When it comes to religious matters, much emphasis is placed on the heart. We know that it is not the blood pump that is referenced; instead, it is the mind of man and how that affects decisions made and actions taken. Many people tie it closely with feelings and emotions (as in, “I love her/him with all my heart”), and often these emotions and feelings become the standard of decision making and living life.
The Bible says a lot about the heart of man. Jeremiah 17:9-10 makes this statement, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately (“incurably sick” is another reading) wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind. Even to give every man according to his ways according to the fruits of his doings.” This is why God is the perfect judge of man – he knows not only our actions; he also knows the motives behind what we do. There is NOTHING we can hide from God (Hebrews 4:13, And there is no creature hidden from his sight, BUT ALL THINGS are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we must give account). This is sobering. Hence, let us look at some passages about the heart and consider what God knows about us, and how these things will affect His judgment.
Notice these passages that emphasizes that God knows our hearts.
David told Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father; and serve him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all the hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.“
In Psalms 44 we read a communal lament, that mourned the fact that God had left them to their enemies. In the midst of this the psalmist said in Psalms 44:20-22 “If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
In Romans 8:26-28 Paul reminded the Romans of what the Spirit does for them continually. Notice, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
As a result of God knowing our hearts, we must, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). Our hearts will affect all parts of our lives. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:24-27, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” Indeed, our hearts affect what we look at and what we listen to, where we go and what direction we take in our lives – either for good or evil. How important is it that we guard our hearts and make sure that evil does not come to reside in us!
The Proverb writer also warns about eating the bread of a miser (one who has an evil eye – another reading). In Proverbs 23:7 he writes, “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” The miser judges the man who eats his food and while the eater thinks all is ok, the miser who gave him the food is judging him. He/she might think that he/she is for you and likes you – but you never know what the other is truly thinking, unless they voice what they are thinking. Our thinking defines our character.
In Matthew 15:1-20 Jesus was in a discussion with the scribes and Pharisees about washing hands. The scribes and Pharisees made sure that they washed – they even had a ritual of how to wash hands before they ate bread. The scribes and Pharisees challenged Jesus because his disciples did not wash their hands before they ate. Jesus then asks them, “why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” Jesus discussed how they failed in taking care of aged parents (honoring father and mother) and made the commandment of God of none effect by their traditions. Jesus quotes from Isaiah 29:13, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” We often emphasize the latter part (in vain they worship teaching as doctrines the commandments of men) and miss the first part – they went through the motions or worship, but their hearts were far from God. Their hearts affected their worship. Our hearts – our thinking – affects our worship as well.
Peter asked Jesus about this later, and Jesus says, “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes in the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed, evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” We know that this is not the blood pump, but the thinking of man.
What man thinks; how he reacts to situations, speaks of his heart.
Our hearts control our speech. In Luke 6 Luke records “his version” (inspired by God, of course) of the “Sermon on the Mount.” Specifically, in Luke 6:43-45 Jesus teaches that we know a tree by its fruit. In like manner, we know a man (or a woman) by their speech. Notice Luke 6:45 specifically, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bring forth good: and an evil man out of evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
As we continue to look at the heart, we also know that it is the source of faith (again, emphasizing that it is not the blood pump, but the mind)! In Romans 10 Paul talks about his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1). While he was the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15), his heart was for the Jewish nation that they would accept Jesus as the King and Messiah. The problem was they were trying to seek their own righteousness by keeping the law (which no one could do), instead of the righteousness that comes from faith in Christ. Notice especially Romans 10:6-10, “But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Notice the emphasis on the heart and notice that Paul says that with the heart “one believes unto righteousness.” What does “unto” mean? Your Dictionary.com defines it thusly, “(Unto means “up to” (As prepositions the difference between to and unto is that “to” is in the direction of and arriving at; while unto is (archaic or poetic) up to, indicating a motion towards a thing and then stopping at it. (www.yourdictionary.com).”
Hence, the heart believes in what God has done through Christ and submits to the commands that faith makes in repenting of sins and being immersed for the forgiveness of sins. Our heart is our minds, our thinking, and shows itself in the actions we take.
How is your heart?
What does God know about you that no one else knows?
“Is thy heart right with God?”
More next week, God willing.