I’m reading, “So We Believe, So We Pray,” by George Arthur Butterick. It is a wonderful book about the Lord’s Prayer. In chapter 15, The Prayer for the Deliverance from Evil,” Butterick cites a short poem by Hilaire Belloc.
The False Heart
I said to Heart, “How goes it?” Heart replied:
Right as a Ribstone Pippin!” But it lied.
A Ribstone Pippin is a kind of apple. So his heart was saying all was well with him. But it lied. I wondered why Belloc wrote this poem, so I searched online and found the true story behind the poem.
In the early 1800s, a priest named Thomas Poschl was sent to a small village in Austria. He had gotten in trouble for fanaticism, so they sent him away to be the assistant parish priest. While there, he met Magdalena Sickinger, who told him about her visions from God. They founded a sect called, “The Pure and Innocent.”
Their aim was to cleanse the villagers of their sins and destroy all non-believers. They also wanted to depose the Pope. Thomas Poschl was arrested and imprisoned for the rest of his life. But after he left, his followers became even more fanatic. They committed the great sin of human sacrifice. The National Guard was called and freed the people from their persecutors. They went to trial and were found to be of unsound mind and acquitted. Magdalena renounced her visions.
So, Belloc’s poem was about how deceitful our hearts can be. We can think we are doing good works, when we are doing evil. We can imagine we are holy, when we are doing Satan’s bidding.
The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Butterick writes we are helpless without God, and therefore we are to pray, “Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
We cannot change our hearts. We cannot even know if our thoughts are evil. As Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” I think he meant we can do nothing good, not one good thing, without him. It just isn’t possible, for all good things come from God.
This is a serious issue, whether our hearts are lying. The only way to be saved from this is to ask God to show us where we are going wrong. Ask him to search our hearts and save us from ourselves and the power of the evil one. I know he will do this for us.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:24