Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV)
From all this, you might begin to think that we should suppress imaginative activity. Imagination may appear to be a distraction from the pursuit of truth, or worse, a misleading trail away from it. Fidelity to reason alone, unpolluted by creations of the imagination, may appear a much safer stewardship of our cognitive capabilities.
However, dismissing the imagination from the Christian life will neither save us from sin nor help us grow in righteousness. In fact, all hope of putting off the old man and putting on the new rests in a God-given, Christ-purchased, Spirit-empowered redemption of the imagination. ...
By using the imagination to envision the possibilities of our faithful service to God, we also find help in fighting our sins. The problem is that we are far too easily pleased with the imaginary worlds in which our sins find shelter. The glorious stories that act out God’s purposes will always be more beautiful than the stories we throw together to explain away our sins. So, we kill sin by expending imaginative effort to envision the superior delight and beauty of God’s stories over the twisted, ugly plots we write to justify evil.
Everything God creates is good (). But we must take this in large measure on faith because under the curse of the fall, our fallen perceptions often don’t see it. And our fallen natures often don’t believe it. We are disordered and pathologically self-centered. We are out of sync.
The only things fallen humans tend to believe are good are those that sate our appetites, increase our personal prestige, align with our preferences, pleasantly interest us, operate within our desired timetable, and are convenient and comfortable. In the scope of the created universe, these add up to only a very few things. (Let Good Things Run Wild)
If we make our hearts gods and ask them to lead us, they will lead us to narcissistic misery and ultimately damnation. They cannot save us, because what’s wrong with our hearts is the heart of our problem. But if our hearts believe in God, as they are designed to, then God saves us () and leads our hearts to exceeding joy ().
Therefore, don’t believe in your heart; direct your heart to believe in God. Don’t follow your heart; follow Jesus. Note that Jesus did not say to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled, just believe in your hearts.” He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God; believe also in me” ().
So though your heart will try to shepherd you today, do not follow it. It is not a shepherd. It is a pompous sheep that, due to remaining sin, has some wolf-like qualities. Don’t follow it, and be careful even listening to it. Remember, your heart only tells you what you want, not where you should go. So only listen to it to note what it’s telling you about what you want, and then take your wants, both good and evil, to Jesus as requests and confessions.