The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?
We live in a culture that tells us to follow our hearts. If we just listen to our hearts, then we won’t be led astray. It sounds good in theory. Yet, according to Jeremiah, our hearts are the last thing we should listen to since they are sick and deceitful. We tend to associate our hearts with our feelings. However, the ancients would have viewed the heart as also being the seat of understanding and our will. So, our thoughts, feelings, and volition are all sick because of sin. And as we have seen throughout Jeremiah—as was the case with Israel—inward sin and unfaithfulness leads to outward rebellion and disobedience.
That is why we need new hearts. We don’t have the ability to just change our thoughts, feelings and decision-making abilities. Left to our own devices, our hearts drift far from God. We need Him to exchange our sin-sick hearts of stone for hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:26). When God gives us new hearts, we aren’t dictated by what we think and feel. We are led by His Spirit and His truth and in Him, we can never be deceived. When He has control of all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength, then our acts of faithful obedience are the natural overflow (Deut. 6:6; Ezek. 36:27).
Our desires and feelings aren’t always bad, but they do need to be surrendered to Him daily. In our flesh, we don’t love the truth, and therefore we are easily led astray by our thoughts and feelings. We need the mind of Christ to set our hearts and minds higher (1 Cor. 2:16). We need the Spirit to guide us, so we aren’t at the whim of our flesh. As we seek Him, we can take heart that He will lead us in all truth (John 16:13).
● In what ways are you most easily deceived by your own mind and emotions? If you “listened to your heart” instead of the Holy Spirit, how might you have walked in a different direction?
● Where do you need the Holy Spirit to lead you in truth? What lies are you tempted to believe in this season?
● Thank God for the gift of a new heart and a new Spirit within you. Ask Him to guide you into the truth you need, surrendering your heart, thoughts, and feelings as you go.