Deuteronomy 10:12-13;16. 12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
Almost every day in our culture we hear someone say “follow your heart.” It’s in our movies, our songs, our TV commercials, our classrooms and even in our churches. Following our hearts is how we choose a career, a lover, a sandwich. Another way of saying it is “follow your dreams.” Or “be your true, authentic self.” We believe that following your heart removes regret, allows you to respect yourself, and brings fulfillment.
But does it?
Obviously the heart is very important to God. He wants our hearts. Here, in Deuteronomy 10, God tells his people to love him and to serve him with all your heart. But we are also given a glimpse into the true nature of our hearts. Our hearts are stubborn. They need to be circumcised.
Circumcision was the physical “sign of the covenant” between God and Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17). It was symbolic of cutting away sin and turning your desires over to God. It was a picture of our greater need for a new heart. A new motivation. A new course of life. A new desire to follow God.
You see we weren’t created to “follow our hearts.” This is actually a form of law that can only reveal our failings. None of us can ever live up to our own constantly changing yet completely inflexible standards. When we try to follow our hearts, making our desires ultimate, it will only lead to disappointment at best and destruction at worst. We will forever be trapped. Bouncing around from pleasure to pleasure, addicted to selfish glory. Insatiable yet hard-hearted (read Ephesians 4:17-19 for a description of this condition).
No, we aren’t meant to follow our hearts, our hearts are meant to follow God. To worship him. To seek him. To receive his love and grace, for our good. When our hearts are captured by God’s gracious love for us we are free from having to prove ourselves and justify our existence. Only then can we love God, serving him, fearing him, while walking in his ways.
OK, so let’s get to work circumcising our hearts!
Hopefully by now you know better. Once again, God is asking us to do what we can never do. No person can circumcise their own heart. No one can remove their own selfishness and stubbornness. Only an act of God can accomplish this supernatural feat. See what God says:
Deuteronomy 30:6. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
This is a prophetic promise fulfilled by God 1500 years later in Christ. It is only by our union with Christ that our hearts are now circumcised. The penalty and the power of sin have been removed from our hearts by the spiritual surgery of the Holy Spirit when we received Christ’s indwelling life by faith. Paul says it this way:
Romans 2:28-29. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
“To live is Christ” frees us from having to follow our hearts. Now we can follow Jesus into the heart of God. His great heart of love for us. A place where we can live free from the bondage of the praise of man and rather rest in the praise of God. A place where we are no longer the center of our own universe, and the decider of our own happiness. Where we can be worshipers rather than the worshiped. A place where we can love, serve, fear, and walk with God for his glory and our good.
Have you bought into the lie that you should follow your heart?
You in Christ
Being in Christ has freed you from the law of your own heart. How does this actually bring happiness?
Christ in you
Even Jesus didn’t just “follow his heart.” He followed the will of God. Where might following God take you today that your heart would never take you?