There is hearing, and then there is hearing! As we saw recently, it is possible to hear, and yet not hear. In order for this to be true, the word hear must be used in two different ways. First, there is the hearing that occurs with the ears, and then there is the hearing that occurs with the heart. Hearing with the ears is something that all people do who are not deaf; hearing with the heart is something that all accountable people (deaf or not) are or have been capable of doing. Hearing with the heart is essential to eternal life; hearing with the ears is optional!
Notice a classic Old Testament passage relating to this matter. It was spoken during Moses' parting address to the children of Israel. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.” (Deuteronomy 30.15-18; emphasis mine, jb). According to Moses, the heart can turn away resulting in a non-hearing ear!
Then to quote God's thoughts on the matter, He said, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17.5-9; emphasis mine, jb). Once again we see that the heart is key to hearing, but we also find out something else about it; it is deceitful above all things!
Now we turn to the wise man for his words of wisdom; these same sentiments are contained in scores of other passages, but this one expresses it succinctly. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3.5). The heart is the seat of trust, but it is not to be trusted! There is a huge difference in the two. The man who trusts in his own heart is a fool destined to fail; the man who trusts in God with his heart is set for eternal blessings. So, if the heart is so deceitful, but it is essential to pleasing God, how can it be “managed” to prevent self-deception? This is particularly relevant inasmuch as “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits.” (Proverbs 16.2).
The Psalmist answered this question perfectly; hear his words: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119.11). Sin originates in the heart; the word of God hidden there empowers the heart to be directed in the paths of righteousness. The heart is deceitful; the word of God is to be trusted! Ear, hear, and heart are similar words. Start with ear, add an h on the front, and you have hear. Take hear, add a t on the end and you have heart. Take heart and add nothing to it; you have the perfect recipe for self-deception and eternal destruction. Take heart and add the word of God to it and you have His recipe for eternal blessings!
1. How is it possible to hear, but not to hear at the same time?
2. What does the heart have to do with biblical hearing?
3If the heart is deceitful, can it be trusted? Discuss your answer. Did you find it necessary to “qualify” your response?
4. Is the heart a safe guide? Is a safe spiritual guide inherent in man or is it external to man? Is this objective truth? If it is inherent in man, isn't that subjective truth?
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