Okay, so everyone knows this title lacks a bit in originality. Yes, it’s a song and album title by Tracy Chapman. Yes, it’s a movie title from 1990 and it’s also a book title used by a number of authors.
When one searches online for biblical ideas dealing specifically with this concept of matters of the heart one readily observes a variety of directions that people have written about on this topic. One can’t say that every instance of the use of “Matters of the Heart” was fully researched. However, this article plans to go in its own direction.
A reflection on the matters of the heart needs a beginning point and the Bible offers substance into all the questions one might have from beginning to end. While this article is not intended to be an exhaustive look at the heart of man, it needs to present us with an overall synopsis of the various conditions of man’s heart.
First, the only fruit an unregenerate heart ultimately produces is death. Some examples include, (ESV) Jeremiah 17: 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” and another is, Matthew 15: 18 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”
What some people try to ignore is that God knows what everyone’s heart contains. People don’t want to think about this because they would then need to take a good long look at their own personal inventory; the choices they make, and their actions. Just because one wants to avoid this self-assessment doesn’t mean God isn’t aware of them, as we see in Hebrews 4: 12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” and 1 John 3: 19-20 “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
What people need to understand is, a repentant heart gives life. This new life begins with a love for the Creator, the justifier, and the one who can forgive you of your sins. With just a quick look into these next two verses you can receive the hope of what this new beginning is all about. Mark 12: 30 proclaims, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” so that our God can perform a miracle in you. That miracle is explained in Ezekiel 36: 26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” We’re given the chance to become fully human.
But this new life doesn’t end there. There is an old saying the goes “God isn’t finished with me yet.” this saying is true in a variety of ways. It is true that God is remaking us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, if we allow Him to work in us. But just as importantly our God offers us His help through the trials that come at us from the wiles of the world. He gives us comfort knowing that, 1 Corinthians 10: 13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Knowing that we aren’t going it alone, without God’s help, we can agree with the Psalmist, Psalm 31: 24 “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”
All of this has been said to understand the matters of the heart but it hasn’t gotten to the heart of the matter yet. One other point needs to be made here that is extremely important. Some have been confused by the teachings of unscrupulous individuals and church leaders throughout the New Testament times. The scriptures have names for them. They are called false teachers, false prophets, and antichrists. These charlatans have twisted the truth and the bible for nefarious purposes of their own desires.
A glaring example of this is the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. It has destroyed many lives. In this example individuals who have not been healed of an illness and not had good fortune smile down on them are said to have been weak in faith; that they just didn’t believe strongly enough in what God could do for them. This is wrong on so many levels. God asks for people to love, honor, and worship Him. He has provided a way for man to come back into fellowship with Him and enjoy an eternity with Him. Life in this fallen world is temporal and short, but by knowing our salvation rests in Christ, we can agree with Psalm 16: 9 “Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”
The other example deals with organizational deceit and a false sense of security. While there are over 800 instances where the word heart is used in the Bible, none of them convey the notion that a heart is a group entity. Just because someone attends church regularly and is a member of a church doesn’t ensure one’s salvation and it doesn’t mean they are going to heaven.
The forgiveness of sins can only come through believing in the work of Jesus Christ, the Gospel. It is through belief that this salvation is offered. It is here where one is changed and the dead heart of stone becomes a living heart in each individual. A church does not have the ability to save anyone. Going to a church doesn’t save anyone. Only a belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can save anyone. This is the true saving heart of the matter. John 3: 16-18 says it best, 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.“
As a fitting ending, I would like to leave off with a quote from C. S. Lewis. The quote is in reference to what Jesus Christ did, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”