Here is the way I responded:
The problem you describe Jim.. I think.. is the whole problem that many evangelicals.. especially fundamentalists.. have when they describe the heart as desperately wicked. When I woke up to the fact that my heart was good and trustable everything began to change for me.
I have told people that if your heart is wicked then you'd better not try to walk out Proverbs 3:5.. better to lean on your own understanding than to trust a wicked heart. So the question is: When does your heart become good?
I think that it is a part of the born again experience.. the problem for some Christians is that:
- The born again experience is too narrowly and exclusively defined by religious leaders. As a result many people who trust Jesus are discredited because they "didn't do it right".. it is a pitiful example of how insecure religious leaders bully sincere believers in Jesus in an attempt to control them.
- Religious people teach Christians to lead a life from the head and not the heart.. they actually discourage a heart connection.. I think that they do it because of issues of their own insecurity and their own quest for control.
- To live from your heart you have to give up control.. the brain is all about controlling.. the heart is all about trusting. For many this is difficult because the brain wants to follow rules while the heart wants to follow God.. a desire to make and follow rules is evidence of people wanting to live from their heads.
Christianity as a religious system certainly doesn't make you a better person.. no religion can do that.. but being born again (remember point #1) changes everything because it changes your heart and your motives.