“My heart is good!”
Have you said that, or heard that said? I believe we all think it to some degree, and certainly want to believe it.
But what does the Bible say?
Gen. 6:5 – “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Gen. 8:21 – “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”
Jer. 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Rom. 3:10-12 – “10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Rom. 8:7 – “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Mark 10:18 – “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”
Ezek. 36:26 – “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.”
The heart of fallen man by nature is a heart of stone, a dead heart, a desperately wicked heart, is enmity against God, not subject or able to be subject to the law of God, with no desire to seek for God and no good in it. Only some One good can bring goodness to it, and that is the good God, removing the dead heart and giving a lively heart. It is His act of putting His goodness there.
And even if you are truly a Christian, you recognize and lament the evil that is still within you.
Prov. 20:9 – “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?“
From Puritan John Gill’s commentary:
Who can say, I have made my heart clean
The heart of man is naturally unclean, the mind, conscience, understanding, will, and affections; there is no part clean, all are defiled with sin; and though there is such a thing as a pure or clean heart, yet not as made so by men; it is God that has made the heart, that can only make it clean, or create a clean heart in men; it is not to be done by themselves, or by anything that they can do; it is done only by the grace of God, and blood of Christ: God has promised to do it, and he does it; and to him, and to him only, is it to be ascribed;
I am pure from my sin?
the sin of nature or of action: such indeed who are washed from their sins in the blood of Christ; whose sins are all pardoned for his sake, and who are justified from all things by his righteousness; they are pure from sin, none is to be seen in them, or found upon them in a legal sense: they are all fair and comely, and without fault in the sight of God; their iniquities are caused to pass from them; and they are clothed with fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness of the saints: but then none are pure from indwelling sin, nor from the commission of sin; no man can say this, any more than the former; if he does, he is an ignorant man, and does not know the plague of his heart; and he is a vain pharisaical man; yea, a man that does not speak the truth, nor is the truth in him, (1 John 1:8)
And Prov. 28:26 – “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.“
Dr. Gill again:
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool
Since the thoughts and imaginations of the thoughts of the heart are only evil, and that continually; they are vain and vague, sinful and corrupt; the affections are inordinate, the conscience defiled, the understanding darkened, and the will perverse; there is no good thing in it, nor any that comes out of it, but all the reverse; it is deceitful and desperately wicked: he must be a fool, and not know the plague of his heart, that trusts in it; and even for a good man to be self-confident, and trust to the sincerity of his heart, as Peter did, or to the good frame of the heart, as many do, is acting a foolish part; and especially such are fools as the Scribes and Pharisees, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, when a man’s best righteousness is impure and imperfect, and cannot justify him in the sight of God; it is moreover a weak and foolish part in men to trust to the wisdom and counsel of their heart, to lean to their own understanding, even it, things natural and civil, and not to ask wisdom of God, or take the advice of men, and especially it, things religious and sacred; see (Proverbs 3:5 Proverbs 3:6)
but whoso walketh wisely
as he does who walks according to the rule of the divine word; who makes the testimonies of the Lord his counsellors; who consults with his sacred writings, and follows the directions of them; who walks as he has Christ for his pattern and example, and makes the Spirit of God his guide, and walks after him, and not after the flesh; who walks with wise men, and takes their advice in all matters of moment, not trusting to his own wisdom and knowledge; who walks as becomes the Gospel of Christ, and in all the ordinances of it; who walks inoffensively to all men, and so in wisdom towards them that are without, and in love to them who are within; who walks circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time
he shall be delivered
he shall be delivered from the snares of his own deceitful heart, which he will not trust; and from the temptations of Satan; and from all afflictions and troubles he meets with in the way; and from a final and total falling away; and from eternal death and destruction: “he shall be saved”, as some versions render it, even with an everlasting salvation. The Targum is, “he shall be protected from evil.”
Finally, here is a warning I believe we should consider from Puritan Thomas Manton from his 2nd sermon on Mark 3:5, which you can read in full here:
4. None are so confident of the goodness of their hearts, as those that have an hard heart: for the more any spiritual disease increaseth upon us, the less it is felt. There is hope whilst there is some complaining of sin, that there is some tenderness left.
The hardest heart must needs be the most confident, because they use no recollection and reflection upon themselves; Jer. 8:6, ‘No man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?’ What am I, what have I done? Yea they slight their danger, take up every vain pretence and allegation to maintain their carnal peace and quiet: Deut. 29:19-20, ‘And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst. The Lord will yet spare him, &c.’
Broken-hearted christians are sensible of the holiness of God, and what an hard matter it is to hold communion with him, and observe their own weakness and unworthiness; and therefore they complain of the badness of their hearts, that there is no greater bent towards God, and are always suspicious of their spiritual condition.
May God grant us an understanding of our carnal hearts and His holiness, may we humbly recognize from Whom any goodness in our hearts we might have comes, and may we diligently seek it from Him!