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How can I tell if the desires of my heart are from God?

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Naturally speaking, your heart, and mine, are terrible indicators of what is from God. Jesus said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander" (Matthew 15:19). The Old Testament concurs. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).

As much as we want to trust our hearts, popular culture, and the pop psychology that tells us to look to our heart for direction, we must avoid believing our hearts can guide us. Our hearts, as the above Scriptures and others tell us, harbor the very seeds of sin. Our hearts are the embodiment of what Scripture labels "the flesh" in opposition to the Spirit. We are born with this "heart" and we all sin (Romans 3:23).

That sin comes from within us, not as the implant from culture or outside influences. Paul writes about this "sinful nature" that strongly influences our choices: "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me" (Romans 7:18–20).

Happily, God made a way for our rescue from the punishment due to us because of our sin. That way is through faith in Jesus as our Savior. "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1–2).

Additionally, God provides grace and strength for us to fight against our desires for sinful choices. Our part is to choose to focus on glorifying God in everything we do. God can change our "heart," giving us the desire to please Him. About Israel, God told Ezekiel, "And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God." Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that we are new creations in Christ. Psalm 37:4–6 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday."

Romans 12:2 talks about being transformed in order to understand God's wishes for us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2).

God's desires become our desires, our minds are transformed, and our ability to discern God's will come about only if we repent of our wickedness and in faith accept God's gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can take Paul's instructions to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14–17 as our guide:

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

Related Truth:

What is the key to knowing the will of God?

How can I seek first the kingdom of God?

How should our identity in Christ affect the way we live?

What is the significance of the command to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?

What can I do to build a closer relationship with God?

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