The condition of your heart determines the direction of your life. This is a very important issue because there are really only two directions in life, and they go in opposite ways and lead to opposing destinies. You can either walk toward the Lord Jesus Christ into eternal life or away from Him into eternal death. And the determining factor is the state of your spirit.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the character descriptions could represent each of us. We could be living a sinful lifestyle like the younger brother, be self-righteous and unforgiving like the older brother, or have a merciful heart like the father in the parable.
This story is the last of three consecutive parables that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in response to their grumbling against Him for His mercy toward sinners (Luke 15:1-2). Each one dealt with something that was lost—a sheep (Luke 15:3-7), a coin (Luke 15:8-10), and a son (Luke 15:11-32).
Since the Word of God is true, we can trust that the guidance and warnings He gives in this illustration of a lost son are accurate and should be heeded. If we head down the path this younger son chose, we can be certain that we too will meet a similar outcome even though we
can’t see it at the moment.
Desire. This young man’s heart was filled with a desire for freedom. He had begun to view life in his father’s house as restrictive; therefore, he asked his father for his share of the estate. Despite the fact that the inheritance was normally received after his death, this father complied with his son’s request and gave him his portion of the estate.
Decision. Shortly thereafter, the son decided to leave home to pursue his desires unhindered. One of Satan’s goals is to convince us that having our own way and leaving God’s restrictions behind is the beginning of real life.
Departure. The son went away to a far country. For our purposes, we can consider a far country as anywhere we choose to go outside of God’s will. It could be a block away or across the globe because it speaks of the condition of our heart, not the location of our bodies. The devil stirs up discontent by pointing out what we are missing. Then he paints us a picture of the good life that awaits us if we’ll follow him. However, he always omits the end result of a life of sinful indulgence.
With plenty of money to fuel his desires, the young man set off to enjoy the pleasures of sin. In a far country there would be no one to hold him accountable, so he could do whatever he pleased. But God sees everything and will one day hold each person accountable. “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
Deception. The Prodigal Son fell for the devil’s lies without considering the consequences that would inevitably follow. He squandered all the money “with loose living” (Luke 15:13). Life looked good for the moment.
Wandering. The problem with living for our own pleasures is that the novelty soon wears thin. The enjoyment we once experienced diminishes as we discover that sin’s satisfaction is temporary. In an attempt to regain the pleasure, we may wander from one experience to the next, only to discover that there is no lasting pleasure in sin.
Wanting. The young man soon found that not only was his satisfaction waning, but his funds were diminished. Following his desires had left him bankrupt and friendless. To make matters worse, a famine came to the land, causing a scarcity of food. Satan never reveals the outcome of following his temptations because his goal is to destroy and ruin people. His path to pleasure is littered with broken homes, lives, and the bodies of those who believed him.
What is the condition of your heart today? One way to determine this is to examine the path you are taking. Are you drawing closer to God or running away from Him? Be sure you’re headed in the right direction. Visit intouch.org/god to learn more about the path to eternal life in Christ.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Characteristics of a Godly Mother,” which airs this weekend on TV.