Shelby G. Floyd
Good morning. We are glad to see all of you and thank you to our visitors who have come our way. We hope that you will feel welcome and will come back and be with us again.
About three weeks ago I spoke to you on “Wholehearted Religion,” and we pointed out at that time that there are Bad Hearts, Good Hearts and Obedient Hearts. Today we want to continue our discussion of Wholehearted Religion. When God rejected King Saul, the first King of Israel, he was looking for a new king and David had a lot of brothers. And they marched each brother in front of Samuel and God said no, he is not the one. Finally they came to David who was the youngest of all of the boys and God chose him. Then God said to Samuel, “The Lord sees not as man sees for the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
And so today we want to talk about wholehearted religion. We must admit that there is a lot of halfhearted religion today! I do not believe that we will make it to heaven if we serve God in a half-hearted way. Therefore we are talking about serving God with all of our heart—with the complete heart! And the word heart, translated from the Greek word kardia is found 156 times in the New Testament. God wants us to serve him from the very center of our being. He wants us to serve him with our EGO and with our ID—with our conscious and with our subconscious heart. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and said, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30 NKJV). So today we are exploring what is wholehearted religion. It is serving God with your entire being.
WHAT IS THE BIBLE HEART?
What is the Bible heart? We have before you on the screen a chart that shows you what is the Bible Heart! The Bible heart is the Seat of the Intellect! The Bible Heart is the Seat of our Emotions. The Bible Heart is made up of my thinking process, my emotional nature, and the Bible heart is the Seat of my Willpower–what we choose and determine to do in life. And in the last place, the Bible heart is the Seat of our Conscience. Now we plan to discuss each one of those areas of the Bible heart and if we serve God with all four areas of the Bible Heart, then that is what I would call “Wholehearted Religion!”
Religion is that which binds us back to God because we been separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). So we want to be bound back to God with “wholehearted religion!” Therefore let us examine “THE EXERCISES OF THE BIBLE HEART.”
THE BIBLE HEART IS THE SEAT OF THE INTELLECT
In that order then let us look at the Bible heart as the seat of the intellect. As I give you these Scriptures be sure to write down the verses that back this up, so you will know that I am not just talking off the top of my head. What I say I am backing it up with the word of God! The Bible heart is the seat of the intellect. One of the actions of the intellect is to think. And when we think we produce thoughts. Jesus said to some people who were troubled, “Why are you troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38 KJV). Our thoughts come from our thinking process and so the heart has thinking exercises.
And in Genesis the Bible talks about man having an imagination. We all have vivid imaginations and especially little children love to share with you their imaginations. And they express them very clearly! In Genesis God tells us why he brought the great flood upon the earth. It was not enough for man to think about doing evil, he would even imagine of evil things to do: “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” (Genesis 6:5). There we see that the thinking process is joined together with the imagination to produce more ways to be evil and to practice wickedness.
In the next place the Bible heart which is the seat of the intellect can reason. We have the power to reason things out. We can look at the major premise, we can look at the minor premise, then we can draw conclusions and we do this by the power of reasoning. So the Bible says, “But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8 NKJV). But when we reason in our heart, reasoning is a part of the intellectual nature of the heart.
Next, the Bible teaches us that we can understand things with our heart. Understanding is a part of your intellectual nature. Therefore we read in the Bible that Jesus spoke to the people in parables. A parable is an earthly story that illustrates a spiritual or heavenly lesson. They asked him why he spoke to the people in parables. He answered,
Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’(Matthew 13:13-15 NKJV).
So reasoning and understanding is an intellectual part of the Bible heart!
Religious people talk a lot about belief or having faith. And faith is very important. Faith alone will not save, but faith working in obedience to God will save to the uttermost! Believing is an exercise of the Bible heart and the Bible explains how it comes about. To the church at Rome Paul declares:
“..that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
We call this “the good confession” when we stand up before people and say, “I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God!” I want you to notice that Paul said that those who “confess with the mouth” and “believe in your heart,” “you will be saved,” which is future tense. That means something else is required to be saved. He also says, “one believes unto righteousness” and “the mouth confession is unto salvation!” “UNTO” points forward to salvation! But our main point here is that belief or faith is a part of the intellectual nature of mankind. Do you see my friends that the Bible heart in the first place is your intellectual nature? It thinks, it imagines, it reasons, it understands, and it believes! All of these activities are part of your intellectual nature of the Bible heart.
THE BIBLE HEART IS THE SEAT OF THE EMOTIONS
But the Bible heart is more than just your intellectual nature. It is your Emotional Nature as well. We all have emotions. Some people are more emotional than others, but everybody has emotions. Maybe they just do not show them at different times, but we all have an emotional nature. But you might say, what is the emotional nature of the Bible heart?
