“More than anything else, a person’s mind is evil
and cannot be healed.
Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9, NCV
“Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin. Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine. Thou has taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.’ Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners.”
The Bible in its tremendous insight, never ever makes humans to be wonderful creatures. I think we would all volunteer to be that way. We are not. Rather the opposite is quite true. We are manipulators, rascals, liars and sinners. There is not a single iota of evidence that we can become exceptionally kind, loving and holy people in any sense of the word.
Somehow we generate a lot of self-deceit. We trick our own hearts into believing that we are such noble believers. We ignore evidence that would convict us otherwise. The prophet spoke to his generation in Jeremiah 17. He would speak directly to people who thought they were true and good. Jeremiah called this a lie, a serious miscalculation (especially when the opposite was true.)
“The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9, NIV
This is not the way “to win friends and influence people.” So many pastors, priests, elders, and leaders have a desire deep down to be acceptable and relevant. But God says, we are rascals, tricksters, phonies. Something inside is sick. There can be no human remedy. We simply cannot become religious enough to surmount our profound sin (against God and against others).
I must tell you the truth, you’re terminally ill. You are quite sick, in the most essential part of you. As a boy living in Northern Wisconsin, on a farm somewhat. We found one of our dogs killing our chickens. He was a nice dog, quite friendly and very gentle. But when he started in on the chickens my dad decided to intervene. One of the dead chickens was recovered. My father wired that dead chicken to our dogs neck, nice and tight. The dog wore that rotting chicken for several weeks. Finally the dog laid down, foaming and tongue lolling, eyes rolled back– so sick. So Dad cut off the decaying remains.
It’s one of my more vivid memories. The dog would never again chase a chicken, or even think of killing one. But even so, our sin is disgusting to God. We just seem to do evil without considering Him or others we effect. It’s all about us, as we think we can just skate through this “problem” without any issues. But Jeremiah tells us we are rotting inside.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted. “
Matthew 5:3-4, NIV
I suppose this is what it will take. To see ourselves as destitute beggars when it comes to spiritual matters. We very much want to work past this state. We will very often feel that that is Christian discipleship– conquering our deep sin and awful weaknesses. But really, folks, what the Lord really wants is for us to admit our poverty, and be saddened by our sinfulness. We hurt so many.
“Our life is full of brokenness – broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives.”
We are a broken lot of confused people, and we have never solved the mystery of our own iniquity. In those rare, fleeting times we step into clarity, we are ashamed and disturbed by what we see. Our awful sin needs a wonderful Savior. Jesus does what we could never do. He has died to destroy our sin.