Summary: An honest look at the human heart is revealing and countermands the old concept that "The Heart is Good."
My Heart Condition
• I submit that this story is a microcosm of the life of Jesus and His focus on the truth.
• This past week I read a statistic that over 40% of deaths in America are caused by issues of the heart. Ultimately, every death is caused by heart failure. When the heart stops beating, stops functioning, and stops doing its job – life cease.
• However, the reasons so many death occur at the hand of an unhealthy heart seems to be many. First, the initial signs can be so subtle that we ignore them. Next, those initial signs can resemble other conditions (indigestion, cough, fatigue, etc) and it’s easier to dismiss them as a heart issue. Today, if caught early enough, most heart problems can be treated today. While this is indeed “Good news”, it is required that we notice when symptoms develop and get checked out.
• The same is true with our spiritual hearts. Just like we tend to ignore the initial signs of heart problems in our physical bodies, perhaps we do the same with our spiritual heart. By the way, it’s real easy to do. However under God, we should be diligent each and every day, let alone when we come to the Lord’s Table, to check our hearts. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As man thinks in his heart.”
• The Apostle Paul is very clear about how we should approach “The Lord’s Table.” We should do our best to come with a clean heart and life. From our text, let’s focus on two thoughts:
1) The Problems with the Heart – We are born with a heart problem. While we don’t care to admit it, since the Garden of Eden, man’s heart is faulty, flawed, and failing. Watch:
a. It deceives us – For the last 16 months, as we made our way through the gospel of Mark, we witnessed the Sanhedrin (the church going people, the church leaders) fighting against Jesus.
• Do you think they thought they were fighting against God? No, they were trusting their hearts and minds. They actually believed they were doing God’s will & were likely amazed at Jesus’ response.
• In their minds, they had taken the Law of Moses and developed it into the Rabbinical law (600+ laws) and were literally, forcing people to follow it. Surely they were pleasing to God. Basically they had raised the standard of their man made laws and traditions to the level of scripture. They thought they had ‘cornered the market’ on God and their hearts were telling them they were right. Jeremiah 17:9 says this; “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” This kind of blows a whole in the sentimental approach of “He’s got a good heart.” Yea, says who? Make no mistake, our heart will deceive and thus:
b. It defiles us – (Verses 10-11, 18). The word “defile” is used in both verses and both times the same Greek word is used – which means to render unclean, unhallowed, unholy, and even profane. The Pharisees were so convinced of their ‘godliness’ that they missed the deep spiritual truth which God’s word teaches – that our heart cannot be trusted. When something comes out of your mouth, it was born in your heart. We may not like to hear this, but unless we want to argue with God, we would do well to recognize it as a condition of our heart. Those evil thoughts, false witness, slander, and other evil, it begins in your heart and defiles you. It’s a problem. One more:
c. It directs us - Verse 8 is a revealing verse. Your lips alone cannot overcome where your heart is. We can sing a good song, pray a good prayer, or even talk a good game, but if your heart is far from our Lord, you may find yourself being self-deceived. If your heart is in, with, and for the world – then YOU ARE THERE! Please don’t miss this: We cannot love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths – if we love this world. It’s a physical & spiritual impossibility. We follow our heart. When sin is president or just resident in our lives, we fall in love with the things of this world and out of love with Jesus. I submit this is epidemic today.
• Around 1946 J.R. Baxter wrote the widely popular gospel song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” In fact, many of the great gospel tunes about going to heaven and just can’t wait – were written in the first half or ¾ of the 20th Century and do you know why? Because those were difficult days (I.E. 2 World Wars, Other Wars, the Great depression, etc) and people were longing for their heavenly home. They knew God had a better place prepared for them. Today our hearts, which deceive, defile, and direct, tend to tell us that “THIS IS ABOUT AS GOOD AS IT GETS” and we buy into the lie. That is the problem with the heart.