Today, we’re continuing on with our discussion from chapter 3 of Juggling Life’s Responsibilities.
“According to Jeremiah 17:9, we should not trust our own judgment. Why not?”
Let me give you a little background to this discussion. In my Juggling book, I wrote,
“Women especially need wisdom. Each of us needs wisdom to be a loving wife, a godly mother, a devoted friend, and a capable leader in many different roles. But am I alone in the feeling that many women do not know how to think through issues and make decisions based on the ‘fear of the LORD‘?
“Our culture wants to do all the thinking for us. For example, many of us have learned to trust information that is fed to us by ‘experts’; after all, they have our best interests at heart, right? Or we do things the way they’ve been done for generations in our families, because the traditional way is the best way, right? What we learned in school is especially trustworthy because knowledge is power and textbooks are full of knowledge, right? Our friends give us the best advice because they’ve already been through whatever we’re going through and they care so much about us, right?
“Obviously the answer is sometimes no. It would be a wonderful world if we could trust everyone else to give us consistently excellent advice. However, we can’t even trust ourselves: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9, NKJV).” (Juggling, p. 42)
Sometimes my heart deceives me by telling me that I can’t possibly figure out how to obey God.
- “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
- “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Sometimes my heart deceives me by telling me that it’s too hard to obey God.
- “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).
Sometimes my heart deceives me by telling me that I’m strong enough to listen to the world’s advice and still do what’s right. It doesn’t matter who my friends are, what books I read, or what I watch on TV, as long as I read my Bible daily and go to church.
- “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers… [The wicked] are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous” (Psalm 1:1, 4-5).
- “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). (Reminder: The definition of a “fool” is given in Psalm 14:1 as someone who says there is “no god.”)
- “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character‘” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Sometimes my heart deceives me by telling me that something bad will happen if I listen to God rather than the world’s advice.
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for” (Hebrews 11:1-2).
- See also Psalm 91 and Isaiah 35.
Sometimes my heart deceives me by telling me that I can listen to both God and the world.
- “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Note: What a fascinating study it is to look up “be careful” in the book of Deuteronomy alone!
- “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession… Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction” (Deuteronomy 7:1-6, 26).
- “Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them” (Deuteronomy 11:16).
- “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).
Sometimes my heart deceives me by telling me that it’s all someone else’s fault when I do something wicked, because I was tempted. If only my environment were perfect, I’d never have any trouble.
- “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15).
- “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (Romans 3:10-12, 19).
In other words, the problem lies within me, in my own heart. Oh how glad I am for a Savior! Without Him, I would truly have no hope!
- “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25).
A reader asked a great question this week: “Anne, what do we do with a pagan society? Especially a post-Christian one?”
I think that Paul answers this question right after the verses I just quoted, in Romans 8-11, as he takes several chapters to tell us that
- We’ll need the Spirit of God dwelling within us to have the power to live for Him (Romans 8:1-27).
- We need to realize that God has a plan for this world and nothing can separate us from His loving plan (Romans 8:28-10:13).
- We need to see the needs of this pagan society and share the gospel with them (Romans 10:14-15).
- We need to be careful not fall trap to the same things that ensnared the children of Israel (Romans 10:16-11:36, and see verses from Deuteronomy quoted above).
And most of all? “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The rest of the book of Romans shares practical ways to do this.
“Summarize an example from your own life when you followed your heart and the circumstance turned out badly. Can you quote a Scripture verse that shows why your heart deceived you?”
No fair quoting Jeremiah 17:9… but I’d love to hear from you on this! What stories can you share? What verse(s) would you like to add to this discussion?