Saturday, June 10, 2006

God's view of our hearts

by David Black (1762-1806), a pastor in Edinburg, Scotland
"The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked." Jeremiah 17:9
True and faithful is this testimony of God. Some men may amuse themselves with empty, high sounding descriptions of the dignity of human nature, and the strong self-sufficiency of man; but mature, humble, Spirit-illumined minds will agree with the truthfulness of this text: that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

The deceit that lodges in the heart is so complicated and wide-ranging, that it is impossible to trace it in all its windings.  The deceitfulness of the heart appears from mens' general disposition on all occasions to justify their own conduct.

When we observe sin in others, their bad behavior strikes us at once.  Their sin appears to us in vibrant colors and we are quick to condemn. But in our own case, the action is seen through a deceitful medium. Our perception of ourselves is perverted by self-love.  A thousand maneuvers are employed, if not to vindicate, at least to apologize for our conduct. If we cannot give good reason for the sinful action itself, we attempt to justify its guilt due to the pressures of the unusual circumstances we faced. We were, after all, placed in such and such a particular situation, which we could not avoid. Our temptations were especially strong and we did better than others would facing such stressful circumstances. And on balance the usual graciousness of our conduct is more than sufficient to overbalance any little irregularities. Thus, on all occasions, our deceitful hearts endeavor to justify our sin and coddle our sin nature.  [[Only by being crucified with Christ, by dying to our sin natures daily, and "by the Spirit, killing the deeds of the flesh" can we strive against our deceitful hearts]].

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