The Heart of the Matter

by Franklin Kirksey

The only book in the world that tells you the absolute truth about yourself is the Bible.  You will never find that information in any other source. Although there may be some good books which can assist you in self-discovery, they must be biblical in their orientation if they are to help. The believer must reject any book that presents a view of man that is contrary to the Word of God. Secular studies of humanity will never lead you to the conclusion that man is a sinner in need of a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

From Jeremiah 17:9 we discover three things about our heart (I mean the very core of our being, not merely the physical organ that pumps blood):

First, we find the deceitfulness of the heart in Jeremiah 17:9a, "The heart is deceitful above all things. " The heart is like a mirage in the desert that mocks the thirsty traveler.

The late Johnny Cash used to sing a song titled "I Walk the Line," which said, "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine." As believers, we need to keep a close watch on our hearts in a spiritual sense. Solomon warns, "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).

Jeremiah continues to tell us that "The heart isdesperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9b).  Thus we see the wickedness of the heart. Jeremiah is not referring to the human weakness that we read about in Romans 8:26-27 but to wickedness.  The heart of unregenerate man is "desperately corrupt," as some translate Jeremiah 17:9.  William MacDonald writes in his Believer's Bible Commentary, "Verse 9 is an unpopular (but nonetheless very true) estimate of the natural heart of man." 

There is no human remedy for the condition of the natural heart. Concerning His chosen people living in captivity, the Lord said through Jeremiah: "Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart" (Jer. 24:7).  Ezekiel the prophet makes a similar statement when he writes, "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" (Ezek. 36:26-27). 

Everyone needs to be regenerated by the Spirit and grace of God,    according to John 3:5 and Titus 3:5.  As Adrian Rogers has said, "Man does not need a boost from beneath, he needs a birth from above."

Jeremiah 17:9 has been called "the Great Divide of mankind." You will either accept it or reject it and your entire philosophy of life will reflect your choice. Jeremiah says of the heart, "Who can know it?" (v. 17:9c). Here we find the elusiveness of the heart. The natural heart is an "artful dodger."

Self-examination is insufficient when it comes to diagnosing the condition of our heart. Often we hear people say, "If I know my heart. "  Let me assure you that they don't, you don't, and I don't.  The Apostle Paul explains: "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court.  In fact, I do not even judge myself.  For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts; and then each one's praise will come from God" (1 Cor. 4:3-5). 

 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?  I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings" (Jer. 17:9-10). And that, my friend, is the heart of the matter!

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