How Can Deceitful Hearts Believe?

Q. I have a question. Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:who can know it? In Acts 8:37 Philip said “If thou belivest with all thine heart, thou mayest (be baptized). And he (the eunuch) answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” These two passages almost seem to be contradicting each other. How can we believe with all our heart if our heart is incurably deceitful?

A. Since the time in the wilderness the commandment to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength has been a requirement (Deut. 6:4-5).

Jesus called this the greatest commandment and added “with all your mind” (Matt. 22:36-38). Like all of God’s commandments this one is impossible to obey completely as long as we have a sin nature, but after God has perfected us we’ll become able to fully obey them all.

In the meantime, if we’re in Christ God has chosen to see us not as we are now, but as we will be after we have been perfected. From His perspective the old us is gone and the new us has already come (2 Cor. 5:17).

He can do this because all the sins of our life were forgiven at the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). To Him it’s as if we’ve never sinned at all, but are now as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21).

Because of our faith in what Jesus accomplished for us, God accepts our flawed ability as being pure in motive (Romans 3:21-24). And with Him it’s always the purity of our motive that matters.

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior” (Psalm 24:3-5).

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