During the time covered in the book of Judges in the Old Testament, is a time prior to Israel having a King; when God set up judges to rule over the land and fulfill His will for the nation of Israel. There would be coming a day that God would choose a King, yet Israel and their lack of faith demanded the King prior to God’s will (1 Samuel 8:522), and received what they asked for, King Saul. Yet in due time God’s choice of a King, King David would come to the throne (1 Samuel 16:1).
One lesson we can reap from this is that God’s will involves not only the specific details of His desires for His people, but the timing of when they would occur. And unfortunately sometimes we get what we asked for when we do not trust in God’s will or timing, and subsequently pay the price as Israel did.
The last part of the book of Judges, starting in chapter 21 does not specifically advance the narrative of this time, but as Warren Wiersbe states:
“Rather, they give frightening glimpses of the low religious, moral, and political state to which Israel had sunk during the period of the judges.”
Let us consider judges 21:25, which states:
“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
This displays what occurs when there is no authority which God has ordained, and a nation is left in moral bankruptcy such as what Israel had went through at this time. It is when people lean exclusively on their own understanding and not God’s word, that evil impregnates the land.
Yet some would say: what harm is there in this statement -”Everyone did what was right in their own eyes”?
Let us consider this question (question #1) and also seek to find if there any similarities in today’s world with regards to this statement (question #2)?
On a personal level:
- There are the emotional implications,
- There are problematic reasoning consequences, and most importantly
- There are the spiritual ramifications
On a social level:
Everything becomes that much more exponentially exhaustive as each person affects another, which affects another, which affects yet another.
The Emotive and Cognitive Implications
As a counselor, as well as a Christian; I have never ran across an individual that is “comfortable” with being wrong, or even admitting so. Human beings by their very nature must feel justified in their behavior and in their thinking.
Even whenever humans commit obvious criminal behaviors, they must have a justification of why it was done for the right reason. And these rationalizations become patterns of thinking which are entrenched, and very difficult for people to break.
Confession of Sins
It is this inability to be comfortable with being wrong (many times unknown even to ourselves), that drives just about everything that we as humans do. This form of “rightness” may be seen in a number of different ways; such as by being good parents, good businessmen, good cops, or just good human beings – it is an innate drive.
We can confess we “were” wrong a while ago, but only because we are “now” right. “A few minutes ago I was wrong, but now I’ve got it right.” Yes, they may confess to the crime, and while they may have got caught, and know what they did was wrong and feel remorse (really contrition – many times its the penalty of the consequences that drive a lot of their displayed remorse, not the guilt or shame of it), rather stated or merely thought, they have a reason for their behavior.
In my practice, I am aware that it is a positive sign, when people gain the ability to ADMIT they are wrong, and become more “comfortable” in taking ownership in it. And not just intellectualizing the idea that sometimes I may be wrong (and commit false humility in doing s0), and disconnect from those feeling by using a false mental self-statement; but by coming to an understanding that I am wrong and must do something about it – if not today, then soon (it is better to be honest about our sin, even if we refuse to correct in the present, than to down play the law, lowering its power by defending wrong actions and belittling the rules – those that God “SET IN STONE“); this is not to say it is ok to keep on sinning, just that we shoul never attempt to change the law, or say our wrong is really is right.
This is why whenever we are witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to someone, they must first understand they are sinners, in need of saving before anything else can transpire. We all must come to grips first with the sin nature, and the fact that we are all dead in our trespasses and sin, and unable to save ourselves. We are guilty, end of statement. It is at this very healthy point, and only here; that saving faith is a possibility.
It is this denial that is the first sin that we must deal with in order to address what falls afterwards. Because, it is the sin that hides all the rest the other sins.
In the field of counseling there is a thing called “Thinking Errors.” These are habitual patterns of rationalization that we all as human beings use in order to make our wrongs sound right. The drug addict and criminal use them; but so do the judge, the counselor, and the minister. It’s only to what degree, and how serious the violations, and the frequency, that make the difference.
