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The Problem with Following Your Heart

When I was pricked in heart… I was like a beast toward you.
Psalm 73:21-22

One of the great gifts God has given to men and women is the gift of reason, logic, reflection, and analysis. But this gift was not given to the animals. Animals act on impulse.

Asaph says, “That’s what I was doing! When my heart was grieved, I was being pushed around by the impulses of bitterness, unbelief and despair! No wonder my feet almost slipped!”

We’re living in a culture where people love the idea of acting on impulse: “If it feels good, do it!” If you listen to the radio and television shows where people call in with their problems, you’ll hear the same theme over and over again: “Listen to your heart. Follow your heart.”

The assumption behind this advice seems to be that your heart is a reliable indicator of what’s right. The problem is that this completely ignores the doctrine of sin. The problem with us following our hearts is that there are too many impulses within the heart that would lead us into sin if we followed them: Impulses to pride, greed, and self-justification, and a whole lot more!

Following your heart is a dangerous business. The impulses of the heart will always be mixed, even in the godly man or woman. Sometimes your instincts will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit; sometimes your instincts will be guided by the flesh. That’s why we need to submit all our instincts to the Word of God. When we do this, we’ll discover which impulses we need to fight, and which impulses we need to follow.

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