They say follow your heart, and listen to yourself, and you won’t be led astray.
We know it’s not true. But we still follow that advice anyway, without realizing it sometimes, and it’s only after we’ve gone down that road that we realize it leads to despair.
I know, because I’ve done a great deal too much of that lately. And I’ve been learning the hard way just how much deceit lies inside of me, in my own heart, against my will.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
My heart tells me that everything I know and believe is too good or too crazy to be true. It tells me to question God’s word. It absorbs the prevailing attitude of the blowing winds, that the Bible is little more than a fairy story or a collection of moralistic tales, and even if I don’t realize it the tendrils of that worldview tend to creep into my heart and twine themselves around my thoughts and steal my joy.
My heart tells me that there’s no way God can love me, not with the sin that’s still in my heart. It sees the bitterness, anger, pride, the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:15) that still lie there, and concludes that God can’t love me. Not yet–I need to be more penitent, fix myself up somehow.
My heart tells me that something in this world can satisfy me. It says that friends, or food, or fun, or independence, or entertainment, will give me the happiness and joy I’m looking for. And then, when I begin to realize just how unfulfilling these things really are, it tells me to despair.
And at the end of it all, I finally realize what a liar really lies inside me. Are we ready to fight this? Are we willing to cling to what we know, even when we don’t feel like it?
Because the Bible holds the answers to all the questions that my heart whispers.
When I wonder how all this can possibly be true–it reminds me of the glory of God displayed in the Scriptures, a glory that no one as finite as ourselves could ever have invented. I see the conquering Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1), and the overwhelming love that chose to save us for His own glory, not out of any need (Ephesians 2:4). And it reminds me that what is true does not depend on what I think or what I feel.
When I’m overwhelmed by my sin–He reminds me that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), that I have been justified as a gift by His grace (Romans 3:24), that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 8:39).
When I’m tempted to love this world–I remember that my God’s lovingkindness is better than life (Psalm 63:3) and that He is more satisfying than anything in this world (Psalm 63:5). He reminds me that this world is passing away, but in Him I’ll abide forever (1 John 2:17).
Our hearts are liars, every one. That’s why we can’t make them our guides. You can’t anchor a ship in its own hull. Instead we bind our hearts to the true and steadfast word of God, and let our hearts be transformed, little by little, by His beauty.