The Broken Heart
L.R. Shelton approximately late 1940's
Permission granted only to PeaceMakers

Are you saved? Have you been born again? Someone was preaching over the radio the other day on the new birth; and a certain fellow who was Listening made the statement, "That must be old Parson Shelton preaching." Praise the Lord that I'm connected with preaching the Doctrine of the New Birth! You MUST be born again or go to Hell. The Bible says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). With your Bibles in hand, let's turn to Psa.51:17 and read,

"The sacrifices of God are a BROKEN SPIRIT: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. "

Now let's turn to Psalms. 34:18, "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a BROKEN HEART; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. "

In Isaiah 57:15 we read, "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. "

Now let's turn to Isaiah 66:2, "For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is POOR and of a CONTRITE spiriti, and trembleth at my word. "

I want us to notice the expressions in these selections of Scripture. First He says, "THE SACRIFICES OF GOD ARE A BROKEN SPIRIT: A BROKEN AND A CONTRITE HEART. " Then again He says, "THE LORD IS NIGH UNTO THEM THAT ARE OF A BROKEN HEART. " Then He says again, "HE SAVETH SUCH AS BE OF A CONTRITE SPIRIT. " Yes, the Lord is near them that are of a broken heart and saves such as are of a contrite spirit. Then He says again, "I DWELL...WITH HIM. . .THAT IS OF A CONTRITE AND HUMBLE SPIRIT." Also He says, "I LOOK. . .TO HIM THAT IS POOR AND OF A CONTRITE SPIRIT." Yes, the sacrifices of God are a brokenheart. He looks on the sinner that has a broken heart. He dwells with a sinner that has a broken heart. He's near to a sinner that has a broken heart. If that's so, and it is, then only a sinner who has a broken heart ever gets saved, and the only sacrifice God will accept from any sinner, or saint, is a broken heart! Did you get that?

As we bring you this message on the subject, "THE BROKEN HEART, " I want you to listen. All of you get quiet around your radios, and every unsaved sinner, awakened or unawakened, will you listen as for life this morning? In our study at this time let's consider, first, THE NATURAL HEART; second, THE WOUNDED HEART; and, third, THE BROKEN HEART.

First, let's look at the NATURAL heart. The heart of the natural man is sound and unbroken. He is dead in trespasses and sins, which means he is buried in sin; and for him to be saved he must be raised from the grave of sin. The natural man is asleep in the lap of Satan, and is unmindful of his condition. The natural man is blind and can't see; his heart is deceived, as God's Word says, "Deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah. 17:9). He is without God and without hope in the world, a stranger to the covenants of promise and an alien from the children of God (Ephesians 2 :12) . He is past feeling and on the road to Hell, and doesn't know it (Ephesians 4:18,19). He is stouthearted and far from righteousness (Isaiah 46:12), he walketh to and fro through the earth worshipping his opinion (Jeremiah. 23:16,17). Yet he is unmindful, although he may be in the pulpit, the pew, or the world. The more religious he is, the more blinded; the more orthodox without Christ, the more deceived, and the more he knows as an unsaved church member, the less likely he'll ever get saved. Now these are some staggering statements to make, my friend, but they are so.

The Law, the Gospel, the mercies of God, the afflictions of death, and even the preaching of Hell, do not break the natural heart. It is harder than stone, and God in Ezekiel, 36:26 calls it a stony heart. Why is the natural heart of man so hard ? In the first place, it is because the veil is upon the heart according to II Corinthians 3:14-16, "But their minds were blinded [or until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ . But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. "

My friend, if you will turn to the Lords the veil will be taken from your heart. When the natural man reads the Bible, he doesn't understand it, and he does not believe it. He does not believe the Law of God, neither does he believe the wrath of God and the judgment to come. If he did, he would flee to Christ. Now, this is the condition of the average church member, because he has never been awaken -- to the fact that he is lost. He lives in a world of make-believe. Furthermore, Satan has possession of that heart and carries the seed of truth away as it is being preached. These are the ones on whose heart the seed falls as by the wayside, and Satan immediately, when it falls, snatches it away (Luke 8 12). Therefore, the seed never germinates The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins; he does not hear, cannot feel, and is past feeling. That is a description of the natural heart, whether it is in the pulpit, the pew, or the world, My friend, I don't care whether you are a preacher or a deacon, or whatever you are, if your heart has never been opened by the Holy Spirit, you have a natural heart and are past feeling. That is why you are so cruel toward those who preach the Gospel. The most cruel individuals in the world are unsaved religionists whose hearts have never been touched.

