The Heart and Mind

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What is our heart? I would think most of us when thinking of what the heart is don’t automatically think of the organ in our body. We think of all the warm affections and feelings we get when we love something or somebody. Like when we say “I love you with all my heart” we’re really saying “To the fullest capacity that I can carry love for you, I share that love with you.” Doesn’t sound as good I know, but it can help us understand what our heart is. It is the seat of our affections, passions, desires, and even our thoughts. Yes, our thoughts.

Within the context of the Bible, the mind and the heart are used almost interchangeably. In Matthew 9:4, it says “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?”. God is sovereign over our hearts, so any evil that disturbs our heart he takes notice of and is displeased with. The heart and mind themselves are placed within our soul and spirit.

In Galatians and most of the New Testament, heart is kardia in Greek. The kardia is the seat of desires, feelings, affections, passions, impulses. We see the word in other verses used for the hardness of heart or the lack of understanding in the mind. In Ephesians 4:18, it used to describe the lack of understanding in the Gentiles who were ignorant and obstinate towards receiving the Gospel. The word used in Ephesians 4:23 is nous which is mind and is again the seat of emotions and feelings. It is our mode of thinking, feeling, and is where we are morally aligned. Very similar to kardia or heart used in other verses.

Jesus’ death and resurrection made the way for the Holy Spirit to live in us.

What is our spirit? Our spirit is the rational spirit by which we think, feel and decide. It is also the space where the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, indwells in us. For God sent the Spirit of Christ into our hearts (Galatians 4:6). Jesus’ death and resurrection made the way for the Holy Spirit to live in us. He is the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15) and He brings us in as children of God, freeing us from a spirit of slavery to sin. This spirit within us is how we are able to commune with God.

As it says in 1 John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit” and in John 3:6, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Through the Holy Spirit living in our hearts residing in our spirit, we become more like God and actively carry His presence.

What is the mind? Well, let’s go to scripture. In Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The word used here for mind here is yetser which means conception or purpose. This entails our inclinations or intentions. Can also means thoughts as used in 1 Chronicles 29:18. As I said earlier, the New Testament and Greek Philosophy used the word nous for the mind.

In English translations, we see mind or understanding translated from this Greek word. The nous can be seen as our awareness or understanding that allows us to think rationally. Within the context of the Bible, the mind is crucial in understanding who God is.

By the Holy Spirit, we become “partakers of the divine nature” of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). With the mind of Christ, we can keep in step with the Holy Spirit because we know Him

I’ll just go ahead and quote the younger me on the Mind of Christ, “1 Corinthians 2:12 says that the Holy Spirit we have received has allowed us to understand these things freely given by God. Paul argues from the Greek philosophical premise that like is known only by the like. Essentially, you can assume what someone is thinking but you won’t know unless they tell you. In the same way, the Spirit indwells in us and speaks to us about spiritual truths, leading us into the hidden wisdom and power of God (1 Corinth 2:7).”

Without a new mind, the wisdom of God sounds ridiculous to us. By the Holy Spirit, we become “partakers of the divine nature” of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). With the mind of Christ, we can keep in step with the Holy Spirit because we know Him.

We see another thing in Ephesians and Romans as well: a transformation of the heart and mind by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 12:2, we are commanded “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The word used here for renewing is closer to the word renovate.

So let’s think of a house. When we buy a house from people on the market, the sellers of the house have to move everything out so that we can put new stuff in. If they don’t, it just makes moving in way harder because there isn’t enough space.

That is just like our minds. The systems and patterns of this world are found in sin. In Galatians 5, Paul runs down a whole list of them: “Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” There’s a lot of ways for us to sin, and sin is in our natural inclination. We are sinful creatures, so that is why we need the Spirit to renew our minds to produce the fruit of the Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22-23). Those fruits describe God’s character and the intention He has for our hearts and minds. 

The renewal of our minds means moving out the old and bringing in the new. The thing is, we don’t understand how harmful the old stuff was to our house until we move the new stuff in. By the Holy Spirit, God appeals to our emotions and our logic to reveal our sin. God is a God of truth, but He has emotions (John 11:35, Exodus 34:14, Ephesians 4:30). Sin stands in the way of us knowing God. So, the more we keep in step with God in our thoughts, our intentions, and even our feelings, the more we know of His perfect will (Roman 12:2).

With the same heart and mind that we think lustful thoughts with, are the same ones we relate to the person of Christ with.

Our hearts and minds are within our physical bodies, but they are essential to the center of our spiritual body. I keep saying that the heart, mind, soul, and spirit are the seat of our affections, intention, will, and emotions. That is because they all are. Our spirit contains the heart and mind. So does our body. Let me say it straight: With the same heart and mind that we think lustful thoughts with, are the same ones we relate to the person of Christ with.

Obviously, this can be dangerous for believers who are seeking to grow closer to God, but feel hopelessly held back by their sin. As it says in 1 John 3:20, our own heart condemns us! The good news is, God already knows who we are. Which is why He provided His Son to die for all of our sins past, present and future. In Ezekiel 36:26, it says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Through Christ, we are under grace. 

To grow in any relationship you have to make time for it. Some of the greatest experiences I’ve had with God are when my mind and heart, my emotions, my thoughts, and my understanding, is fully poured out and directed towards encountering Him. The more time we spend with God, the more we think, feel, perceive just like Him. His heart becomes our heart. In this world, we face trouble. In this world, we carry burdens and encounter obstacles we don’t understand. Our anxiety comes when we try to control a situation that we don’t have the power to change.

God is eternal, all powerful and all knowing. He has the power to carry our burdens (Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Isaiah 41:10). Honestly, we can forget just how big our God is when we face trouble and that’s normal. We have to remember though that same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. We have victory. So, God doesn’t want us to worry over life’s circumstances. No, He wants to meet with us and know us as a friend.  

Jesus showed us with the Pharisees that we can’t be so focused on outward behaviors that we become callous towards people and God. He is more focused on our intentions behind the behaviors. When we raise our hands in worship, He wants us to believe what we are singing. When we give to others, He wants us to desire to do it in our heart and not do it reluctantly (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). When we read the Word, there is importance in understanding what we are reading as we must be mature in our thinking (1 Corinthians 14:20).

God wants our minds and our hearts. He beautifully created us to have emotions and think logically with the same being. With both our heart and our mind, let us worship God.

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