“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
In it’s context:
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and taketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
This verse by itself is often applied as a blanket statement referring to every heart of every person as being deceitful and wicked; but if you examine the context, it is actually saying that only God can tell what is in a person’s heart, and that we are not to be relying on other people instead of God because we don’t actually know who they are; God is far more trustworthy, and better able assist you.
It doesn’t make sense to apply it to everyone when also compared to other verses in the Bible. Psalm 51:10- “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Ezekiel 11:19-21: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be there God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord God.”2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” God gives us a new heart when we turn to Him.
How else could we love God with ALL our heart? How else could God describe some as having pure hearts? How else could we trust in the Lord with all our heart in Proverbs 3:5? Why would God give us the desires of our heart in Psalm 37:4 if it was always wicked? Psalm 7:10- “My defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.” Psalms 15:1,2- “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worth righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalm 37:31- “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 97:11- “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Psalm 119:2- “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” Matthew 5:8- “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 22:37: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
The condition of our heart is our choice. Just as we revert to our old man and our old sins, our hearts can revert back to our old lusts. But because we are made new in Christ, we can also choose God’s way and have our hearts changed more and more into Christ’s image. Which will you choose? Psalm 57:7- “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” Proverbs 4:23- “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Matthew 6:21- “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 2 Chronicles 12:14- “And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.” Psalm 33:21- “For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.” Psalm 119:112- “I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.”
Will you choose to let God’s word change your heart? Psalm 119:7- “I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.” Verse 11- “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Proverbs 3:1- “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments…” 4:21 “…Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.”6:21 “…Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” 7:3 “….Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.”