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How Do Christians 'Guard Our Hearts' from the Devil that Prowls and Sneaks?

Heather Riggleman

GodUpdates Contributor
Published Feb 03, 2021
How Do Christians 'Guard Our Hearts' from the Devil that Prowls and Sneaks?

Later when I became a Christian, someone told me, It’s no different with our hearts. I didn’t understand what it meant to “Guard your heart.” I was told my heart can be deceitful and led me astray. Perplexed, I wondered, how could a heart lead one astray?

When I was in college, I took my first self-defense class. Being away from home made me realize I needed to learn how to protect myself. Later when I got married, we bought a house with a home protection system. When we brought our first child home, we babyproofed the house to keep her from harm. You see, we have an instinct to protect ourselves. We’re born with an aversion to pain. We protect the things that we value.

Later when I became a Christian, someone told me, It’s no different with our hearts. I didn’t understand what it meant to “Guard your heart.” I was told my heart can be deceitful and led me astray. Perplexed, I wondered, how could a heart lead one astray? After all, wasn’t my heart the thing that led me to the Lord? It opened itself up to my husband and later, a deep love for my kids. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” We are told to guard our hearts, but what exactly are we guarding it against?

Solomon wrote this proverb because his heart had led him astray. He was one of the wisest men in history, yet he loved the ladies a little too much. He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and they turned his heart away from the Lord. He married foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter: the Moabites, the Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittite women from the nations that the Lord had told the Israelites about, “Do not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn you away from Me to their gods.” Solomon was deeply attached to these women and he allowed them to turn his heart from God. 

What Guard Your Heart Really Means

Solomon gave us one of the most important instructions as a Christian because he knew how great his sin was. He realized the status of our hearts affects who we are, how we feel, what we do, and how we live. Guarding our hearts from a scriptural perspective means for us to be alert, through the power of Christ within us, to what enters and dwells in our hearts. The word guard doesn’t mean to bar, seal, or shield anything. It literally means “to set a watchman over it” but not just any watchman. He meant to filter our hearts through the Word of God. Jesus is the watchman of our heart and soul. We are commanded to keep ourselves in the Word as Jesus keeps our hearts.

Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “What a man thinks, so he becomes.” In other words, everything we do starts with a thought, this thought leads our hearts to action, and that action can lead us to sin. In other words, “Sow a thought, reap a deed. Sow a deed, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” 

Who Is Jesus Guarding Our Hearts From?

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts, so how we are supposed to? Why should we? If we do not guard our hearts, they are exposed to any bad outside influence, thought, or force that comes their way. This force comes from temptations stemming from our human condition and our enemy. The first few chapters of the Bible capture our enemy in his true character. When he deceived Eve, he even quoted Scripture—albeit twisted and distorted. Satan cleverly led Eve and Adam into choosing to sin against God by eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of life in the middle of the garden. The fallout from that dark day is found as an overarching theme throughout the Old Testament as the Bible tells us how the Israelites struggled with sin. Jesus, however, came to rescue us from ourselves and our enemy, the devil, also known as Satan.

In the gospel of John 8:44, Jesus tells us something about who the devil really is: [“The devil] was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The devil and other demons are fallen angels who chose to reject God. Satan was at first one of God’s servants. He was the most beautiful in all of God’s creation as an angel, made by God: The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing. And they know their time running freely over the earth is running short. At the end of time when Jesus calls us all home, we will be judged for our sins, and whether or not we furthered God’s Kingdom and Satan will be locked up once and for all. “Then the devil who fooled them will be thrown into the lake of fire burning with sulfur. The wild animal and the false preacher are already there. They will all be punished day and night forever.”

1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” Satan prowls around like a hungry lion, looking for men and women whom he may deceive and devour. Now, we do need to be careful about overestimating the influence that Satan has. He is not equal to our God and is subject to His sovereign decree (Job 1:1–2:10; Eph. 1:11). However, he is a powerful enemy who can influence or tempt us, just like he did to Eve and Adam. He’s a professional at spinning a web of lies, craftily sowing doubt about the goodness of God, how we’re supposed to live, and so on. If we don’t guard our hearts, this can lead to a multitude of issues. The biggest root problem being that our hearts can become hardened to the Lord and His leading. Having a hard heart makes it incredibly difficult to obey Christ. This means we fail prey, and we are susceptible to deception (James 1:14–17).

How Do Christians ‘Guard Our Hearts’ from the Devil that Prowls and Sneaks?

Since Satan’s favorite weapon to use against us is deceit, the only way to counter him is with the Truth. The Bible is “alive and active.” Hebrews tells us, “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Yes, the Truth is the perfect protection against our enemy.

When we guard our hearts, we are empowered to not only read the Word but also be doers of the Word. It empowers us to live lives obedient to Christ. We do this by loving the Lord with all our hearts, mind, and strength. We put Him first in all we do. Work, school, marriage, parenting, and finances. We seek what His will is for our lives and we do the best we can to be the hands and feet of Christ outside the four walls of our church. We keep our hearts in check to ensure no one but Christ sits on the throne of our hearts. This includes checking our pride and intentions of all we say and do.

What does this mean for us? Consider the following questions as we seek the Lord for His Spirit’s help in aligning our lives with His Word.

  • Are you trying to guard your heart in your own strength, or acknowledging your weakness and trusting God to defend you?
  • Do you prayerfully seek the Lord, trusting the One who gave you a new heart to protect it?
  • Do you filter decisions, thoughts, circumstances, and responses through God’s Word?
  • Do you actively set the Word of God as a ‘watchman’ over your soul by being in the Word on daily basis? 

When we guard our hearts, we become aware of God’s leading. We become aware of our thoughts, actions, and the words that come out of our mouths. We want to be bearers of His light and goodness in a dark world where our enemy prowls at the edges of darkness. We want to shine a light on the path so others can be led to our Savior.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Antonistock

Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on Facebook.  

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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