READ: Psalm 41, Jeremiah 16-18, Matthew 13, Acts 20
Jeremiah warns us that “cursed is the man who trusts in man” (Jer. 17:5) and contrasts the fool who trusts in man with the sage who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is in God (v. 7). The one who trust in God will indeed be “like a tree planted by the waters…that does not fear when heat comes” (v. 8). What is striking about this passage is the next verse: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it” (v. 9)? Why does the Lord warn us about our treacherous hearts immediately after such a promising scripture concerning the one who trusts in Him? The answer is disturbingly simple. We all are marred and prone to trust ourselves. Or more directly said–we all are idiots.
It is not popular to point out that men and women–even godly ones–have a propensity towards wickedness. While it is true that those who have trusted in Christ have a new nature (and our sin is covered by grace), it is also true that the old nature (the flesh) is yet with us and shall be until our final liberation when Jesus returns. Hypostatic union is the doctrine that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures–fully man and fully God. The same principle applies to us–we are one person with two natures: fully redeemed and fully fallen. By implication then, to trust in God fully means we must wholly distrust ourselves. We have partaken of the divine nature, even while we continue to live in the miry clay of a fallen world. The new creation is in a constant battle with the old man. We continue to sin even as we live forgiven, and the one who thinks he or she is without sin is a misguided fool. The one who thinks he or she will ever be bound by sin has misunderstood the present and eternal liberation of the gospel.
It is in this context we find Jeremiah’s remarkable object lesson at the potter’s house. “The vessel…made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel” (18:4). It is no shame to confess that even in the hands of Jesus (saved, sanctified, filled with His Spirit), we are still prone to sin and to the treachery of our own hearts. We are marred in His wonderful hands, not because His hands are unsteady but because our clay is wobbly. This sobering reality should not discourage us, for the critical truth is not that we are marred but that we are in the Potter’s divine hands and He will skillfully make us again into another vessel. What a marvelous Jesus! He lovingly shapes us from glory to glory. We have neither the false assumption that we are sinless and perfect, nor the despair of being ever bound by our sin. We are at once both treacherous and being made true.