February 7, 2016 | text: Jeremiah 17:5-10
We use the illustration of the heart to describe the core of our being, what lies deep inside of us. We talk about heartache or heartbreak when we lose someone that we love and use terms such as heavy hearted or lighthearted to describe how we feel. The mind and the heart are very closely related, so much so that a great loss may indeed cause the heart in your chest to actually hurt. Our hearts really do beat faster when we are excited and a shock may be enough to literally stop a heart. The Bible has a lot about the heart of man and if you will excuse just one bad pun, let us get to the heart of the matter.
The heart of man is corrupt. So many times in scripture we are reminded of the state of our heart. In Genesis 6 God lamented the creation of man on the earth, because “his heart is set continually one evil.” He created a world that was good and made man and woman in his own image, but sin and the curse changed everything. We can be tempted to sin or influenced by those around us but our problem comes from within. Violent movies and explicit websites are not really the problem, though they can make the problem worse. What we really have is a heart problem. The sin nature is inside each of us and what is on the inside affects the outside. “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45
God sees the condition of each heart. We’ve already looked at Jeremiah 17; “the Lord tests the heart and the mind.” When the prophet Samuel visited Jesse (1 Samuel 16) Jesse’s son were presented to him one by one. Samuel was impressed by Eliab but the Lord warned him in v. 7 ““Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” We have an old saying about fooling some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time. You can’t fool God any of the time, but that hasn’t stopped some people from trying. The rich young ruler (Mark 10) told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments since from his youth. When Jesus told him to sell all that he had, the rich man revealed what was close to his heart when he walked away. Many in Jerusalem believed on Jesus early in his ministry because of the signs; “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25)
Only God can change a heart. I asked a bookstore employee is she could direct me to the self-help section. She slowly shook her head and said “I’m sorry, that would be defeating the purpose.” No, that didn’t really happen. But self-help is big business. Books, websites and DVD’s promise to help us lose weight, quit smoking and get rich quick. The promise of the world is that the power to do any and everything you want to do is already inside of you. In our natural state only death is inside. A few rads of radiation or a small of arsenic won’t kill you. But those things build up over time and the effects are cumulative. There is pleasure in sin for a season. But the wages of sin is death and most people don’t realize their sin is slowly, over the course of a lifetime, killing them. The problem is on the inside. Various treatments will have varying results but the only cure is a new heart. “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. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27
The eyes are not really windows to the soul. Jesus said it’s not what goes into a person’s mouth that defiles him; the words that come out of a person’s mouth reveal what it is inside the heart. We would all be in sad shape were it not for the fact that God loved us when we were unlovable. That has to do with his heart, and we will go there next week.
Peace and God bless.