Mainstream science would have you believe that the heart’s main function is to pump blood. However, one of many scientific truths in the Bible tells us the heart is involved in thought, emotion, and personality.
According to the TODAY Show, “Psychologists once maintained that emotions were purely mental expressions generated by the brain alone. We now know that this is not true — emotions have as much to do with the heart and body as they do with the brain… we now know that the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. And the brain responds to the heart in many important ways.”
So what does the Bible have to say about our hearts? And why is it so important?
In my article, Frozen, I wrote about the two different states of heart: hearts of flesh, and hearts of stone. This entry is going to expand much more on that subject.
What we need to understand about the human heart is that it is much more than something physical. It is not just an organ of flesh that pumps blood, but rather, it has incredibly spiritual significance. I had not realized it until after I wrote Frozen, but the Bible is littered with scriptures pertaining to this exact subject. I began to come upon them one after the other, and the Lord spoke to me through them. So, I first want to look at a particular verse that mostly everyone is familiar with.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5)
We are given this commandment to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. On the surface, it seems like your ordinary encouraging verse. But, as with all Bible verses, the meaning is rooted much deeper than that. The verse begins with “Trust in the Lord.” The ending includes, “lean not on your own understanding.” And these two halves are connected by “your heart.”
Trust is something that occurs within the heart. I won’t go in depth on trusting God, since that is another lesson all on it’s own, but it is worth noting that trust is what took Rahab, a prostitute of Jericho, to becoming the grandmother of Jesus (Joshua 2, Matthew 1:5-16).
What I found most interesting was that the word “understanding” followed mention of our heart. As to imply that our hearts are thinking organs. Although, the type of “thinking” our heart does is not the kind that takes place in our heads, typically. This type of thinking is more spiritual. It is a feeler. Whether we admit it or not, the heart has control of a person. Our thoughts are the residue of what’s in our hearts. Our feelings, the very way we think about things, and how we react to certain situations, is all heart-based. The heart, in my understanding of it, has more control of you than your brain. The brain is used for thinking, while the heart is the very capsule of your personality.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
In Proverbs 4:23, we see evidence that our thoughts and actions are the overflow of the content of our hearts: “For out of it spring the issues of life.” The heart is the spiritual core of our physical being. While it has many physical, biological functions as an organ, its spiritual significance is extraordinary. The heart is mentioned in the Bible over 800 times. Thus, it must be hugely important.
Reading the beginning of the verse, Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “keep your hearts with all diligence.” Meaning, we should not give our hearts over to fleshly things. We should not give ourselves over. We cannot afford it. Because once we do that, our hearts grow from a place of light, to a place of darkness. They drift away, and this drifting process is quick and slippery. People wake up with a black heart, often left wondering what hit them.
Basically, we cannot surrender our hearts (in this manner). Because the heart, in its natural, untamed and undisciplined state, is incredibly wicked. Take a look at this passage from Genesis:
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. (Genesis 8:20-21)
God added something into this verse to show us the natural state of man’s heart. He characterizes it as “evil from his youth.” So, if the heart is not bridled and disciplined through the Word and through the Spirit of God, it will revert back into this evil state.
The meat of this message comes from a passage in Ezekiel 36, as God is prophesying the renewal of Israel after their Babylonian exile:
25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. (Ezekiel 36:25-29)
Take a moment to read this chunk of scripture and develop your own understanding of it. The verse I’d like to point out in particular here is 26. In it, we see mention of two types of hearts: hearts of stone, and hearts of flesh.
The Heart of Stone
The Bible mentions “hearts of stone” over and over again throughout scripture. If you know where to look, you’ll find it mentioned a lot. One of the most well-known places is Exodus, during the Ten Plagues. The Bible says in various places that Pharaoh’s heart grew harder and harder as he refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt.
Of course, many critics of the Bible attempt to find fault in the character of God, by pointing out and blindly cherry-picking verses such as Exodus 7:3, which describe how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. In the same verse, of course, it states that God did so to multiply His signs and wonders among Egypt. I talked about this in my article on The Passover. However, many other verses say that Pharaoh hardened his own heart: (Exodus 7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:32, 1 Samuel 6:6, etc…) God, of course, did not violate Pharaoh’s free will, but rather used his own wicked intentions to further the greater good.
