Summary: Your own worst enemy is your inner person, the invisible center of your being, what we often call the heart.

The Enemy Resides Within

(Jeremiah 17:5-18)

1. As my husband, the county highway commissioner, was driving to the hospital for treatment of his painful leg, he decided to use the valet parking service so he wouldn’t have to walk far. Staring at his official-looking vehicle, one of the valets asked my husband if he was driving a government car. "Why, yes," my husband replied, surprised by the question. "In fact it’s an unmarked police car."

"Wow!" the young man said, sliding behind the wheel. "This will be the first time I’ve been in the front seat."

[Source: Reader’s Digest]

3. Why do we have wars, the FBI, and police departments? Why was this fellow "in the back seat?""

4. This question divides us philosophically. Some would say (1) because of environment, others would say (2) because of upbringing; others would say (3) because of genetics. We would say, "yes" to all of the above; but underlying it all is the fact that we have hearts that are prone to sin.

Main Idea: Your own worst enemy is your inner person, the invisible center of your being, what we often call the heart.

I. Trusting Your HEART or God? (5-8)

Verse 5 reads, ""Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

Proverbs 28:26, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered."

A. Upon WHOM do you depend?

In Scripture, we see a direct correlation between trust in God and trust in His Word; indeed, the way to trust God is to trust His Word. In a sense, we might say that faith is taking God at His Word.

Outside of a reversed order, note how closely verses 5-8 follow the thought of Psalm 1. Let’s turn there for a moment.

Romans tells us that faith comes from hearing the Word of God…

You can know the Word of God without trusting in the Word of God; but you cannot trust the Word of God without knowing it.

B. Consequences: DRY shrub or stream-fed TREE?

1. The person who trusts God and spends time in His Word may not seem to have an immediate advantage, but over time, the contrast is between a dry shrub or stream-fed tree.

2. Soon many of us will be planting tomato plants. Nothing like garden grown tomatoes. Store-bought ones are actually green and "gassed" to turn red. One man told me a story about how he had gone on vacation and had not completely turned off his garden hose…came back to the most fruitful, beautiful garden he had ever seen…

3. No matter where life takes us, there is a richness, a depth, a fruitfulness that comes from a life spent walking with the Lord…

4. Yet it is so difficult to convince others to take that course, even when they see it. The problem is that only God can give the appetite for the Scriptures that brings such great spiritual nutrition. The natural man is like a dying cancer patient to whom food has become detestable. The spirit-led man is like a teen-age boy who has just played vigorous sports and is sitting before a table of fresh hamburgers.

5. This creates a philosophic divide for churches: do we try to lure the un-hungry with candy, or do we serve the meat of the Word for those who are genuinely hungry?

You can follow your feelings, or you can follow the Lord. They are not always together.

II. Alert to Your DECEITFUL Heart or Oblivious? (9-10)

A. How ALERT are you? (9)

1. Ecclesiastes 9:3, "Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives."

2. This is an important, crucial verse to help understand yourself and others!

3. Difference between depravity and sinful heart.

Charles Feinberg comments, "The heart, "signifies the total inner being and includes reason."

• The Hebrew word translated "deceitful" means "tortuous, crooked, corrupt"

• The Hebrew word translated "beyond cure" means "gravely ill and incurable"

• Note the points on the back of your insert: this is some of the most important relational information you may ever see…

B. God knows your heart EXACTLY (10)

Hebrews 4:12, " 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."

1. Heart and KIDNEYS

2. Soul and SPIRIT

You can follow your feelings, or you can follow the Lord. They are not always together.

III. Long Term Faith or SHORT Term Feeling? (11-18)

A. A bird hatching the wrong EGGS (11)

The word for "partridge" might actually refer to a sand grouse.

The most famous egg parasites are birds. Cuckoos and cowbirds, for example, sneak their eggs into the nests of other species. The victims often accept an interloper egg and raise the chick.

The people in Jeremiah’s day had become rich dishonestly, and had forsaken the Lord. Just as parasitic birds left their deceived surrogate, so riches wrongly gained would not last.

B. Israel forsaking the LORD (12-13)

Their names will be "written in the dust" instead of eternity. They have lived for the moment, and their reward was short lived.

Kids love beaches -- and to do beach art. Castles or carvings into the sand…

C. Jeremiah FAITHFUL over the long haul (14-18)

You see here a suffering man, a persecuted man, a man who is calling upon the Lord for help and vindication. Faithfulness means serving the Lord in both the good and bad times.

You can follow your feelings, or you can follow the Lord. They are not always together.


How can you begin addressing you propensity to go your own way?

Back side:

Deceitful heart syndrome shows itself within marriage in the following ways:

(1) Selective MEMORY. We forget about 99% of the things we do wrong.* Yet we remember very well the way our spouse wrongs us and the things he or she has done. So when your spouse says, "You did this or that," believe him/her! Your spouse’s memory of your wrong doings is a lot more accurate than your own!

*Kennedy, D. James, Evangelism Explosion, 1970, (Tyndale), p. 36

(2) Rearranging Reality. Not only do we naturally conveniently forget, we change reality in our minds. Like Aaron, we say that the golden calf just "came out" (Exodus 32:24). Sometimes we are conscious of intentionally remembering things differently than they occurred, but often we are so used to lying to ourselves that we are unaware of it!

(3) Understandability. We consider our sin (often a sinful response to a wrong done us) as excusable in light of how our spouse has treated us. Our wrong is justified in light of his/her treatment of us. The giveaway phrase is "I’m not perfect, but...."

Larry Crabb writes, "...we stubbornly regard our interpersonal failures not as inexcusably selfish choices, but as understandable mistakes. The things our spouses do to us seem more like the former; the things we do seem more like the latter..."

(Men and Women, Enjoying the Difference, p. 69)

If your apologies are more like, "If I did anything wrong, I’m sorry" rather than, "I should not have done or said this, I was wrong. I have no excuse. Please forgive me," you are evidencing this mentality. When you give yourself permission to do wrong in the name of consistency "You did the same thing or worse," you are on the wrong track. You need to isolate your wrong from the wrongs done to you.

Symptoms of understandability also include:

(A) I’m not as bad as my spouse--he/she is the real culprit; my spouse is to blame.

(B) I’m better than my mom/dad was, so why doesn’t my spouse treat me at least as well as my mom/dad did?

How to address Deceitful Heart Syndrome:

(1) Force yourself to face the truth about yourself. Cultivate a love for the truth, even if it makes you look bad...contemplate....meditate on the above verses.

(2) Always focus in on your sin, not your spouse’s. Your spouse may never deal with his/her sin, but you can always ask forgiveness for your sin, even if it seems lesser.

(3) Believe your spouse (see next point) and others. If several close people tell you something about yourself, assume it to be true even if it is your instinct to deny it!

(4) Humble yourself before the LORD. Search the Scriptures with a view toward seeing yourself. Constantly contemplate the above-mentioned tendencies, recognize them, and act in light of them.

(5) Ask, but stop demanding.