I daresay most American Christians are familiar with this verse from Jeremiah. I have no guess for the number of times I've heard it preached about. It is the ONE verse, we have been told, that shows no one can trust their heart. I will admit I am conflicted as the wording is not vague. It says, in black and white, that the heart is deceitful ABOVE ALL, and DESPERATELY WICKED.
Albeit that this wording is unambiguous, a search of the Bible will quickly show the heart can be both wicked AND/OR good.
If the heart IS wicked and deceitful, it raises some questions.
If, as some say, Jesus is invited into our hearts, does (would!) He reside in a wickedly deceitful one?
Also, as it says in Psalms that the Lord will give us the desires of the heart, would God give us desires that are rooted in wickedness and deceit?
Was Jeremiah (God), perhaps, being rhetorical? Could he be describing the UNregenerated heart of the PRE-Cross, natural man? There is a question asked at the end of the sentence, "who can know it?" It is interesting to note that just like Paul's lament in his letter to the Romans, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?, we usually stop and don't move on to the answer; Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT)
Jeremiah also supplies an answer to the question; I the LORD… Therefore the heart IS knowable - God can know it.
So how can we reconcile the apparently clear teaching of this verse with other instruction in the Bible concerning the heart?
I think the answer is given to us in Ezekiel 36:26, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (emphasis mine)
Could one conceivably conclude that the REgenerated man can trust his heart?
Now, wouldn't THAT be good news!
(Just don't eat what you're fed, hunt for yourself.)