The Natural Heart and God

By John Thiel, mp3

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

We are to ask the Lord to have his own way. Do we understand this? Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. This concept to lean not unto our own understanding is the purpose of this study. What is meant with leaning not unto our own understanding? Do we understand the living experience of this?

We need to receive divine wisdom in the daily concerns of life in order that we may display sound judgment and choose the safe path because it is the right one. He who acts upon his own judgment will follow the inclination of the natural heart, but he whose mind is opened to the Word of God will prayerfully consider every way of his feet, so that he may honor God and keep the way of the Lord. {TMK 251.3}

This statement that will help us to understand what we are trying to pursue in our research.

The Inclination of the Natural Heart

Do you have a natural heart and mind? Of course you do and so have I. There is not one of us on this planet free of that natural mind as it is always there. Must I have this perplexing item of my own judgement? It is a perplexing thought. To have my own judgement means to refer to the inclination of my own natural heart.

Every individual, by his own act, either puts Christ from him by refusing to cherish His spirit and follow His example, or he enters into a personal union with Christ. {AG 321.3}

How? We love the thought of a personal communion with Christ. How do we get into a personal union with Christ?

…by self-renunciation, faith, and obedience. We must, each for himself, choose Christ, because He has first chosen us. This union with Christ is to be formed by those who are naturally at enmity with Him. It is a relation of utter dependence, to be entered into by a proud heart. This is close work, and many who profess to be followers of Christ know nothing of it. They nominally accept the Saviour, but not as the sole ruler of their hearts. {AG 321.3}

Here is a perplexing point. We who are wanting to come into a union with Christ but we are naturally at enmity with him. Do you like that thought? It’s perplexing as my natural heart is egocentric. It is wrapped up with me and my opinion and my judgement and own understanding. We are to enter into a relation of dependence when we are a proud heart. This natural heart is enmity against Jesus. Do we really understand how true that is? The apostle is interplaying the principle of the revelation of God verses the natural man.

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

Are you a natural man or woman? We are told by God in his word that we are to embrace something that is not the wisdom of the world. It is not man’s wisdom or what man might teach. Apostle Paul was writing these words and it was a man but what did he say? It is not what I as a man am showing you. I am showing you something that my natural man regards as foolish. As you listen to God’s word, our natural man will regard it as not making sense. The apostle Paul interplays the natural man with the term the flesh. To be carnally minded is death.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

The natural heart and mind regards the things of God as totally out of harmony with its own understanding. Notice the contrast that the Holy Spirit is placing before our minds.

The Natural Man Versus the Holy Spirit

In our last divine service, Are You Ready For Jesus To Come, we received a message in reference to the sealing that we are to be involved with and to be ready for Jesus to come and to stand in the time of trouble as God sealed remnant.

Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. {GC 623.1}

We want to be sealed and stand in the time of trouble and Satan must find nothing in me. There was to be nothing inside of me that would yield to the power of temptation. That is where we cherish some desire in our human natural heart. Jesus never responded in his human heart to harbour or cherish any of that desire. He did not cherish it in his human heart. Where must Satan find no foothold and no sinful desire to be cherished in the natural heart? Can you see perplexity?

To renounce their own will, perhaps their chosen object of affection or pursuit, requires an effort, at which many hesitate and falter and turn back. Yet this battle must be fought by every heart that is truly converted. {AG 321.4}

The natural heart has fastened itself affectionately upon objects or pursuits that don’t harmonise with the mind of God and the Holy Spirit. This is the battle that we need to fight. A converted heart needs to fight against the natural heart.

We must war against temptations without and within. We must gain the victory over self, crucify the affections and lusts; {AG 321.4}

Temptations are there and if we cherish anyone of those Satan will find an entrance. Jesus rejected all those things so that Satan could find nothing in him.

…and then begins the union of the soul with Christ. . . . After this union is formed, it can be preserved only by continual, earnest, painstaking effort. Christ exercises His power to preserve and guard this sacred tie, and the dependent, helpless sinner must act his part with untiring energy, or Satan by his cruel, cunning power will separate him from Christ. . . . {AG 321.4}

Can you identify with this? Is this an experience of yours? Have you thought, I am never going to be saved as I have these ugly affectionate things that I’m told the word of God doesn’t agree with and I can’t see myself ever changing? This is what we need to understand. Many who profess Christ do not understand this. We are to appreciate the canker that must be dealt with within my natural heart so I can be as Christ was.