Now, specifically, look at what happened when Pharaoh’s heart did become hard. After the second Plague, which was the infestation of frogs, Pharaoh was about to release the Israelites and complied with God’s demands. However, once the frogs began to clear, he changed his mind.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:15)
Essentially, we see an act of stubbornness fused with deceit. This is a characteristic of the heart of stone: pride, stubbornness, and a lack of care. To expand on this, I compiled a list of all of the different traits and characteristics a heart of stone may have. Now, a heart of stone might not display all of these traits. But it will exhibit some, and any of them at any given time. It is dependent on the individual and their mindset, and the spiritual turbulences they have created within their own heart. I have also created a simple diagram to help you more clearly understand these traits.
Traits/Characteristics of a Heart of Stone
A heart of stone is above all, stubborn, prideful, self-reliant, Godless, lustful, evil, idolatrous, untamed, uncaring, depressed, hopeless, selfish, self-gratifying, unfeeling, etc.
A heart of stone has no conviction whatsoever. It does not feel that need to repent, because it does not care. There is no Spirit of repentance or conviction over it, and it feels no urgency in wrongdoing.
A heart of stone has no passion, it is lazy, and it has no drive. It is jealous, insecure, it has no emotion, no remorse, no spiritual power. It has a dry spirit and it is very easily entangled in sin. It is addicted, doubtful, unbelieving, deceitful, and has a sinful desire. It is fleshly and unyielding. It is very quarrelsome and holds grudges against God. It is unreasonable, and spiritually “asleep.” It is “frozen,” much like Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:26, looking back with a longing spirit and a sinful desire on her past life. She could not move forward because she was looking behind her.
A heart of stone experiences no joy in Godly activities. It has no enthusiasm for any spiritual endeavors like church, reading the Bible, singing, praising, praying, etc. Even simply discussing Biblical topics, hanging out with Godly friends, etc. All of these things may seem tasteless.
Furthermore, it is ungrateful. It cannot process love correctly. It is prayerless, deaf to God, and very, very disobedient. The saying, “the heart wants what the heart wants” could never be any more fitting. A heart of stone simply wants what it wants. It doesn’t care about much else. It is lawless, alive to sin and dead to Christ, and it is double-minded.
Does any of this sound like you? If you believe so, make a checklist of these traits. If you mark many of them as applying to you, you may have a stone problem.
The Heart of Flesh
We can deduce that the Heart of Flesh is the exact opposite of all of these things. It is a red heart, one that beats fresh, lively blood. A spiritual powerhouse and a strong conduit for the love of Christ. This type of person magnifies God in everything they do, and proclaims the Lord’s handiwork in their lives much more fluidly and effectively than the person with a heart of stone.
Traits/Characteristics of a Heart of Flesh
A Heart of Flesh is selfless, compliant, God-reliant, Godly, pure, good, tamed, careful/cautious, joyful, content, hopeful, selfless, and it has great conviction. It has a great capacity and feeling for continuous, unceasing repentance. It is remorseful, emotional (in a good way), and it has spiritual power. It is not easily entangled, or addicted, and is doubtless, believing, and has a Godly desire. This person has a passion for God, a Godly drive, and is motivated by the Spirit.
This person has the nature of a servant. They are secure, trusting, yielding, and they hear instruction. They are peaceful, at peace with God, and “awake” spiritually. They are reasonable, not stubborn, and they have knowledge of Scripture within their hearts (John 15:7). And they are growing in the Lord, moving forward, and experience great joy in Godly activities. They are grateful, thankful, prayerful, loving, respectful, and they avoid entanglements and snares. They guard themselves and their hearts. They are honest, very humble, submissive to God, obedient, alive to Christ, dead to sin, single-minded, and they put God first. They want what God wants.
I will continue this entry onto a second part, and will explain how you can transfer from a heart of stone, to a heart of flesh. And also the importance of doing so.