Ever since Mark and Julie were married, they dreamed of pastoring a church. When years passed and Mark did not get the “call,” they became frustrated. They were serving at a church when the leadership made a minor decision with which they did not agree. They used this as an excuse to do what they have always dreamed of – to pastor a church. In their minds, best way for them to do this was to start their own. They even took a substantial percentage of people from their previous church with them, to the point of fracturing the health of that church.
Is it a sin to start a new church? Absolutely not. There are places all over the globe, and even in our own nation that desperately need new church plants. The issue here is Mark’s and Julia’s hearts. Their hearts deceived them into rationalizing their desire to lead a church by overreacting to the unfavorable decision made by their church leadership.
Another way Mark and Julie rationalized their desires is because it seemed like a good and noble thing to do. They thought (and defended themselves with): We’re starting a church. Why wouldn’t God be pleased with that? We followed our hearts. How could we be wrong?
What Scripture Says
Jeremiah 17:9-10 says:
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.
As we examine this small passage in the book of Jeremiah, it is important to understand the context behind the Scripture. The prophet Jeremiah was warning the people of Judah that there was impending doom as a result of their actions. During Jeremiah’s years of prophecy, a corrupt king named Jehoiakim turned what was once a God-honoring territory into one that worshipped pagan idols. He built himself a showy palace and did not compensate the laborers. This disregard for God hurled Judah into a national crisis.
The fleshly desire for power and the overarching sin of pride, like Mark and Julie, led Jehoikim and the people of Judah into this downward spiral of destruction. Worst of all, these were God’s covenant people, and they broke this covenant through their disloyalty to Him.
Jeremiah 17:9 states the problem: the heart. Interestingly, the original Hebrew word transliterated aqob, comes from the same root as the name, Jacob, which means “heel grabber,” or “supplanter.” In Genesis 25, we read the account of Jacob’s deceit of his father and his brother to get his own personal desire – the birthright. As with Jacob, our fleshly hearts deceive us into letting our desires cloud the truth of Scripture.
This same verse also says that our hearts are sick. The New International Version uses the word incurable. Does this mean hopeless? No. It just means we can’t change our hearts on our own.
Flip further into Jeremiah and land on 31:33. Read what it says:
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
What King Jehoikim and the people of Judah fractured as a result of their disobedience, God fully intended to restore. Through continual encouragement and warnings, Judah turned back to God and was bonded to Him once again. This new covenant was set, and God law written on their hearts was equivalent to having a new heart – a new, healthy heart turned toward Him.
As with the Judeans, the only One who can heal our incurable, deceitful hearts is God, through His Son Jesus Christ. Is His law written on your heart?
Are you sure of your salvation?
Follow the Steps to Peace online to recommit your life to Jesus.