Follow Jesus Not Your Heart
One of the most effective lies ever given to man from the forces of darkness has been, “follow your heart.” Seems like a pretty harmless saying doesn’t it? I’ve found that Satan’s most impressive lies are those that sound the most like truth. In fact, this sentiment has rung so true with people, that even Christians are buying into it, with some believing that such a thing is justified by the Bible. What is interesting is that the Scriptures actually warn us to be weary of our hearts. The prophet Jeremiah warns,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” -Jeremiah 17:9
Notice the strength of the language there when he states that the heart is “deceitful above all things.” This is quite the statement, a statement that should strike fear into anyone who relies upon their heart for understanding and determining truth. Jesus also warns of this by saying,
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”- Matthew 15:18-19
If you believed for a moment that Jeremiah 17:9 didn’t apply to you, use the little proof that Jesus gives us here. Have you said terrible things, to or about people; your boss, child, spouse, parents, anyone? If you have, then you my friend have just proven that you are not an exception to Jeremiah 17:9 but are in fact a proof of it. Paul warns us that it is because of the condition of our hearts that we can incur the wrath and judgment of God,
“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” –Romans 2:5
Keep in mind, this is not being written to unbelievers but was written as a stern warning to Roman Christians who were allowing their ethnicities to break apart fellowship. He wanted to draw attention to them that in continuing in their current ways they would be storing for themselves God’s wrath. If I am to be completely honest, this scares the living death out of me. There have been moments where I have been foolish and listened to my heart and in so doing allowed it to become hard and unrepentant.
It is an amazing thing how undiscerning we can be sometimes. How we can fall into the trap of trusting our hearts and in so doing ignoring the truth given to us in the word of God. It is because of this that we now live in a world that is completely clueless as to what truth actually is. We live in a world where in following our hearts we sin against God in a myriad of ways. Now this isn’t me judging, please don’t misunderstand, I have made many of these same mistakes and then some, but as a person saved in Christ and called to speak the truth of God’s word, I feel compelled to write these things for the benefit of all who read this. Many in the church in following their hearts have had sex outside of marriage, had an abortion because a human life didn’t fit into their “plan” or because they weren’t “ready”. The church has fallen into this line of thinking so deeply that some have even begun accepting sins like homosexuality and transgenderism. Now, I have no doubt that people who are homosexual or transgender genuinely feel what they state they feel, but their following the feeling of their heart is no excuse for sin against God who has outright condemned those practices. Remember above, the human heart is deceitful above all things.
The LGBT movement and those who rally to their cause are perfect examples of how true this is. On the other end of the spectrum however are those who alienate and persecute LGBT people who have deceived themselves into believing that the LGBT community is the enemy. I assure you, they are not the enemy, and in thinking and acting in such a way, you too prove to have been deceived. This is why Satan has such a strangle hold on our world right now. We have been taught that to follow our heart is to do what is right, and that just isn’t the case. Following our hearts especially when it goes against Scripture explicitly is to fall into the trap that Satan has been laying for humanity ever since the fall.
Luckily, God is of the mind to deliver us from such a state. In fact the prophet Ezekiel prophesies about it by writing,
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” –Ezekiel 36:26
This is what has occurred to those who are reading that are follow Christ, those who have surrendered their lives to him, serving him in love and truth. Within us, God has replaced our hard hearts with hearts renewed and responsive to him. How is this done? Well the author of Hebrews tells us in writing,
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” –Hebrews 4:12
It is through the Scriptures that we obtain an understanding of the truth. It is through them that we can experience the renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2) and bring under control the urges and inclinations of our hearts.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” –Philippians 4:8
Notice the word “think” at the end of this passage. Paul is commanding the Philippian church to think on the things of God, to think on the things that are good, right, and just. The apostle Peter wrote,
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:13
The word for “prepare” means to actually tuck your robe up and prepare for battle. It is a military term used as a call, and that is exactly what Peter is doing here. He is calling us to be alert, discerning, and prepared, keeping in mind that whatever hardship we might face pales in comparison to what will occur when Christ finally returns. It is through this renewal of our minds, through thinking on the things of God, and preparing ourselves for speaking truth to a world that does not want to hear it that we come to a place where we can stop following our heart. In the end though, we must be sure to keep perspective. In the heat of the moment it is easy to lose focus, to lose perspective on the things that are really important (Col. 3:2). It is in those moments, that we must come to a place where we reflect and think on the word of God so that we may draw from it and strengthen our resolve to finish the race (Heb. 12:1). To end I would like to give you one more text, a text that has been enormously helpful to me in those moments where my heart has almost won out.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:4-5
I pray that this find all of you well, and that we all together as the body come to understand the power of the word of God, and take captive every thought (whether it be from the heart or the mind) and make it obedient to what Christ has done and said. Peace and blessings and again thank you for reading.
With Love in Christ
Justin (A.K.A. The Nerdy Theologian)
It was about seven years ago that I heard these truths for the first time. Up until then every single person in my life, including my parents, told me to follow my heart, that I “deserved to be happy”. Then through various books, the Bible and several sermons, did I finally discover that life was not all about me being happy, and that my feelings were deceptive and selfish triggers. Now I can recognize the lies and wage war on the enemy with the Word and prayer. I live for Christ and my daughters also know the Truth. 🙂
Thank you for this article. My prayer is that it reaches those who, like me, are in desperate need of it.