Mind and Heart
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. ( Proverbs 3:5)
People imagine that if their mind is occupied with the truth, the spiritual life will as a matter of course be strengthened. This is by no means the case. The understanding deals with conceptions and images of divine things, but it cannot reach the real life of the soul. Hence the command, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding.” It is with the heart man believeth and comes into touch with God. It is in the heart God has given His Spirit, to be there to us the presence and power of God working in us.
It is the heart that must trust and love and worship and obey. My mind is utterly impotent in creating or maintaining the spiritual life within me: the heart must wait on God for Him to work it in me.
Reason may tell me what God’s word says, but it can do nothing to the feeding of the soul on the bread of life- this the heart alone can do by its faith and trust in God. The Christian needs ever, when he has studied or heard God’s word, to cease from his thoughts, to put no trust in them, and to waken up his heart to open itself before God, and to seek the living fellowship with Him.
This is the blessedness of waiting on God, that I confess the impotence of all my thoughts and efforts, and set myself still to bow before Him in Holy silence, and trust Him to renew and strengthen His own work in me.
Remember the difference in knowing with the mind and believing with the heart. Beware of the temptation of leaning upon your understanding, with its clear strong thoughts. They only help you to know what the heart must get from God: in themselves they are only images and shadows.
The Bible makes no attempt to prove intellectually the existence of God. It merely opens with the words, “In the beginning, God.” In our modern day approach to salvation and the Christ life, there is more often than not an attempt to approach God intellectually only. This would be the same as us reading books and instructions on marriage, for example and never experiencing marriage. I have no doubt that we might know a lot about marriage through reading but without the experience it is nothing more than a concept or an image. In the same way we can read about God, we can attempt to comprehend God intellectually but until Christ Jesus comes into our hearts and we experience His presence we are engaging in futility. There is in every true relationship with God what I call the intangibles.
Before I became a Christian, I knew a lot about the Bible. I knew most of the Bible stories and as my parents were Christians, I knew what the Bible taught about right and wrong and for the most part lived as a Christian(at least in the presence of my parents). Yet because my heart was still corrupt, I found myself continually sinning. Though I had knowledge, my heart was still evil-bent. My intellect could only override my sinful inclinations for only short periods of time. Much like we react as we are driving over the speed limit and see a police car motivating us to slow down, the intellect can move us rationally for a season to conduct ourselves as we ought. But just as we again increase our speed once the policeman is out of sight, so it is with our corrupt hearts.
When Christ Jesus came into my heart, He changed me. My perceptions changed, my inner desires changed, and my conduct changed even when no one was looking. Prior to that moment, my mind told me to act in a certain way depending upon my environment. When, for instance, I was around my parents or other godly people, my mind instructed me to guard my words and actions. But when I was around ungodly people my mind allowed me to follow my corrupted heart. But when Christ changed my heart, my environment no longer affected my words and actions for the living presence of Christ in me became the influence.
This is the radical change we need today. First, that every churchgoer, has a personal encounter with the living God. That their experience is or becomes one of a heart that has been touched and transformed by Christ. Second, that we refuse just to practice religion intellectually without experiencing the intangibles of encounters that cannot be explained with God. Third, that our prayer will be: “Change my heart, O God.” Fourth, that we choose to believe what we don’t understand simply because the Holy Spirit has made known to us the Word of God. Faith is a choice. We choose to believe what our mind cannot comprehend. For example, we choose to believe that God created all things. We choose to believe that both heaven and hell are actual places. We choose to believe that God came in the flesh, died on the cross, rose from the dead after three days and through Him we are given eternal life. We choose to believe in the resurrection and eternity with God in a new heaven and earth where there is no more suffering or evil. We choose to believe all this over what our minds can think or comprehend and we do with our hearts. We have no proof of these things other than the heart assurance given to us by the in dwelling Holy Spirit we receive in salvation.
This is the crux of what is needed to change our world. Until and unless people’s hearts are transformed by Christ, their conduct may change for a while, but eventually their corrupt hearts will seize control and out comes that old nature of sin. An unchanged heart is like a boiling pot, it will eventually blow the lid off and boil over. As I think about conflict around us, from that in the church to that in the nation and world, I’m convinced that the only real solution is changed hearts. Only hearts that have been transformed by Christ can act in godly ways. We can sit at tables, we can negotiate deals, we can march and protest, and we can attempt to legislate how we treat one another. We can hold educational seminars on healthy marriages and healthy families and healthy communities but unless the participants have a heart change they will soon return to all they were prior to the seminars. We can come to church and hear the Word of God and mentally assent to its truth but unless we receive it into our hearts and it is seated deep into our spirits, we will continue to practice the ways of the world.
Revival is a word that has had its meaning obscured. When we mention revival, most think of several days of singing and preaching, usually with invited evangelists or speakers. And when the week is over, we go back to our normal routines, thankful that we don’t have to go to church every evening. But the word revival is more than scheduled church meetings. The dictionary defines it as:
noun: revival; plural noun: revivals
- an improvement in the condition or strength of something. betterment, turn for the better, comeback, resurgence, renewal
- an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.
3. a new production of an old play or similar work.
What we need is true revival where our spiritual walk with God is improved and strengthened, where being fully Christian and fully committed to the cause of Christ becomes important again and where we find the way to encounter God in a new and living way.
“Will You not revive us and bring us to life again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord, And grant us Your salvation. I will hear [with expectant hope] what God the Lord will say, For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones— But let them not turn again to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who [reverently] fear Him [and obey Him with submissive wonder], That glory [the manifest presence of God] may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and truth and faithfulness meet together; Righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
Dr. John Thompson