Heart Problem – Man as Provider

"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron;
With the point of a diamond it is engraved
On the tablet of their heart …
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings."  
- Jeremiah 17:1, 9-10 NKJV

There’s an old saying: “The heart of the problem is the problem of the human heart.” And the problem with our hearts is that they are sinful. Part of our role as Providers is to provide a sense of identity. Those in our charge need to understand at an early age that we are all sinners. Romans 3:23 makes this reality plain: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We are a bundle of sinful drives and desires, woven into our very nature, which gives us the bent toward sin. As Jeremiah put it, it’s engraved on our hearts with the “point of a diamond,” “a pen of iron.”

Informed by verses like Jeremiah 17, America’s Founding Fathers wisely rejected the notion of the innate goodness of humankind when they were developing our form of government. It was this understanding of human nature as sinful that inspired our government’s numerous checks and balances. James Madison, Father of the U.S. Constitution, put it this way in Federalist 51: “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

The problem is that men are not angels. We’re all sinners. That is our identity. Some call that the doctrine of total depravity. That doctrine was not only drilled into Madison by his church’s catechism but also by Presbyterian pastor and Founding Father Dr. John Witherspoon at the seminary that became Princeton University. The doctrine of human depravity is affirmed by Jeremiah 17:9: “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

Another Founder, John Adams, quoted Jeremiah 17:9 as the basis for checks and balances necessary for government to function:
To expect self-denial from men when they have a majority in their favor, and consequently power to gratify themselves, is to disbelieve all history and universal experience; it is to disbelieve Revelation and the Word of God, which informs us “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

The Founders understood that all human governments are flawed because they are not administered by angels but by sinners. Consequently, they wisely decided to put in place a system of checks and balances to curb the sinful ambition to abuse government power. We should be grateful for our Founders, who laid the foundation for our system of government on the transcendent truth of the Word of God.

The Hebrew word translated in the NKJV speaking of the human heart as “desperately wicked” has the idea of a terminal, incurable illness. Thank God for the cross of Christ that provides the cure for our “incurable” heart problem. Speaking of the cross, Peter declared: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24; Isa. 53:5). In fact, God promises through the prophet Ezekiel to give us “a new heart” (Ezek. 36:36). Finally, Paul speaks of how God miraculously changes our identity: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Only the grace of God through the blood of the cross can cleanse us of sin, cure our sinful hearts and give us a new identity in Christ.

- How can you as a Provider help those in your charge understand their identity as a sinner apart from Christ and how Christ can change that identity?
- Is there another guy in your circle who needs to understand the reality of our sinfulness and how Christ can cleanse, cure and change his life?
- Pray for God to give you wisdom to help your kids and grandkids understand their identity apart from Christ and the difference Christ can make to change their identity and their destiny.