The Natural Heart

Can this natural heart be religious? Can it be interested in Bible study? The natural heart can be very religious. The apostle Paul dealt with that very thing in his own experience. I will not refer to any worldly person or procedure. I will refer to the natural man that is religious which can be you and me. Paul trusted in his flesh.

Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ,

A Seventh Day Adventist of the Seventh Day Adventists born in the church, brought up faithfully in all the standards of Adventism and according to the standards of Adventism, blameless. That can be the natural man. So realistic can the natural man be that he believes he is a Christian so that Jesus has to wake up our minds to this terrible danger as there will be people in the day of judgement that will wake up with a shock that it was their natural heart engaging with Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

The word prophesy means preach and conveys God’s word in the name of Jesus. What did they call him? Lord.

Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

You were never in union with me, you were following your natural heart. Pharisaic legalism and Christian liberalism is all the religion of the natural heart, the whole lot. Christians often look at the Pharisee and say we are not a Pharisee, no we are a natural man who is drawing his own conclusions from his natural heart as he reads the Bible.

The Pharisee felt no conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit could not work with him. His soul was encased in a self-righteous armor which the arrows of God, barbed and true-aimed by angel hands, failed to penetrate. It is only he who knows himself to be a sinner that Christ can save. {COL 158.1}

The Pharisee is a Laodicean Seventh Day Adventist who was so strict, so exact in everything and legalistically correct in every aspect of God’s word that he was encased in armour which Gods arrows carefully aimed to penetrate that were warded off. All the statements in Gods words about the sinner don’t apply to me they say and God is trying to get him and he couldn’t. That is the legalistic Seventh Day Adventist. Then comes the sentimental Seventh Day Adventist, the one who is just gaa, gaa about their Lord Jesus Christ in an emotional way. The same description only in different words apply to such a heart. It is the natural heart.

If the practice of the Word is not brought into the life, then the sword of the Spirit has not wounded the natural heart. It has been shielded in poetic fancy. Sentimentalism has so wrapped it about that the heart has not sufficiently felt the keenness of its edge, piercing and cutting away the sinful shrines where self is worshipped. . . . {OHC 203.2}

You can be a Christian, a Pharisee or be an emotional sentimentalist and love those poetic expressions of scripture and Psalms. Didn’t you love a hymn and yet you may not know a thing about the meaning of that hymn? The natural man does not know. The Lord in his effort with his sharp barbed arrows or his sword to cut away the shrine of affections and sentimentalism can’t do it as it is held and protected by those poetic fancies. We fancy ourselves with the natural heart. When the word is not brought into the life that is what happens. We read clearly that there is a battle to fight if we are going to be truly sons and daughters of God. It is the battle of the natural heart that the Holy Spirit must conquer. It is a battle that must go on by a converted heart continually. The natural heart comes to the Bible and reads it with sentimental poetic fancy or with rigid bigoted faithfulness to do it according to the natural mind.

There is much reading of the Bible that is without profit and in many cases a positive injury. {SC 110.1}

Don’t stop reading the Bible but there is much reading with the natural heart.

When the word of God is opened without reverence and without prayer; when the thoughts and affections are not fixed upon God, or in harmony with His will, the mind is clouded with doubts; and in the very study of the Bible, skepticism strengthens. The enemy takes control of the thoughts, and he suggests interpretations that are not correct. Whenever men are not in word and deed seeking to be in harmony with God, then, however learned they may be, they are liable to err in their understanding of Scripture, and it is not safe to trust to their explanations. Those who look to the Scriptures to find discrepancies, have not spiritual insight. With distorted vision they will see many causes for doubt and unbelief in things that are really plain and simple. {SC 110.1}

We make alterations to suit our comfort zone. What I have been taught in the past is my comfort zone. I have placed my affections on things not of God’s word. As the word comes a twinge of conscious is felt and we say it doesn’t mean that. That is the way the natural heart responds. The natural heart does not receive the things of the kingdom of heaven as the natural heart will oppose it because it regards it as foolishness. That is childish and foolish and that is what the natural heart does.

What the Natural Heart Will Do

When the word of God comes to it and it wants to be highly religious but something doesn’t suit it makes easy conversions.

The religion of self makes easy conversions. Scripture is perverted, God dethroned, and self deified. The operation of the Holy Spirit on hearts is denied. This is the new, broad way, substituted as an improvement on the strait gate and the narrow way. {18MR 271.2}

We like to walk along a path we are comfortable in but the way Jesus laid out is a narrow path that is not comfortable to the natural man so we substitute and make improvement of the straight gate and the narrow way.

