Outpourings of the Heart II. This is the second draft I completed for this idea.
It does look a little disturbing, I know, but then again it’s thematic. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” -Jeremiah 17:9. That’s my thinking behind it. In the drawing, the heart looks clean on the outside, but inside it’s full of black…filth. Even the world she’s walking in resembles the state of her heart: dead. Leafless trees, barren fields, a dark sky, a winding and overgrown path.
It’s symbolic of the unregenerate heart, full of sin and death. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23. That means everyone - you, me, your family, your friends. It is impossible for us to keep the law: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” -James 2:10.
What is the law? Well, I am sure almost everyone is familiar with the Ten Commandments: you shall have no other gods before Me (God), you shall not make for yourself an idol, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; honor your father and your mother, your shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or anything that belongs to his neighbor. You can find them in Exodus 20. As you know, it would be impossible for us to keep this law; even with the best intentions, we break it every day.
But what’s the big deal? Sure I’ve sinned, but I’m not a bad person! No loving God would condemn me to an eternity in hell. Let’s suppose somebody murdered your best friend, and they were caught and brought before a judge. If the person told the judge, “Your Honor, I may have murdered someone, but it was only one person, and just look at all the good things I’ve done! They far outweigh the bad!” Would the judge declare them not guilty? No. Only a bad judge would do that. The just judge would declare them guilty.
You may say, “Well, sure I’ve lied, who hasn’t, but I haven’t done anything THAT bad! I haven’t committed adultery, I haven’t stolen, and I certainly haven’t murdered anyone!” Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And in 1 John 3:15, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
The point is that we have sinned, and that even our good works are as filthy rags. There is no hope for us on our own. By default, we are destined for an eternity in hell. And let me tell you, there is no partying in hell. “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” -Matthew 13:41-42. Do you know that Jesus speaks of hell even more often than He does of Heaven? Hell is real. It doesn’t matter what you believe, hell is a reality. A passage from the book Holes illustrates this very well: a lot of people don’t believe in yellow-spotted lizards (which have a deadly bite), but once one bites you, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in them or not. Imagine you decide to go swimming off some beautiful ocean beach, with huge breakers and cool, refreshing water, which also happens to be shark-infested. Your friends warn you not to go into that water, but you tell them, “It’s ok! I don’t believe in sharks! I’m just gonna go have a good time and not worry about it!” They’d think you’re crazy! You see, lack of belief has no bearing on reality.
"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." -Romans 2:5. It is our own sin that condemns us, and it is our own stubbornness that keeps us from repentance. It is our own hardness of heart and unwillingness to serve God. We are slaves to sin. Is the situation hopeless? Far from.
Yes, we are dead in our sins and can do nothing for ourselves, but there’s good news: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23. We are all sinful and deserve nothing more than God’s wrath and an eternity in hell. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8. “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquity; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds, we are healed.” -Isaiah 53:5. Jesus endured the agony of the cross for us. Because He was the perfect sacrifice, He was able to take our sin upon Himself, endure the rejection of the Father, who cannot be in the presence of sin, and die on our behalf. But on the third day, Jesus rose, victorious over death and sin, and He lives now in Heaven. Only by Him can you obtain the free gift of Salvation.
Because we cannot meet His perfection, God sent His Son to die for us, taking the penalty for us. “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” -Romans 10:9-10. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6. There is no salvation apart from Jesus. Only through Him and His Sacrifice are we saved from sin, death, and judgment.
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus." -Acts 3:19-20.
"…as in the passage already quoted:
'Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.’ ” -Hebrews 4:7b
So what’s holding you back? What is there on this temporal earth and in the short life that can compare to an eternity in the presence of Jesus, the One who saves, the One who loves us more than anyone else ever can? Confess your sins, stop living for yourself, and come to Jesus. Live for Him.