The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;
who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
How many times when watching a movie or TV show have you heard the main character emphatically state that to be happy or successful, one needs to follow his or her heart? It seems we are surrounded by books, TV programs, movies, and music that perpetuate this idea. Even our children are being bombarded with this message daily. Check out these lyrics from the song “Follow Your Heart” from Cinderella 2:
So make your own way. Show the beauty within.
When you follow your heart, there's no heart you can't win.
So reach for the sky, it's not high as it seems.
Just follow your heart; go as far as your dreams.
Dare if you want to. Don't fear you'll fall.
Take a chance 'cause it's better than never to chance it at all,
There's a world for the changing, and you've just begun.
Don't let them tell you it's simply not done,
When you follow your heart, you'll shine brightly as the sun.
Apparently, Cinderella did not read her Bible.
The idea of following our instincts feeds into a natural bent towards independence and self-will. In the Bible, God gives us many examples of what happens when humans follow their hearts. Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thereby separating themselves from God and cursing mankind. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and told their father that Joseph was dead (he wasn't). Israel’s hero, King David, followed his heart and then raped Bathsheba. When he discovered Bathsheba was pregnant, David had her husband Uriah murdered and married the poor dead man’s wife. I am pretty sure we are seeing a pattern here.
It is so interesting to me that this idea of following your heart has also been expressed in neopagan religions and some forms of witchcraft and mysticism by writers that use the phrase "do what you will; harm none." These false religions are empowered by demonic forces that hate God and those who love him. The idea of getting mankind to follow their own desires and not God’s plan started in the garden when the serpent deceived the first couple. The serpent is still deceiving people today as he subtly convinces humans to believe that their hearts are inherently good and to trust them. We then become deceived, and instead of being under God’s protection we yoke ourselves to the enemies of God. Wow! Somehow I do not think Cinderella would want to be involved in that.
So many times in Scripture we are told that human hearts are damaged and are in need of help--lots of help. Proverbs 14:14 says, "the backslider in heart shall be filled with the fruit of his own ways" (emphasis added). Jesus says in Matthew 15:19, "out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander" (emphasis added). The fact that human hearts are a mess and in need of a savior is not a vague idea in Scripture. Galatians 5:19-21 teaches, "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
I think Scripture makes an airtight case that there is only one way of curing these heart issues. We can look to King David as our example. He realized his sins and knew his only hope was in confessing to God and allowing God to restore him. David cried out to God in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." David got it right. He stopped following his heart and returned to the God who created him, knew him, and loved him. What was good for David is good for us today. Scripture gives us the good news that, even though our hearts are broken, there is hope. Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you stop following your broken heart and instead seek God’s heart for you? If your answer is yes then this verse is for you: "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).