By Todd Pekel

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)


What’s the heart of the matter when it comes to our Christianity? In a word… the heart. After all, it has been said that the Scriptures basically make known two people, or beings, if you prefer. First, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ and the second is the person whose reflection we see in the mirror when we dare to really look him or her in the eye.

When you read the verse above were you glad that the deceitful and wicked heart belonged to someone else and not to you? If you were, might I suggest you take a moment to pray before reading what follows?

The question remains: who can know that which is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things?

The short answer, of course, is… ‘The Lord.’ Yes, the Lord certainly knows our hearts, but it’s when the heart is revealed to the one who possess it that real change can begin and true freedom can be, at long last, experienced.

Matthew 26:31–35:
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

The account above is familiar to most Christians, I’m sure. Peter and all of the disciples assured the Lord that they would not be offended in him and that they would not deny Him. Little did they know that only hours from that very moment would the Lord’s words come to pass and their denial of him be unequivocal.

vv. 73-75:
And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee.
74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

In the gospel of Luke we see this incident recorded with additional information worthy of note.

Luke 22:60–62:
And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

It wasn’t the cock crow that caused Peter to weep those bitter tears of denial and betrayal. It was the look from the Lord. When Jesus turned and looked upon Peter, "he remembered the word of the Lord… and went out and wept bitterly."

Indeed, bitter tears are what await all of us when our heart is revealed showing the deceitfulness and wickedness that dwells within. But seeing the depth of our depravity is only a portion of the work that is done by the Spirit of God… albeit an important portion of the work.

2 Samuel 12:1:
And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

Again, a familiar portion of Scripture to most Christians; but what happens when David’s anger and indignation are kindled against the rich man in the ensuing story told by Nathan?

v. 7a:
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man...

When we experience the "thou art the man" moment, it will cause us to weep bitter tears and experience a godly sorrow for our sin. This, also, is part of the Spirit’s work. The following words express the heart of David after the conversation he had with Nathan.

Psalm 51:1-4:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Such words can only come from a heart that has been touched by the Holy Spirit of God. Without the revelation that comes from the "look of the Lord", we are blind to the denial and ignorant of the betrayal that lies in wait to usurp the Lord’s throne in our hearts.

David continues in the 51st Psalm to pour out his soul unto the Lord and comes to the realization of his need for a pure, or clean, heart. This, again, is part of the Spirit’s work.

v. 10:
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Yes, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." God not only knows the hearts of men, he reveals those hearts to the owners thereof, bringing them to repentance. He then can - and will - create clean hearts in them.

2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

"All things are become new" means all things including our hearts! The heart of the matter is that our hearts are clean. This, too, is a work of the Spirit.



From the February 2010 issue of The Vine & Branches