Adapted from an article by Roderick Cyr
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
According to this verse, the heart has two defining characteristics: it is deceitful, and it is desperately wicked. Contrary to popular opinion, we human beings are not intrinsically good, with just a few moral wrinkles to iron out.
Roderick Cyr writes about the battle that wages in our own hearts:
“The heart insists on ruling our lives and refuses to yield to God. However, it happily allows us to act religiously and play church as long as we do not surrender our entire lives to God. As long as we allow the heart to remain in control of key decisions and to pursue cherished sins, it has no problem with us pretending Jesus is Lord and calling ourselves Christian.”
Mr. Cyr goes on to mention 3 common arguments the heart uses to deceive us into justifying sin and allowing it to flourish:
#1: Nobody is perfect
This is certainly true, but is not an excuse for sin. We should not justify disobedience to God by declaring we are wired to sin. Instead, God calls us to lives of holiness that honor Him.
#2: That’s legalism
In order to reconcile the disparity between God’s expectations and our everyday reality, Christians sometimes trumpet the danger of legalism. Legalism is indeed dangerous, but the fact we can’t always do something God wants with unbridled enthusiasm is not an excuse not to do it.
#3: God wants me happy
Instead of adopting the sacrificial model Jesus taught and lived, we often choose the option that gratifies. Then, to avoid any guilt or angst over the decision, we tell ourselves that God wants His people happy, satisfied and comfortable. “Happiness” is not God’s highest value for our lives. His highest value is for us to be like His Son.
I encourage you to examine your life and see if any of these deceitful justifications of sin influence your decisions, behavior or worldview. If so, ask God to remove them from your heart and prevent them from deceiving you any longer.