“Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.” – Tim Keller, The Reason for God
When it comes to Jesus Christ dying on the cross for the past, present, and future sins of the world, including yours and mine, do we know this in our heads or do we know this in our hearts?
Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.
We can think of things all day long, learn new information, fill our heads up instantly with information from the internet and obtain news from around the world in a second nowadays, but what does it mean if we don’t apply it to our hearts? When we apply something to our heart, it becomes real to us at that point. It drives our affections towards that person, thing, etc. that has captured our heart. Whatever your heart is fixed on, that will drive your mind, emotions, everything you do, etc.
Jonathan Edwards from his sermon Divine and Supernatural Light has a great illustration to make this point using honey. He says “your mind can know honey is sweet, people can tell you it’s sweet, you’ve read books about it, etc. but if you haven’t actually tasted it, you know with your head, but not with your heart. When you actually taste it, experience it for yourself, you know it in a full way and you can know in your heart.
Knowing with your heart however is not to be confused by being led with your emotions. That is not what I’m talking about here. Also, you do need to learn things in your head as well, not only your heart. You can’t know in your heart and not in your head, but you can know in your head and not in your heart. When it comes to the Gospel, we do actually need to learn in our heads what Jesus Christ actually did in His ministry and on the Cross, however for it to become real to us (like honey), we must know what He has done for us with our hearts.
A good way to think about this is when it comes to Christ for you, are your affections for Him in what you do such as reading the Bible, meeting with the church weekly, prayer, etc out of your heart or your head? Do you do them simply to complete a task or because you feel like you are supposed to, or feel an obligation? Or because of what He did for you on the Cross and because of where your affections are for Him, do you just read the Bible, pray, spend time with the church because of your pure desire to know Him?
Some common mistakes today is unfortunately we tend to let people think that they know truth, but they just aren’t applying it themselves and we try and try to convince them otherwise, when it reality it was never in that person’s heart. For example, when someone says something like “I know God loves me, but I hate myself”, sometimes we say “I’m glad to hear you say God loves you, your right, you just need to believe that and try harder,” when in reality that person really does not know.
Another one, “I know God wants me to be more generous with my money, or be a generous person, but I just can’t do it”, then really, that person really doesn’t understand what Christ did for them on the Cross. It’s a matter of head vs heart. My hope is that the church is encouraged to think more of matters of the heart as to why they do what they do for Christ, and less of the head. Also, that for those of you who know Jesus died on the Cross, that you would understand and apply to your hearts and affections that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. That you would make this personal because He did die for you and your past, present, and future sins, and was raised again.
Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Here are other Frequently Asked Questions and how the Bible answers them.