There are different lists of these “Thinking Errors,” anywhere from 20 to 70 different types, depending on which list you refer too. And known or unknown to ourselves we all exhibit one or more of these patterns of rationality, the excuses that we call reasons for doing what we do. It’s sort of like driving an automobile, national statistics advise that once every 30 seconds a motorist violates the law at least once. It seems to be our nature to sin, but also to have a reason for doing so.
That’s why when you get pulled over for violating a traffic law, and the police officer ask you why, most of the time he’ll write you a ticket if you answer that question with an excuse or reason, no matter how good it sounds to you. Because what you stated, and what he would imply by giving you a warning, is that there would be a reason that would justify violating the law.
Usually the only time you’ll get a warning is when you say that you made a mistake, and it was unintentional, at least if the officer is any good at what he does. Because the worst thing you can do as a law-enforcement officer is to say or imply that some laws are worth keeping, and others are not, or that the officer can arbitrarily choose which laws to enforce, because at this point he stops being a representative of the law, and start becoming a law unto himself.
The point is simple, how can man come to the place of even knowing what is right, in order to perform it, when our sin nature is so diabolical, that it hides itself, from itself.
Because, the main presupposition that is behind the thought of “doing what is right in your own eyes”, is the belief that you can determine what is correct to begin with.1 Because without this presupposition, that a person’s perception is inerrant, you cannot make a determination of right or wrong to even start with. And if you can come to the conclusion that your perception is always correct, who needs a Bible or a God to correctly interpret or evaluate life, because the man himself is his own best ruler to judge all things.
SIDENOTE: I also believe that this drive: “to be right” is something that God placed within man to keep him from destroying itself. When you really think about it, if man could be comfortable with being wrong, without the necessity of a rationality for sinful behavior, how much worse with this world be. If man could kill women and children without a thought of moral correctness, or the mandate to rationalize such behavior; we would’ve killed ourselves off thousands of years ago as a specie. No, it is for mankind’s protection that there is within him this innate necessity to do or be right – this also reflects the image is in of God concerning righteousness. That as man is made to see To righteousness and justice; though this drive is contaminated by sin, the drive is still alive within us all.
By way of contrast, when a man is convoluted into believing that his own perception is perfect, then what chance is there for him to reevaluate and make any corrections – none. We don’t fix what’s not broken. Therefore, he never changes, he never grows, learns from his mistakes, or behaves himself as a better human being.
In this case, the only thing that grows is selfishness, and man’s ability to hide it. Selfishness is seen in every false religion, along with every humanitarian and philanthropic pursuit ever conceived.2
Because if I give away everything I own, feed the poor, return love for hate, do nothing but good all the days of my life, it’s still based upon selfishness, because it was done to either gain the esteem of others, or to make myself feel good about myself. Anything done outside of God’s Will is sin, because it is done without God.
“There has never been a positive behavior ever witnessed by man that does not profit the person that does it, rather its how others perceive him, or how they perceive themselves, the motive is always to achieve something positive concerning self,” There is no such thing as a completely pure motive, not within a fallen man.
The foremost problem that I see in “every man doing what is right in his own eyes” is there must be a rejection of God, because the person becomes their own God. And the title, “god”, by its very definition (and in spite of polytheism, which becomes rationally problematic in addressing this question), invokes the idea of one that has power over another (as seen in its usage in the Old Testament, and even Jesus ~ John 10:34-35 / Psa. 82:6 in reference to earthly judges). Therefore, doing what’s right in one’s own eyes is making oneself “god,” and antithetical to Christianity. So spiritually speaking, you can’t be a Christian and live by this epic.
To be a Christian means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus Christ displayed submission to God’s Will3, and what God knew to be right in every detail of His human life. Jesus was void of selfishness, because He was void of sin. And when we see Him at the most crucial point of His human existence, having the power to avoid the most terrifying thing that He could ever experience, that of being separated from God the Father, His response was: “not my will but thine be done,” the polar opposite to the fallen man’s response to discomfort, pain, and in Christ case total trepidation.
Yes, Jesus knew that the Father would resurrect Him, but don’t allow this to take from the fact of what He went through something that you and I could never understand in all of our eternal existence, that of being separated from God the Father, as only the Son could understand it.
