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How Do You Define the Heart?

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How do You Definite the Heart?

Laws and the Inward Parts

“I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it” (Jer. 31.33b). To what do these inward parts refer? In order to understand we have to mention this matter of the “heart” (by heart here we do not mean the physiological organ). We will delve into this “heart” matter according to the record of the Scriptures and the experiences of many of the Lord’s people. So far as the Bible record is concerned, the heart seems to embrace the following parts:

(1) Conscience is attached to the heart—“having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb. 10.22); “if our heart condemn us” (1 John 3.20). Condemning is a function of conscience, showing then that conscience is within the realm of the heart.

(2) Mind too is linked to the heart—“Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matt. 9.4); “reasoning in their hearts” (Mark 2.6); “the imagination of their heart” (Luke 1.51); “wherefore do questionings arise in your heart?” (Luke 24.38) All these instances are stories about the heart. “And understand with their heart” (Matt. 13.15); “pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2.19); “quick to discern the thoughts . . . of the heart” (Heb. 4.12). All these verses indicate that the mind is linked to the heart.

(3) Will is also tied to the heart—“with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11.23); “ye became obedient from the heart” (Rom. 6.17); “purposed in his heart” (2 Cor. 9.7); “intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12). These all reveal that will is definitely linked to the heart.

(4) And emotion is joined to the heart—“his heart fainted” (Gen. 45.26); “Was not our heart burning within us?” (Luke 24.32); “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14.27). All of these passages confirm that emotion is joined to the heart.

On the basis of the above passages—and though we dare not assert that conscience is the heart, that mind is the heart, or that will is the heart, or emotion is the heart—we dare to affirm that the heart has at least conscience, mind, will, and emotion attached to it. The heart is able to exercise control over conscience, mind, will, and emotion. It may be said that the heart is the sum total of these four things. Conscience is the conscience of the heart; mind, the mind ofthe heart; will, the will of the heart; and emotion, the emotion of the heart.

Hence the “inward parts” of Jeremiah 31.33 include at least conscience, mind, will, and emotion of the heart.

The Relation between Heart and Laws

What does it mean by “laws” in both Hebrews 8.10 and 10.16? We have mentioned before that the law of life is singular, not plural, in number. Why then do we find “laws” in these places? Why is “laws” plural in number? It can be explained in the following way. The life which we receive at regeneration is a law. This refers to the law itself. But the operation of this law in us is more than one. God’s life has its operation in all our inward parts. It operates in our spirit, in our mind, in our will, in our emotion. So that what Jeremiah records—“I will put my law in their inward parts”—points to the operation of the law of God’s life in every inward segment of man.

So far as the law itself is concerned, it is singular; but as far as the operation of this law goes, it is plural. It can be likened to the water we use. The source is one, yet the pipes are many. The life in us is one law, though it operates in all our inward parts. The life is one, while its operations are many. It works in all the inward parts, nonetheless its source is but one.

Heart Is the Passage of Life

Even though the spirit is the highest part of man, what really represents him is not his spirit but his heart. “Commune with your own heart” (Ps. 4.4) coincides with what is commonly understood tobe “heart and mouth consulting together.”∗ We may say that the heart is the real “I”; without question it is the most important thing in our daily living.

The heart stands between the spirit and the soul. All that enters the spirit must pass through the heart; so also is it true with all that issues from the spirit. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov 4.23). This means that the heart is the passage of life. In other words, all fruits which man bears outwardly come from the heart. Such is its significance.

The heart is the passage or channel through which life must operate. It is for this reason that God must first move upon our heart before His life can enter into us. Had there been no sorrow of heart or repentance, God’s life would not be able to come in. God has to touch our heart—causing us either to sense the pain of sin or to taste the sweetness of His love and the preciousness of Christ—in order to bring us to repentance. Heartache is a matter of the conscience, while repentance is a change of mind. When our heart is so touched, our volition will decide and our heart will believe. And thus will the life of God enter into us as is a seed that is planted in us (1 Peter 1.23). . . .

How, then, can this life be expanded? We should not forget that just as the acceptance of life commences from the heart so the growth of life must also start from the heart. Whether our spiritual life expands or not depends on how open our heart is towards God. If our heart is open to Him our life will expand; but if our heart is closed, it has no possibility of expansion. So, then, it comes back to the matter of the heart. We cannot afford to overlook this.
We ought to recognize that the heart has its delight and inclination.

To worship and serve God is not a matter of the heart, rather is it a matter of the spirit. On the other hand, to desire after God and to love Him is not a matter of the spirit but is of the heart. The heart can love God but it cannot touch Him. It may incline towards God but it cannot commune with Him. That which may touch God and communicate with Him is the spirit. . . .

Nevertheless, should you be a heartless person God is still unable to commune and communicate with you. Your heart is like the switch of an electric lamp. If the switch is on, the light shines; if it is off, the light disappears. If your heart is open to God it is easy for Him to commune and communicate with you. But if your heart is closed to Him it will be difficult for God to commune and communicate with you. God’s life in us is a fact, nonetheless the heart is the switch of that life. Whether His life can flow from our spirit to our conscience, mind, will or emotion depends on the heart that serves as a switch. With an opened heart His life will reach all our inward parts; with a closed one, His life will not be able to get through.

