It may appear startling to say that man’s heart can be symbolized in the way shown in this first picture.
It does not refer, of course, to his physical heart, that marvellous organ of the body which beats so faithfully some 50,000,000 times each year of a man’s life and pumps its life-giving blood throughout the whole body.
In the Scriptures the word ‘heart’ is frequently used to depict the man himself, and that is its significance here.
Now we are told in Genesis 1:31 that when God created the first man, Adam, He saw “everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.”
By the time, however, we reach the third chapter of Genesis we find the tragedy of Adam and Eve sinning against God.
When Paul refers to this in Romans 5:12 he says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Adam’s disobedience brought the result of which God had warned him when He forbid him to eat of the fruit of the tree that was in the middle of the Garden of Eden.
God had said, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
The moment Adam took the fruit he sealed his own doom and with it the doom of the whole human race that followed him.
In Romans 3:10–18 Paul quotes from several other Scriptures to show the pitiful condition into which mankind has fallen, and then he summarises it all in the statement that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Now let us see what this picture shows us.
AN OPEN BOOK
An open book is shown on one side of the heart in this picture.
This represents the Word of God, the Scriptures.
Now God has not left mankind to struggle as best he may, in sin and iniquity.
He has revealed Himself to us through the Word which He has carefully preserved for us (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Our only source of knowing what He has said is the Bible itself.
It is from the Word of God that we can discover the true condition of our hearts as we permit its light to shine on us.
It is also from the same Word that we can discover God’s remedy for our sin and for our helpless condition.
Because “the unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” (1 Corinthians 2:14) God has graciously given us His Holy Spirit, symbolized by
This symbol is used in Matthew 3:16 and reminds us of the wonderful gentleness of the Holy Spirit.
As the third Person of the Triune God He came according to the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4-5) and of the Lord Jesus (John 16:7), after our Lord’s death and resurrection, that He might guide us into all truth (John 16:13) and that He might take the things of Christ and reveal them to us (John 16:15).
Here then are God’s two precious gifts to us:
▪︎ His Word that we might know the truth,
▪︎ and His Holy Spirit to lead us into that truth.
Now let us look at the contents of the heart.
There we see seven creatures, each representing a passion.
There is a proverb which says “It is possible to know a man and see his outward appearance, but it is difficult to know his heart.”
Our Lord said, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.” (Matthew 15:18-20)
A peacock is the first creature.
Everyone knows this represents pride, one of the cardinal sins and yet one which is often thought of lightly unless it becomes too arrogant.
God gave the peacock some very beautiful feathers which have been highly prized by men through all ages because of their exquisite beauty. But if you watch a peacock it will not be long before you see it proudly display its fine feathers as soon as it realises anyone is observing. God’s gift is turned to its own base advantage.
How common a sin this is!
▪︎ Some are proud because they are clever in business or have a little more education or wealth than others.
▪︎ Some pride themselves over their own handsome appearance or over what their children can do.
▪︎ Women may become proud of their dress or of their jewellery.
One way or another the sin of pride seems to have tainted everybody.
But God says clearly in His Word that pride is a thing He hates. (see Proverbs 6:16–17, 8:13; Mark 7:22; James 4:6)
Goats have very bad dispositions; they have a very unpleasant smell and are known for their lust.
Any who have herded goats will know how marked are these characteristics.
In contrast to sheep which will follow their shepherd, goats obstinately go their own way, searching for anything they fancy eating.
The Bible tells us plainly that the lusts of the flesh’ are an abomination to God. (see 1 Peter 2:11, 1 John 2:16)
Pigs are very common animals in many countries.
But have you ever seen an animal more given over to greed than a pig?
Listen to it eating and you will notice its greediness. Watch it turn up the ground with its snout and you will see its voracity.
Sin makes us greedy for things which satisfy ourselves whereas we should be concerned about the needs of others. Then, too pigs are dirty by nature.
Wash a pig and put it in a clean pen; it will soon make the place filthy and wallow in that filth.
Some people’s hearts are full of evil thoughts.
Others like to tell dirty jokes or sing evil theatrical ditties.
Confucius, the Sage of China, said, “Of all evils, adultery is the worst.”
The Word of God constantly warns against all such filthy living.
We should be careful of our words (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4) and we should be careful to avoid all such evil things as adultery and fornication. (see Galatians 5:19-21)
A wolf is covetous.
