Friday, February 15, 2008

The heart is deceitful above all else...

and desperately corrupt, it says in Jeremiah. And many of us have said, "Amen," thinking of our own hearts.

How hard it is to face one's own heart, one's own sin as a Christian. The Holy Spirit in us makes our sin that much uglier and thus, that much harder to face.

But what many of us miss is the reality that God's plan for the creation of man was to use sin to show man's utter depravity without God, and his utter helplessness apart from Christ to be righteous.

We are completely and utterly dependent on Christ for righteousness.

In recently going through another time of trying to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to show me anything in me that is sinful or displeasing to God, and then being overwhelmed by what I see, and then realizing that I am coming under the condemnation of Satan, I come back again to this:

I realize that what I rely on in my life is always looking for Jesus in me. I look for the Holy Spirit at work in my heart.

As a believer, you ought not count on the deceitfulness of the heart to rule in your life. You shouldn't expect sin to dominate your heart. This can cause you to be weighed down by condemnation and a cycle of sin. Bad words that have been spoken over us can keep us in a cycle of condemnation, and patterns of wrong behavior. Simply hearing grace-filled words about the reality of Christ's work in your life can lift you out of that cycle.

The passage in Jeremiah about the deceitfulness of the heart is talking more about the heart that has not met Christ. Every Christian, though he/she has encountered deceitfulness in his/her heart should be able to say emphatically that in spite of deceitfulness in his/her heart, the heart has also continually and constantly led him/her towards Christ.

Today I called a sweet woman of God to share my struggle with seeing ugliness in my heart. She simply reminded me of the danger of falling into condemnation. She basically spoke positive, grace-filled words over my life that come from the word of God.

Don't be discouraged by what you perceive to be wrong with your life.

He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Phil 1:6. He will do the work. It is His work!

And we have to get used to the fact that the flesh is with us every day, like a crusty shell that we have to live with. It doesn't have to rule us, but we shouldn't be surprised that it's there. We turn it out daily. We crucify it daily. It won't go away. Tomorrow it's still going to be there!


Lea said...

Here's my take on some of this, for what it's worth. In our humanity, we develop an ego that is probably necessary for our survival -- a good thing -- but also causes us many problems. When it goes unchecked, very bad things can happen. I think it is valuable to pay attention to our thinking, so that we can better discern what's coming from the ego, what's just neutral everyday stuff of life (like "I'm hungry"), and what's from God.

I think that focusing too much on evil is not productive, and may be counterproductive in the spiritual life. I'm not saying we should ignore injustice and evil in the world. I'm saying we should not over-identify with it and dwell on it, because if we do we can miss much that is good. There is much good in the world and much to be thankful for. I think focusing more on gratitude can help counteract feelings of unhappiness over things that went wrong or did not go as we would have liked.

I have heard sin described as "missing the mark;" I think that comes from the etymology of the word sin. We all will miss the mark. It's part of our humanity. I have to believe that God understands and loves us anyway. If we actually harm another person in some way, we should attempt to make amends and put things right. But I think we need to cut ourselves some slack on a lot of things, like interior criticism.

I'm Catholic and I had a "spiritual director" for a while who was into Ignatian spirituality. She told me about an Ignatian practice, the Examen, or examination of conscience, which is done at the end of the day. She simplified it and said, think of the good things that happened during the day and say "Thanks" to God. If there were times when you missed the mark, say you're sorry. Then, I think, the idea is to move on with life. I don't do that on a daily basis, but sometimes if I'm giving myself a hard time about something I wish I had done differently, I think about that practice and say "Sorry!"

Gabrielle Eden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabrielle Eden said...

Hi Lea,

Your take on this is worth a lot! It's true that we can get too introspective. But we are so prone to becoming selfish, and we are not naturally able to live like Christ. Thus, we strive for it. I guess that's where I was coming from.

The Catholic spiritual director sounds good, and so does the examination idea.

Guitarman said...

The "He who began a good work in me...."

The hard part for me is looking back where I was 15 years ago, and seeing I'm right there now. I know no additional verses. I'm not sharing my faith. If I were employed by God I'm afraid he'd fire me.

Satan wants us to just give up at this point. When we call on Jesus by name, we find we no longer are self condemning. We find our perception of our journey is jaded and we really have come a long way. We find that we are witnessing at level that 15 years ago, we thought would not be possible.

Amen sister, good post!

Gabrielle Eden said...

It's really amazing to see how far the Lord has brought us!