The Flesh is the Obstacle

When we approach the Scriptures, we must keep in mind the reality of our sinful flesh. We must be fully aware that the Scriptures is not the problem, but us and that we are quick to forget and slow to understand (Luke 24:25). The heart is the problem, that’s why Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures… But you are not willing to come to Me… I know..that you do [not have the love of God in you].” (John 5:39-42). That’s why Peter exhorts us to deal with our hearts, “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,” and then, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word…” (1 Peter 2:1-3). James says the same, “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive [with meekness] the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (1:21). The author of Hebrews agrees, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.” (12:1-2).

When our hearts bend in the wrong direction, it will toss us to and fro and be carried by every wind of doctrine that is out there. Why will some depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-2)? Paul tells us, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” that’s why “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7). Remember the Pharisees in John 5:39-42—they didn’t have the love of God in them? Loving money leads a person away from the truth (1 Timothy 6:10), because one can not serve both money and God. Paul makes all this clear in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “but according to [their own desires], because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth…”

We’re dictated by our hearts, for better or for worse: “they have walked [according to the dictates of their own hearts] and after the Baals…” (Jeremiah 9:14). “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but [followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts], and went backward and not forward…” (Jeremiah 7:21-27). “each one [follows the dictates of his own evil heart], so that no one listens to Me.” (Jeremiah 16:12). “This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, [who follow the dictates of their hearts]” (Jeremiah 13:10). “So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one [obey the dictates of his evil heart].” (Jeremiah 18:12).

So God will send a strong delusion, and those without the love of God in their hearts will follow the dictate of their wicked hearts. Let us be fully aware that our hearts is the problem when we approach the Scriptures, knowing that we are dependent on God for clarity, we cry out, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law… Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to covetousness.” (Psalms 119:18,36), “Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,” (Psalms 141:3-4).

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