THE HEART AND HOW IT IS CHANGED
By Bob Myhan
Introduction: Because of Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," Christianity is often referred to as "the religion of the pure in heart." But what is the heart that must be pure, and how is it changed so as to become pure? "Among certain sects, 'change of heart' has long been regarded as designating a mysterious and unexplainable something, evidenced by an emotional ecstasy...which is interpreted as [a direct] operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human soul" (C. C. Crawford: Sermon Outlines on First Principles, p. 110). But is this the case? Is the "change of heart" "mysterious and unexplainable"? Does it involve a direct operation of the Holy Spirit? What does the Bible teach?
I. IDENTIFYING THE BIBLE HEART
A. The heart is a treasure chest (Matthew 12:35).
B. Evil things proceed out of the heart (Matthew 15:19).
II. THE FOURFOLD NATURE OF THE HEART
A. The heart is intellectual in nature. Intellectually, it is sometimes called the mind.
1. We think in the heart (Matthew 9:4).
2. We reason in the heart (Mark 2:8).
3. We understand with the heart (Matthew 13:15).
B. The heart is emotional in nature.
1. Hate occurs in the heart (Lev. 19:17).
2. We love with the heart (Matt. 22:37; 1 Peter 1:22).
C. The heart is ethical in nature. Ethically, it is sometimes called the conscience.
1. Our hearts condemn us (1 John 3:20,21).
2. The thoughts of our hearts accuse or excuse one another (Rom. 2:14,15).
3. The conscience convicts us of sin (John 8:9).
D. The heart is volitional in nature. Volitionally, it is sometimes called the will.
1. The heart forms intents (Hebrews 4:12).
2. We purpose in our hearts (2 Cor. 9:7)
3. We obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17).
III. HOW THE HEART IS CHANGED
A. Intellectually, the heart is changed by means of the word of God.
1. The heart is a “seedbed” in which the word of God must be planted (Luke 8:5,11,12). If only Satan believed that the heart was changed by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, and by that alone.
2. The word of God must be understood in order for the heart to be changed (Matthew 13:3,4,19).
3. Every other change involves the mind.
B. Emotionally, the heart is changed by means of the love of God.
1. God manifested His love for us by sending His Son to the cross (John 3:16).
2. Jesus demonstrated love by giving His own life for us (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16).
3. Our love is in response to His love (1 John 4:19).
C. Ethically, the heart is changed by means of the authority of God.
1. Paul’s conscience had been clear even while he was persecuting Christians (Acts 23:1; 24:16).
2. His heart had not made proper ethical judgments because it had not been properly educated (Acts 26:9).
3. But when he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, he realized the he did not have the authority of God to persecute Christians for worshipping Jesus as God (Acts 9:3-9).
4. On Pentecost, Peter changed the hearts of the people ethically by showing that Jesus had the authority of God for the things He did (Acts 2:22,23,36,37).
D. Volitionally, the heart is changed by means of the promises of God.
1. God’s goodness [and promise of further goodness] is to motivate us to repentance (Rom. 2:1-4).
2. God severity [and promise of further severity] is for the same purpose (Rom. 11:19-22).
IV. THE HEART CONTINUES TO CHANGE
A. When the alien sinner has been completely obedient to the conditions of salvation, he is born again and becomes a citizen in the kingdom of God (Rom. 6:17,18; Col. 1: 13; John 3:3-5). This occurs when he:
1. Believes that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24; 20:30,31).
2. Repents (Luke 24:46,47; Acts 17:30).
3. Confesses his faith (Rom. 10:9,10).
4. And is baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38-41; 22:16).
B. The heart of the faithful kingdom citizen continues to change for the better (Phil. 3:12-14).
1. His heart continues to change intellectually as he continues to learn more and more of God’s word.
2. His heart continues to change emotionally as He grows in his love for God and others.
3. His heart continues to change ethically as he heeds the voice of his conscience.
4. His heart continues to change volitionally as He brings in his life into greater harmony with the will of God.
Conclusion: Has your heart been sufficiently changed that you have been born again? If so, has it continued to change for the better since that time?