Our fathers refused to obey him[Moses], but thrust him aside , and in their hearts they turned to Egypt (Acts 7:39).
The heart in the natural or biological sense is the organ that powers life in a human being. When the heart stops; life stops. When the Scripture uses the word heart, it is analogus to what the heart is in the human body. The heart in a spiritual sense is our affections and desires. And all the evil and sin we engage in first originates from the heart. “The human heart, according to John Calvin is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.”
The Bible also has a host of things to say about the condition of the human heart:
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for o from it flow p the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matthew 15:19).
The above tells us of the role the heart–our affections and desires plays in our lives. The heart is where all the issues of life comes from—whether right or evil. In the theme text; Stephen tells us what happened in the wilderness when the Israelites were journeying to the promised land. They rebelled against Moses and ultimately against God when he, Moses, had gone up the mount of sinai to receive God’s commandments for them.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him (Exodus 32:1).
Sin Originates From The Heart
Recounting what happened, Stephen notes that “in their hearts they turned to Egypt.” Though they were in the wilderness, their heart—desires and affections— had turned to Egypt where they were released from bondage. They desired to go back to Egypt (Numbers 11:1-6). Rightly diagnosed, we see that their rebellion originated from their hearts. Our human nature is depraved from the fall of our parents Adam and Eve, passing on to us the ramifications of their disobedience. So our very nature is sin (Rom. 3:9-23). According to R. C. Sproul, we are not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners. Sin is our nature and we live everyday of our lives fulfilling its impulses. Every sin begins from the heart. We nurture and plot evil in the heart before we eventually live it out in the open.
Sin Leads To Idolatry
When the Israelites turned to Egypt in their hearts; the result was a making of a calf for worship “And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.”(v.39). Sin leads to idolatry. In our modern life, we may not necessarily bow down to graven images, nonetheless; we build idols when we make other things take the place of God in our lives. Sin and idolatry is setting God aside and relying on our own strength. The things we love and crave for can be an idol in our lives when it takes the place of commitment to God. According to Richard Keyes,
An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them…Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is, in itself,perfectly good…An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero – anything that can substitute for God.”
Sin Is Independence From God
Sin is a cry for independence from God. When we sin, we are making a statement that we want our way; rather than God’s. A remarkable statement is made by Stephen when he described the rebellion of the Isralites they “were rejoicing in the works of their hands.” This means their confidence was in what they had produced. They blasphmed God and said the idol was going to go before them (Exodus 32:1). They trusted in their own works.
However we attempt it, the works of our own hands cannot save us from our sins. Rather, it brings the wrath of God upon us. We note that “God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven…” (v.42). What a trajedy for the God of the universe to leave us on our own because we trust in ourselves and the works of our hands rather than in him. Instead of trusting in the works of hands; Scripture calls us to faith and repentance. In Ephesians 2:8 Paul says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Today, you can turn away from your sin and idolatry by placing your faith and trust in Christ alone for your salvation.