Follow Your Heart?
  1. Introduction
    1. Follow your heart — This is very common advice
      1. We hear this very often as the moral of the story, especially in modern movies.
      2. It seems to be the general wisdom for dealing with difficult situations.
    2. What does Follow your heart mean?
      1. Deep down inside, you know what is right — We really know what the right thing is to do.
      2. The right thing to do is the same thing as what we really want to do.
    3. Christians say it too.
      1. In general Christians are thinking of our conscience when they say this.
      2. Trying to encourage people to listen to their conscience.
    4. The Book of Jeremiah has a lot to say about following your heart:
      1. Jeremiah 7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels [and] in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

      2. Jeremiah 16:12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:

      3. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?

      4. Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

        1. Isaiah supports that same stance.
        2. Christ died because everyone was following their heart!
  2. What Jeremiah Says - Let's dig deeper into what Jeremiah has to say about this.
    1. Jeremiah 23:17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.

      1. Jeremiah 23:16 — This is about the false prophets in Israel.
      2. The false prophets encourage the people who follow their heart.
    2. Jeremiah 7:23-24 but walked in the counsels [and] in the imagination of their evil heart
      1. In v. 23 God is imploring Israel to return to Him in obedience.
      2. Instead of listening to God, they followed their heart and went backward, and not forward.
      3. Jeremiah 16:12 ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me
        1. At the root of this is pride. They made themselves the ultimate authority, not God.
        2. Jeremiah 17:5-8 Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm
      4. Obeying your heart is the opposite to obeying God
        1. Jeremiah 11:8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart: therefore I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded [them] to do; but they did [them] not.

        2. Jeremiah 9:13-14
        3. Psalms 52:7 — The wicked man trusts in himself
      5. But these verses say that they followed their evil heart not everyone's heart is evil right?
    3. Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings.

      1. Jeremiah 17:5-8 proclaims a curse on those who trust in men and a blessing to those who trust in God.
      2. Verse 9 is part of the explanation why. Our hearts are so wicked and deceitful, that we can not trust them. I can't even discern the wickedness of my own heart.
        1. What do you mean I don't understand the wickedness of my own heart?
        2. Our heart is very good at justifying our own actions. (Proverbs 18:17)
        3. Think about how easy it is to see the problems in other people, but not in ourselves, that is our deceitful heart. (Matthew 7:3-5)
        4. There is a root of pride here. Pride refuses to admit that we are wrong, that is why it is such a hard sin to deal with.
      3. Only God can plumb the depths of our heart. That is why we must rely on Him and not our own heart.
      4. Psalms 19:11-13 — This was a Psalm of David, the man after God's heart (1Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)
        1. v. 11 — David knew what was right by studying God's word, not by listening to his heart.
        2. v. 12 — David couldn't know all the sins of his own heart, he had to cry out to God to cleanse him.
        3. v. 13 — Only as God lead and worked in his life was he able to live holy.
      5. Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?

        1. Jeremiah 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

        2. God's call to repentance and restoration seems to be making the general assumption that every heart is wicked.
        3. This is consistent with what we find elsewhere in the Bible
          1. Genesis 6:5; Romans 3:9-23; Romans 5:12; Galatians 3:22
          2. Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

    4. Imagination of our Heart
      1. Jeremiah 7:24 but walked in the counsels [and] in the imagination of their evil heart
        1. Their heart was their guide, whatever it said they did.
        2. They did whatever their heart imagined. Today we would say they followed their dreams.
      2. Jeremiah 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.

        1. Their heart led them to false Gods.
        2. We don't worship carvings today, but anything that gets higher priority than God is an idol: my job, car, girlfriend/wife, etc.
        3. That is often where following my dream leads isn't it? Putting a too high of a priority on something here on earth.
      3. So our heart dreams up evil and rebellious things for us to do and creates idols for us to worship.
    5. Mark 7:18-23 — The heart is the key to sin. Jesus said that sin originates in the heart.
  3. Who do I follow?
    1. I can not trust myself because there is nothing good in me. I have nothing good to bring to God, only rottenness
      1. Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

      2. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

      3. God gives us gifts and skills, but just like the bad apple, sin poisons everything in our lives.
      4. Only God can take the rottenness and restore it.
        1. Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

        2. Isaiah 61:3-10
        3. Psalms 10:17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

      5. Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I [am] the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

        1. This is part of God's promise to bring Judah back from captivity.
        2. A heart that seeks God, is a gift from God.
          1. Ezekiel 36:27
          2. Jeremiah 32:39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:

        3. Note also the phrase a whole heart, God is not content with partial loyalty, or partial commitment.
      6. Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

        1. Ultimately then only God can change us.
        2. But He works with us and there are choices we must make. The first is to ask Him to change us.
    2. Right response of the heart
      1. Jeremiah 5:24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

        1. The fear of the Lord needs to be real (in our heart).
        2. Not just something we talk about or give intellectual assent to.
      2. Jeremiah 12:2-3 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou [art] near in their mouth, and far from their reins. But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.

        1. Jeremiah 12:1-4 — Jeremiah is coming to God about the ungodly and asking when He will judge them.
        2. Jeremiah 12:2 — For these people, God is near in their mouth, and far from their reins. In other words, they claim to know God but do not allow Him control of their lives. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
        3. In contrast, Jeremiah says that God has tried or tested his heart and unlike those in verse 2 it is committed to God. So true loyalty and obedience to God rests in the position or attitude of the heart.
        4. Jeremiah 9:26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all [that are] in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all [these] nations [are] uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel [are] uncircumcised in the heart.

          1. Egypt and these other countries were outwardly disobedient to God.
          2. Israel, although it had a show of obedience, was not sincere which was just as bad.
        5. Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings.

          1. God is calling Israel to repent and return to Him. (Jeremiah 4:1-3)
          2. They are not only to outwardly dedicate themselves to Him, but inwardly their heart needed to be dedicated to Him as well.
          3. They needed to be consumed with what God was concerned with. God was calling for a radical change in their life.
      3. Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

        1. The right position of the heart is to delight in God's words
        2. Deuteronomy 4:5-6; Psalms 19:8; Psalms 119:16-80; Ezekiel 36:27
      4. Note that here the heart is not leading, it is following.
        1. The heart is to seek God, to obey God, to be loyal to God. In other words, the heart is to follow God.
        2. The heart is not meant to be a leader, it is meant to be a follower.
        3. What would happen if we tried to shoot an arrow backward?
          1. The fletching would catch every wind gust and wildly whip the arrow around.
          2. However when we shoot it forwards and allow the fletching to trail behind, it does a great job of keeping the arrow flying straight.
          3. In the same way, when our heart is set on following God then it will help to keep our life in line.
    3. So then what do we follow?
      1. Follow the one who works in us to restore us: The Holy Spirit
      2. Galatians 5:16-17 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

  4. Conclusion
    1. Maybe I would never say, follow your heart, but do I have the same attitude?
      1. Do I chase my own desires. (Jeremiah 13:10)
      2. Am I controlled by my emotions. (Jeremiah 7:24)
      3. Do I justify my own actions or do they truly align with God's commands? (Jeremiah 11:8)
      4. Do I trust in my own strength. (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
    2. Instead, I must seek God (Jeremiah 29:12-13) and replace those four with these:
      1. Delight in God (Jeremiah 15:16; Revelation 3:17-18)
      2. Be wholly loyal to God (Jeremiah 12:2-3)
      3. Fear and obey God (Jeremiah 32:39)
      4. Let Him meet my needs (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
        1. Psalms 37:3-6 Trust in the LORD, and do good; [so] shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

        2. Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    3. Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.