We have no capacity whatsoever to be able to understand the depth of pain that He went through for us by being separated from God the Father. There is no sympathy, there is no empathy4, and to say or imply otherwise is condescending, and irreverent (In fact it displays a heretical mindset).
Therefore, for a Christian to make the statement that he “would do what right in his own eyes” is an anathema to Christianity, and proves he is not a true believer in Jesus Christ.
Second question – Are There Any Similarities in Today’s World with This Statement?
I would say the similarities are uncanny. In fact, this credo probably better defines the mindset in the 21st century, than it did back then.
These views might seem to be cynical concerning humanity. First and foremost, they are biblical views. And secondly, it’s an emotionally healthy point of view, in that, within this point of view, there are no great expectations when it comes to how humans behave. You’ve heard it say that one of the greatest causes of depression is unmet expectations, there is no doubt that broken expectations cause a lot of pain and turmoil.
Therefore, expecting less of out people, will always reduce stress. And there are those times that we will be filled with joy when we see people move out of their comfort zones, and set aside their natural selfishness and put someone else first. The definition of God’s type of love for us to mimic is His “sacrificial putting of someone else first”, and it is a beautiful thing to behold. However, we are also told to be “wise as serpent gentle as doves”.5
During the 21st century, and especially here in America (with it starting to impregnate the whole world), there are certain presuppositions that display this utter selfishness. They have become vanguards – using mantras of success.
And as Christians, it should not be hard to understand why they are unbiblical (therefore, I will not take the time to run through the Scriptures concerning them).6
These expressions are:
- “If It Feels Good, Do It” *
- “Anything That Feels this Good, Can’t Be Bad” *
- “More Is Better Than Less”
- “Bigger Is Better Than Smaller”
- “Newer Is Better Than Older”
- “Winning Is The Only Thing That Matters”
- “Win At Any Cost”
- “I Want It, Now” (Based Upon Instant Gratification)
- “Sometimes You Have To Do The Wrong Thing, To Get Justice”
- “It’s Okay To Do The Wrong Thing If You Do It For The Right Reason”
- “The Most Important Thing Is The Greater Good”
- “The Ends Justify The Means”
These rationalities are but a few examples of what man can come up with when he lives by the philosophy of “doing what is right in his own eyes.”
The Body of Christ
What is unfortunate is that the church has become the new breeding ground for indoctrination into these presuppositions.* Where are seeker friendly environments, with messages which are centered around people, and addressing their problems, rather than teaching about God. Self-help is becoming the buzzword of many churches, where Mega-church ministers don’t preach about hell, and sin, and subjects which are uncomfortable to the congregation.7 And believers are doing what is right in there own eyes.
The church is becoming impotent due to the pollution of selfishness that is overtaking it. The masses have never got it right, but on a daily basis, we are to live out an understanding that it is God, and God’s Word alone that is our directive for living life. And that it is Jesus, and Jesus alone that should be the center of our services, as well as our daily walk.
We are moving closer and closer to the dictates of man, rather than the direction of the Spirit in our assemblies.
When the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) uses the word “heart”, it is never means solely the emotions. It is the whole inward of the man, including 1) man’s reason (mind), and his 2) emotions, and his 3) will; which encapsulates the word “heart.” Man is never to walk according to his emotions, but according to the intellect (the mind – the Mind of Christ, better stated) that God has man in the understanding God’s Word.
Unfortunately, the devil is using our own emotions to drive us to fellowships that make us feel good, yet don’t feed us the Word of God. And believers are doing what is right in there own eyes.
And many believers are confusing their sensual experience of feelings, with the expression of God’s Holy Spirit. They speak about walking into a church service and feeling God’s Spirit, which displays their lack of understanding of God’s Word, in light of Jesus teaching concerning the Holy Spirit (as also seen in the Elijah experience)8 The Holy Spirit is not anything that can be felt, and when we mix up our emotions with what we think is Spirituality, and we pay less attention to the preaching of God’s Word, that is when we stop truly worshiping God by a sanctified life unto Him.