Furthermore, the natural man has built a wall of steel around him, and within this wall of his own building he hopes for safety in some refuge of lies. He believes he is saved because of his prayers or his giving. Many trust in their church membership. Others think they are saved by living up to a standard of their own creation. They are on the road to Hell and don't know it. This constitutes the vast majority of the religious world today. They know nothing about a "BROKEN HEART. " Pray that God will give you a brokenheart, because "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise." You need a broken heart; you must have a broken heart, because your dead, unbroken heart will not last long. My friend, you are standing on slippery ground, and your feet are sliding down to Hell. "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming" (Isaiah 14:9). I wish you could hear the rumblings of Hell beneath your feet and flee to safety in Christ, the stronghold in the day of wrath. In Proverbs 1:26, we find God says, "I will laugh at your calamity." Let me ask you this question, "Are you concerned about your soul?" If so, there is hope. Christ is ready to save you, and save you now. Let me say again, the vast majority of our church folks know nothing about "a broken heart and a contrite spirit." They have no concept of it at all.

In the second place, let's look at a WOUNDED heart. Remember, a wounded heart is not a broken heart. A heart may be wounded by the arrow of conviction and yet not be broken, and even go to Hell in that condition. But, a heart must be wounded before it can be broken . A wounded heart is a dangerous heart, just as a wounded beast is dangerous. A sinner wounded by the arrow of conviction may turn on the messenger and trample the truth beneath his feet, and go to Hell for his trouble. The worst enemies I have today for the Gospel's sake are those who have been wounded and have turned on the truth, because they turn on the messenger with all the venom and vengeance of their souls.

As we look at this wounded heart, we find it is first wounded by the LAW OF GOD. When God gets ready to save an individual, He brings that individual to reflect on his sins. He turns that individual's eyes upon Himself and begins to open that heart to see that everyone who is under the Law is cursed (Galatians 3:10). He finds that he was alive unto the world without the Law, but when sin revived, he died (Romans 7:9). God puts every sinner under the Law before He reveals faith to that individual, according to God's Word (Gal. 3:23,24). He makes that individual look into the mirror of the Law that he may understand his condition (James 1:23-25). Many times when the sinner looks into the Law, he is made to tremble because he had never dreamed that he was such a sinner. Now that's the sinner God looks upon. The sinner who has never been wounded by the arrow of conviction can stand up and say like the rich young ruler, "I have kept all the law from my youth up," which shows he is utterly blind to the truth of his condition.

Then there is another arrow that God shoots home to the heart of a sinner that wounds his heart, and that is the arrow of the MAJESTY and the HOLINESS OF GOD. The sinner is not only made to look into the Law of God to see the sinfulness of his ruined condition, but he is brought face to face with the majesty and holiness of God; and when he is, he is made to feel and to sew that he has sinned against the great and holy God. Brother, let me ask you a question, Have you ever been made to see that you have sinned against the majesty and holiness of God? Have you ever been made to stand before Him and see the awfulness of your ruined condition and the great gulf which separates you from a holy God? If you have, you were made to cry out as did the psalmist, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned" {Psalms 51: 4).

But you know, most sinners never get beyond the place where they feel sorry for themselves' sorry they got caught - because a wounded heart always wants comfort. Some of you sinners keep calling me up and writing me seeking comfort instead of turning to Christ. You want to be comforted; you are seeking someone's shoulder to cry on. But praise the Lord, the wounded sinner, if he is wounded deeply enough, will arise and go to his Father, saying, "When I get there, I'm going to tell Him that I have sinned against Him and against Heaven." Brother, a sinner who is wounded deeply enough will turn his face toward home; he will make up his mind that he must get to Christ. Yes, a wounded heart is not a broken heart, but it has to be wounded first before it can be broken.

The awakened sinner is wounded, in the third place, from his own helplessness to make himself better. Every sinner is born to want his own way. Romans.3:12 says, "They are all gone out of the way." Isaiah 53:6 says that every one has turned to his own way. Yes, the awakened sinner faces the fact in salvation that he can't have his own way, and the reason you are not saved, my awakened sinner-friend, is because you want your own way, you are unwilling for God to dictate to you as your Lord the terms of salvation. You want to dictate to Him, and He won't even listen to you. And you'll stay right there until you give up your own way end your own opinion. Then the sinner's heart rebels because of the strictness of the Law. He finds himself entangled in the net of Satan, and he's like a woman I heard cry out one day whose heart was wounded, "Will I ever be able to have my way again?" I said, "No, woman, you never will, if you come on to Christ for salvation." "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 16:25) Let me tell you, my friend, you are going to give up your way in coming to Christ, and you will accept God's terms for salvation, for God dictates the terms.

The sinner finds that he cannot keep the Law. The Law reveals his wrecked and ruined condition, and the more he rebels against the Word of God the more helpless he sees himself. He rises against God, because faith is the only way of salvation: he must stoop to take salvation from the hands of Another. This wounds his pride and deflates his ego.

