In a previous post, I looked at how we tend to view our hearts as the source of our emotions and contrasted that with how God refers to our hearts as our entire control system, encompassing both thought and feelings. In this post I want to explore more about how God talks about the heart and what He instructs us to do with our heart. From there, we can then evaluate if we are to follow our heart or not.
How does God talk about the human heart?
In His Word, God paints a much darker picture of the human heart than say Dove or Disney portrays. A few short chapters after we read about humanity’s fall into sin, we find this verse. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5) Only continuous evil was flowing out of the heart of sinful man, leading to God’s decision to flood the whole earth, saving only righteous Noah and his family. Lest we think that evil hearts were only a pre-flood problem, look with me at some of the prophets. In Jeremiah 17:9, we read “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” We cannot even fully grasp the dreadful deceptiveness and spiritual sickness of our own hearts. The prophet Ezekiel wrote this prophecy from the Lord “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26) God promised that one day He would transform his people’s hard hearts into soft, living, malleable hearts. According to the Lord, we all have a heart of stone unless we have been graced with a new heart from the Lord. Stone is hard, impenetrable, lifeless and unchanging. Such is the natural condition of our hearts, speaking to the hopeless nature of our wicked hearts apart from the grace of God.
Jesus Christ also commented on man’s heart. In speaking to the Pharisees, He told them their hearts were far from Him (Mark 7:5-7). But it wasn’t just the Pharisees who had heart problems; this extended to Jesus’ own disciples! Mark 6:52 says the disciples didn’t understand about Jesus’ miracle because “their hearts were hardened.” While conversing with His disciples after His resurrection, Jesus tells them they are foolish and slow of heart to believe (Luke 24:25). In Matthew 15:19, Jesus speaks of men in general and declares, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Christ stated that our outward sin and wickedness come out of our hearts. We cannot separate our behavior from our hearts; rather, the behavior flows from the condition of our hearts. Thus, our sin speaks to the depraved nature of our hearts.
Throughout the pages of Scripture, God has much to say about our hearts, and little of it is complimentary. Left to ourselves, our hearts are wicked and produce wickedness. Our hearts are hardened, deceitful, and dead towards the Lord.
Is there any good news?
Thankfully, the prophecy in Ezekiel gives us hope. We do not have to continue living with a heart of stone! Christ came to earth as fully God and fully man to live perfectly with a perfect heart that was set on the will and glory of His Father. He died on the cross, and His human heart ceased beating so that He might give His life to redeem us from our sin and give life to our spiritual hearts. Christ replaces our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh that are alive to loving and pleasing the Lord. With these new, God-given hearts, we can hear and understand God’s truth, respond in faith and walk by the Holy Spirit. Christ gives life to our dead, stone-hard hearts!
In a following blog post, I will examine what the Lord instructs us to do with our hearts. Do we follow our hearts wherever they lead us, or are we supposed to do something different with our hearts?