It is easy to focus on the world and follow the pursuits of our own ambitions, and therefore heed the advice of their own corrupt hearts. Yet, it is God that has always held His people responsible for adhering and listening to His Word, and follow His direction, and doing what He says is right – and not what is right in our own eyes.
- Proverbs 12:15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
- Romans 3:10-12 – “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
- John 5:30 – “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
- When we feel sympathy for someone we feel sorry for their pain, not having felt that particular pain ourselves. However, when we feel empathy for someone’s pain, we can empathize with them because we too have been through a similar situation as well.Sympathy is “imagining someone’s pain” and empathy is “feeling someone’s pain.” In both cases, you are relating to someone else, but the words are not actual synonyms! Sympathy is a much more common feeling because we are not as likely to have experienced the same difficult situation as someone else. For instance, I have never gone through chemotherapy, sent a loved one to war, etc., but I definitely feel sympathy for those who have. That’s why “sympathy cards” exist and not “empathy cards”.
- Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
- Anyone that wishes any further insight into this area, or proof text please e-mail me.
- Rick Warren, just to name one; teaches at Pastoral conferences and seminars, that sermons should not deal with the subjects, such as hell, damnation, suffering, dying to self, sacrifice, and stay with other native subjects from the Bible, because uncomfortable subjects will drive away potential parishioners.
- John 3:8 – “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” I Kings 19:11-13 – “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
- John 16:13 – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
Conclusionary Statement Concerning Psychology
Whenever I speak utilizing what may be considered psychological tools (such as: “Thinking Errors“) or approaches – I always need to make the following statement.
As a licensed and certified counselor who specializes in substance abuse, as it is related to interpersonal relationships, dual diagnosis, personality and mood disorders; who has been classically trained in many different psychological modalities; I find none of them correct in themselves to deal with the problem of the soul and spirit of man.
Having studied almost every psychological modality, I can unequivocally state that everyone is a man centered pursuit, and therefore doomed to ultimate failure as it not only neglects God; but in almost every case is antithetical to God. There is an old proverb used by a parent to a child which states: “show me your friends, and I will show you your destiny.” The point is, though it is our own actions which we are held accountable for, it is observationally true that there is a definite connection between those that we associate with and our own character, or lack of it. Those that feel the necessity to be identified in the field of psychology display a presupposition, a vulnerability to be accepted within those ranks, and as such; display a lack of preeminence of God in their lives.
This may be a display of spiritual blindness for those that are believers, or at the least call themselves so; or simply a bad choice (when an believer spends years in college studying psychology, they are highly invested; it is this investment that corrupts their discretion concerning God in His Word – life always comes down to choices). Christ said it well (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13), “no man can serve two masters...” And for those that believe that man-made psychology has the answers to life; by necessity cannot believe that the Bible has the sole answer to the human condition. I’ve met many professed believers who have convinced themselves that psychology is neutral; neither good, nor evil. This choice to be blind towards psychologies antithetical nature concerning that which is biblical – does not invalidate the condemnation that they will receive for such beliefs.
There are those of us that attempt to play the role of Daniel, that of working within a corrupt system in order to fulfill God’s Will, without being corrupted ourselves. However, this can only be done when one acknowledges that the system is corrupt to begin with, because it is opposed to God. It was Daniel and his three friends who stated that the dietary requirements of the King were wrong (because it violated God’s direction from His Word), and that God’s Word was superior. They were braving, even breaching the subject that the current system could be incorrect, but they stood their ground for God; which is witnessed when ever they were persecuted at later points for refusing idol worship, and violating God’s Word.
And for those that attempt to mix psychology and the Bible, all you have to do is listen to their teachings in order to understand that they follow Roger’s presupposition of being “Client Centered” (which every popular modality incorporates), as opposed to being “God centered,” wherein they violate the Bible and biblical teachings at every juncture. It has, and will always be the analogy of “oil and water,” and as these individuals become more and more enamored in psychology, they harden their heart against God in the process; by hardening their heart against His Word.
