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The Heart of the Matter (Part 1)

There are many symbols associated with Valentine’s Day and with the expression of love but the primary one is the heart. Amble around any shopping center during this time of year and you will find heart-shaped jewelry, heart-shaped chocolates, and of course hearts decorating valentine cards. But the heart is certainly much more than just a symbol to express love.

The heart is the central organ in the body and is obviously critical to physical life. By an easy transition the word came to stand for man’s entire inner life of mental, emotional and moral activity. In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life – the real man. And so, the word “heart” has found itself used symbolically in such expressions as heart-warming, big-hearted, hard-hearted, and phrases like, “I love you with all my heart.”

The word “heart” is found in the Bible over 800 times. Obviously, there are times when it is used to speak of the bodily organ but it is also used in regards to the inner man. In this sense, the word “heart” in the Bible refers to three faculties of the soul: the intellect (Lk. 1:51; 2:35; 5:22; Jn. 12:40; Ex. 28:3), the emotions (Lk. 21:26; 24:32; Jn. 16:22; Rom. 9:2; 2 Cor. 2:4) and the will (Acts 11:23; Rom. 6:17; 10:1; Eph. 6:6; Ex. 35:5).

God knows the hearts of men (Jer. 17:10), searches the hearts of men (1 Chron. 28:9), discerns the motives of the hearts of men (Ps. 44:21) and holds the love of the hearts of men to be of so great importance that the “first and greatest commandment” is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matt. 22:37). It should be noted that the word “heart” is absent from the Second Commandment. That is, if God is first in the heart, loving your neighbor takes care of itself (Matt. 22:39).

The sinner must believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9), he must obey from the heart that form of doctrine delivered to him (Rom. 6:17), and Christ is to dwell in his heart by faith (Eph. 3:17).

A sound heart is not merely a heart where the valves and ventricles function properly but a heart that loves God (Mk. 12:30) and loves His word (Ps. 119:140) and His people (Jn. 13:35) and that is purified by faith (Acts 15:9) and has its affections set on things above (Col. 3:1-3).

Heart trouble in the Bible is not merely fat around the heart (Ps. 119:70) or heart failure (Lk. 21:26) or a weak heart (Gen. 45:26), but hardening of the heart (Heb. 3:15) and corruption of the heart (Ps. 14:1).

What a man enjoys thinking about in his deepest nature, in his heart, defines who that man really is (Prov. 23:7). The imagination found in man’s heart (Gen. 6:5) is that inner life which every fallen son of Adam has; it is not what man thinks about when he is making an effort to write or think. Thoughts of the heart are those thoughts which occur in daydreaming, wishful thinking, plotting and planning, magnifying self by imaginary situations, conjuring up tragic situations in which self is the victim, just to name a few.

The hearts of men are the next thing to hell and destruction (Prov. 15:11); God watches all three of them simultaneously since they have a lot in common. Since a man speaks out of the abundance of his heart (Matt. 12:34,35), many hearts spew forth the fires of hell (Jam. 3:6). The cursing and bitterness that characterizes much American speech is indicative of a heart that is more acquainted with garbage, filth, pornography, a vile imagination, a seared conscience, and a defiled mind than the items listed in Philippians 4:8. Our speech mirrors the condition of our heart.

“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov. 28:26). The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). One’s heart can erroneously approve of that which is wrong while condemning that which is right. The imaginations of the heart can be evil continually (Gen 8:21). Thirteen abominations proceed from the heart and defile the man (Mk. 7:21,22). The heart is far from God (Mk. 7:6). Backsliding begins in the heart (Prov. 14:14).

The natural heart is no good; a new one is needed (Eze. 36:26). The heart is cleansed by God (Ps. 51:10), needs to be fixed on God (Ps. 112:7), and should always fear God (Deut. 5:29). A “pure heart” (Matt. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:22) is unobtainable without the new birth (1 Pet. 1:23; Jn. 3:3).

The heart is of such a nature that only by extreme humiliations and disappointments does it seem to get better (Ecc. 7:3). God pleads for the heart of the saint (Prov. 23:26), not his head. If a man loves anything more than he loves God, then he is an idolater. Profession without heart devotion means nothing at all.

The heart is the chief organ of physical life because it pumps blood throughout the body, and “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). Just as critical to man’s spiritual life is the heart, the inner man. God demands our whole heart – intellect, emotions, and will – and He has given man the great responsibility of keeping it in the right condition.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23

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