HEART

Both Old and New Testaments speak repeatedly of the heart as the centre of a person’s inner life. An examination of the hundreds of references to the heart in the Bible will show that the word is not limited in its meaning to one particular part of a person. ‘Heart’ may refer to a person’s whole inner life – what the person really is (1 Sam 16:7; Ps 22:26; Prov 4:23; Matt 22:37; 1 Thess 2:4); or it may refer to attributes of human personality such as a person’s understanding (1 Kings 3:9; Prov 2:10; 1 Cor 2:9; Eph 1:18), desires (Deut 24:15; Prov 6:25; Matt 6:21; Rom 1:24), feelings (Judg 19:6; Prov 14:10; 15:30; John 14:27; James 3:14), determination (Exod 8:15; 1 Kings 8:58; Rom 6:17; Col 3:22), or character (1 Sam 13:14; Jer 5:23; Rom 2:29; 2 Thess 3:5; 1 Peter 3:4). Sometimes ‘heart’ is used as another word for a person’s spirit (Ps 51:10,17; Ezek 36:26), soul (Deut 4:29; Prov 2:10; Acts 4:32) or mind (1 Sam 2:35; Eph 1:18; Heb 8:10; cf. Matt 22:37).

(See also HUMANITY, HUMANKIND; MIND; SOUL; SPIRIT.) The heart is what is sometimes referred to as ‘the inner being’, and is the source of all the wrong that a person does (Prov 6:14,18; Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 1:24-25; Eph 4:18; see SIN). Therefore, the heart must be cleansed to bring forgiveness; or, to use another picture, it must be re-created to bring new spiritual life. Only God can bring about this cleansing or re-creation (Ps 51:10; Ezek 36:26; Acts 8:21-22; Eph 3:16; Heb 10:22). Since the heart determines actions, a person must be careful to have right attitudes of heart at all times (Lev 19:17; Ps 4:4; 1 Tim 1:5; James 3:14). God sees the inner condition and judges the person accordingly (1 Sam 16:7; Ps 44:21; Matt 5:8; Rev 2:23; see also CONSCIENCE)

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