Heart of deceit
When God does a search into our hearts and minds, does He find the deep desire to be honest and a willingness to sacrifice in order to become righteous, or will He find compromise and a heart of deceit?
Can a heart of deceit be spiritually fatal for those who seem to continue to use it? With the right understanding and acknowledgment of what this means, who but the carnal minded would want to remain with a heart of deceit? Yet lies and manipulation, the willingness to be deceptive; the misleading of others by being a false witness against the character of another, stems from a deceitful heart. This does still linger within some who are in the COG realm and the fruit of their doings reveal this! It is obvious from Biblical examples that a heart of deceit can enter a person very subtly and without the quick recognition of it until too late, if recognized at all. Some may go to their graves with it—may even become disgusted or tormented enough with themselves and their sins to commit suicide. However, for those called and chosen, wouldn’t that kind of heart be revealed and repented of when seen, if one is being led by the Holy Spirit? (John 16:13 & 1John 3:20-22)
What is a heart of deceit then, and can this continue to apply as a way of living, in the life of a true Christian? (Strong’s gives the definition of deceit simply as being “in the sense of deceiving, fraud”: which we should understand can have a wide application in today’s world.) The answer should be obvious to the truly converted, but we will see this question being further answered as we move through this article. Prominent people of the Bible have succumbed to this deceitfulness going on in their lives, but some have overcome it with heartfelt repentance when recognized or brought to their attention by another, as we will see. There are also examples of some who may not have ever repented of such acts and we will see examples of that as well.
Did Rebekah, the wife of Isaac and a very important woman of the Bible, allow herself to become a very manipulative and deceitful woman? Did she do this for a favorite member of her family and out of self-desire; bringing her to even deceive her husband, a man of faith? Is her example that of a heart that actually planned to deceive? We will see more of her example later.
We find the word “Heart” in the Bible many times and used in different ways; one is that God looks on the heart, or inward parts (1Sam.16:7) and this, along with other passages, shows He knows the inner workings of humanity. (Heb.4:12-13) Sometimes God determines to expose the true intent of a person and what is going on inside, and at other times He may let things play out and people suffer the consequences of sin. We see that king David allowed himself to get into sinful behavior, committing murder and adultery; but had heart-felt repentance and wanted his heart to be cleaned up and made pure, after the realization of his sins. (Ps 51:9, NKJ—V.10 says; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”) David was considered “a man after Gods own heart”, desirous to live righteously and obey the Laws of God with a pure heart, even though in the human flesh he failed from time to time. He did not allow a heart of deceit to live and remain active in him.
This should be the desire of all who aspire to be true Christians, having honestly repented, been baptized and given the Spirit of God. However, that is not always the case with those who may only claim to be Christian, even having gone through the motions of conversion, (Which is in itself deception) mingling among the COG realm, being still very much void of the Spirit of God actively working in them. These remain still being susceptible and even willing to go along with the influence of Satan (2Cor.4:4 & Eph.2:2) to get what they want. For most in the world, this is a state of being deceived that they do not see or recognize in themselves. To them it is just a way of life and seems to come “natural”. However, the very fact of one being in or around the COG would subject them to the truth, over time. Therefore it would be a choice to continue to sin; lie, manipulate, be a false witness to deceive, etc.; thus maintaining a heart of deceit which would clearly go against them being led by the Holy Spirit.
So this “heart of deceit” can remain in those who still maintain more carnal mindedness than trying to be righteous. It will be found out (by those being led by the Spirit) that they will also still make selfish and “wicked plans” within themselves from time to time. “Prov. 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil”,---NKJ) God says through Jeremiah; Ch. 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Then He answers the question) V.10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man (Or woman) according to his (or her) ways, according to the fruit of his (their) doings.” (This passage also shows another way the “heart” is used in the Bible, as here it relates to what goes on in the mind to gain the heart’s lust or desires.) GOD does know of inner deceit working, even though many humans are fooled by this heart of deceit!
So this seems to be dealing more with the carnal minded that are bent on going after fleshly or physical things, when the heart is still deceitful. Rom 8:7-8 says; “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The last part of V.9 says; “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Or Christian—NKJ)
But even after baptism, a convert can have relapses and anyone can even choose to lay aside the Commands of God and return to a point of having a heart of deceit. There is a strong satanic pull to do this, when the focus is allowed to be on getting things their own way and not leaving it in God’s Hands to work out. This is spiritually dangerous and will stall out any Spiritual progress and may even be a sign of “quenching the Spirit”. (1Thess.5:19) Sometimes this can even happen while the Spirit is just working with one, before being internalized. (See John 14:17, last part)
So, we have seen the example of David and how it is recorded he repented quickly and without excuses, when his sins were brought to his attention. He wanted to be removed as far from evil as was possible and it should be the desire for any true Christian to quickly get away from those of a deceitful nature and heart.
Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, as mentioned earlier is another example of becoming deceitful and taking matters into her own hands, instead of going to God in prayer and letting God work things out His own way. However, this story may seem similar to David’s, in that she mindfully planned to deceive her husband, as David planned the death of Bathsheba’s husband. Rebekah seemed to become deceitful and was showing partiality (which is sin—see James 2:9—NKJ) so that her favorite son Jacob would receive the blessing from his father. She put her desire for Jacob above God and her husband it seems, doing this for selfish reasons and even devised ways for the deception to work, as can be seen in the story, found in Gen. 27. The difference from David’s example is that no indication is given that she ever repented of her scheming and her heart of deceit. If she did, it is simply not recorded. It seems that she later also withheld from Isaac the real reason to send Jacob away; (more manipulation?) to keep Esau from killing him. She did not place her faith in God to work things out for Jacob to receive the blessing, nor to protect him later, but Jacob did turn to God, as is recorded. Rebekah took it upon herself to do these deceitful acts by favoring Jacob and with a heart of deceit, even willingly betraying her own husband. How many times she may have done this deceiving is not recorded. Women of the true COG will not follow her example, overcoming any temptation to do the same things and have a deceitful heart. She is not listed as one of faith in Heb.11, so it is not clear if she ever repented or overcame that evil trait in her. There are other examples in the Bible of people turning away from God by becoming deceitful and other evil means. King Solomon is one of those who was PULLED aside by foreign wives.
There is an example in the NT of the heart of deceit; showing its power to cause grief to others and even premature death within the COG. It is found in Acts chapter five. Let us note it before concluding. Acts 5:1-2 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.”
So they conspired together to be deceitful—obviously presenting the portion they brought as being the whole thing, thus both allowing a heart of deceit to enter in, and of course the real culprit of these things is Satan the devil with his evil influence, which has to be conquered by the true Christian. However, God immediately put it in Peters mind in this situation to detect this heart of deceit, and by reading on, one can see it cost them their lives! That example may very well be there for the specific purpose to show all true converts the need to never willingly give in to allow the old heart of deceit to re-emerge and become active once again. All true Christians are called out of this world to be overcomers and strive to bury the “old man” completely, killing off within themselves any heart of deceit. Rom. 8:12-14 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors -- not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons (& daughters) of God.” NKJ
If we find ourselves being tempted or influenced to be deceitful for physical gain, we must immediately reject those thoughts and desires and remember Matt.6:33, to leave things in God’s hands to take care of us while seeking to continue to obey all the Commandments. With God’s help, we can overcome any heart of deceit. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:10-11; “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
May God speed that day to come, helping us to cling to Him in the meantime and to pass or overcome every trial (Test) He allows us to be given! (James 1:12-15)
(Written by the editor for TCOGMSO)