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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 22, 2017

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Due to mankind’s fall in Adam, the human heart became corrupted and ruined. Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “All men have hearts which are deceitful, dirty, filthy and wicked” (Thru the Bible, note on Jeremiah 17:9). There is a sinfulness in your heart that you are not aware of and do not suspect to be there. It is a common mistake for people to think that their hearts are much better than they really are. They trust their own hearts, and that is the reason they don’t get saved. The main reason you don’t get saved is because you trust your own heart! God must wither you, and blast you, and force you to know that you cannot trust your heart. If God doesn’t do that to you, you will go on trusting your heart until you die and go to Hell.

The Hebrew word for “deceitful” means fraudulent, dishonest, tricky, deceptive. It cheats you. It ruins you. It destroys you. And yet you trust your heart! What a fool you are!

Then too, your heart is “desperately wicked” and “incurable.” It is deadly; it is desperately deplorable and miserable. It is not at all dependable. It is false and full of delusion. Your heart is so tricky and deceitful that we can say for sure, “Who can know it?” You don’t really know your own heart. But Satan knows your heart very well. Satan uses certain tricks in your heart to keep you from being saved.

1. First, looking for a feeling of assurance is a Satanic trick!

There is only one thing about your heart that you can be sure of. It is deceitful, unreliable, and wicked. When you are told to come to Jesus you can be sure that your thoughts are unreliable, and they are wickedly incurable. Incurable? What do I mean? I mean Philip Chan was right when he said his thoughts were going in circles. When he came to speak to us about trusting Christ his thoughts went around in the circle. He tried to make himself have a “feeling” – some sort of experience to give him assurance that he was saved. He was so confused by his own heart that he wasn’t looking for Jesus to save him at all. He was trying to make himself have a feeling that he was OK. If only he could get his heart to feel saved, he could go home happy. You are looking for something you will never find. Rev. O. Hallesby said, “Hence the seeking soul circled about [in his] own heart, seeking the assurance which he could not attain.” You are looking for the Holy Spirit to give you assurance that you are saved. But you will never get that assurance. You will never get true assurance that you are saved from the Spirit of God. You will only get a false feeling of assurance from Satan. Satan gives false assurance. Only Jesus gives salvation from sin! If assurance is all you want, the Devil will give it to you. How do I know that? Because virtually everyone out there on the street has assurance that they are saved! Where did they get their assurance? From the Devil. The Devil is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). It isn’t God working in you. Until you give up looking for a feeling, it is always the Devil working in you, to give you false assurance. When you say, “I feel saved,” then the Devil has got you! Then you belong to the Devil. Then you are a slave of the Devil! Looking for a feeling of assurance is a Satanic trick. When the Devil gives you the assurance you want, then you belong to him. Then you are the Devil’s slave forever! Dr. Merrill F. Unger said, “Sometimes the...enslaved seek relief with no real interest in salvation or in following Christ. They cannot be liberated” (Demons in the World Today, pp. 192, 193). Looking for a feeling of assurance is a Satanic trick. You must look only to Christ and His cleansing Blood!

2. Second, looking to a doctrine or Bible verse is a Satanic deception.

Dr. Unger said, “The presence of demon deception diminishes the person and finished work of Jesus Christ... the gospel is ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16:31’” (ibid., pp. 169, 170). One of the most deceitful doctrines of demons is “Sandemanianism.” In this demonic teaching one believes in a doctrine rather than trusting Christ Himself. Sandemanians will say, “I believe that He died for me” or “I believe that His Blood washed away my sin.” The use of the word “that” shows the person’s trust is in a teaching about Christ, rather than Christ Himself. That is the heresy of Sandemanianism. We call it “doctrinal belief,” because it is faith in a doctrine about Christ rather than faith in Christ Himself. The error of Sandemanianism has replaced “looking for a feeling of assurance” as the number one demonic doctrine keeping young people in our church from being saved by Jesus Christ Himself!

Several of you are like Philip Chan. Your thoughts go around in a circle. You try to have a feeling. You try again. You try again. You try again – and again and again. But you never get the assurance you want. Why? Because Jesus did not die on the Cross to give you assurance or any other “feeling!” He died on the Cross to pay for your sin! If your sin is not deeply bothering you, you will keep on going in a circle until you die and go to Hell!

The same is true of “Sandemanianism.” You can go around and around in the circle trying to be saved by believing things about Christ, and not yielding yourself to Christ Himself! Learning a few things about Jesus will not save you from your sin. Only Jesus Christ Himself died in your place, to pay for your sin on the Cross! Listen to Emi Zabalaga’s testimony. Everything you need to hear to be saved is in Emi’s testimony. Listen to it very carefully. Do not analyze yourself. Do not try to figure it all out. You can’t. Your “heart is deceitful above all things.” Your heart is far too deceitful to figure it all out. Just listen to Emi’s testimony and then trust Jesus Himself, and you will be saved by Jesus!


