Our Deceitful Heart

June 3, 2013

Our Deceitful Heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Once I was visiting with a pastor and his wife.  They told me about sorrow they had recently experienced with a young man who was in their church.  He was attending the church faithfully, memorizing Bible verses, and it appeared as though he had a glorious future.  Everything changed, however, when he started dating an unsaved girl.  He dropped out of church and went off into sin.

Pastor’s hearts are broken when these things happen.  The same is true of family members who are believers when loved ones go off into sin.  When a young person departs from the faith and goes off into sin there are nearly always those who grieve for them.  It’s not just because they have invested time and money in them.  They know that he or she will pay a terrible price for their foolish decision.  God too is grieved.  The prophet Jeremiah expresses God’s thoughts in Jeremiah 2:12-13.  “Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.   For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

When these departures from the faith happen it is because of our deceitful hearts.  A deceitful heart can be deceived by the wicked.  We read of that in II Peter 3:17. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”  To be sure, Satan is behind it.  I Peter 5:8 tells us that.  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”  Salomon was well aware of the danger of deception.  That’s why he wrote in Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If we let our hearts get cold, the vain, sinful things of this world are more tempting.

To keep our heart means that we need to guard our affections.  Romans 12:9 tells us that we should “abhor that which is evil” and “cleave to that which is good.” A continual longing for what we know is wrong breaks down our resistance to it and robs us of joy.  It’s better to say to ourselves, “It’s wrong.  Therefore I don’t want it.” Colossians 3:1-3 says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.   Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.    For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Things above are not things that are so high that we don’t have access to them.  They are things that are higher and more noble than the things of this earth.  It’s a reason for living that transcends the accumulation of material posessions.

Having a good knowledge of the Bible is no assurance that we will never fall into sin.  Neither can we have that assurance just because we have been a Christian for a long time, and even spent time serving God.  Even the great Apostle Paul was aware of the danger that he too could fall.  He said, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway

When we have loved ones and friends who fall into sin, it’s a consolation to know that after a time they may repent and return to God’s way.  Great is the mercy of God.  He is always ready to forgive and restore them.  We need to pray for them and let them know that we love them and have faith that they will repent.  We don’t believe in practicing what is called “shunning.” That means to ostracize them and treat them as dirt.  We should go on loving them.  It may mean that our relationship with them is not the same because we can’t participate in, nor approve of their sin.

If you are one of those who once walked in God’s way, but have departed, I beg you to return.  God will forgive you and restore you.  Your loved ones and friends are praying for you.  Some of them may have shed tears of grief for you.  If they hear that you have repented they may embrace you and welcome you back to the Christian life.  You may never recover what you have lost while you were in the broad way, but you don’t need to go on being a loser.  Perhaps you departed because you were never saved.   If you know that you were never saved, you need to repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you and make you one of his own.  If you have doubts about your salvation you can do the same.  If you know that you have been a disobedient child of God you just need to ask God to forgive you and restore you.  You can pray the prayer found in Psalm 51:12.  “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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