“I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart” (Deuteronomy 29:19)
A workmate told me that they believed that the Bible said things that weren’t true. They were surprised when I agreed with them as no doubt some of you readers might be. Some explanation is required, of course.
The Bible accurately records Satan saying things that are not true such as, “Your will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4, 5). The record is accurate but what Satan said was most certainly not true.
The verse at the head of this article is another case where the recording of a thought a person may have is accurate but what is said is not true. This is one of those many occasions in the Bible when the Lord exposes what we may be thinking.
This verse gives us a look into our own heart when we are not wholly surrendered to the Lord. It also reveals the constant attitude of one who has never come to Jesus. We think we can live out Satan’s lie and be our own god but we will be found out.
In the course of my work I come across drunken people and they are, at the least, quite an annoyance to those who are sober. This is the analogy Moses uses in this verse. The drunk can’t see that he is so different to those around him but the sober people can readily see the difference. So too the person wholly surrendered to the Lord can discern one who is following the dictates of their own heart and the one so following his own heart cannot see that he is so different. This may be why Christians who are not surrendered to Jesus, do not “die daily” or “take up their cross daily.”
In my youth I attended church weekly and, at the time, I thought I was a Christian. I didn’t think I was any different to anyone else as I followed the dictates of my heart. Fortunately for me, at age 20 years, at another church there was a couple who readily recognised the difference and were prepared to let me know that there was a vast difference. God allowed me to see that they had a living relationship with Jesus Christ that I did not have. To this day and forever I will demonstrate my gratitude to God and to them for that revelation.
We can see in Israel’s history and in the history of the early church that God will not let His people get away with living a life not surrendered to Him. His intent is not to punish but to return His people to the place of blessing. It is obvious to us that Israel is not yet in the place of blessing but the Bible reveals that there is a day coming when it shall be (Deuteronomy 30:6; Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:26).
The Christian living carnally will do what he thinks is pleasing to God and expect God to bless it. In this he has followed the dictates of his own heart but he will think he has served God. The Lord does not want to leave that person in such a state but wants to return him to the place of blessing. There will be no peace in following the dictates of my own heart.