The advice is often given to just follow your heart, or go with where your feelings lead you. This is based on an underlying assumption that inclinations and impressions we get in our heart are a trustworthy source of direction in our lives. In Christian circles, this advice to follow your heart is often prefaced with a call to “pray about it,” but in the end, simply do or believe what feels right. While this is an appealing and popular idea, mainly because it can give a person freedom or justification to simply do whatever pleases them, it can be a very dangerous proposition. The reason why is that our hearts can be, and very often are, wrong.
Our hearts can’t always be trusted
For the person who has never trusted in Jesus, the Bible warns us that their heart is a very untrustworthy source of solid direction.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Ecclesiastes 9:3 “The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live.”
Clearly, God warns us not to simply trust our hearts because they are full of deceit and wickedness. The reason why our hearts are so depraved is because every human being is born with a sinful nature that corrupts everything about them. This doesn’t mean that no one has ever done a good deed in their life, but that even the good things we do are tainted with the stain of sin. And because of this sin, our hearts are infected and broken and can easily lead us astray. This means that the advice to simply follow your heart is foolish because a sinful heart cannot be trusted.
Romans 3:9-12 “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
We need a new heart
For the person who has trusted in Jesus, the good news is that the Bible says you have been given a new, redeemed heart as a part of your salvation experience. When we put our faith in Christ, everything about us is new, including our hearts.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
So because a Christian’s sin has been forgiven and they have been given a new heart, God can and does work through the desires of their heart. However, the Christian should still be very careful with the leadings of their heart because we are still able to be deceived. The Bible warns us that Satan is a deceiver and is actively seeking to lead people astray by getting then to believe lies. It also warns us that some of Satan’s lies can seem very appealing. It says in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” So just because you pray about something and feel one way or the other doesn’t necessarily mean that that feeling can be trusted.
A better source of truth
So, while the Christian can and should seek God through prayer and be sensitive to the leadings and desires God put’s on their heart, this cannot be the final say when it comes to making decisions and understanding truth. The feelings of our heart should always be tested first and finally by the words of Scripture. The Bible is the unchanging Word of God which never changes, isn’t affected by mood swings, isn’t susceptible to lies and will always lead us on the right path. The Bible can cut through all the mixed feelings and questions of our heart and expose the truth.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
When making a decision or seeking truth, it’s a good thing for a Christian to pray and ask God to move their hearts, but whenever they feel should always be put in submission to the clear teaching of the Bible. And if what a person’s heart feels goes against the Bible, ignore the heart and trust the Bible.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- After reading Jeremiah 17:9 and Ecclesiastes 9:3, why might it not be wise to follow our hearts?
- Why do you think that it is so easy to be deceived by our own hearts?
- If it is unwise to follow our hearts, where should we go when we need direction?
- What place should prayer and the Holy Spirit have in making decisions?
- Do you think that you know the Bible well enough that you would be able to use it in making decisions in your daily life? Explain.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
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