A Storage Bin for Sin; Thoughts on the Human Heart
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
There is a popular cliché used in our culture today that, from its initial sounding, seems innocent enough, but quite possibly just might be some of the worst possible advice a person could ever give or receive. It is the phrase, “follow your heart.” In recent years it has been used as a way to encourage people to make decisions based upon what they feel their heart leads them to do. It has appeared on bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets and even social media postings. But is it biblical? The answer to that question is an emphatic “no.” To the contrary; “follow your heart” is nothing more than an emotionally charged catch phrase without substance. Truth be known, life decisions are not to be based upon feelings. Why; because people are too emotionally charged and are prone to respond irrationally, leading to knee jerk reactions and rash decisions. With this in mind, let us into the Scriptures and see why it is dangerous to follow the heart.
The Bible provides a sobering description of the human heart. Early in the Scriptures we read that “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). Mark 7:21-23 says, “from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” In Psalm 66:18, we see that the heart of man acts as a storage bin for sin; for when we regard wickedness in our heart, the Lord will not hear us. In the New Testament we read that “the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man” (Matthew 15:18), and because people are sinful and are inclined to be double-minded, the heart of man needs purifying (James 4:8). And so the human heart is extremely susceptible to demonstrate a spirit of rebellion and can lead to a hardened heart (Hebrews 3:8). Because of this, it should not surprise us that John Calvin described the heart of man as “a perpetual factory of idols.”
The Bible provides clear instruction on how we should use our heart. We are to give God our heart (Proverbs 23:26) and love Him with all of our heart (Matthew 22:37). We are to cry out to God with our heart (Psalm 119:45) and give thanks to Him (Psalm 9:1). We are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are to be pure in heart (Matthew 5:8) and called to purify our heart (James 4:8). We are instructed to do the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6). Even the meditation of our heart is to be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14). We must remember that God discerns the intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). That is why we must guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23) and ask God to test our heart (Psalm 26:2). And so we must pray like David and ask that God to create in us a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). In the verses above, the heart is simply the instrument used to describe man’s pursuit in glorifying God; for God is the goal, not the human heart. This is why it is safe to say that we are to follow God with all of our heart instead of following your heart. Remember, Lot followed his heart and it led to much trouble (Genesis 13:10-11).
Dear Christian friend; know that God did much for you at conversion when He replaced your heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Even to this day, He grants peace for your heart when it is troubled (John 14:27). And so delight and find pleasure in Him; for when you do so, He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Ponder these truths today, and ask God to clearly speak to your heart.