Love is often not what we have been led by our heart to believe
by Patte Smith on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 11:20am
I do not trust my own heart,
but I can trust it to Him whose Name is True and Faithful.
~ Meshell Sirearl
We should be wary of trusting our 'heart' since God makes it clear that it can and will lead us away from the love of the Truth. Jeremiah 17:9 declares: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" John Gill explains the evil of men's hearts in his thought-provoking commentary of this passage:
The heart is deceitful above all things. This is the source of idolatry and creature confidence of the Jews and the sins which were the cause of their ruin. Though what is here said is particularly applicable to their hearts, yet is in general true of the heart of every man; which is "deceitful", and deceiving; and puts a cheat upon the man himself. It deceives him with respect to sin. It proposes it to him under the notion of pleasure. It promises him a great deal in it, but does not yield... It is all fancy and imagination; a mere illusion and a dream; and what it gives is very short lived. It is but for a season, and ends in bitterness and death. It proposes it under the notion of profit. It promises him riches, by such and such sinful ways it suggests; but, when he has got them, he is the loser by them. These deceitful riches choke the Word, cause him to err from the faith, pierce him through with many sorrows, and endanger the loss of his soul. It promises honour and preferment in the world, but promotes him to shame. It promises him liberty, but brings him into bondage.It promises him impunity, peace, and security, when sudden destruction comes. It persuades him that he is a very knowing person, when he is blind and ignorant, and knows nothing as he ought to know; and only deceives himself; for there is no true knowledge but of God in Christ, and of a crucified Christ, and salvation by Him. (See 1 Corinthians 3:18) It deceives in the business of religion. It makes a man believe that he is a very holy and righteous man, and in a fair way for heaven, when he is far from that. It suggests to him that concupiscence or lust, or the inward workings of the mind, are not sin. It represents other sins as mere peccadillos, as little sins, and not to be regarded; and even puts the name of virtue on vices; profuseness and prodigality it calls liberality, and doing public good. Covetousness has the name of frugality and good economy. It buoys up with the purity of human nature and it puts the profane sinner upon trusting to the absolute mercy of God, and hides from him Jis justice and holiness. It puts others upon depending upon the outward acts of religion, or upon speculative notions, to the neglect of real godliness. (See James 1:22). The man of a deceitful heart, the hypocrite, tries to deceive God, but he cannot. He oftentimes deceives men, and always himself. So do the profane sinner, the self-righteous man, and the false teacher; who attempts to deceive the very elect, but cannot. Yea, a good man may be deceived by his own heart, of which Peter is a sad instance, Matthew 26:33.
The heart is deceitful to a very great degree, it is superlatively so; "above all". Yea, it is more deceitful to a man than the devil, the great deceiver himself; because it is nearer to a man, and can come at him, and work upon him, when Satan cannot. It is an abyss, a bottomless one; there is no fathoming of it; the depths of sin are in it. (See Psalm 64:6) Seeing it is so deceitful, it should not be trusted. A man should neither trust in his own heart, nor in another's (Proverbs 28:26). It is "desperately wicked". Everything in it is wicked. The thoughts of it are evil. Every imagination, and that only, and always (Genesis 6:5). The affections are inordinate. The mind and conscience are defiled. The understanding darkened, so dark as to call evil good, and good evil. The will is obstinate and perverse: all manner of sin and wickedness is in it; it is the cage of every unclean bird, and the hold of every foul spirit. All sin is forged and framed in it; and all manner of evil comes out of it (Revelation 18:1). Yea, it is wickedness itself (Psalm 5:9) even to desperation. It is "incurably wicked". It is so without the grace of God, and blood of Christ.
And so, when the world (and the worldly 'church') clamors for 'love', it most often is clamoring for tolerance of their heart of wickedness and profligacy, which is not love at all.
But God, in His mercy and kindness, promised and provided a NEW heart for His people:
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.
I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh...
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.
And, by His grace we are given the ability, through obedience to the truth and the new birth, to love, truly LOVE, from a pure heart!
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love,
love one another fervently, earnestly, from a pure heart.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever...
And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
I Peter 1:22-23,25
Albert Barnes gives us a biblical definition of this kind of love:
The phrase "with a pure heart fervently," means:
(1) that it should be genuine love proceeding from a heart in which there is no guile or hypocrisy; and,
(2) that it should be intense affection, (ἐκτενῶς ektenōs;) not cold and formal, but ardent and strong.
Religion is always of the nature of obedience. It consists in yielding to what is true and right; in laying aside the feelings of opposition, and in allowing the mind to follow where truth and duty lead.
This would always take place when the truth is presented to the mind, if there were no voluntary resistance. If all people were ready to yield to the truth, they would become Christians. The only reason why all people do not love and serve God is that they refuse to yield to what they know to be true and right.
(3) the agency by which this was accomplished was that of the Holy Spirit. Truth is adapted in itself to a certain end or result, as seed is adapted to produce a harvest. But it will no more of itself produce its appropriate effects on the soul, than seed will produce a harvest without rains, and dews, and suns. In all cases, therefore, the proper effect of truth on the soul is to be traced to the influence of the Holy Spirit, as the germination of the seed in the earth is to the foreign cause that acts on it. No man was ever converted by the mere effect of truth without the agency of the Holy Spirit, any more than seed germinates when laid upon a hard rock.
May the Lord help us to recognize the counterfeit of love, which is a worldly sentimentality from a fallen heart, disguised as love, but which is actually the OPPOSITE. Let us seek Jesus' gracious renewing, sanctifying power to love from a pure heart. May we learn to discern and develop genuine, unfeigned love from a heart made clean by the Blood of the Lamb and made fervent by the work of the Holy Spirit.