Wolves are not usually seen by day, but by night they come down from the mountains and steal chickens and small animals.
Sometimes they even catch a child and flee into the mountains again.
They are extremely covetous and use sly means to get what they want.
Why do people have to lock their doors at night or leave someone to watch the house in the day-time? Is it not because they fear covetous men may enter and steal?
God speaks very plainly about this sin of covetousness when He says, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbour’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
If you watch a snake gliding through the grass or hanging from the branch of a tree you will realise how cunning and crafty it is. It may appear to be very helpless, without legs, arms or wings, but this is only part of its characteristic deceitfulness.
Danger lies in the poisonous bite given to its victim who may have been unaware of its presence. There are many people who carry on their business in this way, devising methods of deceiving a customer into buying an article that is below the quality or quantity it appears to be.
▪︎ We have met those who put a heavy stone into a basket of charcoal, or soak bundles of firewood in water to make them weigh more.
▪︎ We have found some cloth merchants selling ‘fadeless material which loses its colour after the first washing!
All sorts of methods are devised to deceive others and get rich quickly.
In Jeremiah 17:9 we read, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” This is an evil which is frequently manifesting its presence.
You may sometimes hear people say, “Do not irritate that old woman, she is a female tiger.” But uncontrolled temper is not restricted to women only.
Many a man or boy has a violent temper, while hatred and cruelty are prevalent all over the world.
Tigers are noted for their fierce cruelty causing suffering and even death to their victims as they give vent to their lust for blood.
All of us have seen someone’s temper fare up suddenly, with terrifying consequences to others.
Frequently it looks as if the angry person has an evil demon within.
It is clear that such a characteristic is far from pleasing to God. (see Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8) and the Lord Jesus Himself warns us that those who give place to temper are in danger of hell fire. (see Matthew 5:22)
This arimal is often used as a symbol of swearing and cursing, but in this picture it particularly indicates laziness.
It takes a very long time to go anywhere or do anything, and the more it is encouraged to walk the less it does so. Lazy people are not only unattractive but they are also irresponsible and cannot be relied on. They neglect their duty.
Jesus Christ once described a man of this sort as being ‘wicked and slothful,’ and consequently deserving of severe punishment. (Matthew 25:26) The Scriptures also warn us against being slothful in business. (Romans 12:11).
How is it that all these animals are found in this man’s heart?
The answer is not hard to find, for actually many more could be shown to represent the numerous sins that find a lodging place in the heart of man.
All these evil things are there because they are the servants of the devil Satan himself who takes his place in the centre of them all.
Satan, the great arch-enemy of all mankind is incessantly at work seeking to bring humanity more and more under the bondage of sin. It is because of this that there is such a universal fear of his emissaries, the demons who are dreaded by so many.
Notice further how the demon in the picture has pierced the heart’s eye above him with his spear.
In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we read that the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.
The Lord Jesus told us that “the eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).
If then we have been blinded by Satan, is it any wonder that we have gone astray and are lost in the darkness of sin? “You say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing,’ not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor and blind.” (Revelation 3:17).
The star is the only other object that has not yet been explained. It stands for a person’s conscience, his faculty to distinguish between right and wrong and that which can influence his conduct accordingly.
God has placed nerves throughout the body as the means of warning when any part is in physical danger and God has given the conscience to warn us of moral and spiritual danger.
If anyone pricks his body with a needle he will feel the pain immediately, for the nerves send a warning to the brain indicating the point of danger. But it is sadly possible to harden the body or deaden the nerves by the use of drugs.
How easy it is for some people to walk with bare feet over sharp stones and rough places without feeling any pain! They have accustomed their feet to this sort of thing for so long that the skin has grown thick and hard and sensitiveness is lost.
While this may not matter as far as feet are concerned, yet it shows how a conscience can become hardened through not responding to its impulses until, finally, the time comes when it is incapable of functioning correctly (1 Timothy 4:2).
In this picture then we have seen the sad plight of the Natural Heart. It is black and filled with sins, the devil being in control. Although the light from the Word of God and from the Holy Spirit is shining on it, yet none of that light has been permitted to penetrate the darkness of this evil heart.
The Bible describes this condition by saying that such a man is “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1).
It is to such a man in such a perilous and hopeless condition that God’s message of salvation and deliverance from the power of Satan and of sin has been given.
Website 1: https://devotionals.harryschoemaker.nl
Website 2: http://bijbelplaatjes.nl