The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV)
You’ll often hear people of the world tell each other to follow their heart, but is this a good idea?
In the bible (and in modern usage) the word ‘heart’ is used to represent the deep core of a person. If you are able to dig down to the deepest part of who and what a man is, you will find his ‘heart.’
Many people believe that this deep part of them must be a reliable guide. They reason that since the heart is the crux of their person, to go against it would be untrue to who they really are. People use this reasoning to excuse every sort of behavior, even their most carnal desires. The thing they don’t realize is that the human heart is deceitful. This is easy see in everyday life. Just ask the 30-something single mom who, at 17, ran away from home to be with some guy. She followed her heart instead of heeding the wise advice of her parents. She was sure that this was right because her heart told her so. But now, years later, she is trying to warn her own father-less daughter of the same things her parents tried so eagerly to tell her.
The same thing is true with those who profess homosexuality. It may be that their deep core of feeling tell them to embrace this lifestyle. They reason that to do any other would be untrue to who they really are. This is subjective. Truth does not exist subjectively inside of you. Truth exists objectively without regard to how or what we feel. The homosexual need not look to anything but nature to see that his acts are contrary to what is good and true. And if the homosexual can condone his lifestyle using such subjective logic, how can he deny anyone from doing the exact same thing about any kind of lifestyle, whether it harm another person or not? He cannot.
So, if our hearts are so deceitful, what can we do? The solution is to get a new heart.
If your natural heart is sick and beyond repair, the only option to to replace with a heart that works. Your whole body and all that you are will be dragged down to death by this sick heart, but a new heart will turn you into a brand new person.
The same thing is true with your spiritual life. Those who have embraced sin (all of us) develop a sick heart. It can’t be bandaged up and fixed. It needs to be replaced.
Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? – Ezekiel 18:38
How do you get this new heart? First you cast away all your sins by genuinely turning away from them and renouncing them, and then you put your trust in the One who died for you. The bible says you will then be born anew (Jn 3:3), and you’ll be a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). God says that he’ll take that old stony heart out of you and put in you a soft heart, and He will put is Spirit within you (Eze 36:26).
When you find yourself with that new heart, and you are sure within yourself that your heart desires nothing more than to please and follow God, then your heart becomes a much more reliable guide. Just as the prophet Nathan told David, “Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.” (1 Chr 17:2)
But a heart that is not completely submitted to God is not a reliable guide. It is a terrible guide. I’ve seen hosts of people drive their lives off the proverbial cliff over and over again, using the faulty GPS of their own heart.
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered. – Proverbs 28:26
Jesus had a lot to say about man’s heart. He said that what comes out of a man’s heart is what defiles him (makes him dirty).
The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile men. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person… – Matthew 15:18-20
Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Lk 6:45). You’ll see this when a person encounters some kind of situation that causes them to cast off the facade that they might be putting up. An example would be if a man stubs his toe, or hammers his thumb. Because of this startling interruption of his normal disposition, the gates of his heart will be unmanned, and out will flow whatever dwells therein. You’ll be surprised sometimes how dirty a man is when the floodgates of his heart are opened.
C.S Lewis said:
Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.
Some people are confused and think that the true person is the facade they work so hard to put up, but the true person is the hidden person of the heart. That man, apart from Christ, is evil, and needs to be changed.
I’m not trying to be holier-than-thou, but when I stub my toe, I don’t cuss. Why? Because cussing is not in my heart. Once I had a 1-ton grave vault smash my foot. It hurt. Really hurt. But I didn’t cuss. Is it because I held it back? No, it’s because cussing is not in my heart. Now, sometimes I let things creep into my heart that I shouldn’t. I do my best to deal with those things as they come. So if you ever catch me cussing, it’s because I allowed it into my heart.
The bible says that we should guard our heart:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Pro 4:23
When you repent of your sins, and give your life to God, your heart is cleansed. But, if you don’t guard it, junk will seep back in. Your life flows from your heart, so maintaining a good heart is of vital importance.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. – Matthew 12:35
Notice how Jesus said the good treasure of the heart. That means that good things have been put in, while bad things have been kept out. If your going to live the fruitful life of faith that pleases God, you’ll need to guard carefully the gate of your heart, purposely bringing in the good things, while being diligent to keep out the bad things.
Should you follow your heart? Only if God lives there, and if good things are being put in. If Jesus isn’t the Master of your life, then your heart isn’t right. But don’t fret, God is in the heart-changing business. He’ll give you a new heart and He’ll put His Spirit within you. When God’s Spirit lives in you, you have extremely reliable guide. He will guide you into all truth, He will show you things to come. The Word always comes first, but the Spirit will guide you in the areas of life that are more specific. You’ll be able to ‘do all that is in your heart,’ because a heart that is alive to God is a reliable guide.
But don’t be deceived. Many well-meaning Christians make life-altering mistakes when it comes to this. If something is in your heart, there is no need to be hasty about it. It’s important to talk to the godly people that the Lord has put into your life, like your pastor or youth pastor or other trusted individual. God will confirm what’s in your heart by those that He has put in your life to shepherd you. If you’re not willing to listen to their council then you definitely have a heart issue, and in such cases your heart is not a reliable guide.
Let God be the Master of your heart. He won’t lead it astray. Trust in Him, lean not to your own understanding, and He will make your paths straight.