Summary: The Lord said through Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful above all things and Jesus said blessed are the pure in heart? Can both be true. Can the Lord change one into the other?
Deceitful Heart or Pure Heart?
Please stand as we read our newest memory Scripture together …
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
And our memory refresher verse(s) for today is(are) …
“To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy –
“To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Please open your Bibles to Jeremiah 17:5-10
This Wednesday is the beginning of what is known as the Lenten season.
The Lenten Season is not a Biblical mandate. The observance of Lenten ritual can be spiritually beneficial or it can spiritually detrimental to your soul.
If a person chooses to observe Lent it should be done with the same attitude as a person would use to approach fasting or giving to the poor; it should be done in secret as much as possible and as a personal matter between you and the Lord.
Going through the motions of fasting or Lent are of no value in themselves, it is the attitude of the heart that matters. We as followers of Jesus must have a continual hunger to grow closer to the Lord and not just at specific times if the year.
Rituals may make you feel better. Rituals may make you feel like you are a more spiritual person, but if you are depending on the ritual itself for spiritual growth it will fail. The ritual itself can be a decoy and you know what decoys are used for.
If you are considering a Lenten fast I would urge you to do the following …
1) Examine your life and if you find that there is an area of your life that is in rebellion against God, if you find that you are living in perpetual sin, I urge you, certainly do NOT wait until Lent begins before you seek the forgiveness of God, take care of it now!
2) If you feel that the Lord wants you to participate in some type of deeper spiritual pursuit, only discuss what you are doing with the Lord and as few people as possible. If you are taking pride in telling people about your Lenten fast it will be a sin and will only push you away from God. We are always to seek to glorify God and not ourselves.
3) If the Lord gives you victory over an area of your life where you have been struggling with sin give Him the glory and do so with true humility and without bringing any attention to yourself by talking about the fast. Confess that you were unable to find victory over the sin in your own strength but that it is God who gave you freedom and forgiveness.
Rituals by themselves can kill your spiritual life by giving you a false sense of spirituality. A relationship with Jesus is not static but should always be growing and developing into a more beautiful relationship 365 days a year. (Quote Matthew 22:37-40)
Continually be asking, “How can I love you better Jesus? How can I serve you better?”
It’s all about the heart. Rituals can be carried out by the most hardhearted person; even by truly wicked people. A love relationship with God take intentional effort.
And, now … speaking of the heart …
Let’s read … Jeremiah 17:5-10
(Prayer for help)
We see the heart mentioned three times in this one passage:
Jeremiah 17:1 says:
“Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point,
on the tablets of their hearts and on the horns of their altars.”
In Jeremiah 17:10 we see,
“I (Yahweh) the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
And then we have the verse that gets the most attention.
Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
And, I remember memorizing it as a child from the KJV Bible.
Jeremiah 17:9 KJV
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Is this a universal statement?
Is this a state of the soul we are cursed to live with no matter how hard we pursue God?
Are we cursed to live a Romans 7:7-24 existence the rest of our lives????
You might just think so if you were to take that verse out of its context and centered your life around it. Such an existence would be so horrid that you would just want to go jump off a cliff or spend the rest of your days in a drug induced stupor.