I have read several Christian authors lately that say that a believer does not have a “heart that is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah) but that God has given us a new heart (replaced the heart of stone for a heart of flesh) so that it is not wicked but good. Are they right?
Yes, and no.
Man is born with a sinful heart. It is the result of sin entering God’s perfect creation through Adam (Rom 5.12). Yes, you were born a sinner but before you get mad at Adam, or think God is not fair because YOU weren’t the one who sinned, consider this….
Adam was a perfect man, in a perfect situation, in perfect fellowship with God; and he still sinned. Do you REALLY think you would have done better?
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (NKJV)
People have a hard time with the idea of being born a sinner. Many believe that we are born “innocent” and only become sinners the first time we willfully sin. Logical, but not Biblical. The Bible leaves no doubt as to our inherited nature:
Psalm 51:5 “…in sin my mother conceived me.”
Ephesians 2:3 “…by nature children (objects) of wrath”
Romans 1.26-28 Our intellect and emotions are slaves to sin.
Romans 7.20 Our will is set against God and enslaved to sin.
So the heart of man is sinful and deceitful above all things. When we speak of the “heart”, it generally includes 1) our thoughts and attitudes (the mind) and 2) our eternal spirit.
When the miracle of supernatural regeneration occurs (Titus 3.5) our “heart” (our eternal spirit) is literally born again, renewed, to eternal life (in contrast to our first birth that was to eternal condemnation due to the inherited sin nature).
The other part of our “heart”, our mind (thoughts, will, actions, attitudes, motives, etc.) are still at war with our sinful flesh. That war will continue in varying degrees with each Believer until the day we die, or Jesus returns.
So in a very real sense, yes, we have a new heart as Christians and our “heart” is no longer “desparately wicked”. We have the ability now, by the Holy Spirit, to be truly good and righteous in God’s eyes.
But also in a very real sense, we still have a “desperately wicked” heart of flesh that struggles with wanting to sin. The old nature in our sin-cursed body dies hard, and will not give up easily. The flesh is not redeemed or born again (it will be someday though!)… and wants to rebel from God. This difference is, after salvation the Christian CAN defeat the flesh over time, whereas before salvation, he could NOT; no chance, not happening.
New heart; old flesh…. until we meet Jesus face to face. Then we’ll have new heart and new “flesh” (an eternal, physical, incorruptible glorified new body).
Finally, this “new” slide towards denying “sinful man” is not NEW. Satan’s been pulling that one out in different colors and flavors since the Garden. If a man never knows he is “sick with sin” then he will never have a real need of the Great Sin Physician. It’s not enough to simply believe in the Physician (even demons believe), you have to confess your sickness (sin), and turn the Healer for rescue.
Don’t be caught up in this “just love” watered-down nonsense. We should speak about sin as often, as frankly and as honestly as the Bible does… no more, no less. We are to be doctrinally sound AND intensely compassionate.
God doesn’t need our help re-inventing a more palatable Gospel that will “be more popular and won’t offend”. Again, we should talk about WHATEVER subject, the way the Bible does. God knows what He’s doing believe it or not.