The Heart May Block Life’s Operation

After we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit we possess an uncreated life, even the life of God. This life is full of power, a power which is infinite and unrestricted by time and space. Yet if our heart is a problem, God’s life will be seriously blocked. Should there be any problem in our conscience the life of God will doubtless be hindered. Should there be a problem in our mind or emotion or our will, again, God’s life will be obstructed. Yes, God’s life is placed within our spirit, but it needs to flow into all our inward parts. It will be blocked if any of our inward parts presents a problem.

It is a matter of fact that each one who by grace belongs to the Lord has God’s life in him. This is positive and undeniable. That thislife of God in us is both alive and operative is also positive and undeniable: and having God’s life in us, we should experience revelation, enlightenment, an inner voice, and an inner sensation. Even so, many of God’s children are asking why they do not have revelation, enlightenment, inner voice and sensation. Is it because God’s life is not actually in them? Or that God’s life is not living in them? The answer is of course no. It is positive and undeniable that God’s life is in us and is both alive and operative. We do not have revelation, enlightenment, inner voice and inner sensation because on our side the “heart” causes problems. Either our conscience becomes a problem due to our not dealing with what it condemns, or our mind is bewildered by cares, evil thoughts, arguments or doubts. If it is not a problem of the will such as our being headstrong or disobedient, it may be a problem of the emotion such as carnal desire or some natural inclination. A part of the heart must have become a problem or hindrance.

The life of God is put in us, and this life will issue forth from our spirit. Yet sometimes we do not allow it to pass through. Due to an obstacle raised by our conscience, mind, will or emotion, God’s life is unable to “law” out from us. Let us always keep in mind that in expanding outwardly, the life of God must pass through the various parts of the heart. Any problem in any segment of the heart will block its operation . . . .

Two Conditions for Life’s Operation

The law of life seeks to move out from our spirit that it may operate through our various inward parts. Oftentimes, however, it cannot pass through, as though striking a wall. This is because we have blocked it. In order to let the life operate freely, we must fulfill two conditions.

(1) Obey Life’s First Impulse

One of the conditions is that we should obey life’s first impulse. It should be noted that the unregenerated has no inward feeling at all; only he who is born again possesses at least something of such an inward feeling.

Once a Christian physician said to a preacher, “Spiritual beginning and spiritual growth come from hunger and thirst. Many people feel neither hungry nor thirsty. How can we help them to feel so?” Replied the preacher. “You are a physician. You know that there is life in man. Unless he is dead he will more or less have the desire for food. How, then, can you increase his desire for food? You give him some medicine to stimulate him until his desire for food becomes normal. In the same way, the one who has some inward feeling must learn to obey such an impulse. If you obey this little feeling your hunger and thirst will increase a little. More obedience results in stronger hunger and thirst. As your inward feeling grows stronger, you obey a little more; and as you obey still further, your inward feeling increases that much more. More obedience means more inward feeling. Thus you immediately realize you are inwardly alive.”

This is the way life will operate in us. It turns towards the emotional part of our heart, causing us to move towards God; next it turns to the mental part of our heart, drawing us to God; and then it turns to the volitional part, motivating us towards God even more. By such cycles of turnings, our spiritual life is increased and deepened and heightened. Therefore, we need to begin by obeying the tiniest inward feeling. As soon as we sense such an impulse, we must learn to obey. . . .

One thing very precious is the fact that if we overstep the bounds set by God or if our action does not agree with our inner life, we will immediately sense our being “forbidden of the Holy Spirit” (Acts16.6) and that “the Spirit of Jesus suffer[s] [us] not” (Acts 16.7). By obeying the inner guidance in our goings and stayings time after time, we shall make progress in life. Let us repeat: we must obey life’s first impulse—even the tiniest of feelings—since obedience is an important condition for the operation of life.

(2) Love God

The other condition is to love God: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12.30). The word “mind” here is dianoia in the Greek. According to God’s word, to love God is related to the operation of life. According to the experience of many saints God first sows His life in them, then He stirs the emotion of their heart by love. If we study the Gospel of John we will see that it stresses love as well as faith. It not only states that “he that believeth on the Son hath eternal life” (3.36) but also asserts that “if a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (14.23). By faith life is received; through love life is released. Faith alone will let life in; love alone will let it out.

We must therefore allow this love to reach into our heart, making its way into the emotional, intellectual, and volitional parts of our heart. Let us lift up our heart and say: “My God, I will love You with my soul, I will love You with my understanding, I will love You with my strength.” Whoever says this truthfully will soon see that his thought is changed, his speech is changed, his conduct is changed—all within and without him is changed. And why? Because there is the “story of love” within him. Oh, what God expects of us today is that our heart may be touched by Him; that our soul, our understanding, and our strength may all be touched by Him. “But whensoever it [the heart] shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor. 3.16). As the heart turns to the Lord, there shall comeenlightenment, inner voice and inward feeling. . . .

When the life of God operates in us there will be two effects: one is the effect of death, the other is the effect of resurrection. The effect of death takes away the sickness, whereas the effect of resurrection restores health. The first element of the Lord’s cross is death, its second element is resurrection. We are told in Romans 6 that these two are the strongest and most effective elements of the life of Christ. Now what is the cross? It is this, that when your heart is touched by God you offer yourself into God’s hand in order that His life may operate in you. And as it operates, there is an element which puts you to death. This effect of death takes away from you all which is undesired—that which rebels against God, that which is contrary to life, and that which is contradictory to the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, there is also a living element, which causes you to live. The effect of this life is to enable you to live out all the riches of the Godhead, and so filling you with light, joy and peace. . . .

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