On July 15, 2012, I was saved by Jesus Christ. The months preceding that day I can only describe as the most miserable of my life. A few years earlier it was revealed that I had a false conversion. I spent a year wallowing in despair and hopelessness. Mentally, I knew that I was a terrible sinner, but I was too wrapped up in self-pity to be concerned with my sin. But eventually the Holy Spirit bore down on me and convicted me of my past sins. They haunted me and I could never get away from them. I began to wonder, “How did I commit those sins? How could I have sunk so low in sin?” The Holy Spirit revealed to me that these sins came out of my wicked, devious heart and the utter and total depravity of my nature. I can’t fully describe what it’s like to be given a view into the blackness and grotesqueness of your heart. I was disgusted and so ashamed at what I knew God saw. I felt like a vile creature in front of an all-seeing God; a God who knew my thoughts and intentions; a God who knew that all that I did, even work in the church, was rooted in selfish sin. Every time I went to church, I felt like a leper amongst the clean Christians. But yet, I would not trust Christ. “Jesus” was just a word, a doctrine, or someone that I knew existed but yet was so distant. I had a steely-cold aversion to Christ. Instead of striving for Christ, I was looking for a feeling of salvation or some kind of “experience” to prove my faith.

I thank God that He didn’t leave me in that state. Late one night, as I was praying in my room, I suddenly realized that Jesus died for me. All this time I believed that He was going to the cross for the sins of the world. He was going there anyway, so my sin might as well have gone with Him. But that night I saw Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, groaning and sweating under the weight of my sin. He knew my every sin and every rejection against Him I was to commit, but He lovingly took them upon Himself anyway and nailed them to the cross. I was crushed when I realized that I flogged and crucified Christ! I saw the bleeding Sacrifice and was pierced through by my rejection of Him. But I still wouldn’t trust Him. I was still clinging to my need for a feeling of assurance.

There was also a lot of demonic work going on my life, and one night Dr. Hymers pointed that out. As soon as he said it, I realized that salvation was just a mental or emotional formula to me. You have this feeling, and that experience and then you’re “saved.” No Jesus and no need to risk my life upon Him. I begged God all the more intensely that He would deliver me from Satan, from my own lost, confused and wicked self, to Jesus, the only One who could help me.

The month of my conversion, Dr. Hymers began preaching from the Song of Solomon on the loveliness of Christ. As I listened, Christ became more and more lovely. I began to ache for Him. As I heard the verse, “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Solomon 2:10), I felt Christ was speaking to me, calling me, beckoning me to Himself. That night, Dr. Hymers strongly rebuked the lost on playing with Almighty God, on toying with His patience. I sat in my seat, shaking with fear. I knew that was me. Like an impudent child I scorned His love and mercy, and worst of all, rejected His Son, Jesus. Dr. Hymers then spoke from the text, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1). As he spoke, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that all the experiences I had gone through, the misery, the hopeless of life, the cold emptiness of the world, the crushing weight of sin was all because God loved me and was trying to humble me to see my need for Jesus. I went to the inquiry room and a wall of sin seemed to rise in front me, the awful sins that I committed, but most of all, the wickedness and blackness of my heart, the swarming evil thoughts of my mind, and the endless rejection of Jesus. My sin stretched out like a bottomless ocean. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to have Christ! I had to have His Blood! I got on my knees and trusted Jesus, Himself. God wrestled me free of my idols of feelings, psychoanalysis, and desire for assurance. By the grace of God, I let them go and collapsed into the arms of the waiting Saviour. Instead of hanging back from Jesus in cowardly fear, afraid of another false conversion or making a mistake, or looking within myself, checking my feelings or groping around in the darkness as I always did before, I looked to Christ by faith. He was there! The living Christ! He saved me; He washed my sins in His precious Blood; He took the heavy burden of sin away! Jesus absorbed the wrath of God that should have deservingly been poured out on me in life, in death, at the Last Judgment and in Hell. He pardoned and forgave me of all my sin. My record is stamped “Not Guilty” with His own Blood! He is my advocate, my Mediator, my hero, and my Lord!

Many times I have gone to Him for help, strength and protection. Jesus gave me a new desire to live and glorify Him with my life. Not just one day a week, but every day. Indeed, as the song goes, “Mercy rewrote my life.” Before I was a selfish person, only concerned about what affected my life. Now, because of Jesus, I want to do what I can to please Him, to win souls to Him, to be a witness for Him. I have so much joy when another lost person is saved by Christ, when more jewels are added to His Crown! I cannot fully express the satisfaction and peace that comes from sins forgiven and the wrath of God appeased. I wish all those, especially those who struggled like me, could experience pardon from Jesus! He accepted the blame for my sin, He paid it all! The Gospel, the “Good News” which was so dull and lifeless before, is thrilling and my heart swells with joy and gratitude when I hear sermons about Jesus. Words simply fall short in thanking Jesus for having mercy on this unworthy sinner, for cutting through the fog of psychology and confusion, for showing me my sin and for patiently yet firmly drawing me to His Son. I can say only with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15)!

Please stand and sing hymn number 9, “I Am Coming, Lord.”

I hear Thy welcome voice,
That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

Though coming weak and vile,
Thou dost my strength assure;
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
Till spotless all and pure.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

‘Tis Jesus calls me on
To perfect faith and love,
To perfect hope, and peace, and trust,
For earth and heaven above.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

If you are ready to trust Jesus Himself, please remain on the first two rows and we will come to speak with you. Dr. Chan, please come and thank God for the food we are about to have upstairs.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Will Praise Him” (by Margaret J. Harris, 1865-1919).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

1.  First, looking for a feeling of assurance is a Satanic trick!
Ephesians 2:2.

2.  Second, looking to a doctrine or Bible verse is a Satanic deception,
Acts 16:31.