*This entry is adapted from my devotional The Power of 21 Days: Identity in Christ. More info here.
You can’t trust yourself. Your heart will lie to you.
If you’re like me, you’ve heard these phrases a time or two hundred, likely from well-meaning Christians. This line of thought is taken from a verse in Jeremiah, that describes the heart as deceitful above all things and beyond cure. But then there are other verses, such as Proverbs 4:23, which tells us, Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
So which is it? Is your heart deceitful and beyond cure, or the headwaters from which everything you do flows?
Jeremiah is describing our condition before Christ, when our hearts were bad. And if you have a bad heart, everything you do will flow from that. Jesus confirmed this, when he said that a bad tree bears bad fruit, and cannot bear good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).
Jeremiah got it right in describing what he saw around him, but his words are not the final words. Ezekiel comes on the scene shortly thereafter, and declares, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
Ezekiel saw what was around him, but he also saw what was to come. He didn’t just see the problem, he saw the remedy. In today’s terms, we refer to this as salvation.
Salvation is not about making a commitment to attend church or to become a better person. It’s about transformation. When this takes place, God gives you a new heart with new desires—a heart that wants to love Him, that doesn’t want to go the way of the bad father anymore. If you try to go the way of your True Father without having your heart transformed, you’ll only end up tired and frustrated. As Jesus said, if you make the tree good (by transforming the heart), the fruit will be good as well (Matthew 12:33).
In one of his letters, the Apostle Paul prayed that Jesus would dwell in the people’s hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17). If their hearts were still beyond cure, it would not be possible for Jesus to dwell in them; their hearts had to be made new.
The heart is central. Don’t bury it. Don’t try to suppress it, out of fear that it will deceive you. You can trust the heart that Jesus gave you. You can trust yourself, because He has made you new.