What is man? What does it mean to be human? When it comes to a biblical understanding of humanness, we see that Scripture defines humanness as being reflective of God. The Godhead said, “Let us make man in our image….” So, Scripture teaches that men and women are made in God’s image, which means that there are ways we are like God without ever being equal with God. God created us to think, will, and communicate. Since God is a community, we are created to live in community, outside of ourselves. Since the essence of God is love, we must see that we were created to love in a way that reflects God’s being and character. For example, beginning in Matthew 5:43, Jesus taught on what it should look like for us to love our enemies. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” This is how sons and daughters of God live because this is a reflection of the character and mercy of God, who makes the rain to fall “on the just and the unjust.” This is the essence of being an image bearer of God. This is the essence of humanness.
So, we are much more than physical beings and we are much more than just minds. There is an aspect of our humanness that is almost mystical and ethereal. There is a vital aspect of humanness upon which we cannot place our hands because it is essentially spiritual and “psychological.” The root of the word psychology emphasizes the centrality of the soul and not the mind. Biblical psychology emphasizes the influence of the heart upon the mind. As humans we are essentially embodied souls. So, if we deal honestly with people, we must relate to them as spiritual beings as well as physical or mental beings. This aspect of humanness is not appreciated nearly enough in western culture. Our culture tends to reduce humans to scientific animals and that all of man’s ills are curable by science. However, science cannot touch the human soul. There is no medicine that can cure the human soul, or heart. So, this means that we are completely dependent upon God for changed hearts and lives.
Let’s consider some key passages of Scripture that deal with the human heart.
—Matthew 5:18-19–“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
—Jeremiah 17:5-9–Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
—Romans 10:9-10–“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
—Psalm 73:26–“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Matthew 6:20-21–“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Proverbs 4:23–“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
So, in a summary fashion, what do we learn from these heart passages, which, by the way, are only the highest tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the heart passages? We learn that what makes us “unclean” as sinners is what comes from our hearts, and not what comes into our minds or bodies externally. We see that our hearts are the basis of our characters and our hearts are the seat of our devotion to God. Paul teaches us that true conversion and salvation takes place in our hearts and is reflected in our confessing Jesus as Lord with our lips. We are reminded that God is the strength of our hearts and is the Rock on which we stand that cannot be moved, even though we certainly shake and quake in fear. Jesus reminds us that our hearts are the seat of our worship and is reflective of what/whom we truly worship and is directly influenced by what we treasure. Lastly, we learn in Proverbs that our hearts are precious and hugely significant and that our lives are directly influenced by the disposition of our hearts.
Let’s put some shoe leather to these principles with a practical example of how to deal with an issue like anger from our hearts. What is the cause of anger? Why do we get angry? Scripture tells us that anger in an of itself is not necessarily a sin. “Be angry, and don’t sin.” However, how do we deal with sinful anger that is directed toward another individual because of something they said or did toward us? Many techniques and strategies have been offered by many sources. Some say we should go out in the yard and beat a tree with a bat, or pound a pillow. This might provide some temporarily relief, but it cannot get to the “heart” of the matter. So, let’s consider David’s teaching in Psalm 4.
He acknowledges that he is angry and tells himself and his hearers to not sin in one’s anger. So, this is a good check for us. We must seek to never speak to someone out of anger. When we do speak in anger we usually regret this and say unnecessarily hurtful things.
Then, David tells himself to search his heart and be silent. David realizes that his anger is not expressed in a vacuum, but it is an expression that comes from the heart. So, it is helpful to examine our own hearts and ask such questions as, “Why am I angry? Why did I react in anger at this particular situation? Why did I react in anger at the particular words that were said? Is my anger pointing to an idol or something of which I do not want to let go?” Take the time to examine your heart.
Lastly, David counsels us to “offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” Bingo! Ultimately, anger has to do with worship and trust. Our hearts are never passive and are constantly evaluating and interpreting what is going on around us. Do we at all times worship God, or can we have functioning, false idols in which we trust for relief, peace, and comfort? These things have no power against anger in terms of rooting it out of our hearts. Worship and trust go hand in hand. Sinful anger is rooted in a failure to trust God. Anger is a way of trying to gain control over situations that have not gone our own way.
So, we live out of our hearts. Our hearts are the seat of our emotions, values, and loyalties. It is out of our hearts that we live and behave. In order to see real change in our lives our hearts have to be changed. In Christ we have new hearts that are able to love and value God’s pleasure above all else. We are enabled to live in such a way that flows from Jesus being our greatest treasure and to live more stable lives recognizing that God is the Rock of our hearts forever. We must grow into and live out of pathway characterized by faith that works through love.
Through the ministry of KAINOS we truly seek to get to the “heart” of peoples’ struggles. We know that God is after transformation and not just change on our own terms. At KAINOS we believe that God’s plans and dreams for us are much bigger and better than our dreams for our own lives. So, we seek to walk in the path of God’s wisdom, counsel, presence, and power with others who find themselves struggling with the various challenges in their lives. We seek to counsel, minister, and love, as fellow strugglers, with others, and learn what the worship of God from the heart looks like in all areas of life.
Please visit us at www.kainosliving.com. Please partake of the blogs and the daily devotionals. Also, you can listen to some sermons that we hope and pray will be a blessing to your soul.
Join us as we seek to understand more fully what it means to be renewed in heart and purpose.