Jesus came to redeem us from the consequences of the fall – Part 13
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”(Prv 4:23)
Definition of the Heart. Contemporary people generally consider the head with its brain to be the centre and director of human activity.
However, the Bible speaks of the heart as the centre, “out of it are the issues of life” (Prov 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 a spiritual language that encompasses the totality of one’s intellect, emotion and volition (see Mark 7:20-23). Sometimes, it seems almost to be a synonym of the human spirit.
• The heart is a knowledge faculty; people know things in their heart (Deut 8:5), pray in their heart (1 Sam 1:12-13), meditate in their heart (Ps 19:14), hide God’s Word in their heart (Ps 119:11), devise plans in their heart (Ps 140:2), keep words within their heart (Prov 4:21), think in their heart (Mark 2:8), doubt in their heart (Mark 11:23), ponder in their heart (Luke 2:19), believe in their heart (Rom 10:9) and sing in their heart (Eph 5:19). All of these actions of the heart are primarily issues involving the inner knowing.
• The heart is also a centre of feeling. The Bible speaks about the glad heart (Ex 4:14), the loving heart (Deut 6;5), the fearful heart (Josh 5:1), the courageous heart (Ps 27:14), the repentant heart (Ps 51:17), the anxious heart (Prov 12:25), the angry heart (Prov 19:3), the revived heart (Is 57:15), the anguished heart (Jer 4:19; Rom 9:2), the delighted heart (Jer 15:16), the grieving heart (Lam 2:18), the humble heart (Mat 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.
• Finally, the heart is the centre of volitional activity. We read in Scripture about the hardened heart that refuses to do what God commands (Ex 4:21), the heart that is yielded to God (Josh 24:23), the heart that intends to do something (2 Chr 6:7), the heart that is devoted to seeking the Lord (1 Chr 22:19), the heart that decides (2 Chr 6:7), the heart that desires to receive from the Lord (Ps 21:1-2), the heart that is turned toward God’s statutes (Ps 119:36) and the heart that wants to do something (Rom 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?” (Jer 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, murders, 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 (Mat 5:21-22) and the sin of lust is just as sinful as actual adultery (Mat 5;27-28; see Ex 20:14; Mat 5:28).
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