jesus showed up on the scene and started taking everything Jews believed to deeper places of meaning. The Jews wouldn’t commit adultery but Jesus took it deeper to the thoughts of a person’s heart. The Jews gave tithes and offerings but Jesus went deeper to awaken generosity of the heart. The Jews would provide for those in need but Jesus went deeper to awaken compassion in the heart.
Those that were working to follow God were devoted to obeying the Law. Much of this devotion was born from feeling sinful, flawed and incapable of being righteous in God’s sight. Jesus came and revealed that we re more sinful and flawed than we care to believe but we are accepted and loved than we could possibly imagine. This changes everything.
Jesus was reaching for more than beliefs in the head. Jesus was reaching for passion in the heart. God doesn’t merely want our attention. God wants our affection. We believe what we believe but we love what we love even more than we believe what we believe. This is why Jesus reduced everything about the Law to two statements of love; love God and love others! It’s all about the heart!
1 Pet 3:15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts… NET
Peter tells us to set Christ apart in our hearts. To set something apart like Peter is referencing would be to deem something holy or sacred. In our everyday lives this would give the idea of something we purpose only for special use. The good china isn’t holy or sacred but it seems like it is because it’s set apart for special occasions. Jesus should have a uniquely specific place in our hearts and the rest of the verse helps us understand what that really means.
To set Christ apart could be taken a few ways but to set him apart as Lord makes this very clear. Most believers agree Jesus should be a priority in their lives. God has never asked to be a priority in anybody’s life. He is Lord. The essence of the Lordship of Christ is that he must be Lord of all or he isn’t Lord at all. If Jesus is Lord then we can’t merely make him a priority. We must make him the center of our lives and all priorities flow from discovering his desires.
Notice Peter didn’t say to set Christ apart in our heads but rather in our hearts. The heart is more powerful than any of us realize! It has an incredibly powerful mission and an equally powerful mood. Weighing just ½ of a pound it pumps enough blood to fill 81 tanker trucks = 650k gallons in 1 yr. Your heart is pumps more fluid in one minute than your kitchen sink at full blast. The human heart beats more than 36 million times a year.
Just as the heart has an amazing physical mission it has an amazing and fascinating emotional mission. When we sense love in our hearts we are capable of almost anything. When my daughters receive an award at school for academic accomplishment or good behavior there is something so powerful in my heart that is beaming with happiness! When somebody cuts me off in traffic or takes a parking space I was after there’s something very powerful in my heart that promotes actions that are not very Christ-like. Emotions are so powerful that the heart is capable of completely sabotaging our lives.
Jesus wants to take control of our hearts to liberate our lives keeping us from justifying things that will destroy us. We are completely capable of making wrong decisions with a clear conscience feeling justified as we walk away from God. The Bible never tells us to follow our heart. The Bible tells us to guard our heart! The common idea of letting your conscience be your guide is simply not Biblical.
1 Cor 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. NIV
God has always known the depth of a man’s heart even more than man does. When King David was being selected eveyrbody was looking at the outward stature of his brothers but God was examining the attitude of the heart.
1 Sam 16:7 “…Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” NIV
This is why we must set Christ apart in our hearts giving him the most important priority in our lives. Once we do this all of life begins to come together with greater clarity, certainty and purpose.
1 Pet 3:15 But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord… AMP