My Deceitful Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?   Jer 17:9
We are considering in these early meditations in this series, that the starting place for understanding Easter and the Cross, is seeing our own state and our need. When I see myself as I  truly am, then I will see my need, and when I understand the Cross, I will understand that is it God’s answer to my need.
Now the Bible says a lot about ‘the heart’.   Of course it doesn’t just mean that muscular valve that pumps the blood round our body.  Vines Expository Dictionary identifies ‘heart’ as meaning, the ‘inner man’ (Deut 30:14), and the seat of:
·         ‘desire or inclination’ (Ex 7:14),
·         the ‘emotions’ (Deut 6:5),
·         ‘knowledge and wisdom’ (Deut 8:5),
·         ‘conscience and moral character’ (Job 27:6),
·         ‘rebellion and pride’ (Gen 8:21). 
  Consider some of those for a moment: desire or inclination, emotions, knowledge and wisdom, conscience and moral character.  Do you trust these things?  Jeremiah said the heart is deceitful; we can’t trust these things!  Now consider these descriptions in the light of this verse, one by one.
Your desire or inclination is deceitful?  Of course!  Do you know why you want to move in a particular direction always?  No, the driving force is often way below the conscious level, and should it surface we realise our motivating force is not a good one! We may think our motivation is good, but when we genuinely see it, we realise that so often it is actually self-centred. We’re doing it for our own selfish benefit!
Your emotions are deceitful? Of course they are. Do we always know why we’re feeling what we’re feeling?  No, of course not!   Often they’re responding to deep-down issues we’re afraid to face. Do you sometimes feel churned up but don’t know why? Do you sometimes feel angry about a relational situation where you think the other person is wrong, but after a while you realise that it is you who are wrong, and that your anger was in fact, simply self-justification. Oh no, our emotions can definitely be deceitful!
Knowledge and wisdom?   You know and understand all things?  You know and understand what you feel, why you act?  You’re an unusual person, a unique person, if you always do.  No, we often act instinctively rather than out of knowledge, without thought rather than with consideration, and if we did consider what is happening, we might act very differently! We assess people and jump to conclusions, and then we find out some more about them and realise we were completely wrong with our assessment. Our knowledge was incomplete!
Conscience and moral character?   OK, maybe for most of the time this is all right, as long as we do keep letting conscience (and the Holy Spirit) check us.   But do you ever find yourself rationalising a course of behaviour, why it’s really all right?  That’s just you being tricky, deviously overcoming your conscience, so that the next time your conscience will allow that path to be followed without qualm.  Oh yes, conscience can be deceived and deceitful!
On a good day when we obey the word of God and the prompting of His Spirit, all may be well, but on the day when we trust our own inner motivations we’ll find our desires are haphazard, our emotions all over the place, unthinking or incomplete responses ruling, and conscience justifying.   No, we desperately need a Saviour to deliver us today and every day.  We are prime objects of these con-merchants! When Jeremiah said our ‘heart’ our inner drive, was deceitful, he was absolutely right!
Lord, I place no trust in my own desires or inclinations, I won’t let my emotions be the arbiter of truth, I confess my unthinking approach to life so often, and I ask for your Spirit to stir and challenge my conscience, that I may walk in your ways.  Please lead me and guide me today.  I cannot trust myself and so I want to trust you, indeed I trust you to save me from these deceptions.