What is a Spiritual Heart? What are its functions? How can we have a pure heart?
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Just like the verse above, we all aim for this – to have a pure heart that can see our Lord. But what exactly is a Heart? Does the Bible refer to the physical heart we have or is it something else? How can we have a Pure Heart? To answer these, let us first tackle our first question: What is this Heart that the Bible is telling us?
NOT A PHYSICAL HEART
Of course, the Bible is not talking about the physical heart that we have which functions to pump blood that carries oxygen and nutrients for our cells. What the Bible is telling us is the fourth part of man – his spiritual Heart. We all know that man is a tripartite being. Throughout both the Old and New Testament, the Scriptures revealed that we were created with three basic parts: the body, the soul, and the spirit. But the Heart is actually also part of man that is not a separate part from those three parts. Let’s take a look at Hebrew 4:12:
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Aside from spirit, soul and body, there is the heart. So what is actually is a heart? To understand this better, let us first define what are the spirit, soul and body and how are they related to the heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our spirit has three parts: the Conscience, Fellowship, and Intuition. The Conscience is that part which enables us to perceive right from wrong and which, accordingly, either condemns or justifies us (Rom. 9:1, Rom. 8:16). It is through the Fellowship that we are able to contact God and commune with Him (John 4:24, Eph. 6:18). Finally, through the Intuition, God imparts to us a direct, particular sense or knowledge which is independent of reason, circumstance, situation, or precedent (1 Cor. 2:11, Mark 2:8). These three parts of the spirit: conscience, fellowship, and intuition are clearly described in Scripture.
The soul is likewise composed of three parts: the Mind, the Will and the Emotions of man. God’s Word proves this clearly and definitively. The Mind is the part that knows and remembers, the scripture says it is part of our soul (Ps.139:14, Lam. 3:20). The Will is also part of the soul. Both choosing and refusing are functions of the will, a part of the soul (Job 7:15, 6:7). Finally, we can see that Emotions are part of the soul (Songs of Solomon 1:7, 2 Sam. 5:8, Psalm 86:4). Since love, hate and rejoicing are clearly expressions of the emotions, it is obvious that the emotion is part of the soul.
Man’s physical body, the least mysterious of his three parts, is simply God’s provision for his existence. It has many different parts with many different functions. Without this body, man is not able to exist within the physical realm. When a man’s body dies, the man himself ceases to exist. Thus, man’s existence in the physical realm depends on the functioning of his physical body. If our soul and spirit are whole but our body is defective, we still can’t functions well. Same when the spirit or the soul is defective. So these three parts of a man are interconnected. They affect each other.
(Note: For those who want a deeper study about the Spirit, Soul and Body, kindly read my booklet entitled “THE THREE PARTS OF MAN ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE”. You can read there the detailed and verse by verse emphasis on the parts of Spirit, Soul and Body, their functions, how are they affected by the fall and how will our Lord completely redeem them (us). I can’t bring those topics here since this will only focus on the subject of the Heart.)
THE MAN’S HEART
We have already identified the three basic parts of man. We are now ready to tackle the Heart and its connections to the three. Although it is not a distinct part just like the three, the Heart is also a part of a man. It may strike the reader as odd to hear that the heart is not a separate and distinct component of man, but it has a very special function in our spiritual traits.
The Heart acts like a Water that reflects us
Let’s take a look at these different versions of Proverbs 27:19:
Holman Christian Standard Bible: “As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.”
English Standard Version: “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”
King James Bible: “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”
Proverbs 27:19 tells us that the Heart functions like water that reflects the Man or a Person. When we say a “person” it means our attributes as a person or our whole character. So the heart reflects the true us, our whole character. And what makes up our whole character? Our whole character is the sum total of our Soul and Spirit which is composed of conscience, fellowship, intuition, mind, will and emotions. They are what make us be us. They make up the “real us”. If one of these six parts is missing, then it is not our whole character, it is not the real us.
(Note: Some people say that the “real us” or the “true us” or our whole character is only composed of our soul and our Spirit is not included. These people are only parroting what others are saying without questioning if it’s true or not. How can they say that our whole character is only our soul if our conscience, fellowship and intuition are also contributing in making us who we are? Without our spirit, one cannot say that it is his complete character or the true him because our spirit greatly contributes to who we are.)
