Proverbs 23:7 - For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
The “heart” doesn’t think, or does it?
This verse, like “let Jesus come into your heart,” is used again and again by persons who have not the slightest idea where the biblical heart is located. Yet, if we compare scripture with scripture, it is quite clear that the term “heart” is a Hebrew word picture for the mind - in - depth; the seat of the volition, emotions, and intellect which we might well call the “control center” of the inner being.
Romans 10:10 states that the lost person should believe in the heart, and make confession with the mouth. This believing in the heart is motivated by a believing in the mind when the facts are rightly understood. This is why the gospel is preached: so men will know they are a sinner before Almighty God, and that Jesus Christ has come into the world to die for sins. Realizing this fact, and trusting Almighty God to take care of those things we cannot take care of ourselves is what Romans 10:10 is speaking about.
Romans 12:2 declares that saved people must have their minds renewed. We are transformed from this world by the renewing of our mind. We renew our minds by studying, learning and applying the Scriptures. Our hearts are transformed by what we put into our minds.
Satan does not want us to understand these facts. He wants us to believe that what we see, what we hear, where we go and what we do has no bearing on our spiritual growth or maturity. When we are ignorant of his working, we will fail to be transformed from his kingdom to the kingdom of God. We will not, as stated in Romans 12:1 present out bodies a living sacrifice to God if we don’t understand in our spiritual minds what God has done for us, and what we should do because He has done so much for us.
Since the time of _______________ there has been a great revival of emotional emptiness, called by some, spiritual revivals. There is little or not power in the preaching of the Word, Christian lives, and Satan is slowly taking over his kingdom, as predicted in the last days. Much of the reason is caused by a misunderstanding on the part of God’s people about this thing of heart.
We shall see, as we pursue our study of this work that the “location” of the heart is between the ears and not between the shoulder blades! The word heart, as used in scripture, speaks of the psyche of man, which activates the brain and operates the body according to the volition of self.
In this modern age in which we live, when it is not at all uncommon for physical hearts to be transplanted from one human being to another, or for men to have life sustained by means of mechanical heart pumps. We have evidence that man does not “think” morally or spiritually with that particular organ. Men with new physical hearts do not take on the personality of the one from whom they got their hearts. Nor do they love their moral and spiritual control center if they have mechanical hearts. The physical “heart” simply is not the thing meant by the symbolic use of that term in the Bible. Our proof for this, however, does not lie with science, but with its usage in the Holy Scriptures.
There is a popular misconception, which seeks to differentiate between heart and mind by saying that the heart is the center of feeling and the mind the seat of emotions. Such a concept, as we shall see, is alien to the biblical meaning of the term.
Soul (Nephesh) is a term, which speaks of the inner man in his entirety. In Bible poetry the term “mu soul” is the equivalent of the personal pronouns “I” or “me.” The term is used in Hebrew thought of animals as “living souls” as well as man, since animals have conscious life in contrast with the unconscious life of plants. Gen. 1:24. The word translated creature, is the Hebrew word nephesh, or life.
Sometimes this Hebrew word for “soul” is translated “mind,” I Chronicles 28:9 declares, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart (leb – meaning feelings, care for) and with a willing mind (nephesh): for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” The parallelism of the Hebrew poetry in this verse is quite revealing. This particular poetic form identifies “heart” and “mind” as being expressive of the same thing. To give whole-hearted submission is to will in the mind to obey with the whole being. There is such a close relationship between heart, soul, and mind that the subtle differences are more easily felt than deferred. Basically, it may be said that where the “soul” of man speaks of the totality of his being, the mind (symbolized by the word heart) speaks of the seat of volition where emotions are involved and final decisions are made.
The word “heart” is used in the Old Testament to speak of the mind as the place where a man thinks or reflects. Gen. 6:5 states, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination (not just what the man thinks, but also his purposes and desires) of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Since wisdom is accumulated by and stored in the mind it is not surprising to find that the Hebrew used the symbolic term “heart” for this wonderful expression. Ex. 35:35 shows how the heart and mind work together to accomplish a task. “Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.” In Deut. 11:18 God instructs His people to put His commands in their heart and soul. “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.”
