For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed[s] evil… – Jesus (Mark 7:21)
It’s interesting to note how differently the world speaks of the heart of man compared to how the Bible speaks of it. Often in the world you’ll hear: ‘follow your heart;’ yet the Word of God tells us that he who trusts in his own heart is a fool (Proverbs 28:26). The Bible speaks of the human heart as ‘deceitful above all things’ and ‘desperately wicked’ (Jeremiah 17:9); yet the world seems to think of the heart as a reliable guide. To not follow it, many would argue, would be a gross error, and result in misery. The world preaches that happiness accompanies those that listen to their own heart; God says quite the opposite.
Jesus speaks of the heart as the source of evil. It begins there and works it’s way to our mouth, and to our actions. In Mark 7, Jesus gives a long list of evil things that have their origin in the heart of man. The list includes: evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. He concludes all this with saying, “All these come from within (the heart) and defile a man.”
The truth is that the human heart is a factory of evil–it continually churns out wicked things. That evil is often restrained to a certain extent due to various factors, but, inside, the factory is raging. The only reason the evil inside of the heart of man remains in check is because of the lack the opportunity, or the fear of getting caught. But imagine if the human heart was allowed free reign. Imagine if there were no laws, no taboos, no risk of being socially ostracized. How do you think the world would look? It would look like it did in the days of Noah, before the law had come:
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5
The days of Noah were a lawless time. God had not yet instituted His law. The only moral law that existed was the law of nature, written on their hearts–which they ignored (Romans 1:19-20, 2:12-15). And since there was no outside law, the people operated according to the dictates of their own hearts with no restraints. The result was complete and utter corruption of every kind.
We see this also in modern times to a certain extent. In areas or times of lawlessness, the true heart of man begins to show. Just look at countries whose governments are failing, or at times of rioting even in our own country. When men don’t fear being caught, and the opportunity is there, the true colors of their heart come forth. This is true from the least to the greatest.
The heart of man is desperately wicked, as we read in Jeremiah 17:9. The law puts that wicked heart on a chain, and restrains it somewhat, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
The heart of man is also deceitful. When the heart churns out it’s wickedness, it doesn’t announce it as such. It says, “Oh, it’s not so bad. The old-timers are always up in arms about something. So and so does it and they’re fine. Don’t be so legalistic!” The heart deceives itself because of its love for sin. So many people will lie to themselves so they can carry on in their lusts. Deep down they know it’s wrong, but they have buried that conviction under so many lies that they don’t feel it anymore. “Lie to me!” they sing. The wicked heart loves the lies, because it allows it to continue in sin.
Examine your own heart. Does it have love for God? Does it love God supremely above all else? Is it free from lust, greed, adultery? Is it free from bitterness, from anger? Does it hate evil? Or does it crave lusts and violence? Does it love the Word? the Church (which is Christ’s body)? the prayer closet? Does it morn for lost souls? Does it seek to reach them? If you are outside of Christ, your heart is wicked, and it needs to be changed.
It’s for this reason that Jesus said, “You MUST be born again.” The heart of man is broken beyond repair. It must be replaced. Every person on earth needs a heart transplant. If they don’t get it, they’ll surely be doomed. If any man hopes to be righteous, hopes to be reconciled to God, and hopes to obtain everlasting life, he MUST have this new heart. It is the only way.
To be born again means to be completely changed. And notice that I didn’t say ‘it means to change,’ but ‘it means TO BE changed.’ In other words, it’s not you doing the changing, but God.
I had this born again experience when I was 16. It was sudden and thorough. I surrendered my life to Jesus at a church service. In my own words I handed over my life into the care of Jesus. I knelt down to pray that day, and rose up a different person. I remember feeling markedly different. It was a little strange at first. I wondered that night if I’d still be changed as I was when I woke up in the morning. I was.
The greatest change was a LOVE FOR GOD. I had met the most amazing person. Jesus became so real to me–a real person, not just a religious idea. He deposited into me a joy that I had never experienced. Just to know God was the most wonderful thing. It was all new.
I also experienced a CHANGE OF DESIRE. All of a sudden, after that born again experience, I had new desires. I wanted to live holy, I wanted to please God, I wanted to pray and read my bible. I ate up the bible like a child in a candy store. I couldn’t get enough! (And this was a miracle in itself, for I had previously hated to read anything). I had no interest in the things of the world. They were pale and boring compared to the glory of Christ. Things that I used to enjoy just weren’t so great anymore. I wanted to serve God. Nothing, in my mind, was more exciting than that.
I had a change of DIRECTION. Before my conversion my thoughts were on me–my future, my schooling, my profession, my relationships. After my conversion my thoughts were on the kingdom of God. I wanted others to know the God that I served. I wanted to snatch souls out of the flames of hell and lead them to the narrow path of everlasting life.
My life was absolutely turned upside down. I didn’t add Jesus to my life. Jesus took over my life. It was Jesus in the morning, Jesus at work, Jesus at home, Jesus in the evening, Jesus in my thoughts, Jesus as my everything. Jesus is the most amazing person you’ll ever meet. Having Him makes EVERYTHING better.
My wicked heart was CHANGED. My old life was gone, a new life had begun. I was born again!
God did to me what He said He’d do in Ezekiel 36:
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. – Ezekiel 36:26-27
Like I mentioned before, I didn’t do the changing, God did. I was drawn by His Spirit, I offered sincere repentance and faith, and God went to work. Our job is not to change ourselves, but to thoroughly repent and surrender ourselves. Every part must be completely given to God before this change can occur. Every area of our life must be offered up. This isn’t a counseling session to a better life, this is a complete overhaul. EVERYTHING must be submitted to His Lordship.
if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is LORD and in your heart believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
What are you saved from? From that wicked heart that would drag you down to hell.
The problem is that mankind is wicked at its core. God solved that problem with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. God’s holy justice demands punishment for sins. Jesus took that punishment upon Himself, and bore the full brunt of the wrath of God. Because His wrath was satisfied, God can have mercy on those who repent. He can wash our sins away, and give us a new heart.
If you, reader, have not been changed like I have described in this blog, today is your day. Today the grace of God is extended to you. Today you are offered the chance to escape the judgement of God, and to be changed by His power. Don’t wait! Now is the time. Turn from your sins, thoroughly repent, and place your faith in the Son of God, who died and rose again. He is alive today, ready to forgive, ready to change you. Do it today.
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