“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. – 1 John 4:15-16
Ever ask yourself, “Why did I ever do that”? Jeremiah 17:9 gets right at the heart of the matter; more deceitful than all else and desperately sick. The link above will take you to the biblehub.com entry for that verse, where you can discover that the phrase “desperately sick” could be rendered “incurable”. That diagnosis would seem to paint us into the proverbial corner, wouldn’t it? How is one going to make good on well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions if one’s “decider” is broken with an incurable spiritual ailment?
The good news is that we are offered a spiritual heart transplant. Really, give that new heart free reign, and it can permeate the entire being, transforming and renewing everything!
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
That sure sounds like good news to me! If you haven’t made that decision yet, I pray you will put it at the top of your list and not put it off any longer.
I have been having a conversation with the Holy Spirit the past couple of days. For you who think “conversation” has a narrow definition, the Spirit has been making certain impressions on my heart, which then leak into my mind when I am in a meditative mood (often). In turn, I prayerfully pose questions to the Spirit, asking for clarification. Often a pertinent verse of scripture will come to mind; a process that is only possible if one has taken the trouble to put verses of scripture into one’s mind in the first place. One of those, John 16:13, is relevant to the description that I am giving:
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
In any event, the this conversation concerns several notable times in my life when my circumstance turned dramatically and more-or-less permanently for the better, as a direct result of someone close to me either making a decision which negatively impacted them long term, or in another case, absorbed some grievous abuse such that I did not become a target of the same. I think I will not share the details of these, since the persons I am thinking of are deceased now and unable to consent to my sharing.
However, as I meditated on these life-changing events, I was led to a couple of passages. The first is Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
All things – even decisions made of those close to us – decisions which proved to be good for me as this passage in Romans 8 promises even while apparently detrimental to the person following the path they decided upon. As I contemplated these situations from my past, the Spirit showed me that I was, in a way, a beneficiary of Judas’ decision to betray Jesus. (You can read about the beginning of that in John chapter 13.) We all needed Jesus to go to the cross to bear our sin and the death-wage we earned though it. Judas played a part in that, and you can see that Jesus acknowledged that it was necessary. If you follow the story, you find out that it did not end well for Judas, at least in life. Jesus Himself then suffered in our stead on that cruel Roman cross that we might be restored to the position of having God as our Father. I find it humbling to consider that I may thrive as a result of the troubles of others. Did God “do bad things” to them that I might prosper? No, no, no. He is not like that. Their choices were their own. (And in Jesus’ case, it was the reason He came.) Yet mysteriously, His grace persists, causing even the most unlikely of “all things” to work out for my good.
workmanship. His. He is the author of the universe and everything in
it. As beautiful and majestic and mysterious as the creation is to us
– though we have extremely limited understanding – and we have
not personally seen it in its original unsullied “very good”
Genesis 1:31 state. This lack of insight extends to us:
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:2
As His workmanship,
we ought not lay claim to glory for good works as though they are of
our own manufacture. The good works we are called to walk in are
specially prepared for us. To do them is our purpose. We were
uniquely crafted to be able to carry them out. If my relationship
with Him is not one of open communication, of diligently seeking Him,
and listening with rapt attention, how will I ever discern what I am
made to do? If I come to my understanding without Him, I will
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
So King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned…He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord. 2 Chronicles 12:13-15
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12
Yet when we align with Him, things are right.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
Though God is sovereign, He restrains Himself in this: He lets us choose which way we will go. Where there is no choice, there can be no love. He is love; the very definition of it. What this means is that outside of Him, there is no love. Perhaps there is that which we would call love, but which falls far short of His love for it lacks the power of the divine.
Love is not the
total of His workmanship in us, but it first in the list. Also, the
fact that He lets us choose implies we have the power to live up to
the promise or to go another way.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24