The word of God is hidden in the mind through the process of memorization and meditation. It is not placed in and safe guarded by the blood pump. It is stored in the brain. Yet, as we have already seen, it is more than just that physical brain which is symbolized by the word heart. Although the brain is the storehouse, the term “heart” includes all of the processes and emotional involvements by which thoughts become the acts of a person and activate his desires and motivates his deeds. Pro. 4:4 makes this point very vivid. “He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”
The term heart is often used to describe that area of a man’s inner being which determines what he will become. Solomon, from his own experience, knew that whatever a man put his mind to thinking upon would determine what would be willed and accomplished in the day of temptation. Prov. 4:23 states, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
We become what we contemplate. An evil spirit is born of evil thoughts and desires infecting the mind, just as a wholesome spirit is born of wholesome ideas of filling the conscious and subconscious. Yet, as a man thinks in his mind, so he becomes as a person.
David understood that his only hope for a pure mind, and God oriented human spirit, lay in a creative act on the part of God. Ps. 51:10 declares “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
The new heart which the Lord promises to give His people is a right attitude prompted by a human spirit which has put the Holy Spirit on the throne, or as we have put it, at the control panel. It is what Paul would call the creation of the mind of Christ “in the people of His choice.”
The old heart is the rebellious mind, which “images” the spirit of Satan, and yields to the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.
The new heart is the mind which delights in the things of God and knows and obeys Bible doctrine. Apart from the new Birth, of course, such a heart is beyond the realm of possibilities, for a right mental attitude dominates the mind only when the indwelling Holy Spirit is in control, and He indwells believers only. LIKE A COMPUTER: Garbage in – garbage out.
Who is in charge of the control panel of your mind is easily discerned by what you say and do when you are under pressure, such as in times of tribulation or temptation. It is in moments of testing that the imput of your heart in relaxed moments is partly displayed by the outlet of your tongues, hands or body. Matthew 7:20 states, “…by their fruits ye shall know them.” If your mental heart is controlled by a regenerate human spirit that is under the influence of the flesh, rather than the Spirit of God, the tempter will one day reveal the operator to the watching world. However, if your human spirit is yielded to the Holy Spirit, and you are continually “filled with the spirit,” even the unexpected moments of testing will find your soul bearing fruit to the glory of God.
The Hebrew language says “come into the heart” in much the same way that we say “come into the mind.” To be “open hearted” is the equivalent of being “open minded.” In fact this is precisely what the knowledgeable Christian means when he says to a person “let Jesus come into your heart.” He is asking the person to be open minded to the Gospel, which has been presented to him by the witness.
It is next to impossible to express the idea of thinking apart from the phase to say in the heart. For a person to say something in his heart is the equivalent of thinking to ones self. Gen. 27:41 reveals what Esau really thought of Jacob, regardless of whatever “front” he exhibited to others. “And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.”
To “search the heart” is to mull all of ones facts or problems over in ones mind. Judges 5:15-16 relates the expersation felt by the tribes of Israel when Reuben went not readily to the war against Sisera. “And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart. 16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.” Strong men of Israel stopped and considered why, and what it meant. The phrase is repeated to show the consernation of all. To “commune with your own heart,” is to mediate or think things over in one’s mind Ps. 4:4 states, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” It is in the mind, symbolized by “heart” that plans are devised, for it is the seat of the intellect. To “steal the heart” means to deceive ones mind II Sam. 16:6, as Abasalom “…stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” By pretending concern for personal injustices, the wicked son of David persuaded them that he should be king instead of David.
The symbolic use of the word “heart” for the mind is greater in Hebrew thought than just the brain. It is a word that includes volition and moral judgments as well. Because it is basically evil and treacherous in the unregenerate man, it is prone to devise wicked imaginations. Simple proof of this fact is easily gained by observing some of the thoughts that pass through your own mind in unguarded moments. The man who lives by his emotions can sell himself the wildest “bill of goods” for the simple reason that the human mind will cooperate instantly with lust or greed by providing “good reasons” for the evil act. It is therefore, an absolute necessity that a person be born again, so that the control of his heart can be turned over to God. It is only as we trust in the Lord that we gain the “Mind of Christ” which frees us from the sin of self-reliance and independence from God. Prov. 3:5 states, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” It is in this “control center” of volition and logic that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell when a person puts his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. When a spiritual light lives in our hearts it is the Divine Presence illuminating our minds. This means that Jehovah is to be loved with the will, the thinking process, and emotions of the mind; to adore Him with the whole of one’s being (soul) and with every ounce of energy and dedication we have. It is love in terms of the totality of life. Mark.12:29-30 declares, “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”