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heart in the Bible

Symbolically, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” are often used interchangeably (Deuteronomy 6:5; 26:16; compare Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30-33), but this is not generally the case.

The heart is the “home of the personal life,” and hence person is designated, according to one’s heart, wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Psalm 24:4; Matthew 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Genesis 20:5-6; Psalm 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc. In these and such passages, the word “soul” could not be substituted for “heart.”

The heart is also symbolically the seat of the conscience (Romans 2:15). It is naturally wicked (Genesis 8:21), and thus it contaminates the whole life and character (Matthew 12:34; 15:18; compare Eccl. 8:11; Psalm 73:7). Hence the heart must be changed, regenerated (Ezek. 36:26; 11:19; Psalm 51:10-14), before a man can willingly obey God.

The process of salvation begins in the heart by the believing reception of the testimony of God, while the rejection of that testimony hardens the heart (Psalm 95:8; Proverbs 28:14; 2 Chronicles 36:13).

“HARDNESS OF HEART evidences itself by light views of sin; partial acknowledgment and confession of it; pride and conceit; ingratitude; unconcern about the word and ordinances of God; inattention to divine providences; stifling convictions of conscience; shunning reproof; presumption, and general ignorance of divine things.”

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