So our heart reflects both our spirit and our soul. If we have a darkened (fallen) soul and spirit because of sins, it can be seen through our hearts.
THE HEART REFLECTS THE SOUL
Matt. 9:4 “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?”
It is evident in Matthew 9:4 that our Lord Jesus can read thoughts of men as He had seen in their hearts. The Lord looks into our Heart (1 Sam. 16:7). He knows our hearts (1 Kings 8:39). He searches our hearts (Jer. 17:10, 1 Chr. 28:9) and knows our thoughts. Both “thoughts” and “thinking” is the function of the Mind which is part of the soul. It is therefore evident that the mind, as a part of the soul, is reflected by the heart. This is why our thoughts are seen in our heart.
The Will which is also a part of the soul is also reflected in the heart. In Acts 11:23 we read “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.” In addition, the second half of Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the Word’s ability to discern, “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Both “purpose” and “intentions” are functions of the will, indicating that the will, likewise, is reflected by the heart.
Several verses also prove that Emotion is part of the heart. In John 16:6, the Lord tells His disciples, “But because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” Later in that same chapter, the Lord continues, “Therefore you also now have sorrow, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.” Since sorrow and rejoicing are human emotions, we can say that man’s emotional faculty is also seen or reflected by heart. The Scriptural references cited above clearly demonstrate that the soul with its three parts (mind, will, and emotion) is seen in the heart.
THE HEART REFLECTS THE SPIRIT
The Word of God makes it clear that a part of our spirit, our Conscience, is also integrally reflected to the heart. Hebrews 10:22 strongly links these two: “Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” Additionally, 1 John 3:20 warns, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Blame and condemnation are the primary functions of the conscience, further proof that our conscience is seen or reflected in our heart.
Another part of the Spirit which is Fellowship is also seen in the Heart as stated in Psalms 4:4 “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah”. In 2 Corinthians 1:22 we read “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Communion and the “earnest of the spirit is in our hearts” are proofs that fellowship is reflected in our hearts.
Lastly, Intuition which is the ability of the spirit to know the things which only the spirit can know of which the soul is unable to know is also reflected in the Heart. Our intuition has the capacity to know and discern apart from human reason or circumstantial experience which the Bible refers to us the “Mind of the Spirit”. Romans 8:27 says “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” This is the reason why the Lord knows our spirit even before we say our prayers because He searched our hearts (Jer. 17:10, 1 Chr. 28:9). 1 Kings 3:9 says “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” Both “the mind of the Spirit” and “discernment” are functions of Intuition. It is reflected in the Heart.
THE CONDITION OF A FALLEN MAN
Ephesians 4:18 “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart”
We must remember that based on Proverbs 27:19, our heart functions like water that reflects our soul and spirit. If our water is clear, light can pass through it which enlightens the bottom of the water, that way, we can clearly see the bottom because it is well lighted. If our water is contaminated or tainted, light cannot penetrate through it and therefore darkened the bottom and all we can see is darkness.
Another example also is, think of the Heart like Eye Glasses that magnifies the light that comes through it so that we may be able to see clearly the things around us. Our eyes are the lamp of the body (Matt.6:22), therefore if our eyeglasses are clear, enough light will enter our eyes that will enlighten our whole body and we can walk in the light. The same when our Heart in untainted, enough light can penetrate it and will brighten our spirit and our soul.
Before the Fall, Man was created with an innocent and a Pure Heart – a heart like pure water (glasses) so transparent that the light from the Lord can pass through it and can reach his spirit and his soul. The Light brightens his soul and gives life to his spirit. But when the Fall happens, the Light that gives life to our spirit was cut off so our spirit was deadened and we became a dying man. And because the light from the Lord was cut off, our soul was darkened. Our mind, will and emotions are in the total darkness. The Soul cannot see the light that’s why it is in chaos. His mind, will and emotions don’t follow the light and his will is not according to the will of the Lord. This is the reason why the Apostle Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 13:12
“For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.”
