There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“A tree is identified by its fruit.  If a tree is good, its fruit will be good.  If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.  You brood of snakes!  How could evil men like you speak what is good and right?  For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.  A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:33-37)

“Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.  They asked him, ‘Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition?  For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.’  Jesus replied, ‘And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?  For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say it is alright for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you.  For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’  In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents.  And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.  You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’  Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.  ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘and try to understand.  It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.‘  Then the disciples came to him and asked, ‘Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?’  Jesus replied, ‘Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them.  They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.’  Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.’  ‘Don’t you understand yet?’ Jesus asked.  ‘Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.  But the words you speak come from the heart — that’s what defiles you.  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.  These are what defile you.  Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.'” (Matthew 15:1-20)

The phrase, “Follow your heart” seems like great advice, but to God, it is utter foolishness.  According to God, the human heart is the most deceitful of ALL THINGS and desperately wicked.  The heart is so bad, in fact, that no one can even measure how bad it is.

Knowing this truth, the worst thing we can do during times when moral clarity is critical to our lives is to follow our heart.

How many atrocities have been committed because certain actions seemed like the right thing to do?

The Holy Scriptures show us a few instances in the book of Judges of really bad judgment calls made by both individuals and whole communities, with a simple explanation of, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25)

History shows countless crimes against humanity due to an individual or a society or an individual leading a society to take action according to what seemed like the right thing to do.

God gave us His Living Word to clearly show us right from wrong, to separate righteousness from wickedness and draw a bold line through otherwise gray area.  He guides us by His Eternal Word, which is everlasting, while all else withers and dies.

“Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.  The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord.  And so it is with peopleThe grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6b-8)

In our world, now more than ever, there is a lot of talk; a lot words are being spoken and written.  From news outlets to social media, in our individual lives and in our societies, we must be able to discern between what sounds good or seems right and what really is good and right.  When our own hearts contradict the Word of God, as Christians, we are called to submit to what the Word of God says.  Likewise, we must be able to discern when our leaders speak or take action in ways that contradict the Word of God, so that we aren’t deceived into following them, doing what ‘seems right’ and being led astray from the true right path.

In hindsight, it is hard to fathom how Adolf Hitler convinced the whole nation of Germany that following him in his ideology and trusting him to lead them out of their time of desperation was somehow the ‘right thing to do’ and yet, time after time, when Germans were asked why they had supported him, “it seemed like the right to do” is all they could say. They were caught up in emotion and desperation and Hitler’s words and actions appealed to their desperate, fearful hearts. Such is the folly of following the heart or someone’s words instead of the commands of God. And we would be wise today, in the midst of great worldwide fear, to remember that horrible point in mankind’s history and the events that led otherwise decent people to follow the path to destruction.

There is only one way to gain discernment, the essential spiritual weapon in the Great Spiritual War, and that is to hear the Word of God so that it takes root in our hearts and becomes our lighthouse in a world of darkness and confusion.  As we hear God’s Holy Word, as we read it, as we spend time thinking about it and applying it in our lives, God is with us, quietly checking all of the activities of our hearts against His eternal truth and showing us the true and right way to live.

May we all cherish His Holy Living Word and rely on it in these perilous times.

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