OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


The word “heart” in the Bible often refers to the mind instead of the organ that pumps blood.  In Proverbs 4:23 this is confirmed.  The passage reveals that the heart can think.  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  This element of man is very important.  Man is to love God with all this heart (Matt. 22:37).  The heart is also the origin of a faith that enables one to be saved (Rom. 10:9, 10).

            The heart by itself, however, is a dangerous thing.  Jeremiah put it in these words:  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it?”(Jer. 17:9).  To be safe, the heart must submit itself to God and His will.  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).  Sadly, many will not allow their heart to be governed by God.  They trust their own thinking and reasoning.  Oftentimes we find individuals of this number who are seriously deceived.  Their condition is serious because they have placed their souls in jeopardy by trusting their heart.

            In the matter of salvation, many have trusted their heart instead of the Word of God.  The Bible stresses that baptism is essential to salvation.  Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus while in a penitent state.  Seeing his humble condition, he commanded him, saying:  “And now why tarriest thou?  arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).  Saul had to be baptized in order to have his sins forgiven.  When many are confronted with this truth of holy writ, they reject it.  They will often respond, saying:  “I know in my heart that I am right with God even though I have not been baptized.”  Here is a person who trusts his heart instead of God’s Word.  This person needs to have Jeremiah’s words emphasized to him.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it?”  Instead of relying on the heart, this person needs to rely on God’s Word.  Psalm 33:4 declares:  “For the word of the Lord is right…”  One’s heart can be wrong, but the Word of God is always right.

            Another area where individuals trust their heart instead of God’s Word involves sin.  Sin is the transgression of God’s will (I John 3:4).  It is difficult to imagine any one really believing that they can involve themselves in sin and still be acceptable in God’s sight.  Yet, it is done on a regular basis.  One of the most notable areas wherein this is happening involves marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  God’s will in this area is so simple.  “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress:  but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7:2, 3).  The only exception to this law is found in Matthew 19:9.  Jesus taught that if one party in the marriage commits fornication, the other is free to divorce and remarry.      

            Divorce and remarriage is rampant in our society.  Many divorces do not involve fornication.  Many will say that they divorced because they do not love one another any more.  Abuse, financial difficulties, in-law relationships, and mental health problems are also causes of many divorces.  None of these reasons, however, gives one the right to divorce and remarry in God’s sight.  Those who do are living in adultery.  Yet, many live in adultery and believe that all is okay.  They will say such things as:  “I believe in my heart that God accepts this new marriage.  In my heart, I believe that God wants me to be happy.  In my heart I know that God will forgive the wrongs I have committed and permit this relationship.  In my heart, God would never want me to live by myself the rest of life.  In my heart, I feel God has blessed me with his new union and the children we have.”  The list is endless of the “In my heart, I believe…” statements that are used to justify adulterous unions.  Each one of them shows that the individual’s heart has been deceived.  One is trusting his heart more than he is trusting God’s divine will.

            We find many examples of those who trusted in their own heart instead of trusting God’s Word in Scripture.  One event happened in the life of Saul, the king of Israel.  Saul was told by Samuel the prophet to go to Gilgal.  There he was to tarry for seven days.  On the seventh day Samuel would come to him, offer the proper sacrifices, and show him what he was to do (I Sam. 10:8).  While Saul was in Gilgal, Jonathan his son smote a garrison of the Philistines.  This enraged the enemy.  “And the Philis-tines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and the people as the sand which is upon the sea shore in the multitude:  and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven” (I Sam. 13:5).  The presence of this mighty force filled the Israelites with fear.  Slowly the troops began to dwindle.  Saul was in a predicament.  He could not leave Gilgal until Samuel came.  His troops, however, were leaving at a rapid pace.  “And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed:  but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him” (I Sam. 13:8).  What was Saul to do?  He waited and waited, but there was no Samuel.  He continued to wait, but the prophet did not come.  “And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings.  And he offered the burnt offering” (I Sam. 13:9).  Saul was now in violation of God’s will.  Many would excuse Saul because of the circumstances in which he found himself.  He “tried” to obey.  He waited, but no Samuel.  His men were leaving.  The armies of Philistia were approaching.  Therefore, he offered sacrifice out of a good, sincere heart.  Surely the Lord would not condemn him for such an action.  “And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.  And Samuel said, What hast thou done?  And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philitines gathered themselves together at Michmash; therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord:  I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.  And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly:  thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee:  for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue…” (I Sam. 13:10-14a).  What Saul’s heart told him to do conflicted with the Word of God.  The prophet clearly informed him that one’s heart does not take precedence over God’s Word.  Saul transgressed God’s will.  Therefore, his kingdom would come to an end.

This example should be ample warning to all who trust in their hearts instead of trusting God.  Our hearts are deceitful.  They can lie to us.  They can lead us to do things that will harm our souls.  They can lead us to do things that will cause the Lord to reject us.  The only safe way is to follow the Lord’s will explicitly.  “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul:  the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.  The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart:  the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes….Moreover by them is thy servant warned:  and in keeping of them there is great reward (Ps. 19:7-8, 11).