What does "deceitful" mean in Jeremiah 17:9, and in Jer. 7:10 what do "heart" and "reins" mean? Jeremiah Chapter 17 9 The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the heart, [I] try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, [and] according to the fruit of his doings.
Jeremiah 17:9 - 10
ESV - 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."
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"Deceitful" refers to the capacity of the mind (figuratively represented by the heart) to delude an individual into believing that he is good or moral when his thoughts and actions are in fact thoroughly corrupted by sin. "Heart" (in verse 9) and "reins" (in verse 10) are references to the parts of the body that were considered the innermost, and thus the seat of secrets and emotions that would not have been known to any other person, but which God could try (that is, examine), and of which He (being omniscient) would have full knowledge. ("Reins" is an outdated term for the kidneys, derived from the same Latin root from which related English words such as "renal" would have come.)
In Jeremiah 17:10 God says, "“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Our desires reside in our heart. Our desires will produce words and deeds. When our desire is to please God, our lives will produce good deeds and God will reward us. Our thoughts reside in our minds. Our thoughts will produce words and deeds. When our thoughts are focused on God's will, our lives will produce good deeds and God will reward us. The problem is our sinful human nature. We deceive ourselves into believing we are basically "good" people. That there is nothing wrong with our thoughts and desires. But God declares the truth that our hearts [emotions, thoughts, & will] are deceiving us ALL the time, and we can do nothing to change it ourselves. But the good news is that God is offering to give us a new heart. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are born again and receive a new heart [abounding desires to please God] and a new mind, the mind of Christ to know and do the will of God. Now when God searches our hearts and minds, he will see that our new heart and mind have produced good words and deeds which he will reward. However, if we claim to believe in Jesus but our heart and mind are not producing the good deeds that God expects, then God will know, when he examines our hearts and minds, that we are still deceiving ourselves.
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