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“For from within, out of the heart of men…” Mark 7:21


In looking at the trinity of God and that man was made in the image of God, it is necessary to discuss what the Bible calls the heart. The Hebrew Old Testament word for heart is lebab. It means the most interior organ, and leb is used to describe feelings, will, and even intellect. It is found seven hundred and ninety five times in the O.T.[1] The Greek New Testament word kardia, meaning the heart, or figuratively, thoughts and feelings, is found one hundred and sixty-eight times.[2] Both God and man are spoken of as having thoughts or feelings from the heart. They are so closely patterned that God said of David, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart.” However, the heart is not a separate attribute of the Triune God, neither is it separate from the three parts of man’s nature. It is of an interesting note that even the angels and animals are also spoken of as having thoughts and feelings of the heart, though different from that of man or God.

Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth,
and it grieved him at his heart.

Gen 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Acts 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

Dan 4:16 Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

Dan 5:21 And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Most of what we attribute to the soul is spoken of as coming from, or residing in the heart. Man’s evil deeds are said to originate from the heart—“out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” Thoughts however, as we have put forth, are an attribute of the soul, coming from the mind. Mary, the mother of Jesus, when she heard the testimony of the shepherds, “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” However, other verses such as, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” lead us to believe that the heart and mind are different entities.

Mt 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Matt 9:4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Deu 11:18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

So also, from the heart we experience love, sorrow, anguish, hatred, pride, and other emotions, an attribute we have again assigned to the soul. In the great commandment, we are told to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart”; however, in the same verse it says, “and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind”. Therefore, we cannot merely say that the heart is the same as the soul.

John 16:6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

2 Cor 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

Lev 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

Deu 19:6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.

Deu 8:14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

Luke 10:27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Another aspect that we have attributed to the soul is that of our will; but with, and from the heart we are to desire, seek, set, devise, purpose, and obey—which are all functions of the will. However, again, we may not be able to say that the heart and soul are one, because the Scripture differentiates between the two in the following verse, “if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

2 Chr 15:15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.

1 Chr 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.

Prov 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Dan 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Acts 11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver

Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

We also find in the Scriptures, verses that link the heart to the spiritual part of man’s nature. Indeed, many verses teach that it is in the heart where our spirit abides. Furthermore, it is where the Holy Spirit abides in those who have trusted Christ. The devil also communicates to our spiritual nature, as in the case of Judas, through what is called the heart.

1 Pet 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;

In studying the Bible, we find that the conscience, or God consciousness, is a remnant or attribute of our spiritual nature. However, we find that this function of our spiritual being is also linked to the heart. Nevertheless, just as with the soul, we may not say that the heart is the same as the spirit— “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.”

1 Sam 24:5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Heb 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Rom 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

The third part of man’s nature, the body, is also linked to the heart. Aside from the obvious fact that we have an internal organ by the same name, we must not be so naïve as to believe that that is what the Scripture is referring to. There are instances where that is the case; but the real meaning has more to do with the physiological impact upon our being through the brain, nervous system, the five senses, and most importantly, what is called the enteric nervous system. Enteric is Greek for intestine, or the second brain, consisting of our esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This system contains over half of the nerve cells in our body, and has a great deal to due with our physical as well as our emotional state. Although we are not always conscious of its impact upon our lives, we have all had gut feelings, butterflies, or a sick feeling (not nausea caused by diseases) in the stomach. It is also through this system whereby the foods we eat, drugs, and intoxicants enter our bloodstream and have a direct impact upon our emotional lives. Can a person who is starving or has some deficiency in their diet be contented or emotionally happy? It would be difficult indeed. The Scripture also links wine and other alcoholic beverages to changes in our moods and our overall attitude. This does not even begin to probe the depth of all the different drugs that man has produced that alter our psychic in a myriad of ways. These all impact us through this Enteric system. However, again, as with the soul and spirit, the Scripture differentiates between the heart and the body—“My flesh and my heart faileth.” So we may not say that the heart and body are one and the same.

1 Sam 25:37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.

2 Sam 18:14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.

Cant 4:9 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

Prov 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

Psa 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Est 1:10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,

Psa 104:15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart

Prov 31:6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Hos 4:11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

James 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

Psa 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Therefore, if we can associate the attributes of the body, soul, and spirit with the heart; and yet the Bible makes a distinction between these parts of man and the heart; what definition may we give to this word that is so plentifully used throughout the Scripture? To answer this it would be helpful here to use other references to the heart besides those that relate to man. Jesus, when he spoke of His burial and the time He would spend in Paradise—the place where the Old Testament saints awaited their resurrection—said, “so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The literal meaning is that Paradise was in the center of the earth. His body would lie in the grave, but His soul would descend to this place for three days and nights. In another reference to heart, Moses and the children of Israel sang a song of how the Lord had parted the Red Sea and how “the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.” Both of these verses ascribe to heart the meaning of center, inward, or middle, just as it is the literal meaning of the word for the heart and other organs of the body—those organs being in the interior of man. However, if we apply this meaning in a non-literal way, we are speaking of the inner life of man—those thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, spiritual awareness, and convictions that are the product of the body, soul, and/or spirit of man. The heart therefore, is a wide-ranging term applied to the inner man, without making any distinction in his triune nature. It is a general characterization of all the operations of man that affect the course of man’s life, whether physically, psychologically, or spiritually.

Matt 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee,
To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Ex 15:8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

Job 38:36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

Psa 39:3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

Prov 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

It is also the heart, the inner man that must be converted. It is with the heart that man must believe in Christ unto salvation. It is also here where God’s Spirit comes to dwell in His children, that He might regenerate the whole of man. God works to redeem us from the inside out. He is not interested in just putting a coat of paint upon an old house—our flesh. He is gutting the house and making it all brand new.

2 Cor 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

2 Cor 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Eph 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Eze 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

As believers we are admonished to “keep thy heart with all diligence.” We are to guard against all the influences that may affect our inner man, and the decisions that come forth as a result of those influences. We are especially to be careful not to have a “double heart”—one which seeks to follow the Lord, but also covets the things of this life. Our hearts must be purified and united to “worship the Lord thy God, and him only … serve.”

Prov 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Psa 12:2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Psa 86:11 Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Jer 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.


[1] Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary

[2] Strong’s Greek Dictionary


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