How many times have you heard someone say, “Follow your heart”? Is that sound advice? Can we trust our hearts? Do they consistently tell us the truth and what’s best for us? I’m sure you know they don’t.
Applying these seven principles will protect you from much confusion and pain. They will also bring about a satisfying life that pleases God.
We Have a Universal Heart Problem
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9 NASB)
This describes the heart of every person before he or she comes to Christ. It’s dangerous to blindly trust our desires and to tell our friends and children to follow their hearts. We must guard our hearts from deception and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Just because we experience a desire doesn’t mean it is something that is true or good for us.
We Need a Heart Transplant
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” ( Ez. 36:26 NLT; also see Hebrews 10:16 and Romans 6:3-6)
God gives believers new hearts that want to please Him. The deepest desire of every true believer is to please the Lord.
God’s Word reveals His will and His ways. When our desires go against what He’s revealed we know we are dealing with a deceitful desire, not a desire that is coming from our new spirit. Deceitful desires masquerade as our desires. Our new hearts want to please God so any desire that conflicts with His will is deceitful.
The deepest desire of every true believer is to please the Lord. #joy Click To Tweet
Conflicting Desires Battle Within Us
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Gal. 5:16-17 NLT).
Early in my Christian walk I was confused by the presence of sinful desires. If I was a new creation in Christ, why did I still feel the pull of sin? I was relieved to learn that every Christ-follower has a battle raging within.
Our new natures are holy and righteous like God. But the principle of sin is still very much alive. When we were crucified with Christ we died to sin. In other words, our relationship with sin was broken. It is no longer our identity. The flesh or sinful nature in this context refers to the remnant of the person we were before we were born again and given a new nature.
Deceitful Desires Don’t Disappear With Time
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephes. 4:22-24 NIV).
Our flesh doesn’t improve with time. Getting older doesn’t automatically make us kinder or better people. This should motivate us to walk in the Spirit. The Spirit provides the power to “put off” our old self and to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11). The Spirit makes us loving and kind (Gal. 5:22-23). His power delivers us from the undertow of sin. As we practice obeying God we learn to discern good from evil and aren’t so easily manipulated by our deceitful desires (Heb. 5:14).
We Can Strengthen Our Good Inclinations
“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living” (Rom. 6:16-18 NLT).
We choose our master through our obedience. When we sin we empower sin to rule over us. Our sinful desires grow stronger. When we submit to God the desire to do right increases. We experience the liberty of righteous living.
A Close Relationship with the Lord Changes Our Desires
“Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4 NASB).
Enjoying Jesus transforms us into His image. New desires that reflect His goodness emerge.
Transformed Hearts Lead to Transformed Lives
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (1 Cor. 3:18 NIV).
God changes hearts in an instant. But He chose to partner with us in our transformation instead of making it automatic and instantaneous. Transformation into the likeness of Christ is a lifelong process. As we hang out with Jesus, we begin to look and act like Him.
Dear Father, thank You for explaining the battle that we feel inside. Thank You that I am not alone in this but that You are at work inside of me giving me the desire and power to please You. Protect me from the deceitful desires that rise up within me. Grant me the grace to practice Your presence moment by moment. In Jesus’ name.
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To learn more about deceitful desires check out Give Yourself a Break.
1st photo by: Laura Ockel; 2nd photo by: Rachel Walker; 3rd photo by: CloudVisual: 4th photo by: Christi Zinn: 5th photo by: Scott Webb; 6th photo by: Samantha Sophia; 7th photo by: Lesly B. Juarez