The Bible Heart


     The scriptures plainly teach the importance of the heart of man in his relationship and service to God. Forgiveness of the sins of others must be from the heart and we are to have a pure heart (Matt. 18: 28-35; 5: 8). Jesus stressed the urgency of purity of heart thus: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matt. 5: 8). Even though the heart is emphasized in the scriptures, not a few do understand the Bible heart. They are heard to say, "I know I am saved because I feel it in my heart (they usually point to their chest)!" It is important that we understand the Bible heart. W. E. Vine comments on the Greek word that is rendered heart and explains how the heart came to be figuratively used:

     "Kardia: 'the heart' (Eng., 'cardiac,' etc.), the chief organ of physical life ('for the life of the flesh is in the blood,' Lev. 17:11), occupies the most important place in the human system. By an easy transition the word came to stand for man's entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements. In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life. "The Bible describes human depravity as in the 'heart', because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man's inward life, and then 'defiles' the whole circuit of his action, Matt. 15:19,20. On the other hand, Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of Divine influence, Rom. 2:15; Acts 15:9. ... The heart, as lying deep within, contains 'the hidden man,' 1 Pet. 3:4, the real man. It represents the true character but conceals it" (J. Laidlaw, in Hastings' Bible Dic.)." (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.)

     The Bible heart. Upon close examination one can ascertain and determine of what the Bible heart consists. After all the scriptures are gathered and studied that mention the heart, one may deduce that the heart consists of the intellect or thinking ability; emotions; the will or volition; and the conscience. Jesus mentioned "understanding with their heart" (Jn. 12: 40). Hence, the intellect or reasoning ability resides in the Bible heart. The Bible speaks of the heart possessing emotion (Jn. 14: 1). Emotions such as joy, love, and desire are emotions said to emanate from the heart (Jn. 16: 22; Matt. 22: 37; 5: 28). The expression "willing heart" is a reference to the will of man being located in his heart (Ex. 35: 5). The language "pricked in their heart" is an allusion to the conscience or that part of the heart that pains us when we do wrong (Acts 2: 37). This, then, is the Bible heart. Sometimes a particular scripture that mentions "heart" may have the emotions or will in mind; sometimes the intellect or conscience may be the main thought (see illustrated above). Having established of what the Bible heart consists, let us now notice some relevant facts about the heart.

    Man has the responsibility of keeping his heart. Man seems to never learn that God places certain responsibilities on man and God himself will not perform these matters for man to the point that man is excluded. Listen to the wise man of old: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4: 23). From this inspired command, we learn several truths. First, man must keep his own heart. Man must also keep his heart "diligently." Moreover, out of the heart flow all the issues of life. The Bible speaks of a people "that set not their heart aright" (Ps. 78: 8). God, though, will assist as man seeks to prepare and keep his heart (cp. Ps. 10: 17; 51: 10, cp. Ezra 7: 10).

     God knows the secrets of the heart. Regarding the heart of man we read, "For he (God, dm) knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Ps. 44: 21). The word of God is said to be "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4: 12). Jesus is presented as "he which searcheth the reins and hearts" (Rev. 2: 20-23). Hence, God knows our will, our emotions, intellect, and conscience. All things are laid open to him who shall be the righteous judge of all men (2 Cor. 5: 10). It is said of Jesus, "And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man" (Jn. 2: 25).

     God's law must be in our heart. Regarding the righteous David said, "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide" (Ps. 37: 31). The prayer of the Psalmist was, "Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness" (Ps. 119: 36). Paul was thankful for the Christians at Rome because "ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6: 17, 18). The residence of God's law in our hearts suggests our minds, emotions, will, and conscience are all involved in the matter of God's laws.

     Our speech mirrors our heart. Jesus asked some of the Pharisees, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12: 35). Many times we hear it said that "he does have corrupt speech but his heart is good" (cp. Eph. 4: 29). Jesus says one cannot have bad speech and a good heart. Corrupt speech is indicative of a corrupt heart.

     God's people are to be of one heart. The following was said in reference to making David King of Israel: "All these men of war, that could keep rank, came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David King over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king" (I Chroni. 12: 38). Christians are commanded not to be divided but to be of "one mind" and "one judgment" (I Cor. 1: 10). It appears that two female members of the church at Philippi were divided over some matter. As a result Paul wrote thus to them, "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord" (Phili. 4: 2). Religious division is sinful (I Cor. 1: 10 ff., cp. Jn. 17: 21).

     The heart can be wrong. Alas, many do not realize that what they "feel in their heart" is not authority in religious matters (cp. 2 Jn. 9-11). God does not deal with man on a subjective level (every one going by their own thinking). Listen to the wise man, "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered" (Prov. 28: 26). One's heart can erroneously approve of them when they are wrong; and one's heart can condemn them when they are right (Prov. 28: 26; I Jn. 3: 18-21). The heart must be properly educated in the truths of God's word before it can be of great use to us in our serving God.

     In conclusion, the Bible heart is not the physical, blood-pumping organ found in our chest. The Bible heart involved the mind, will, emotions, and conscience of man. God's acceptance of man is based on man's heart (Prov. 3: 5 ff.). Moreover, God demands our whole heart (Ps. 119: 34, 69). Finally, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Col. 3: 23).