HOW DID SATAN RUINED MAN
In the Garden of Eden, there are five things that happened to man during the fall when Satan corrupted him. It is crucial that we see the tactics employed by Satan to corrupt man. This awareness will equip us to discern the strategies he continues to employ to keep man from receiving and enjoying God and thereby expressing and representing Him.
- First step: Twist the Word of God
Satan knows that the first thing to do in order to ruined man is to eliminate first the Light that lightens his heart. And that Light is no other than the Word of God (Psalm 119:105). Without that Light, man’s heart will be in darkness. In order to darken the heart of man, the serpent twisted the Word of God by telling the woman “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Gen. 1:1). Twisting the Word of God is like loosening the bulb that lights our hearts.
- Second step: Introduce Doubt
Our heart is a door (Rev. 3:20) by which anything we allow to enter can enter. Just like what I have told above, it is like water in front of us that before anything can penetrate our soul, it must first pass through the heart. If we don’t open that door, nothing can enter through it. In Genesis 3:2 and 3, after hearing the twisted word, Eve answered the Serpent. By answering the serpent, the serpent saw it as a signal that Eve is indeed willing to entertain him. He saw that the heart of Eve is open for his deception. For if one is fully aware and have confidence in the Word of God, he cannot be deceived by any seducing spirit. He will just ignore that twisted word if he knows the truth.
Now, the serpent saw this as an opportunity to do his next step, to introduce doubt. Through Eve’s open heart, the serpent this time did not only twist the word of God, but he contradicts it by saying “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Passing through her heart, doubt now contaminated her soul.
- Third Step: Contaminate the Soul
By this time, the serpent’s venom had already contaminated Eve’s mind causing her to doubt God’s Word. This doubt grows and contaminated her emotions causing her to begin to dislike God. The serpent sowed a seed of resentment into Eve by lying to her about God’s motive: “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). This word incited Eve’s emotions, causing her to feel that God was withholding something good from her. Thus, the human emotion that was created to love God was spoiled, poisoned instead with an actual dislike for God.
And so, after contaminating the Mind and Emotions, doubt further contaminate her Will, enticing her to choose the satanic tree of knowledge rather than the divine tree of life. Genesis 3:6 records, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make oneself wise, she took of its fruit and ate…” This consummated the contamination of the human soul, by means of the seduction of the human will to choose the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil instead of the Tree of Life. By this time, the human soul is completely darkened.
- Fourth Step: Infiltrate the Body
By the seduction of the serpent to Eve, Eve partakes the “fruit” of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Through that partaking is the introduction of foreign material to human flesh. This foreign element, called the original sin, now resides in man’s flesh. This is why Paul says in Romans 7:17, “Now then it is no longer I that work it out, but sin that dwells in me.” Because this evil substance has fully occupied and saturated our body, there is now no confidence in our flesh anymore.
After that event, every man born through sexual intercourse in this world has inherited this foreign material in their flesh. This is the reason why Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. There is now the need for a perfect Saviour that has no contamination in His flesh for us order to save.
- Fifth Step: Deadened the Spirit
After the introduction of sin to the body, God’s Spirit that provides light to the Heart of Man and provide life to his spirit was cut off. This totally darkened the heart of man and deadened his spirit. With a dark heart, no light can penetrate to his soul and his spirit making him a dying man. The Light that once provided him eternal life was now cut off.
Our water is now totally dark. It is full of sin. No light can penetrate it. All of these happened when the man opened his heart to be darkened by doubt. Today, it is not just totally dark, Satan made it even to be waxed gross.
THE ONCE PURE HEART BECAME A ‘WAXED GROSS’ HEART
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
The word “Waxed Gross” came from the Hebrew word “pacunw” (pronounced as pakh-oo’-no) which means “To Thicken” or “To Hardened”. The once pure heart of a man like a transparent glass was thickened by Satan. Satan knows that by thickening the Heart, no light can penetrate the soul and the spirit of man. He knows that by giving us the heart of stone (Eze. 36:26) which is a hard heart, light can’t penetrate through it. So no light can pass through the man’s glass (heart) and his characteristics darkened. The Lord is knocking on our door (Rev. 3:20), which is our Heart, He can’t enter because we have a thickened heart (heart of stone).