When self becomes thus prominent, God is lost sight of and the work cannot prosper. The Lord is misrepresented and misjudged. The importance of the truth is lost to view while human opinions rise to vast importance. {18MR 271.2}

If I am kind to you about an opinion that you have that I know that the word of God doesn’t teach and say, I respect your opinion, don’t take that as a good token. Your human opinion doesn’t count. It is God’s opinion that counts on every item of the word. If your human opinion takes control, the experience is cheapened and it is an easy conversion.

Thus the experience is cheapened. Zeal for self takes the place of the higher aims which should mold the life. Egotism develops and strengthens. Religion is used as a means for carrying out selfish purposes. The solemn claims of God are treated as a farce, spoken of with levity and irreverence. A man with such an experience has lost his anchorage, and is drifting without guide or compass. {18MR 271.2}

That is what the natural heart does. It thinks it can improve on God’s word and rearrange a few things that will make it more acceptable. The things that the natural heart does is to think it can improve on Gods design.

It is a very poor policy for men to seek to improve on God’s plan, and invent a makeshift, averaging up their good impulses on this and that occasion, and offsetting them against God’s requirements. God calls upon all to give their influence to His own arrangement. He has made His plan known, and all who would co-operate with Him must carry out this plan instead of daring to attempt an improvement on it. {9T 248.1}

The natural man thinks he can improve on God’s plan. Its foolishness so he dares to make an improvement on God’s plan. These things we need to understand what the natural man is liable to do if I don’t want Satan to find foothold in my being. I must understand it and deal with it.

The doctrine of sanctification advocated by many is full of deception, because it is flattering to the natural heart; {FW 96.3}

What is so flattering to the natural heart in this doctrine of sanctification in the human natural heart teaches?

This false sanctification is most dangerous and deceptive in its influence upon all who accept it. A peculiar atmosphere surrounds them, an influence which, when brought in contact with others, if not discerned, is breathed in unconsciously by the receiver. This atmosphere is charged with poison which is death to spirituality. There are no snares of Satan more hard to be discerned and defined, and souls be rescued from, than this delusion. {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 6}

Those who accept this bogus sanctification do not hesitate to draw away from the body and set themselves up as criteria. They claim that the Lord is leading them, and do not seek counsel of the church, but move out independently, deceived in themselves and deceiving others. The poison of this so-called sanctification is inhaled, and the atmosphere, apparently so balmy, is intoxicating and destructive {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 7}

God doesn’t leave you on your own. This sanctification where you think God is leading you personally to different to others in the truth is a bogus and it is so balmy. Haven’t you seen it through the ranks of Adventism? Independents standing aside without counsel from many brethren. This idea that the Lord is leading me and not anyone else is a bogus sanctification, it is the natural heart. Don’t we like sermons that make us feel good? Don’t we tend to improve on scriptures that tend to create a negative sense when I read those statements? I don’t quite think that is comfortable and quite right. The natural man, for example a Sunday keeper has been brought up keeping Sunday and says, I’ve been brought up all my life as an Anglican and I’m not going to change. When the seventh day commandment comes to the Sunday keeper, the natural man says I can be a Christian without having to keep the Sabbath. I can go on in Sunday keeping or the Sabbath was for the Jews. They are improving on God’s word. Or they say the law was nailed to the cross. That is the natural man speaking. Have you ever read the verse in the Bible saying wives obey your husbands and the natural man or woman says wait a minute, my husband is a sinner, how can I obey him? I know he has done this and that and the other, I can’t obey him, that can’t be right. The man turns around and says great she has to obey me, I’m going to make sure she obeys me. That is the natural man and how it responds. We read the word of God and we apply it to suit the natural.


Do you like studying prophecy? So does the natural man. It is wonderful to understand the prophecies and the political arena and as we do we say yes the papacy is bad and the politics and the natural heart picks up all the conspiracy theories that the Bible doesn’t identify and makes a big doctrine out of it. I have been sent two books called ‘Bar-bel-lon’ and they go into all the situations behind the scenes and I’ve not opened that book to read it. I’ve scanned it but I won’t turn away my attention from the Lord. It is attractive and we develop the natural man that becomes a zealot that begins to attack the papacy when the spirit of God says don’t attack them.

Church Relations

This happens to the natural man. Here I am a servant of God and my natural man says I am a servant of God and I’m going to assert my will because I know that I’m a servant of God just like the husband saying come on wife obey me.

