Definition of the Heart:
Contemporary people generally consider the head with its brain to be the center of human activity. However, the Bible speaks of the heart as the center; “out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23; cf. Luke 6:45). When the Bible speaks of the “heart,” it is not referring to our physical organ that pumps blood throughout our body. Rather, the “heart” as used in the Bible is spiritual language that encompasses the totality of one’s intellect, emotion and volition (see Mark 7:20-23, note); sometimes it seems almost to be a synonym of the human spirit.
(1) The heart is a knowledge faculty; people know things in their heart (Deuteronomy 8:5), pray in their heart
(1 Samuel 1:12-13), meditate in their heart (Psalm 19:14), hide God’s Word in their heart (Psalm 119:11), devise plans in their heart (Psalm 140:2), keep words within their heart (Proverbs 4:21), think in their (Mark 2:8), doubt in their heart (Mark 11:23), ponder in their heart (Luke 2:19), believe in their heart (Romans 10:9) and sing in their heart (Ephesians 5:19). All of these actions of the heart are primarily issues involving the inner knowing.
(2) The heart is also a center of feeling. The Bible speaks about the glad heart (Exodus 4:14), the loving heart (Deuteronomy 6:5), the fearful heart (Joshua 5:1), the courageous heart (Psalm 27:14), the repentant heart (Psalm 51:17), the anxious (Proverbs 12:25), the angry heart (Proverbs 19:3), the revived heart (Isaiah 57:15), the anguished heart (Jeremiah 4:19; Romans 9:2), the delighted heart (Jeremiah 15:16), the grieving heart (Lamentations 2:18), the humble heart (Matthews 11:29), the excited or burning heart (Luke 24:32) and the troubled heart (John 14:1). All of these actions of the heart primarily involve inner feeling.
(3) Finally, the heart is the center of the volitional activity. We read Scripture about the hardened heart that refuses to do what God commands (Exodus 4:21), the heart that is yielded to God (Joshua 24:23), the heart that intends to do something (2 Chronicles 6:7), the heart that is devoted to seeking the Lord (1 Chronicles 22:19), the heart that decides (2 Chronicles 6:7), the heart that desires to receive from the Lord (Psalm 21:1-2), the heart that is turned toward God’s statutes (Psalms 119:36) and the heart that wants to do something (Romans 10:1). All of these activities take place in the human will.
The Nature of the Heart Apart from God.
When Adam and Eve chose to follow the serpent’s temptation to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their decision drastically affected the human heart – it became tainted with evil. At present, therefore, according to Jeremiah’s testimony, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus confirmed Jeremiah’s diagnosis when He said that what makes a person unclean before God is not the failure to follow some ceremonial law, but the willingness to listen to wicked inclinations lodged in one’s heart such as “evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murderers, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). Jesus taught about the seriousness of sin in the heart when He said that the sin of anger is tantamount to murder (Matthew 5:21-21) and the sin of lust is just as sinful as actual adultery (Matthew 5:27-28; see Exodus 20:14, note; Matthew 5:28, note).
Hearts that are committed to doing evil run the grave risk of becoming hardened. Those who persistently refuse to listen to God’s Word and to obey what He commands, and instead follow the wicked desires of their hearts, will find that God will eventually harden their hearts so that they lose all sensitivity to His Word and to the desires of the Holy Spirit (see Exodus 7:3, note); Hebrews 3:8, note). The primary example of this in the Bible is Pharaoh’s heart at the time of the exodus (see Exodus 7:3, 13, 22-23; 8:112; 5, 32; 9:12; 10:1; 11:10; 14:17). Paul saw the same general principle operative in the Roman Empire (cf. Romans 1:24, 26, 28) and predicted that it would also occur during the days of the antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). The writer of Hebrews filled his letter with warnings to believers not to harden their hearts (e.g., Hebrews 3:8-12; see article on Individual Apostasy, p. 1962, for a description of the steps leading to hardheartedness). Anyone who continues to reject God’s Word will eventually have a hardened heart.
The Regenerated Heart.
God’s answer to the sinfulness of the human heart is regeneration, which comes to all who repent of their sins, turn to God, and place a personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
(1) Regeneration is a matter of the heart. Those who repent from their heart of all sin and confess in their heart that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9) are born again and receive a new heart from God (cf. Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 11:19).