In Jeremiah 17:9 it says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” It is also from out of the heart that proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies (Matt. 15:19).
But it is only through the heart also that man believes unto righteousness (Rom. 10:10). It is only through the heart that we can be righteous. However, with this condition of our heart, man is indeed unrighteous and is sure into condemnation (Hebrew 9:27). This is the reason why King David asked the Lord fervently in Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” This is now the condition of man, he is like a house without light and in total darkness. Death is now eminent and his communication to God is cut off. He is in a miserable state. Nevertheless, this hopeless state of man’s sets the stage for God’s salvation.
1 John 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
GOD’S WAY OF SALVATION
But be of good cheer! There is a way! God provided a way to take us from our miserable state. Behold! The Lion from the tribe of Judah! The bloody Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the World (Rev. 5:5)! He is able to save us! He will take away our heart of stone and will give as a heart of flesh. But how will He do it? Here it is:
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Contrary to what mostly think, the color of sins is not black. According to Isaiah 1:18, the color of sins is “red like crimson” or crimson red. Interestingly, this crimson red color is also the color of human blood! Blood is described as crimson red, which came the term “Crimson Blood”.
Now, the Lord said in Isaiah 1:18 that though our sins be red like crimson, they will be like white as snow! Our sins will be like as white as wool! How will be our Lord Jesus Christ do this? The answer is through His blood! Because sins have a crimson red color, the only way for it to become as white as snow is to filter it also with crimson red color! And that is no other than through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ!
JUSTIFICATION BY THE BLOOD
Romans 5:9 “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
The righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:5) requires the death penalty for sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). After listing a series of sins, Paul says that “the righteous judgment of God” is “that those who practice such things are deserving of death” (Romans 1:32).
In order for us not to receive the wrath of God, the requirement is we must first appear to be justified in His eyes. Justification is a legal term. It is a courtroom term. Being Justified means “being declared not guilty in the sight of God” or “innocent”. It came from the Hebrew word “dikaiow” which means “to declare righteous”. Simply, it is God regarding us as if we have committed no sin. Now, we have been justified through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. But how did it happen? How did the blood of our Lord made us righteous in the sight of God if we have a waxed gross heart? How did the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ declared us to be not guilty in the eyes of God if we are as red as crimson because of our sins? What is the mechanism behind the justification by His blood that it made us appeared to be “as white as snow” in the sight of God?
Because our hearts (glasses) are tainted with crimson red sins and it became waxed gross, light cannot pass through it, our spirit deadened and our soul darkened. We are guilty in the eyes of God. Through His Light, He can clearly see us that we are engulfed by the crimson red sins. Now, in order for us to appear white (not guilty) in His eyes, there should be a transparent Filter which has the same color with our sins (crimson red) between God and our hearts which will act as a filtering glass so that we will appear as white as snow to His eyes. There should be a mediating agent who acts as a filter between our hearts and His eyes. This is because, whenever you place a filter which has the same color with the object in front of you, the color of that object in front of you tends to disappear when seen through that filter! Why does did it happen? Here’s the mechanism behind:
THE SPECTRUM OF LIGHT
White light is composed of all the colors of light in the light spectrum. When an object appears white, that means all of the colors in the light spectrum are reflected back to your eyes. The color is white because the combination of all colors is white. However, when the object is color black, it only means that all the light is absorbed by that object and no color is reflected back to your eyes. The light is absorbed by that object and is converted into heat energy. This is the reason why you feel warmer when you put on a black dress during summer. Black dresses absorb light. If the object appeared red in color that means that only the red spectrum is reflected back into your eyes and all the other colors are absorbed by that object. The same is true with other colored objects.
However, if you place a red filter (either a red glass or red cellophane) in front of your eyes and try to look to a red object with a white background, you will notice that the red color of that object disappears when seen through that red filter! And since you can’t see the red color anymore on that object, you will also notice that that object has blended to the white background making the object as if it became white just like its background!
