It's easy in the rapid paced life that most of us live these days to forget the truth contained in Jeremiah 17:9. It says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" There is a strong tendency in most people to follow their heart and to a great extent this is a good thing because the Holy Spirit works through the heart. But as Jeremiah 17:9 points out, we can't trust our heart. We need to frequently evaluate our hearts by the light of God and His Word if we are to stay on a path that is of God and honoring to God. As Jeremiah 17:10 says..."I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds."
Samuel Dye, on his blog Dye2Live4Christ, shared some great thoughts on this matter. His post offers a great challenge to those who want to love the Lord with all their heart
"He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death." 2 Kings 15:3-5
As I read this it struck me that Azariah could be so blind to his sin. In chapter 12 and 14 we see two other Kings of Judah do the same thing. They lived right before God, only they did not remove the high places. And as I pondered how either blinded he must have been, or he didn't truly care. I was convicted, how many times has and does God show me my sin and yet I continue in it. It seems to very well coincide with what I was reading in Proverbs 29 today, it says: "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." God is so merciful, it honestly boggles my mind that time and time again I sin against Him, and I right now the wrath of God is not bearing down upon me. Even more than that, Christ took the wrath of God for me, I sinned I deserved God's wrath, Jesus died and took that wrath and punishment for me! But let me not "presume" upon grace, for Romans 6:2 says that we who are dead to sin are not to continue therein any longer.
I will be the first to admit, I've been deceived by sin, by my own lusts. In fact the natural man is nothing but deceived, because his mind is set on the flesh and not God. Satan is called the deceiver of the world in Revelation 12. We are not called to complacency or conformity with this world but rather to the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2), that we might have that mind which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). We are also called to encourage, exhort and even reprove other brothers (and sisters as the case may be) in Christ, that we would become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13). However if we attempt to not be deceived in our own strength and have the mind of Christ by our own doing, it will fail. We see in Jude 1:24 that it is only Jesus who can keep us from stumbling and present us spotless and without blame before the Father. And ultimately it will be worth it all because one day we "we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is." (1 John 3:2)
Amen and many thanks to Sam for his post! If you don't follow Sam's blog yet I highly recommend that you do. It's a great expositionally oriented blog and I am always blessed by his updates.