When the sinner views his utter helplessness to save himself and then sees that his only way out is by faith in Christ and God will not receive him in any other way, then he rises against God because God is sovereign and must dictate the terms, and further, God can save him or damn him as He wills. The average unsaved religionist will fight that statement until he wakes up in Hell - that God can save him or damn him; it makes him so mad at the sovereignty of God that he could bite ten penny nails in two. So you see, my friend, the average church member today knows nothing of a wounded heart.

Yes, my friend, every sinner whose heart is wounded comes to see his utter helplessness and hopelessness apart from the grace of God, and he finds himself in the hands of a sovereign God who can do with him as He pleases. Have you ever been there, friend? If you haven't, you are not saved; you don't know anything about salvation. Let me tell you something, you are helplessly bound by Satan; you are hopelessly ruined by the fall. You are a prisoner of Hell and can only be delivered by the power of God. And you will come face to face, as a ruined, depraved, Hell-bound sinner who can't help yourself, with a sovereign God who can either deliver you or leave you right where you are. That's why you rise up and rebel against God. This shows that your heart is yet unbroken, and that, my friend, is a most miserable state to be in. There isn't anything this side of Hell more wretched.

Many of you are crying out, "I can't stand it any longer; what can I do ? How can I stand this miserable state any longer?" My friend, that reveals a wounded heart, but not a broken heart. It is one thing to be awakened to the fact that you are lost; it is quite another thing to be delivered and saved. I plead with you not to rest contented and rest in conviction, or rest with a wounded heart. A wounded heart will try to hold on to its idols, its pet sins, its prejudices, the world. The wounded heart wants sympathy, feels sorry for itself, is not willing to come clean with God. A wounded heart will make excuses for its sins and it tries to hold on to its favorite sin. A wounded heart seeks honor one from another. A wounded heart will try to bargain with God and is not willing to accept God's terms of salvation. A wounded heart is not willing to sell out for Christ. A wounded heart will not burn all bridges behind it and put into effect the "scorch policy, " coming to the Lord Jesus Christ empty-handed, pleading nothing but the blood of the Son of God. Brother, a broken heart is one that will burn all bridges behind it and come empty-handed, trusting the Lord. You'll never say, "I wonder how I am going to get by? I wonder who is going to get by? I wonder who is going to support me? I wonder this - I wonder that. " That is a wounded heart that will turn on God's messenger if you don't go any further.

Now, let's look at a BROKEN HEART. A broken heart is a believing heart. The heart is broken when the Holy Spirit leads a man to the cross of Christ, and he beholds the Lamb of God that takes away his sins (John 1:29). His heartbreaks from the fact that he has tried to seek salvation by his own righteousness. Here it is that he ceases from all his works and comes to rest his all in the hands of the sovereign God.

Paul says, "The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Romans.2:4). The goodness of God leads a sinner to unload all his sins, and brings them to the place of death - death to all his intentions, death to all his plans, death to all his friends, death to all his loved ones, death to his whole past life. That's the reason some of you mothers are not saved - you love your children more than you love Christ and more than you want to be saved. My friend, all of your blueprints will be burned up, and your heart will be completely emptied out: there will be nothing left in it when it is broken; you will be completely stripped of your own righteousness. A broken vessel is one that has been emptied of all its contents. It is not until then that you will appreciate God's salvation.

Then the work of Christ on the cross appears so perfect until you wonder why you should ever have thought of any other way of salvation. You now come to feel that if you could be saved by your own righteousness or natural goodness, you would refuse it forever. Brother, I don't want salvation by my own hands: I am so well pleased with God's salvation, and it is so perfect, that I want none other. When the sinner sees this, he comes to count everything loss that he may win Christ. As Paul said, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philipians 3:8). When you hear a fellow going around bragging about what he gave up to get to Christ, brother, put it down- he's not saved! Every fellow who gets to Christ counts everything but dung - it's loss, and he forgets about it forever. To this sinner the grace of God appears so wonderful, that all God has - His righteousness, His sovereign grace, His mercy, His love - should be free to such a wretched, ill-deserving, undeserving, Hell-deserving one as he.

Oh, awakened sinner, I wish that that heart of yours could be utterly emptied at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not a look in your own heart that leads you to Christ, but it's a look in the heart of Christ Himself that breaks the sinner's heart. Look there, sinner, at the goodness of God to give you such a substitute, such a perfect Sin-Offering to die in your place. When you look at Him and His goodness and mercy in behalf of such a wretched sinner as you, you will turn loose every sin and every idol. You will let go the world, every friend or foe, just to get to Him. As one old divine said, "I'd wade through Hell to get to Christ." Yes, you'll count everything but loss that you may know Him and the righteousness of God in Christ.

