If the goal is that we grow up into Christ (Eph.4:15), which it is, then we’re going to need to re-form our hearts as well as our heads. These are both critical components for training our soul to live from heaven to earth like Jesus did. For it’s with the heart that one believes (Rom.10:10), and it’s with the head that we come into agreement with what God believes about us.
Let’s look at the heart and head connection more closely.
The writer of Hebrews says something about Israel’s failure to enter God’s rest that we should take notice of concerning the heart:
19 It is clear that they could not enter into their inheritance because they wrapped their hearts in unbelief. (Heb.3:19 TPT)
Then, a little later he writes…
6 Those who first heard the good news of deliverance failed to enter into that realm of faith’s-rest because of their unbelieving hearts…. (Heb.4:6a TPT*)
Notice where the unbelief is residing—in our hearts.
As I’ve said before, our heart (seat of our affections, vulnerability, trust) is the gatekeeper to everything we will ever receive from God. As Proverbs 4:23 tells us, guarding it well determines the course of our life. A corrupted or hardened heart is why people don’t hear God or experience His heart for them.
How do we protect our hearts? We do so by abiding in God’s love, which we all seem to have a theology for, but we don’t seem to have much value because it’s not commonly practiced. Let’s look at Jesus’ words again:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12 NIV*)
Our hearts begin to grow as we participate in the divine nature (2 Pet.1:4). And since God’s love is other-centered and self-giving, we begin to love others the same way He loves us. Everything God is going to do starts from rest; which means, He takes full responsibility for changing us and showing us how to live.
Jesus’ life is our life, He shows us the way to this life as we remain in His love, and He shows us the truth about God and about us.
Furthermore, Jesus said we can do nothing apart from this continual heart-connection with Him (John 15:5). Do we actually believe this? No amount of Bible study will ever transform us without this ongoing heart transformation. All our efforts will be fruitless because our hearts are not conditioned to receive from God. However, when our hearts are at rest in His love, the Spirit bears much fruit in our lives (Gal.5:22-23).
Beloved, let me be clear here. Without letting our heart abide in His love, we will not become like Christ, because this is how He was Christ! (See John 15:10) The best we can hope for is to be a weak imitation, but God’s intent for us is to be an incarnation.
Of course, our head is equally important. We must re-form and reshape our thoughts to Christ’s thoughts by the washing of the water of His Word (Eph.5:26). But, again, Holy Spirit is the One doing this:
2 Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. (Rom.12:2 TPT*)
We do this by letting the Bible study us, which is where the head and heart work together. By letting the Living Word expose and heal our heart, our thinking can change to the mind of Christ:
12 For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts. (Heb.4:12*)
We’re not to be children tossed about by every circumstance or popular doctrine that comes along (Eph.4:14). We’re to take every thought that hinders our experientially knowing God captive to what Christ believes about us (2 Cor.10:5).
Let me summarize how we need this balance between these two aspects of our soul. I’ll simply designate them as “Bible” for head/study, and “Heart” for abiding in God’s love:
- No Bible/No Heart. We may be religious, but it’s agnostic in nature. Our lives are totally unchanged and unaffected by Christ and we have not experienced life in Christ. We’re very much part of the world culture alienated from Christ’s kingdom. Most believing Christians are not in this category.
- Bible/No Heart. We become Pharisaical, or religious in a legalistic sense. We make Christianity a transactional/rule-following system rather than a transformational relationship. We’re totally guided by logic or reason, believing what we see instead of walking by faith. We turn Lordship into dutiful obedience rather than something born out of a lifetime of experiencing God’s transforming love. We may not even trust God (or anyone else) enough to allow Him into the deepest part of our heart, so we resist the idea of abiding or Spirit transformation.
- No Bible/Heart. We’re driven by our emotions and seek out experiences We risk being “tossed to and fro” by the latest Christian fad. We may become almost superstitious about spiritual things. Revival becomes like a drug; we’re looking for another fix. There’s no tether to keep us grounded in Christ.
- Bible/Heart. This is how we grow up into Christ! It’s how Jesus grew in wisdom and stature before His Father. We allow Holy Spirit to teach us and empower us as we experientially know God by remaining in His love. We don’t identify with our old identity as sinners anymore (2 Cor.5:16-21), but only according to our new identity in Christ as the Father’s beloved sons and daughters. We train both our mind and our heart to walk in rest, according to the Spirit working in us.
Of these groups, 2 and 3 are the most susceptible to disillusionment and shipwreck of their faith. It’s people from these groups we might even see deny the faith after serving faithfully in the church for years (some in high profile ministries make quite a stir!)
When I look at this matrix, I must honestly access my own balance, because doing so is the only way you and I are going to truly grow up into Christ.