(2) Within the hearts of those who experience spiritual birth, God creates a desire to love Him and to obey Him (see article on Regeneration, p. 1604). Repeatedly God emphasized to His people the necessity of a love that comes from the heart (see Deuteronomy 4:29, note; 6:6, note). Such love for and devotion to God cannot be separated from obedience to His Word (cf. Psalm 119:34, 69, 112). Jesus taught that love for God with the whole heart and love for one’s neighbor summarize God’s entire law (Matthew 22:37-40).
(3) Love from the heart is the essential ingredient in obedience. All too often God’s people tried to substitute obedience to mere outward religious forms (such as feast days, offerings and sacrifices) for genuine love from the heart (see Isaiah 1:10-17; Amos 5:21-26; Micah 6:6-8; see Deuteronomy 10:12, note). Outward observance without an inner desire to serve God is hypocritical religion and is severely condemned by our Lord (see Matthew 23:13-28); see Luke 21:1-4, note).
(4) Many other spiritual activities take place in the hearts of regenerated believers. They praise God with all their heart (Psalm 9:1), meditate in their heart (Psalm 19:14), cry out to God from the heart (Psalm 84:2), seek God with all their heat (Psalm 119:2, 10), hide God’s Word in their heart (Psalm 119:11; see Deuteronomy 6:6, note), trust in the Lord with all their heart (Proverbs 3:5), experience God’s love poured out into their heart (Romans 5:5) and sing to God in their heart (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
Spiritual beliefs are based upon God’s Word. These beliefs influence us with meaning and purpose in life with a sense of sacredness and vision for the betterment of the world. Our spiritual beliefs often govern our lives very unconsciously, because it is a connection to God which transcends oneself. We are born with everything we need to realize that we are unified with God. We are born from the divine and the journey through life is the process of returning to the divine.
Ephesians 4:16 tells us from God the whole body is joined and held together fitting perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts to grow that the whole body is healthy and growing full of love. Love is the most effective expression of working together. John 13:35 tells us that our love for one another will prove to the world that we are His disciples. Here Jesus is referring to the people who follow Him, loving other people who follow Him. It is already a given that we are to love the world and everyone in it, but it is an entirely different thing to love each other. That is why we have over 35,000 denominations within the Christian faith today. Dare I say we have never learned to love?
An interesting fact is that Jesus had just washed the feet of the disciples at the last supper to show humility and love to one another. It was to serve as a reminder that only one lifted up higher than any of us is Jesus Christ. We are family, brothers and sisters of the divine. In John 13:34, He calls love a “new” commandment. It looks like He knew it would be a difficult thing to do. Love was big enough and important enough to make it a commandment. It is as if He knew we would get our focus on nit-picking others, pointing fingers, and fighting to be right and we would forget how to love. That is why He tells us to love your enemies! And pray for those who persecute you. In that way, we will be acting as true children of our Father in Heaven.
It is so easy to love and commune with those who agree with us and think the way we do, but what about those who do not? It looks like God wants us to learn how to listen to others and extend grace to each other especially those with whom we find it so difficult to love. When the world sees a group of people working together, who love and respect each other, even in the midst of disagreeing there is something divine about that because it is not human. It has to come from a greater source to prove that a God of love does exist.
What if we love each other instead of competing to be right? What if we pray for each other instead of praying against each other? What if we honor each other instead of gossiping about toward one another? Do not let bitterness control us, but let love compel us to do exactly what 1 Corinthians 13 tells us to do; cover the fault with the family of our sisters and brothers in Christ and think no evil in the process!
Unity is strength and the strength of working together is each individual member acting as one unit. In this, you become selfless and everyone moves forward together watching success take care of itself. Where there is collaboration of thought and effort wonderful things can be achieved. Authentic service is born from love. When we serve well, we are imitating what God did for us.
Spiritual beliefs in working together means that we are as Ephesians 5:1 states, “we are imitators of God following His example as well loved children”. We walk in love esteeming and delighting in one another and offering to God daily the death of our flesh as a sweet smelling fragrance before His nostrils that we empower sustaining life to the body and those spiritually weaker than ourselves. We are to cover our brothers and sisters over-taken in a fault providing restoration to those in need of His Agape Love during difficult times in their living.
We stand as many members, but one body. We will overtake the world with the unified vision of His love being made manifest that the world will know we are the disciples of the true and living God. We are living Epistles to be read of men and the message they read is “our love evidenced one toward another”, for that is the defining terms of God’s word. Spiritual Unity working together in the body of Christ is manifesting His Agape Love.
Being “God-minded” gives us the ability to work together toward a common goal. Working together gives us the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward
organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much. None of us is as smart as all of us. Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress, and working together is success!