A heart check-up
(We are in God’s Surgery)
By Pastor George Lehman
Without a change of heart, there is no change in Character.
Genesis 6:5-6 (NIV) – 5The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 – 9The heart is *deceitful above all things, and desperately *wicked; Who can know it? 10I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.
*Deceitful – Dishonest / Disconnected / False impression / Dislojaal
*Wicked – To cause hurt to others with purpose
Many know Jeremiah 17:9 off by heart since it is a basic reality of the human condition. Nevertheless, do we really believe what God says here?
In this passage, God gives us an evaluation of mankind.
In verses 5-6: Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in and relies on mankind, making [weak, faulty human] flesh his strength, And whose mind and heart turn away from the Lord. He relates that curses come on those who trust in men,
and in verses 7-8: ““For he will be like a shrub in the [parched] desert; And shall not see prosperity when it comes but shall live in the rocky places of the wilderness, In an uninhabited salt land.” He reveals that blessings accumulate to those who trust in Him.
Verse 9 is not focused on the blessed or the cursed but on everyone, humanity as a whole: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
God means this! But do we really believe it? From a human perspective, it cuts quickly to anyone with a hint of pride.
No one thinks of himself as thoroughly evil; in fact, most believe they are pretty good.
But we grow up among other Christians and we think we are doing a fair job of keeping the commandments, compared to others.
2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV) – We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
We try to get along with almost everyone. Yet, God’s words bring us up short. The question is: Do we really?
Are we fooling ourselves? Are we really making a sincere effort to live God’s way?
Proverbs 4:23(NLT) – Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (AmpC) – Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realise and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you- unless you are [counterfeits]disapproved on trial and rejected?
Are the things that we do merely a show? Do we act as we do to make people like us?
Are we, only conforming to peer pressure? (When in the company of another Christian we speak, act and project a great spiritual life.)
Do we do what we do for the right reasons?
Question: What is the true condition of our hearts?
Truth is: God answers, “You can’t know it. It is most desperately wicked and deceptive.”
Further, whom does our hearts deceive the most? It’s Us!
Acknowledging this revelation from God about ourselves, we have to ask ourselves, “Are my motives really good when living the Christian life?
Perhaps, since human nature is both good and evil, we so easily drift between these two as it suits us. , God’s answer in verse 10: “I, the Lord, search and examine the mind, I test the heart, to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.
The point is only He really knows our real character—and thank God for that! That’s called grace!!
To be honest we would really despair to see ourselves as we really are, although part of the Christian life is endeavouring to realize just how corrupt our hearts actually are and to change.
Imagine if God created us with a video screen on our foreheads?
Recall the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
Luke 18:9-14 “Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Pharisee is a perfect example of “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
He fools himself into thinking that, between himself and the publican, he is the good, upright one. The Pharisee may have been righteous in his own eyes, but not in God’s.
The publican—a lying, cheating tax collector—was humble enough to realize that his heart was, indeed, desperately wicked.
He probably did not know the depths of the evil he could do, but he knew that he was a sinner and not worthy of approaching God.
Proverbs 16:2 (NIV) – All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighted by the Lord.
He understood that, next to God, he was dirt and less than dirt. He merely begs God to show him mercy. The one who earned Jesus’ respect is the person who recognized the evil within himself!
For all of us, learning the real truth about ourselves is bound to be a long and uncomfortable process of discovery – Only Pride will prevent it.
Romans 7:18-19 (NIV) – 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.
Never read this verse and give yourself permission to carry on with sin.
In Jeremiah 17:9, God pulls no punches. The human heart—the seat of man’s intellect, his emotions, his attitudes, his thoughts, his inclinations—is dishonest and evil.
Most of us take evil far too lightly, especially the evil* within us. We do not like to think of ourselves as evil. We always like to think that we are the good guys. Evil* is: morally wrong, sinful, causing harm, gossip, unforgiveness, absence of Love.
Everybody else has the problem. We tend to be quite quick to point the finger at others, all the while maintaining our own, lily-white innocence.
Such an attitude leads to sins like self-righteousness, pride, and slackness in overcoming and growing.
This self-justification can eventually manifest itself resulting in, active rebellion against God and “wandering from the truth.”
If we reach the point where we think we have nothing more to change or repent of, our growth will slow and soon stop altogether.
Before long, our journey will be headed away from God because such an attitude is the exact opposite of what He is looking for in His children.
Saul/David is a great example. David knew this.
1 Chronicles 29:17 – I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.
Psalm 78:72 – “He cared for them with a true heart
and led them with skilful hands.
Acts 13:22 (NLT) – “But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’[a]
When David was chosen God said I look at the heart.
Psalm 51:17 (NIV) – My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) – 23Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.