Jeremiah 17:5-10Jeremiah 17:5-10 (Amp Classic)
5 Thus says the Lord: Cursed [with great evil] is the strong man who trusts in and relies on frail man, making weak [human] flesh his arm, and whose mind and heart turn aside from the Lord.
6 For he shall be like a shrub or a person naked and destitute in the desert; and he shall not see any good come, but shall dwell in the parched places in the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
7 [Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.
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]?
10 I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (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 7:21-23Mark 7:21-23 (NKJV)
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." (Jesus speaking) says that evil comes from the heart of men, plain and simple. But that does not give us excuse! Ephesians 4:20-24Ephesians 4:20-24 (NKJV)
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you 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. 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” (Ephesians 4:23Ephesians 4:23 (Amp Classic)
And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], 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 6:10-20Ephesians 6:10-20 (NKJV)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. ).
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? Colossians 3:15 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.