How did this happen? This is because red filters only allow the red color to pass through it and absorb all the other colors in the light spectrum, making the white background to look red thus blending it to the red object. So in truth, the red object did not actually become white, it is the white background that became red! It actually camouflages the red object making its red color to be invisible! But because our eyes and brain are focused only on the red object, the red-colored filter makes it appear as though the red object became white because it blended in its white background!
(Try to do this experiment: Look for a red-colored object in a white background. You can use your old calendar with color red fonts on Sundays and holiday. Find also a red color filter. A red-colored glass or a cellophane wrapper will do. Just make sure that the red filter has the same redness with the red colored fonts on your calendar. Place that filter between your eyes and the calendar in front of you. Try to observe what happens to the red colored fonts as you look at them through the filter.)
THE LAMB ACTS AS A MEDIATOR – A FILTER
Hebrews 9:14-15 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
That is how the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ justified us. He acts as a mediator and His blood as a filter between the eyes of God and our sinful nature. Since the color of our sins is scarlet or crimson red, the filter should also be crimson red. And there’s no other best filter but the sinless, crimson red blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Compared to Him Who is sinless as white as wool, we are full of sins as crimson red. But He took all the sins of the world in Him (John 1:29) and so change that whiteness into to a crimson red so that we may be camouflage with His blood and we may appear white in the eyes of God. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). He that is pure as white was made a red as crimson blood for us.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
“When I See the Blood, I Will Pass Over You”
Exodus 12:13 “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”
This is also the mechanism of the blood of the lamb being sprinkled in the doors of the house of Israel during the Passover night. That night, whenever the Lord sees the sprinkled blood in the door of a house, the Lord just pass on it and did not smite the firstborns of that house. But for the house of Egypt who has no blood in its door, the Lord smote all the firstborn. The blood in the doors serves as a token and a filter in the eyes of the Lord that night. The crimson red sins of the people inside those houses were filtered by the blood of the lamb and the color of those sins was disappeared by the blood. And that event was a prefiguration of what will our Lord Jesus Christ do in mount Calvary.
A BROKEN HEART
Still, being justified is not enough to completely redeem us. It is only the first step for redemption. We now appeared justified in the sight of God because of the blood of our Lord Jesus. We are now washed by His blood (Rev. 7.14). But even though we are being justified by the blood, we are still prone to sins because our heart is still waxed gross. Our soul still can’t see the light because of our thickened glass (heart) and our spirit is still dead. Joel 2:13 advise us to: “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”
Because of our thickened heart of stone, we need to brake it first (Joel 2:13), that is, we must be humbled and turn to God for repentance so that God can “heal our brokenhearted and binds up our wounds” (Psalm 147:3). Unless something is broken, there is nothing to be fixed. For “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). And it is Him that fixed it and put the desires on it (2 Cor. 8:16).
So when our thickened glass is broken, it will be fixed by our Lord and takes away the sins from it and will make it as white as snow. The old sin-thickened heart is now a transparent heart like a crystal clear glass (Rev. 21:11). After fixing it, what we have now is a new heart. The heart of stone was taken away (Eze. 36:26). This is the time when for the first time, we saw the Light coming from our Lord. This is the time that our Lord Jesus Christ will dwell in our Hearts (Eph. 3:17. This is the time that the “light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”. Once the light shines in the dark heart, now the day stars arise in our hearts.
A PURE HEART
Having a fixed and pure (clean) heart means having a heart that can now see God (Matt. 5:8). We can now see clearly His Light that passes through our heart. This is also the time when we are no longer walking in the darkness but are walking in the light because we can already see His light (1 John 1:7). This next experience which is walking in His Light is called Sanctification where you no longer do the things of the darkness. Next is the Quickening of our Spirit, Transformation of our Soul and eventually, the Glorification of our Body.
This is also the time when like King David, we can also proclaim:
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed! I will sing and give praise!” (Psalms 57:7)
“A pure heart, that’s what I longeth for
A heart that follows hard after Thee
A heart that hides Your Word
So that sins will not come in
A heart that’s undivided, but one You rule and reign
A heart that beats compassion, that pleases you my Lord.”
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