On the Deceitfulness of the Heart
Psalm 36:1-12
The transgression of the wicked said within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.…


1. That all the proofs of the deceitfulness of the heart, which we mean to offer with regard to sin, may not be found in every person, especially in those who are under its power.

2. Many of those things, which are evidences of the deceitfulness of the heart, may be used as temptations by Satan. The wind of Satan's temptation commonly blows along with the tide of corruption within, whether by deceit, or by violence. Were not this the case, Satan would be divided against himself, and opposing the interests of his own kingdom.


1. In raising doubts in the mind, with respect to what One is inclined to, whether it really be sin.

2. In trying to persuade him that it is a little sin. If the understanding will not be betrayed into a belief that the matter proposed is no sin at all, the heart will strenuously plead that it scarcely deserves the name.

3. By representing the mortification of sin as affording far less pleasure than the gratification of it. Nay, it will presume to urge, not only the difficulty, but the unreasonableness, the cruelty of attempting totally to subdue sin.

4. Sin is exhibited as far more pleasant than it is really found in the commission. The enjoyments of sin are like the apples of Sodom, which, how fair soever they appear to the eye, when grasped by the hand are said to fall to ashes (Proverbs 22:8; Romans 6:21).

5. It represents a renewed opportunity of sin, as promising far greater satisfaction than was ever found before.

6. It pleads that one may indulge sin a little, without altogether yielding to the sin particularly in view.

7. It throws a veil of forgetfulness over the whole soul, with respect to all the painful consequences of sin, formerly felt. That loathsomeness of sin, hatred of self on account of it, or fear of Wrath, which the person experienced after a former indulgence, are entirely vanished; and he now appears to himself as one who feared where no fear was.

8. It entices the imagination into its service. This is not only Satan's workhouse in the soul; but it may be viewed as a purveyor, which the heart engages in making provision for its lusts.

9. It engages the senses on its side. These are volunteers to the corrupt heart, which it arms in its service, and by which it accomplishes its wicked purposes, when enticing to outward acts of sin. For the voice. of the senses will always overpower that of the understanding; if they be not brought into subjection, or presently restrained by grace.

10. In representing sin as properly one's own, as something belonging to one's self.

11. By insinuating that committing such a sin once more cannot greatly increase our guilt.

12. By urging the vanity of attempting to resist the temptation. It will plead for yielding to the present assault, from former instances of insufficiency In opposing one of the came nature.

13. It may sometimes endeavour to persuade a man that the present commission of sin will be an antidote for the future, because he will see more of its hatefulness.

14. The heart sometimes urges the commission of sin, as immediately clearing the way to the performance of some necessary duty (Romans 3:8; Genesis 20:11; Genesis 27:19; 1 Samuel 13:11; 1 Samuel 15:22).

15. By persuading a person to lay the commission of sin to the charge of the flesh, and solacing him with the idea that, although he fall into it, he does not really love it.

16. It dissuades him from prayer. Perhaps it reminds him that he has often tried this exercise before, in like circumstances, when he found an inclination to sin, or was assaulted by a temptation; and that it was attended with no success. Or, it may reason that if God hath determined to permit his fall at this time, prayer will not prevent it.

17. It strives to banish a sense of the presence and omniscience of God.

18. The deceitfulness of the heart about sin eminently appears in its self-hardening influence. Sin is the instrument which it uses in this work (Hebrews 13:8). The strength of every lust is commensurate with the power of deceit.

19. The heart will even urge God's readiness to pardon as an excitement to the commission of sin. This is indeed a dreadful abuse of pardoning mercy.

20. By endeavouring to drive one to despair, after the commission of sin, as being beyond the reach of mercy.


1. In a dependence on the Spirit, resist the first motions of sin within you.

2. Beware of entertaining doubts with regard to what Scripture and conscience declare to be sin. To doubt is to begin to fall, for it implies unbelief of God's testimony.

3. Carefully avoid light notions of any sin. To think lightly of sin is to think lightly of God.

4. Guard against the solicitations of your hearts. If these promise you honour, profit, or pleasure in the service of sin, believe them not.

5. Beware of tampering or dallying with sin. Temptation is, to the corrupt heart, sharper than a two-edged sword, and if the point once enter, you may be pierced through with many sorrows.

6. Try to get all your senses armed against sin, or rather barred against it; for this is the best mode of defence. Like Job, make a covenant with your eyes. Endeavour to stop your ears against it. Strive for the mastery over your taste. Put a knife to thy throat, lest thou be given to appetite.

7. Seek a constant sense of the Majesty and Omniscience of God.

8. Pray without ceasing against the deceitfulness of the heart.

9. Improve the strength of Christ, and the grace of His Spirit, for the mortification of sin.

(John Jamieson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD.} The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

WEB: An oracle is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked: "There is no fear of God before his eyes."

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