The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], And desperately wicked; Who can know it? - Jer 17:9
Do you have a heart condition? According to the prophet Jeremiah, our hearts are deceived and wicked, and yet so many times, we follow our hearts and believe them to be right. Many people think they have a good heart even though they live in sin and have not made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior.
When a man asked Jesus, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one [is] good but One, [that is], God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments. - Mat 19:16-17
This one sentence from Jesus tells us immediately that nobody is good, let alone good enough to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus went on to tell the man all the commandments he must keep, do not murder or commit adultery, do not steal or lie, honor your father and mother, and lastly, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mat 19:18-19)
The young man declared that he has kept all these things and asked: “what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. - Mat 19:21-22 NKJV
Jesus told the man to give up all that he had and follow Him, the man wasn’t willing because he had so many possessions. Many people who say they are believers respond the same way when they hear that they must make a change and stop living as the person they were before being saved. Everybody wants to enter the kingdom of God, but many don’t want to make the heart change to do so. This man was willing to keep the appearance of the law, and in his own opinion not break it. Yet, his heart was deceived into believing that he would lose too much to gain a relationship with Jesus Christ if he gave up all he had. What did it profit this young man to gain all he had and risk losing his soul?
On another occasion, Jesus made a similar demand towards His disciples. Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” After this confrontation with Peter, the Bible gives us insight into what God expects from those who say they believe.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. - Mat 16:24-27
Do you see the pattern? Jesus wants those who say they believe in God and Him to do what He did. He wants us to glorify God as we were created to do. To follow Jesus means to mimic Him, do what He did, and stay close to Him. While faith without works is dead, works without relationship are merely acts of religion. Jesus requires relationship, depth, not just width.
Look what Jesus said was in the heart: 21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” - Mar 7:21-22
If it were possible to cleanse our hearts from these sinful things, we would not need Jesus Christ to save us. We need Him to take our sins and cleanse our hearts, breaking us free from the self-righteous deception we were born into.
Jesus was and is the word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - Jhn 1:1 The biggest problem in the Church in America and likely worldwide, is the lack of knowledge and understanding in the word of God. Christians don’t read their Bible, and many don’t even believe it to be the inspired word of God. We only know God through the knowledge of His word.
16 All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2Ti 3:16-17
It is foolish to think that we are equipped to do any good thing if we don’t have the word of God to help us know what good God requires!
Jesus Preached – Repent!
Jesus preached repentance, a turning from sin and a turning towards right living. However, we seldom hear teachings about repentance anymore. The boundary for sin has not only been blurred; I believe it has been moved back to allow sin to be widespread within the body of Christ. People see no need to repent or apologize for their actions to God or man. It is truly a “me” generation that does as they please.
The Bible tells us that godly sorrow produces repentance [leading] to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. - 2Co 7:10 Being “sorry” without the fruit of change is a frivolous thing, resulting in death because it does not bring the required heart change for life to come.
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": - Rom 2:4-6
If people truly knew and believed what the Bible says about those who do not repent and those who refuse Jesus’ offer of salvation, they would shudder at the thought of their demise.
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." - Rev 21:8 And 41 Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: - Mat 25:41
Without a true heart change, one cannot be saved. God has always sought after a heart change, from the time of the prophets of old until Jesus Christ, until today, God desires our hearts change from the fleshly love of life to the spiritual love of Christ. He spoke through the prophet saying, “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Eze 11:19-20
Jesus said we must be born again, a new birth that brings about a change because of a new heart. Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." - Jhn 3:3
Jesus said the one command to keep first and foremost was to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself. – Lk 10:27 This love will never happen within human strength by human means. A heart born of the flesh produces the desires of the flesh, but a new heart of God produces spiritual things, including a supernatural ability to love.
Jesus said He desired that we be of one accord, one heart, loving each other and serving one another in submission to each other. We see this type of love with the first Church in Acts 4 when the Holy Spirit had filled all those who were assembled together. The power was so much that it shook the place they were gathered.
Shortly after, we see that the multitude who believed were of one heart and one soul and they shared life and everything they had together. They lived for and with each other to show the world that they were disciples of Jesus, just like Jesus said to do. He said, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Jn 13:35 NIV
Heavenly Father, I confess that my love has grown cold in some areas. I have gotten caught up in the mundane paths of life and have neglected the weightier matters of love and charity. I ask for a fresh infilling of Your Holy Spirit to invade my soul, break my heart for what breaks Yours, and allow me new opportunities to show the world I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I thank You for setting me free from a hard heart and teaching me through this experience, how to love one another as You have loved me. In Jesus' name, Amen.