Decision Making and the Deceptions of our Hearts

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (Amplified)

Verse 9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]

The heart is deceitful above all things. Yet how many of us, including myself, place our trust in our own hearts? “I feel…” is a constant phrase in our thoughts and on our tongues, and far too often we base our decisions and actions on the shallowness of our human heart and what we feel.

In this verse, “heart” is from the Hebrew word leb and refers to the soul of man; the mind; knowledge; thinking; reflection; memory; inclination; determination of will; seat of appetites, emotions, and passions. This word is not referring to the regenerated spirit of a man. Yet while we are on this earth, our corrupt human “heart” will still be with us, and we must learn to not trust it, even if all of our human nature tells us it is okay to do so. We must submit our hearts to God, for only he knows our hearts. We may think we know ourselves, but compared to God, our knowledge fails. God knows us.

Every day we are called to crucify our flesh, and allow God to create us new. This is a forever process as long as we are still on this earth. Consider the words of Jesus, and Paul to the Ephesians:

Mark 7:21-23 (Jesus speaking) says that evil comes from the heart of men, plain and simple. But that does not give us excuse! Ephesians 4:20-24 states that we are to “…put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness..” (NKJV)

But notice, this is not a get saved and be forever clean proclamation. The Word says to be “constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph 4:23, Amplified). It is a process that never ends as long as we are within this world. Neither is this a passive blessing that will force itself on us as we go about our daily lives. We are to “put on the new nature,” a phrase which suggests action on our part. The word “put” implies “to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self.” This is something we are to do, just as we are to “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Colossians 3 expounds on this, explaining that we are to put to death those evil aspects of ourselves, and to put on the character of Jesus.

So if we know we can’t trust our emotions, that we can’t even trust ourselves to truly know our own hearts, though we are continuously to be working towards greater Christlikeness, then what do we do? While some things are obvious in the scripture, there are several decisions we face in life that aren’t so clear cut. Should I take this job or that job? Should I donate to this cause? The list could go on forever.  How can we ever make a decision about anything? Verse 15 of Colossians 3 gives us a great insight. In the Amplified it says:

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

As we spend time in prayer over various issues, and as we learn to practice spending time in the presence of God, we will become familiar with His peace – and the Word says that it is that very peace which will guide us.  Just as an umpire makes the final call, we must let peace which comes from Christ rule in our hearts. If we are seeking God, and seeking His new nature and the crucifying of our old nature, then we can rest on His promises of guidance and peace.

Please note, however, that true decisive peace must be based on prayerful time spent in the presence of God. Seek God, and seek His presence to be sure you are not being deceived by your own heart and desires. While all decisions can’t be answered directly via the scriptures (think of the “which job should I take” question), a decision formed in the fire of true God sought peace will always be in accordance to the teachings of the Word of God.

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