The great obstruction to your work will be the disregard of the tenderness of Christ in dealing with one another, because self is seeking the supremacy. Self loves to vaunt itself, and those who present a spirit unlike Christ’s cannot discern what manner of spirit controls them. They speak and act like sinners, while they profess to be Christians. They more readily express their own will than the will of God, yet they are very strenuous to have their will regarded as the will of God. Satan is urging his attributes into the very midst of us; he is seeking to destroy our love for and confidence in each other; and {GCB, February 25, 1895 par. 6}

The spirit of God wants us to have love for one another and confidence in each other.

…the lack of confidence which brethren in the ministry repose in their fellow laborers is easily read in the rules and regulations, concerning even the details of the work, which are imposed upon them. {GCB, February 25, 1895 par. 6}

Rules and regulations come from the natural man so people will submit to what we say and that which we have stated must happen.

When men will show confidence in their fellowmen, they will come much nearer to possessing the mind of Christ. The Lord has revealed the estimate that he places upon men. God has not given them this work to do. {GCB, February 25, 1895 par. 7}

Self will ever cherish a high estimate of self. {GCB, February 25, 1895 par. 8}

We cherish things that Satan can gain a foothold on.

The grace of Christ is essential every day, every hour. Unless it is with us continually, the inconsistencies of the natural heart will appear and the life will present a divided service. {6BC 1117.15}

We must see Jesus constantly fixed before us. If we don’t do that what will happen? Inconsistences of the natural heart will appear. If the feelings

If the feelings of the natural heart are not restrained and brought into subjection by the sanctifying influence of the grace of God received through the channel of faith, the thoughts of the heart are not pure and holy. {1T 440.1}

What do we need? The grace of Christ. The feelings of the natural heart must be restrained by God’s grace. Focus what it means upon this grace that is going to prevent the natural man to do these things. What is meant by the grace of Christ that must be with us continually?

The Word of God will prayerfully consider every way of his feet, so that he may honor God and keep the way of the Lord. He will remember that “even Christ pleased not himself,” and he will consider it a great privilege to follow in His steps. {TMK 251.3}

What was the grace of Christ? He came to this earth and he had our physical body with its natural nature and he pleased not himself. That is the grace of Christ. Jesus pleased not himself. This is the source and motive of all that are to stand sinless in the time of trouble. To stand as Christ did where Satan could find nothing in him. It is a mind that has dealt with the natural heart. It is the Holy Spirit that has dealt with it through the grace of Christ. Here is the way by the grace of Christ by which my natural man will no longer have his way.

Romans 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This is different law keeping to what Paul said. According to the law he was blameless according to the flesh. This is a life of righteousness as he is not walking in the flesh but in the Spirit. Why did Jesus come? Because our natural man regards the things of God foolishness. It was sin in the flesh so he sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh.

That He might by His own example condemn sin in the flesh, He took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh. Constantly he beheld the character of God; constantly He revealed this character to the world. {AG 322.3}

If you look at Jesus and study him closely you will see the grace of Christ dealing with my natural man. He condemned every item of my natural man in his flesh. By his example he condemned sin in the flesh so you and I can stand like him so Satan finds nothing in him as I follow the grace of Christ where all self is condemned every time it wants to raise its head. I won’t cherish it. We are looking for comfort but you will not have your will as it is foolishness. It is a battle and the only way you can conquer is to keep your eyes on the revelation of God as it is written. Don’t fabricate the word so you can’t find the answer in Jesus Christ. So many people fabricate the word so they will still continue to arrange their plan of salvation in their natural man. I must look to Jesus who gave me the example how to condemn sin in the flesh. This is what we must do if we will be sealed and perfect in the time of trouble.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

You want to understand what that means. It is the death of self, the old man, the natural man. That is it the grace of Christ. Satan could find nothing in him not even the robbery to be equal with God. Jesus was equal with God wasn’t he? Satan thought it robbery to equal with God. Jesus said well you can have it Satan, I’m giving up my Godhead, I’m becoming a man. Although he was still God and divine, he didn’t rely upon his divine power, he relied upon his Father. He had a mind that was occupied by the Holy Spirit so he could say the Holy Spirit is with you and shall be in you as he was with them. Let us rejoice that we can look at this motivation and stand as Jesus did and Satan will find nothing in us. May God grant us to understand this in reality that we will no longer let the natural man rule me.


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Posted on 01/06/2011, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This sermon was a solid rebuke to my natural heart, but I’m so glad that God is forgiving and patient 🙂

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