Summary: 'In you heart you know what's right?' Do we rally?
“Cross Currents: In Your Heart You Know What’s Right”
The post on Facebook by one of my high school classmates read, “We don't need religion to be moral – in our hearts we know what's right”' It’s a popular sentiment. “Just follow your heart.” It sounds so good, so logical, so easy. But is it wise?
What if your heart and my heart disagree? And what if our disagreement means we’re at polar opposites on an issue that demands conflicting actions? Let’s assume we both, at the same time, come upon a man ready to jump off a bridge and commit suicide. I want to let him jump I believe he has a right to do it, and should be allowed to do it – after all, it’s what his heart is telling him to do. So I will do whatever is necessary to be sure he jumps. But you want to stop him. You believe it’s wrong and will do whatever is necessary to stop him. How do we resolve our differences? After all, we can’t both do what our heart tells us to do without major conflict. Whose heart is right?
The first two chapters of Colossians have dealt heavily and extensively with the fact and reality of Christ’s death on the cross. They are filled with heavy theology. But in this third chapter, as he always does in his letters, Paul launches into how all of this heavy theology – how Christ’s death on the cross – impacts our daily living. And he begins by dealing with the heart (1): “…set your hearts…” To fully grasp why Paul would start with the heart, recall the Biblical perspective on the heart – that we must ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM WITH OUR HEARTS. The clear message of the Bible is that because of the fall of humankind, OUR HEARTS ARE EVIL. The prophets proclaimed it. (Is. 59:12-13) “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.” (Jer. 17:9-10 MSG) “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, GOD, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” Jesus preached the same thing. (Mt. 15:17-20) “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
Therefore OUR HEARTS MUST BE GUARDED AND EXAMINED. (Prov. 4:23 NLT) “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Is it any wonder the Psalmist prayed (26:2 & 51:10) “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” There’s a powerful scene in the Bunyan’s classic “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Christian asks Ignorance, “What leads you to believe that you have given up all for God and Heaven?” Ignorance responds “My heart tells me that I have.” The conversation continues. “But is your heart reliable? The Bible says, ‘He that trusts in his own heart is a fool.’” (Prov. 28:26) ”That is spoken of a fool. I’m no fool. My heart is wise and good.” “But how do you know that? What means have you of testing your heart?” “My heart comforts me in the hope of Heaven.” “That may be through its deceitfulness. Jeremiah the prophet said, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ (Jer. 17:9) A man’s heart may give him hope when there are no grounds for his hope.” “But my heart and my life agree, so my hope is well grounded.” “What proof have you that your heart and life agree?” “My heart tells me so.” “Your heart tells you so! Except the Word of God bears witness, other testimony is of no value.” (i)
We may not agree on what the standard should be, but the fact is WE NEED AN UNCHANGING STANDARD - a holy, righteous guide. The Bible qualifies. “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:12) The ‘one to whom we must give account’ is Jesus, the holy righteous one who knows our hearts. “… God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. I am He who searches hearts… (Lk. 16:15 & Rev. 2:23)