Summary: We can’t rely on what our hearts tell us; we must only trust in God.

Jeremiah 17:5-10

“The Deceitful Heart”

By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer,

Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,

Newport News, VA

I was talking with a very troubled man this past week.

He is a 50 year old drug addict and alcoholic who has been married several times, has children that he has never spoken to, and has never been able to keep down a job.

He recently was released from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, and proudly told me that he has been sober for 46 days.

He said that he feels good for the first time in a long time…

…that he has been attending a church in Virginia Beach…

…and this time…

…this time…

…he’s going to stay sober.

Then he asked me, “What do you know about sanctification?”

Well, sanctification is a fairly complicated theological term…

…but I told him that sanctification is the journey which Christians begin after they have repented of their sins, and have made the decision to allow God to create in them a new heart by making Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.

Sanctification is the journey toward perfection…which none of us will ever achieve on this earth…

…but it is the daily process of putting off the old and taking on the newness of life in Christ.

He then said, “Now that I’m not doing drugs or drinking anymore, I still have one vice that eats away at me. It’s lust. How do I deal with lust?”

Well, in whatever form it takes, is this not what every human being who has walked the earth--since the Fall of humankind-- when we became aware of the knowledge of good and evil-- has had to confront?

How do I deal with lust?

How do I deal with what my flesh desires, but what the Holy Spirit of God knows is not good for me?

Some people just decide to embrace the lust, and turn their whole hearts away from God.

And make no mistake, this is a decision.

It’s a decision to follow the cravings of one’s own flesh which never fails to leave one in dire straits.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.’”

Isn’t it interesting that those who depend on their flesh for their strength… “will not see prosperity when it comes.”

What does that mean?

Could it mean that they will not be satisfied with life no matter what happens?

Even if the deepest desires of their hearts are met…they will not be happy, they will remain unsatisfied…

…even though this is what they have been seeking.

Because the deepest desires of our hearts is not what we truly need.

Let’s face it, our hearts are deceitful.

We cannot rely on them.

The Lord tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that “The heart is deceitful above all things…”

Obviously there is something radically wrong with humankind.

We rob each other.

We lie to each other.

We abuse each other.

We rape each other.

We step on each other.

We even kill each other.

And God, through the prophet Jeremiah, puts His finger right on the central problem…

…right on the weakest place…

…the most wounded place…

…the place with the most defects…

…the human heart!

In Matthew Chapter 15 Jesus declares: “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander…”

And there is no satisfaction in these things, there is no love in these things, there is no hope in these things.

And when people live without hope, they become afraid of life…and they try to relieve themselves of this fear by either hurting themselves or others.

No wonder there is such a high rate of depression.

No wonder there is such a high rate of crime.

No wonder there are so many killings.

No wonder there are so many suicides.

People are dwelling in “parched places.”

There is an either/or decision in life.

Either we trust in our “flesh,” the self-centered “flesh substance common to men and beasts” as John A.T. Robinson puts it or we stand within the Spirit-filled power of a relationship with God.

Psychologists, psychotherapists, and the producers of prescription drugs have come a long way, but there is one void in the human life which they cannot fill. There is one thing that they cannot fix.

And that is the need for the hope that comes only through living daily in a personal relationship with God.

And in order to live in a personal relationship with God, we must be willing to trust Him.

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