The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)
Jeremiah defines the depravity of man in a way that is surpassed by few other passes in it’s uncompromising honesty:
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick!
There is nothing more deceitful than the human heart—the center of our will and desires. We want, what we want, when we want it, consequences be damned!
Me, I have a horrible sweet tooth. I love sweet things, and when I eat something sweet, it’s like something in my mind says, “You should have more of this; it’s awesome!”
I try to restrain, and often fail. I try to avoid, but doesn’t help me in the least that my mother owns a bakery, dang it. Sweets aren’t good for me; they cause me to gain weight rapidly; they can lead to diabetes… all this stuff is serious. But, dang it, I want them, and I would not restrain myself were I left to my own devices.
This is the deceitfulness of the heart. It tells me that bad things are good for me. It makes morally neutral things gods. And we consume, we indulge, we capitulate to whatever the desire we have is, and we worship our false god.
A cookie, while delicious, is a really lousy god. It doesn’t speak. It doesn’t hear. It doesn’t teach. It doesn’t save. A cookie just sits on a plate waiting to be consumed, and if you leave it out on the table unattended, a toddler will grab it and say, “Mmmmm, that’s a good cookie. I love cookies.” (True story.)
So if a cookie can’t do anything to save me, why on earth would I put my faith in it? It’s absolutely absurd, isn’t it? But it’s what I do. It’s what billions of people around the world do every day. We put our trust in money. In fame. In reputation. In beauty. In sex. In alcohol. In work. In amusement.
Are these any less absurd?
Our hearts cannot be trusted; our only natural inclination is to do evil continually (Gen. 9:4). Even when we do good, we do it for the wrong reasons!
We are so desperately sick that we can’t not do wrong!
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:24)
Who can understand the human heart? Who can deliver us from our body of death?
I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds. (Jer. 17:10)
Only Jesus can judge the heart of man. Only Jesus can replace our heart of stone, and give us a heart of flesh; a heart that is no longer desperately sick and yearning only to do evil, but one that delights in doing the will of God.
We will all be dealt with according to our ways.
We desperately need a new heart.