“The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” —Jeremiah 17:9
During my father’s first official visit to Mumbai City, he set out to do some shopping in this vast city before returning home after work. In one shop’s showcase, he spied a spectacular dress shirt. It was as white as snow. Although it was expensive, he bought it! When he arrived home, he was eager to wear his new shirt, but he thought he should first wash it before he wore it. However, as he pulled the shirt out from the laundry, he discovered the cloth had shrunk and the material fell apart in his hands. He had been deceived!
This is just one small example of how people deceive each other. Scripture teaches us that the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked—so deceptive, in fact, that the consequences can be eternal (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
My wife and I have a ministry among Asian Indian students in Arlington, Texas. The majority of students to whom we minister come from a Hindu background. They do not believe that every human is born with a propensity to sin. As we share the gospel with them, many have difficulty accepting the idea that they are sinners; they believe they are innocent and good. John Wesley’s sermon addresses this notion that people are intent on proving the innocence of humanity. Wesley references the opinion of the ancient heathens, who claimed that, at heart, people were generally virtuous and happy.
Some Christians carry a similar belief that humanity is, for the most part, very wise, virtuous, and happy. Listening to a regular diet of sugarcoated sermons, some may feel that all is good, and there is no problem within them! But the Scripture is crystal clear when it says, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It’s a rhetorical question to which Wesley replies decisively—that only God can know one’s heart because He created us. Further, He can assist each of us in knowing our heart, and He purifies us by faith!
Is your very own heart wicked? Does it deceive you into thinking you are good? John’s first epistle tells us that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). And yet, before we lose all hope, His Word also reminds us that those who are born again in Christ can be saved from a deceitful and wicked life. May each of us echo the words of King David, who cried, “Create in me a pure heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). Lord, let it be so in me!
Premal Awasarmal is lead pastor at Arlington Naya Jeevan Church of the Nazarene in Arlington, Texas, USA, and Asian Indian coordinator of the West Texas District.
To read the full text of the sermon, click here.
Written for Coffee Break.