For one thing, the emotional nature can hate. Know that there is nothing wrong with that word “hate.” Some people think that the word hate is a terrible word! But it was David in the Old Testament who said, “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way” (Psalms 119:104 NKJV). Therefore there is nothing wrong with the word hate, if you hate the things that God hates, and you love the things that God loves! Hate is a God given emotion and there are things we should and should not hate: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19:17). Therefore we are not to hate our brother, but we may rebuke our neighbor if he is doing something that is not right. Hate is a God-given emotion.
Akin to hate is the word despise. We all may despise certain things or people. Despise is a legitimate emotion that takes place in the Bible heart. God gave us this emotion. In the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel we read that the ark of the Lord was being transported into the city of David—Jerusalem! Michael, David’s wife and King Saul’s daughter, saw David out in the street leaping, praising, and dancing before the Lord. And the Bible says that she “despised him in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:16-23). Michael despised David because she felt like he was making a fool of himself, uncovering himself before the young maidens. The Bible says she had no children by David because he never went to her again! David was leaping and praising God and so it was not right for her to “despise him in her heart” because he was doing that as an act of worship to God Almighty! Despise is an emotion of the heart.
The Bible says you can sorrow in your heart. We had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and friends. But I came back home about 6 o’clock. And I have to admit that I was very sad Thanksgiving evening because my wife of 63 years was no longer with me. I cannot describe it, but sorrow is an emotion that just fills you with the feeling of sadness and emptiness. Therefore, I know from experience that sorrow is an emotion and dwells down in your heart. Sorrow is an emotion of the Bible heart.
For example, the Bible declares that Nehemiah was very sad after he surveyed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. When he appeared before King Artaxerxes with a sad face the Bible declares: “Therefore the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.’ So I became dreadfully afraid” (Nehemiah 2:2). Nehemiah was very afraid because you could be put to death for appearing before the king with a sad face! Therefore “sorrow of heart” is an emotion of the Bible heart.
Sometimes people will say, just trust me or do you trust me? Do you trust God? Trust is an emotion of the Bible heart. And in the Proverbs Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When we trust something or someone, it is an emotion that takes place in the Bible heart!
Do you have desires in your heart? We all have desires of the heart. Some will say, “I desire to go to Florida in the wintertime, because it is nice, sunny, and warm down there. That is a good desire. Like all emotions they can be good or bad according to what the Lord has taught us. The apostle Paul had a good desire for his people of Israel: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1). And desire is something that you do in your heart because Paul declared that it was his “hearts desire!” Can the Lord Jesus Christ save the Jews of today? Yes, because Paul was a Jew who persecuted Christ and the church. And if Paul could be saved (and he was), then all of the Jewish people can be saved! Desire is a human emotion of the Bible heart!
Also the Bible heart can rejoice! We all like to rejoice when we have a new birth in the family. Everyone is happy, laughing, joyful, and rejoicing because a new life has come into the world. Once near the end of his life Jesus was describing to the people about the fact that he would go to the cross, and die for the sins of the world: “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22). Notice he stated that they would the experience two emotions—they would have sorrow and then they would rejoice! But where would this rejoicing take place? He said, “your heart will rejoice!” Rejoicing is an emotion of the Bible heart. Do not be ashamed to express your emotions—they are a natural part of your creation!
Finally, love is an emotion of the Bible heart from Almighty God! It is part of our emotional nature. It is the greatest emotion of the heart bestowed on us by the Almighty! Therefore notice what Jesus himself said about this heart emotion: “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). And other accounts add “with all your strength.”
Friends, so far we have talked about the Bible heart as the seat of the intellect, and number two, we have discussed that the Bible heart is the seat of our emotions. And our heart of emotions involves hate, despise, sorrow, trust, desire, rejoice, and love.
THE BIBLE HEART IS THE SEAT OF WILLPOWER
This brings us to the third area of the Bible heart and that is the seat of your willpower. Some people have strong willpower while other people have a willpower that is not very strong. God gave us the strength of willpower to do the right thing and to turn away from the wrong thing. Willpower is part of the Bible heart. Let us notice some of the functions of the willpower of our biblical heart.
You can purpose in your heart. I purpose to go to work tomorrow because I have a job. I purpose to support my family because that is the right thing to do. The prophet Daniel had been captured and taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians had certain things that were contrary to Israelite law, such as diet and things like that. Daniel had a choice to make, shall he eat the dainties of the king, or shall he stick to the Hebrew diet? He decided that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel, where did you purpose to do that? “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). To purpose in your heart is therefore an act of your willpower.
Also from time to time we all have some things we intend to do or not do. To intend to do something or not is part of your willpower. The Bible declares that the word of God is so powerful that it can even touch the intents of the heart: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). To intend is to determine some course of action and is therefore an act of our willpower. And according to the Bible this is done in the heart!
The Bible heart can also determine different courses of action. Some people have strong determination while others do not. We should let the Bible help us determine what is right and wrong and then act upon the proper conclusion. To the Corinthian church Paul wrote concerning giving a virgin daughter away in marriage, which was the custom of that day and time. Back then the father had to give the daughter away in marriage. Therefore he is discussing whether a father will give his daughter in marriage or whether he will withhold that permission: “Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well” (1 Corinthians 7:37). We are discussing our willpower which is an act of the Bible heart. Notice it is said that the father “stands steadfast in his heart” and he also “has so determined in his heart,” and “has power over his own will!” Therefore let us remember we are responsible for all of our actions because God has given us the determinate willpower of our biblical heart.
