The Traitor Within
Some of the most notorious names in history are traitors: Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Benedict Arnold are all known for being intimate and close, seemingly trustworthy, and yet are traitors.
In our world, we are told to follow our heart without knowing that our greatest enemy lies within the walls of our own fortress. Our heart will always leave the door unlocked, the drawbridge down, and reveal itself to be a turncoat.
Jeremiah 17:9 says the “heart is deceitful above all things,” (ESV). And in Mark 7, Jesus clearly teaches us that our greatest problems of our sinful uncleanliness lie not outside of us but “from within, out of the heart of man” come all our sins (Mark 7:21-23, ESV).
Your greatest enemy lies close at hand, knows how to soothe you with doubt, is able to mislead you by temptation, and is set on the things of the world. If you were left on a desert island by yourself, you would still sin daily — not because of Satan, demons, or the world around you, but because of you!
This is why John Newton once wrote that his great and dangerous enemy is actually one called Mr. Self.
The Need for a New Heart
Left to ourselves, we will always act like our forefather Adam: we believe the lie and forsake God’s Word. We need not only a true teaching, but a new heart to receive it.
We need a new heart with new desires, new capacities, new affections, and a faith to love Christ. This is what the Bible calls regeneration: the Holy Spirit’s work of renewing and creating within the sinner a new heart that loves and desires God. This is what Jesus calls being born again in John 3 as He refers to God’s promise in Ezekiel 36:25-26.
God’s Word is true, but we need our hearts of stone removed to receive the gospel, good soil to receive the implanted Word (Ezekiel 36:26; Mark 4:8).
The mark of being a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) is having a new heart. Christians are not the same as they once were because God’s power has changed them.
In mercy, God causes us to be born again (1 Peter 1:3) and gives us a new nature. God’s grace in regenerating the sinner can be likened to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly: new hungers, new appearance, new desires, and a new life!
God’s sovereign grace overcomes our hard, unbelieving hearts and gives us a new heart full of faith and love for Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:13-14). True transformation happens from the inside out.
Receiving Outside Instruction
As Christians though we have new hearts, we still live in our sinful flesh (Galatians 5:16-18). And a mark of a Christian is that he has a constant battle within himself: he desires Christ, and his flesh desires sin (cf. Romans 7; Galatians 5:16-24).
So as Christians, we must not trust ourselves — but as Jesus commanded us: deny yourself daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
Therefore, even as Christians we cannot trust or listen to ourselves. Instead, we must preach to ourselves (Psalm 42:5). God’s Word must govern and inform our decisions, desires, and emotions.
God’s Word calls us to think, react, believe, feel, speak, work, act, and live; His Word commands our priorities, plans, and principles. Christians are those who are fully given over to God’s Word.
Christian, never forsake the instruction of the Word of Christ. Submit yourself to the teaching and authority of a local church surrounded by biblical leadership to instruct you and godly members to encourage you.
Our new hearts daily need to be taught by He who is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).