Yes, the sinner's heart is broken from the love of sin. When a man believes on Christ, he sees sin to be so hateful. He comes to abhor sin, to hate sin. He cries out against sin and its poisonous joys because it separates him and God and kindles the fires of Hell in his soul. Sin crucified the Lord of glory and made Him sweat and bleed and die in the sinner's place (I Cor.5: 21). When you see an individual who says he is saved, and yet he finds himself courting the unsaved of the world, having fellowship with unsaved individuals, there is something deadly wrong. That individual needs to repent. If that is your description you need to repent.

A broken heart hates sin, despises sin, because he sees that sin is the plague of his heart. It's the thing that makes him unhappy. He mourns like a dove and wonders why he should sin against such love. He comes to loathe himself in the sight of God and cry out, "Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" My friend, a broken heart God will not despise; a broken heart is the only sacrifice God will accept from a sinner. Talk about giving Jesus your heart ! - the only kind of heart He will accept is a broken heart, and I want to tell you, my friend, a broken heart mourns apart. A broken heart is one that doesn't care what the world thinks or says. A broken heart wants every idol torn from it and broken in pieces at His feet. A broken heart wants no sympathy, and cares not what others may say or do. A broken heart is one that has been brought to the place of death; it has been crucified to the world, and the world crucified to it. A broken heart will not turn back, because it has nothing to turn back to. A broken heart has burned all bridges behind it, given up all loved ones, let go all friends, and it seeks the honor that comes from God only. A broken heart is a beggar, a beggar who will not cease begging until he is taken into the banquet hall of God's eternal grace. That individual wants Christ, and Him alone.

A broken heart will not become offended at the preaching of the cross of Christ. That is all he wants to hear. "Tell me about my Lord, who died for me." The natural heart is offended every time it hears the Gospel preached. It says, "I'll never hear him again. " The preaching of another's righteousness - that you must have the righteousness of Christ or perish - enrages the natural heart. Many have turned away from the preaching of the Gospel of Christ and gone out, because they became offended at the Word (Mark 4:17; I John 2:19). A broken heart cannot be offended. The preacher cannot speak too plainly for a broken heart. A broken heart never grows tired of hearing you tell how God saved him in Christ. The unbroken or natural heart is offended when we preach plainly against sin. He says, like a professor's wife, "He's too hard; I'm not going to listen to him anymore." It won't be too hard, brother, when you wake up in Hell! That reveals a heart that has never been broken. Such individuals are still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity (Acts 8:23). A broken heart cannot be offended at the preaching which exposes sin, because it hates sin worse than a preacher can make it. No language can describe the awfulness of sin as a broken heart sees it and feels it. The broken heart holds to no sin, and he loves to see the idol torn from his bosom and broken in pieces at his feet. No matter how much it cuts or how much it hurts, the bornagain believer who has a broken heart will sit there and say, "Preacher, go on; you are preaching to me, but that's what I need. Don't let up. Lay bare my heart with the Word of God. Cut me asunder with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let me see the awfulness of sin which ruins and wrecks the soul." The more a sinner sees of himself, the more he glories in the crucified, buried, and risen Lord.

A broken heart is one that is at rest. He has found rest in Christ. He has come to see that all his sins were paid for on the cross in Christ Jesus and that God cannot collect a sin-debt twice - from his Surety and then from him. Unconverted hearts, or wounded hearts, are like the troubled sea; they are in misery, for "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21). The awakened soul is not at rest, because your feet are not shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, the blood of Christ. Your feet are sliding, and will slide, into Hell if you don't look to Christ for rest in salvation. I plead with you to break, sinner; break! Down, down at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look, sinner, look- there where you are sitting; "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming. " Your feet are sliding into Hell. The fires of Hell are crackling beneath your feet. Would to God you could hear them and would flee to Christ! Look up, sinner; look yonder to Christ and say, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul." My rest is Christ. The righteousness of Christ takes away every fear, for the broken heart casts all its cares and burdens on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Nothing can happen to the brokenheart to wrong it. It is satisfied with Christ. The broken heart says, "That's enough; He's all I want. Take the world, but don't take my Lord. " The brokenhearted one has no ambitions for anything else. You may say, he is a weaned child (Psalms 131:2) weaned from the world, weaned from sin. Not so with the unconverted: he's afraid of the sickbed; he's afraid to die. There is the dread of poverty - no security. The reason some of you are afraid to trust Christ and turn loose everything is the fear of not having any security. Then there is the dread of death and eternity. You are tossed like a wild beast caught in a net. You don't know which way to turn. Would to God you would fall at the feet of Christ and cry for mercy! Turn to God from your idols to serve the true and living God (I Thessalonians.1:9). Let go and let God. Break, sinner, at the feet of Christ. Oh, that your heart maybe broken, and you will be left on your face crying, "My Lord and my God!" Down, sinner, down at the feet of Christ for God's sake!