The command to repent of our sins is one of the most repeated commands in the New Testament. Repentance is something that every person is commanded to do. When John the Baptist came on the scene, he was out in the wilderness and what did he say to the people who came out to hear his message? “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” was his exhortation. Repentance is something that you do from your willpower. To the Romans Paul declared, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:4-5).
To repent is to change your mind in reference to sin because you have experienced “godly sorrow” for your conduct. This in turn leads to a change of conduct by living a new life of righteousness. Repentance is an act of willpower done in the biblical heart. An example is given on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached the first full gospel sermon. About 3,000 people obeyed his message when they cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” His answer was simple and to the point: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39). Repentance is an act of your willpower, and it is an act of the biblical heart.
The gospel message for the forgiveness of sin brings us to the word obey. Obedience is something you do from your willpower. Some people will hear the gospel message for a lifetime and yet they refuse to obey the Lord in the simple commands that he gives us to obtain forgiveness of sin. I do not understand how people can put off simple obedience to the gospel message. But the reason is an unbending willpower. Obedience to the will of God demands submission to God’s willpower.
Paul expressed this beautiful submission of the Roman Christians: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:16-18). So we obey God from the heart and all of these things that I have mentioned are part of your willpower carried out in your biblical heart.
THE BIBLE HEART IS THE SEAT OF THE CONSCIENCE
This brings us to the fourth part of the Bible heart and that is the seat of the conscience. Notice at the top of the chart there are two fellows that are involved with the conscience. One is that still small voice that says to us that we ought to do the right thing. Many times we ignore that voice! On the left is one of Satan’s preachers urging us to do the wrong thing. To this voice we obey too often, and we sin.
The function of the biblical conscience is to alert us when we are ready to obey God or Satan! And this alert is said to take place in the biblical heart. The conscience of the biblical heart will either accuse us or excuse us on any course of action that we take. For instance, your conscience will accuse you when you do something that you know is sinful and wrong. It could be an act or an attitude. I do not like to be accused of doing something that is not right when I have not engaged in wrong actions. The best way to prevent that is to always do the right thing. The apostle Paul strongly explained that our conscience will either Accuse or Excuse our actions: “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)” (Romans 2:14-15 NKJV).
Your Bible heart will accuse you when you do the wrong thing. You will feel guilty and be in remorse. But when you do the right thing the Bible heart will excuse you. It will say that you are right because you withstood the temptation and did the right thing. Therefore the Bible heart of the conscience either accuses you when you do the wrong thing or excuses you when you do the right thing.
I have another scripture that teaches that the seat of the conscience of the biblical heart can either condemn us or approve us according to the choices that we make: “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 John 3:20-21). This scripture teaches that our biblical heart of the conscience either condemns us or condemns us not, based upon the choices we make in life.
THE CHANGE OF HEART
Now we need to change our heart if it is not right according to the lessons I have taught you straight from the word of God. How do we change our heart if we have an unbelieving heart?
Faith Changes the Intellectual Nature of the Heart
Faith in what God has said is how we change the intellectual heart. Like Abraham of old, we simply take God at his word and do what he says, because he is the Almighty! So the point in faith is do what God tells you to do even if there is no reason on the face of God’s earth why you should do what he says! This strong faith in the heart will save us from our sins and promise us eternal life: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Love Changes the Emotional Nature of the Heart
But what is it that will change the emotional nature of the biblical heart? Once there was a Jewish lawyer that came to Jesus and asked what is the greatest commandment of all? Jesus answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” (Luke 10:27). Then Jesus gave him the beautiful story of the Good Samaritan in answer to who was his neighbor! Biblical love will change the emotional nature of the biblical heart.
Repentance Changes the Willpower Nature of the Heart
Peter addressed a man with a wicked heart that he needed to make some changes in his life, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:22-23). Repentance and prayer changes the willpower nature of the biblical heart.
Baptism Changes the Conscience Nature of the Heart
And if you are not a Christian, you have never obeyed the gospel of Christ, what is required to become a Christian? And how do you change your conscience to where you can say I have a good conscience because I have obeyed the Lord? Water baptism for the forgiveness of sin and to put you in God’s family is required. But what good is baptism? How can baptism change your relationship with God? Simply because you will have a good conscience when God forgives you and accepts you as his redeemed child. The apostle Peter declares that this is the case: “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism then will change the conscience of the biblical heart to a “good conscience toward God” because you have obeyed him.
Friends if you need to obey the gospel from the heart, the whole heart, right now is as a good time as any! What will be the decision of your conscience?
Copyright © 2022 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon November 27, 2022, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142. Shelby@thefloyds.net