There’s a madness within the world scene. Every day it is being played out between nations, in communities, families and between individuals. We witness the catastrophic results in so many horrible and graphic ways. From the acts of terrorists to petty criminals to cheating partners or corrupt officials this self-destructive force holds sway. How can it be defined? Can it be controlled? Is there hope of some other controlling principle?
Psychologists, psychiatrists and philosophers have their theories as to the causes of these acts of madness. However, they cannot explain it any better than Jeremiah 17:9: ‘The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse – who can understand it?’ Within the individual is a problem that requires control and ultimately transforming. Modern thinking doesn’t like the Biblical term or its description for its presence but it remains the best explanation.
The parents of the Human race, Adam and Eve, made a choice that has infected us all. According to Genesis they were given the freedom to enjoy God’s goodness in creation with one condition. That requirement was summed up in not taking of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. When their self–will was aroused they crossed the boundary of God’s ‘do not enter’ and devoured the fruit. The fruit tasted delicious but their rebellion and transgression gave birth to a monster in a once perfect heart. Call it sin, as the Bible does, for it includes the very seeds of what history records as a sad tale of moral, spiritual and society breakdown.
The Hank William’s song ‘Your Cheating Heart’ is an apt description of our individual tendencies. The aftermath of such a heart is seen from corruption to law-court procedures from mayhem to wars and more. Again the Scriptures reveal a progression of the cheating heart. When not dealt with the heart becomes hardened, goes astray and is permeated by evil. (Hebrews 3:8-12)
From such hearts comes the cry “What is God doing? Why doesn’t He stop this madness? He must not exist or is indifferent to His creation!” The fact of the matter is that God has done His best to give people guidelines to control their ‘cheating heart’, the offer of a new power within their heart and forgiveness for their rebellious behaviour to Him and others. So many, indeed the majority plead for that to happen to others but to be left alone personally. An example of this is what God’s word says about sexual purity. It enriches marital life, prevents disease and creates a beautiful family relationship. When people chose to disobey that principle they have no right to blame God for marital breakdown or personal infection and guilt with shame.
God gave the Ten Commandments for the benefit of society. The wayward heart saw it as an intrusion into their right for self-expression and personal freedom. Relational breakdown, society corruption and national power plays with rampant evil consequences have followed its rejection. In certain places the plaques with the Ten Commandments have been forbidden to be hung. Must make people feel guilty and their cheating hearts don’t want to be reminded of their transgressions.
For those who crave for power to overcome the monster within God has provided. So that the seeker might understand the sincerity of God to achieve this on their behalf He recorded the build up to it in the pages of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. It writes about the Saviour, Jesus. He is the promised Messiah the Son of God. He is also called the Great Physician for He deals with the heart matters. By virtue of His life, death and resurrection Jesus can turn a cheating heart into a faithful one. He has authority to forgive, cleans and invest in it a new power to direct and control. All He requires is your permission to ‘operate and install.’
If a person imagines that when they possess a new heart things instantaneously make them perfect they are in for a rude shock. As with any ‘operation’ there is a period of adjustment, prolonged exercise, proper diet and faithfulness to doctor’s orders. The same is true in this new spiritual and moral realm. Failure to follow the Lord’s prescriptions will cause sad and bad ill effects such as hypocrisy, Luke-warmness of spirit and an opening for the cheating heart to sneak in. any surgeon would be dismayed and disappointed with a careless patient and call him to account. So to the Great Physician. He will call those on whom He has invested His life-changing skills for an account of their new lifestyle. We will not be able to bluff Him for He is able to see our heart and has a record of our life. We are not rejected from His realm but we may not receive the full measure of His reward for faithfulness. For those who reject His moral and spiritual surgical implant of a new heart face condemnation and rejection from glory.
The promise of the Lord remains true for those fed up with their hard, deceitful and evil heart. That is ‘A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’ Ezekiel 36:26