Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?
Let’s face it, we are not good people. Psalm 14:1,3, Romans 3:12. Jesus is explicit about this fact:
Luke 18:18-19 18And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
It ought to be noted that Jesus did not declare himself to be “not good” nor did He assent to being “not God” with this statement. He simply questioned the man. Interestingly enough, this passage is more proof that knowledge of the Holy and to even mentally assent that Jesus is God is not sufficient for salvation; repentance and faith are the requirement.
Nevertheless, we spend our lives deceiving ourselves with such statements as “I’ve always been a Christian,” and “When I was seeking after God…” Romans 3:11 and Psalms 14:2 are clear that there are none who seek after God. We lie and say we have no sin (1 John 1:8) or we minimize our sin and compare ourselves to the guy next door, instead of God’s standard.
The heart is deceitful above all! That means there is NOTHING MORE deceitful than the human heart. It is the source of your sin and it provides the anesthetization for your conscience that allows you to continue to sin. Every atom of your existence is tainted by sin, cursed, if you will. The word for desperately wicked, sometimes translated “desperately sick,” has the connotation of an incurable illness. It conjures a picture of a hopeless, irreversible disease which will attack the very body it lives in, like cancer, and ultimately kill it. It’s abrasive and corrosive and you will allow it to cause you to deteriorate as it tells you over and over you are not sick. There is no medicine available except that which alleviates the pain temporarily, usually in the form of alcohol or drugs used to palliate the wonderful pain your God-given conscience is trying to inflict upon you as you violate the laws of God. The corruption is absolute.
Hopeless, it leaves you. Devoid of life. Dead. Dead in trespasses and sin, (Eph 1;1-2), chasing the lust of your flesh, believing yourself hedonistic from an humanism standpoint, but seriously deluded and contributing to your own physical death all the while, so your flesh will match your hateful spirit. Dead men do not request life, nor desire it. Dead men cannot effect a birth, much less a rebirth. Only the hand of the God you hate, with each gift of breath keeps your incurably sick heart beating while you reject him, even after hearing the gospel of His grace.
There was another piece of dead flesh that had no power to make itself alive: the corpse of Jesus Christ. It lay in the grave 3 days, lifeless. Absolutely dead. No life in it. But it did not stay that way, it could not. When the spirit of Jesus Christ enters dead flesh, it cannot help but become alive. This is a passive act on the part of the flesh…cooperating, simply because it must. This is what happens to us. Read Ephesians 2:5: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) By the way, God is not winking at you there, even though He certainly knew emoticons were coming. 😉
So how can an irreversible sickness be cured? It cannot. The dead heart must be replaced. The man must be born-again. John 3:3,6-7. God must do the work to make dead men alive. The desperately sick, deceitful above all things heart CANNOT love Christ. Yes, this is the doctrine called total depravity, sometimes relative depravity. It is the biblical teaching that dead men cannot choose life. It is the doctrine that is in accord with Psalm 14 and Romans 3, quoted above. It is the doctrine which leads to the understanding that our salvation is not dependent upon us, but upon God and His perfect wisdom. It is the understanding that no power of Hell nor scheme of man could ever clutch us from His hand! And it is the humbling, God-glorifying doctrine which reminds us that He alone deserves ALL praise and glory for salvation.
Yes, dead men cannot choose life. But flesh which is indwelt with the spirit of God cannot help but LIVE. Do not say to me you are born-again if your life doesn’t show it. I asked a guy today if he was born-again and he replied, “Pretty much.” Nay! The rebirth is not a process; it is not a progressive move “God-ward,” neither is it a new way of life, an ideology of sorts. It is a singular act whereby God replaces the sick, wicked, deceitful heart we’ve all inherited from Adam, with a new heart: a heart indwelt by the Holy Spirit: a heart which desperately loves Jesus Christ and submits to His truth.
Examine yourselves, to see that you are of the faith. In all things, give prayer and supplication to God with a thankful heart, love the brethren and preach the Word, in and out of season.
God’s description of the new birth He has promised Israel applies to the new birth offered in Christ.
Ezekiel 11:19 KJV 19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 36:24-27 KJV24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.