Definition of the Heart. The Bible speakes of the heart as the center "out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23; 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 spiritual language that encompasses the totality of one's intellect, emotion, and volition (Mark 7:20 -23). An inpure heart will corrput one's thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. What is needed is a new, transformed heart, refashioned after the image of Christ.
The heart is a knowledge faculty; people know things in ther heart, pray in their heart, meditate in their heart, and hide God's Word in their heart (Psalms 119:11). People also devise plans in their heart (Ps 140:2, doubt in their heart, and ponder in their heart (Eph 5:19). All of these actions of the heart are primary issues involving the inner knowing.
The heart is also a center of feeling. The Bible speaks about the glad heart, the loving heart, the fearful heart, the courageous heart, the repentant heart, the anxious heart, the angry heart, the revived heart, the anguished heart, the delighted heart, the grieving heart, the humble heart, the excited or burning heart, and the troubled heart, (Ex 4:14, Josh 5:1, Ps 51:17, Prov 12:25; Is 57:17, Jer 4:19, Heb 15:16, Lam 2:18, Mat 11:29, Luke 24:32 and John 14:1). All of these actions of the heart primarily involve inner feeling.
Finally, the heart is the center of the volitional activity. We read in Scripture about the hardened heart that refuses to do what God commands; the heart that is yielded to God, the heart that intends to do something, the heart that is devoted to seeking the Lord, the heart that decides, the heart that desires to receive from the Lord, the heart that is turned toward God's statues, and the heart that wants to do do something (Ex 4:21, Josh 24:23, 2 Cor 6:7, Ps 21:1-2, Ps 119:36, and Romans 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 sepent'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 decitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" 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 (Matt 5:21-22) and the sin of lust is just as sinful as actual adultery (Mat 5:27-28).
Hearts that are committed to doing evil run the grave risk of becoming hardened. Those who persistently refuse to listen to God's Word and to obey what He commands, and instead follow the wicked desires of their hearts, will find that God will eventually harden their hearts so that they lose all sensitivity to His Word and to the desires of the Holy Spirit (Heb 3:8). The primary example of this in the Bible is Pharoah's heart at the time of the exodus (Ex 7:3, 13:22-23, 8:15, 9:12. 10:1, and 14:17). Paul saw the same general principle operative in the Roman empire (Roman 1:24-26, 28) and predicted that it would also occuring during the days of the antichrist (2 Thess 2:11-12). The writer of Hebrews fills his letter with warnings to believers not to harden their hearts (Heb 3:8-12). Anyone who reject God's Word will eventually have a hardened heart.
THE REGENERATED HEART.
God's answer to the sinfulness of the heart is regeneration, which comes to all who repent of their sins, turn to God, and place a personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
1. Regeneration is a matter of the heart. Those who repent from their heart of all sin and confess in their heart that Jesus is Lord are born again and recieve a new heart from God (Rom 10:9, Ps 51:10, Ezek 11:19).
2. Within the hearts of those who experience spiritual birth, God creates a desire to love Him and to obey Him). God emphasizes to his people the necessity of a love that comes from the heart. Such love and devotion to God cannot be separated from obedience to His Word (Ps 119:34,69,112). Jesus taught that love for God with the whole heart and love for one's neighbor summarize God's entire law (Matt 22:37-40).
3. Love from the heart is the essential ingredient in obedience. All too often God's people tried to substitute obedience to mere outward religion forms (such as feast days, offerings, and sacrifices) for genuine love from the heart (Is 1:1-17). Outward observance without an inner desire to serve God is hypocritical religion and is severely condemned by our Lord (Matt 23:13-28).
4. Many other spiritual activities take place in the hearts of regenerated believers. They praise God with all their heart, meditate in their heart, cry out to God from the heart, seek God with all their heart, hide God's Word in their heart, trust in the Lord with all their heart, experience God's love poured out into their heart, and sing in their heart (Ps 9:1, Ps 19:14, Ps 82:2, Ps 119:2.10, Ps 119:11, Prov 2:5, Romans 5:5, and Eph 5:19).