As you study through the Old Testament, it is hard to understand why the nation of Israel so often rebelled against God. It seems that often the more God tried to bless them, the more they chose to rebel against Him. Why is that? Why do we sometimes deliberately do what we know is wrong? Jeremiah tells us that the problem lies in the human heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Warren Wiersbe writes in his commentary – “The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart…” From today’s passage of scripture we see that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.
First consider the wickedness of the heart. Scripture teaches us that the human heart has a sickness called sin. The sickness of sin began when the first man and woman chose to disobey God. God said to Adam and Eve:
Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The death God spoke of was not just a physical death, but a spiritual death as well. This spiritual death can be seen, not only through the actions of Adam and Eve (see Gen 3:7-10), but also in the actions of their children and their children’s children and every generation that has followed after them. The Bible teaches us that we all are born with a sin nature. “I was born guilty, was a sinner from the moment my mother conceived me.” (Ps 51:5 Complete Jewish Bible) So sinful is the human heart that Jeremiah called it – ‘desperately wicked.’ Literally that phrase means that our heart is ‘incurably sick.’ There is nothing that we can do to heal ourselves spiritually.
Not only is our heart desperately wicked, it is also deceitful above all things. (see Jer 17:9) This was the problem with the nation of Israel and with many of us as well. Sin causes us to sometimes believe that disobeying God is better than obeying Him. How can we overcome the tendency to follow after the desires of our foolish heart? The answer lies in our relationship with God.
First, we must realize that God knows what is in our heart
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer 17:10) God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Secondly, we must seek God for a cleansing of the heart
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you…” (Ezel 36:25-26)
Thirdly, we must make God and His will the supreme desire of our heart
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…” (Mt 22:37)
May Israel’s error be a lesson for us all. In closing, consider this prayer of David:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)