The heart of a born again Christian; is it wicked or clean?
by David Leach
Unfortunately in the evangelical church today erroneous teaching abounds. One example is the teaching that the heart of a Christian is desperately wicked. It’s based on this verse:
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Who is God describing here? An earlier verse gives the answer:
Jer 17:5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD”.
Yet a whole false doctrine has been constructed around a misinterpretation of verse nine.
The heart that is wicked is the heart that has departed from God as a result of sin. And all have sinned, so this is the condition of everyone’s heart before being reconciled to God.
Authentic Christianity begins when God replaces the wicked heart with a clean, new heart:
Ps 51:10 Create in me a clean heart O God; renew a right spirit within me. NLT
Ezek 18:31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit…
Ezek 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…
Notice with each reference to the heart there is also a reference to the spirit – why is this?
Because when God refers in the Bible to the heart He is not referring to the physical, biological heart but to the innermost spiritual heart within a person, which is his spirit. In scripture the heart means the spirit, consider:
Prov 16:2 …The LORD weighs the spirits.
Prov 21:2 …The LORD weighs the hearts.
Ps 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart...
Rom 2:29 …Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit…
1 Pe 3:4 Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a meek and quiet spirit…
If God is referring to the physical heart then it will die; but if to the spirit, it will live forever:
Ps 22:26 …Your heart shall live for ever. KJV
When we’re born again what part is re-born, re-created, made pure? Our spirit or heart:
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God...
Matt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
2 Tim 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Where does Christ dwell in us? With what part of us may we abide in His presence?
Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…
Ps 24:3-4 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…Hence we are exhorted:
Prov 4:23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. AMP
False teachings concerning the heart drive Christians to unwisely trust their carnal minds:
If a born again Christian can be persuaded to stay away from his heart because in error he believes it is wicked, by default to which part of himself will he then resort? Instead of trusting in God with all his heart He will fall back on his natural mind or intellect which the scriptures refer to as his carnal mind or fleshly mind as distinct from the spirit of his mind. And the fleshly mind or brain opposes God and is not capable of discerning God’s Spirit:
Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law (rule) of God… Col 2:18…Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. AMP
Eph 4:17-18 …You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their (natural) mind…because of the hardness of their heart;
Can a heart once re-created and made pure, if it’s not guarded, again become wicked?
Referring to our hearts the Bible says “You are God’s field” (1Cor 3:9). But our hearts, God’s field, will actively grow anything that we allow to be sown in them; either the seeds of God’s words (Luke 8:11) or the thorn seeds of the words of men and devils (Luke 8:7). Seeds, which are words, become sown in our hearts when we believe them and act on them. If we do not guard our hearts from believing the wrong kind of words, as in lies, false teachings, cares, offences, envies and lusts our hearts become overrun with wickedness:
Prov 24:30-31 I went by the field (the heart) of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of (spiritual) understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles;
When the heart is corrupted the Holy Spirit is quenched and leaves. Without the Holy Spirit it is not possible for a Christian to walk in the Spirit (Rom 8:9) hence they walk in the flesh:
2 Pe 2:10-16 …Those (Christians) who walk according to the flesh…they have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray (they knew the right way but didn’t guard their heart from lies);
Heb 10:22 Let us draw near (again, to God) with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience… NASU