Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Psalm 84:5
The heart is often under attack in the church. It seems that one verse in Jeremiah stands for the whole of scripture’s stand on the heart. “Your heart is deceptive and desperately wicked,” preachers tell me, but then I am told to guard my heart, for out of it comes the wellsprings of life, according to Proverbs. Seems contradictory.
The New Testament is kinder to the heart, telling me to love others from the heart, to love God with a pure heart, and not to lose heart. And if my heart condemns me, God is greater than my heart. The true enemies of the soul are the world, the flesh, and the devil, the Bible tells me. The heart is not on that list.
And when I look at my own heart, I find that it is broken. It breaks over my children, my husband, and friends as well the terrors and sadness that inhabit the world, hovering like a dense fog. I have joy there, too, as I bear witness to the move of God in all the people I just mentioned. So what does Scripture mean when it talks about the heart? Let me take you into some deep metaphor that might redefine your heart for you.
Scofield, the theologian, makes a convincing case that Solomon’s Temple is a blueprint for the believer. This subject can take volumes, so I am going to break it down to its simplest forms. As temple of the Holy Spirit, we can understand how we are formed by looking at the original temple. Here is a quick rundown and a picture to match. The blueprint here does not include the outer and inner courts which encircle the temple. The small squares on the outside are the hidden chambers I mention.
Outer Court= our bodies. Jews and Gentiles alike were allowed in the outer courts. So too, our bodies are exposed to the world around us.
Inner Court= our souls or psyche. Only Jews could enter in, just as the only ones aware of the complex emotions, thoughts, and impressions that go on inside of us are ourselves.
The Porch or Vestibule= the will. These are the steps into the temple. The first ones are bronze, symbolizing humanity. The upper ones are gold, symbolizing divinity. As we move towards Him with our will, His will and ours become the same.
Hidden Chambers= inward parts or subconscious. These storage closets could only be entered in from the inner court, though they were built on the outside of the Holy Place and Holy of Holies. Israel was supposed to keep their histories and spoils of war in these closets. Instead, they hid their idols. Sound familiar? We too keep lies and idols hidden away from our own selves deep in our subconscious where our good memories were meant to be stored.
Holy Place= the heart. This is where the incense altar sent up the prayers of the people. The heart is not the seat of emotion. It is the seat of motivation. Our hearts provide the answer to the why of our lives. Why do we work hard? Why do we sacrifice? Just as the incense wafted the cries of the people for themselves, their children, their people, so the cries of our hearts reach the Lord.
Holy of Holies= the spirit. Our spirits are our power source. When we become born again, our spirits are reborn with the Holy Spirit. Our power no longer just resides in our humanity, but now as the sons and daughters of God because His Spirit lives in us.
And here is where the Jeremiah verse no longer works for born-again Christians in the way it did previously. You see, the curtain is torn. The curtain is torn!
I hear some Christians say that asking Jesus into one’s heart is not biblical. And certainly, like the rapture, there isn’t a clear-cut doctrine. But consider the implications of a torn curtain and the light of the Spirit of the Living God shed upon the hearts of his people. This is what it means to have Jesus on the throne of your heart. To ask Him to give you His Spirit, you must first go the way of the heart.
I would argue that Jesus died so that the curtain could be ripped away. In fact, His body was the curtain. In Hebrews 10 the writer says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
In fact, our hearts in the New Testament serve as our conscience. Our hearts feel the guilt when our admittedly wicked flesh wins a place in our behavior.
Our hearts, far from being evil, now serve as the throne upon which Jesus rules in our lives, occupying the same space as the Holy of Holies.
That is why John tells us that if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts. Our conscience is the keeper of right and wrong. Our conscience tells us how we should act. Our conscience or our heart condemns us when we deviate.
Remember that the Ten Commandments were stored in the Ark. In Hebrews 10: 15-16, we learn that,
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
Truly, when we give our hearts over to the Lord, He creates new and clean ones in our Holy Place. Do not despise your heart. Distrust the flesh. Take your thoughts captive, for they are truly a battlefield. The world is out to get you, at least in some part. And the devil is your enemy.
But the heart is your ally in the spiritual warfare. You see, just as the priest must go through the Holy Place to reach the Holy of Holies, so you, too, must pass through your heart to enter into the presence of God. So allow Him to set your heart free to love for your heart has work to do and cannot do it without you.
We must love God as He tells us to…with our whole hearts.
Your heart is the road to Jerusalem, the way to the Presence and with it you are called to love not just God, your family, and friends. Your heart must love your enemies, and in order to do that, you must make peace not only with God but with your own heart.