What you will read below are my speaking notes for the lesson I preached on the evening of 5/18/14. It has not been carefully checked nor was any great care given to write it in proper form. Maybe one of these days I'll have time to do that, but for now I'm posting it as is.
As I'm sure you are aware, todays popular culture has embraced the idea of worshipping self. If you turn on the radio, go to the movies, or watch the TV, you will be bombarded with the idea of "Follow your heart". The "Follow your heart" mantra is now so deeply rooted in our culture that the effects are obvious and disturbing. On the surface, it seems like an innocent slogan, but unfortunately our culture has turned that phrase into, "Do what YOU want, Do what makes YOU happy, happiness is the number one thing in YOUR life. Find happiness in YOUR life at all costs"
If you look at social statistics for the past 30 years you can see where this kind of thinking leads. An incredibly high divorce rate. Rampant drug and alcohol abuse. Consumer debt levels that are higher than ever. Then there is probably the most publicized result of where self-worship leads: murder in the form of abortion. The culture of this country and the law of the land permits the murder of little babies for no other reason than a baby just doesn't fit the lifestyle that the mother wants.
These are all results of a society that is following their heart.
In the United States each year:
- There are 876,000 divorces.
- There are 65,000 deaths due to alcohol and drug use.
- The pornography industry makes an estimated $1.8 Billion in revenue.
- 1 million abortions performed.
These are symptoms of a culture that is following deceitful and desperately sick heart!
The Hebrew word for heart is (לֵב leb) and the Greek word for heart is καρδία(Kardia), which is where we get the English word cardio. According to Strong's Concordance, The heart is mentioned over 800 times in the Bible. Now I didn’t have a chance to study all 800+ mentions of the heart, so I hope you brought your Bibles as we have plenty of material to try to cover in a short amount of time. It’s obvious that the word heart in Jeremiah 17 is not referring to the physical organ inside all of us. So what does the Bible mean when it speaks about the heart?
Answering that question is not as easy as one might think. Just as our current medical community can't agree on the definition of the word "mind", Biblical scholars still have differing opinions about the definition of the heart. However, In general the word heart can be defined as the center or seat of physical and spiritual life. According to scripture the heart is responsible for a man's thoughts and beliefs, his will, his emotions and his conscience. Jesus accused the Pharisees of thinking evil in their hearts in Matthew 9:4. Romans 10:10 states for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation. The heart is also attributed emotions such as Joy, gladness and sorrow. Just as the heart organ is at the center of our circulatory system and provides oxygenated blood for our bodies to keep working, our spiritual heart also feeds our thoughts and actions. Proverbs 4:23 warns us
and Luke 6:45 says
So let's look at all the information we have so far. We know that the scriptures tell us that the heart is desperately sick and more deceitful than all else. We also know that our hearts are at the very center of what we do, believe, feel, say, and think. And we know that we live in a culture that promotes following the desires of that very deceitful and sick heart. Is there any wonder why we have a society in moral decline?
From early on the human race has had a heart problem. Mankind hadn't been around for very long when in Genesis 6 starting in verse 5 it says
And we know that God did that by bringing a flood that killed every living thing except for what was on the ark that Noah built out of obedience to God's command. Skip a few chapters to chapter 8 starting in verse 20 we pick up after the flood waters had receded and Noah and his family along with all the animals have come off the ark.
What we see in verse 21 is that God knows that the heart of man will always be sick. We also see throughout the Old Testament that the Lord had plans for changing our hearts. I wasn't able to be here this morning to hear Chuck’s lesson, but I understand from what I read on our Facebook page in summary of his lesson, that he mentioned prophesies as evidence of Biblical accuracy and proof of its trustworthiness. Let’s take a look at a few of those prophesies that mention the heart specifically. In Genesis chapter 17 we see that God made a Covenant of Circumcision of the flesh with Abraham, but later we see in Deuteronomy chapter 30 verse 6 that what God really desired was for God to change them through a circumcision of the heart. Then of course we have God giving Moses the written law and commandments, but then we see what God really desired in Jeremiah 31:33 was for His law to be written on their hearts and minds. God knew that it was going to take heart surgery to fix what was broken inside of us.
Of course we know that God accomplished this by sending His only son to pay the price for our sins (Romans 4:25). We also know that through obeying the Gospel that we are added by God to The Church which is His Body (Acts 2:47, 1 Corinthians 12:27). In Colossians 2:9 we finally see that God has fulfilled His promise to us by performing surgery on our hearts.
You see, the only way to cure that desperately sick and deceitful heart is through the circumcision of Christ and continuing to accepting God's Laws into your mind and heart.
When we obey the Gospel of Christ our hearts and minds are transformed by God. However, us in the Lord’s Church are warned against letting our guard down even after this operation takes place.
So now we finally get to what we should be shouting from the mountaintops in opposition to "follow your heart" which is "Follow God's Will!" Jesus himself told his disciples in John 4:34 that “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” In Luke 22:42 Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane saying:
Jesus was completely dedicated to doing the will of His Father to the point that he endured humiliation, torture, and death on the cross for our benefit.
Naturally that raises the question, “If God’s will for his Son was humiliation, torture, and death on the cross, what is God's will for us?” We are told in 1 Timothy 2:3-4
and in 2 Peter 3:9,
We also see in 1 Thessalonians 4:3
God wishes that everyone come to know the truth and obey the gospel of His Son Jesus the Christ to become sanctified which means set apart for Him.
Have you bought into the lie of our culture to follow your heart? Paul wrote in Romans 12:2
Once again we see that following the will of God is the thing we ought to be striving for, not trying to blend in with the world.
I want to encourage you all today to seek first to do the will of God. We all have friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances that are walking around out there today with a sick and deceitful heart that they are being told that they should follow, without knowing that doing so will destroy them. We must let them know that there is a cure found through an operation and that God's operating table is always ready. Maybe you are sitting out there tonight with a sick heart and you are wanting to change. If so you know you have been following that deceitful heart for way too long, and we urge you don't wait any longer.