Having spent hundreds of hours, mandated by my licensure; as well as certification, to study many different forms of therapeutic approaches, along with their underlying tools; I can wholeheartedly say that they are man centered, man created, and unbiblical; even those calling themselves Christian psychology, and or Christian counseling. I have always maintained a 4.0 grade average, while always on the Dean’s list. Yet, to do so I have learned what to do, concerning test and assignments – I answer their questions according to what they have taught both in the classroom and text, not giving them my belief concerning their statements, but answering their statements according to their own presuppositions and understandings.
Yet, in the classroom or otherwise, I never compromised my belief system; sharing with all that I disagreed with the psychological approaches, yet displaying that I understood what they had taught, though I disagreed with it. Those professors that adamantly disagreed with me were always held captive by the premise that higher education is to provide information that the student is to fully and completely understand, yet when it comes to his own practice he is to utilize what he chooses to be the most efficient and effective forms of counseling. They essentially made it so I could never be penalized for my antithetical views to their own presuppositions.
This is not to say that certain observations and tools used within psychology are not effective, and efficient – they are, worldly speaking (in achieving humanistic ungodly goals – which in the end contaminate the soul). Yet, if the observations are correct, it is not because they come out of psychology, but because psychology has observed human nature, and attempted to take credit for what was part of the development and workings of interpersonal relationships. Let me give you an example.
Psychology gains its credibility based upon its observations (which are to be separated from their tools / treatment and conclusions), yet this does not mean that it is successful, but that it simply appears to be correct wholly based upon its observations, as compared to the end goal of helping an individual deal with problems. The first problem in this statement is that who defines what the problem is, and how to deal with it, and what is the correct answer.
Psychology is man based and therefore man makes all these determinations. Yet, one of these determinations is that the concept of God is a sign of emotional or cognitive sickness. (However, the believer must seek all these answers in God’s Word according to God’s Will, which is always antithetical to man’s will and presuppositions, though man was created in God’s image; after his creation, through the act of willful disobedience and not trusting God in faith, man became a fallen creature that is corrupted through and through. As they say, you cannot use a sick mind to cure a sick mind.)
It is these observations that give psychology the credibility with the masses, who are biblically illiterate as a whole.
Let me give you an example concerning its observations.
Anyone could observe a dog. How they eat, how they sleep, how they bark, how they interact with other dogs and other animals; their ability to think through complicated situations, and what they need to survive both human world and animal kingdom. Anyone that has spent any amount of time documenting and studying their behavior would in time be able to predict certain conclusions based upon patterns.
This is where psychology has gained its credibility, such individuals as Kevin Leland, who came up with the observation of personality traits according to birth order, who merely studied humanity until patterns emerged – anyone could do it. Time after time certain observations made in psychology gain credit merely because patterns are identified and understood concerning conclusions.
This is where the credibility of psychology comes in, wherein the patients listening to the practitioner is amazed; yet, these observations have been present for all of humanity, studied in what was formerly referred to as philosophy (Greek: for the “love of knowledge”), which has always dealt with the makeup of man and his relationship to his Creator and environment. Yet, psychology (Greek: for the “study of the soul”), which is still in the infancy of it’s development (less than 200 years old), merely utilizes tools of previous philosophers and scholars concerning the observation of man and his behaviors in order to come to conclusions.
Yet the problem is, utilizing the allegory of the dog, is that by those observations one could make predictions of behavior; yet these predictions would never explain the origin of the dog, the true inner makeup of the dog, the dog’s future, nor evaluate the correctness of its behavior.
The first problem is psychology begins with the premise that man is an animal, and for those Christians that try to mix psychology and Christianity do so while corrupting the presuppositions that are innate to all forms of psychology (there are over 250 modalities, types of psychology), by defying foundational presuppositions, and the Bible as well.
One such example is the common denominator within a majority of those psychological modalities which are currently popular, is what is referred to as “client centered” (man centered) in their approach. However, the Christian must be God centered in his belief system. Man centered psychology believes that all the problems that man may have are answered from within them (each person has their correctness inside), and that the counselor strives to help them find those answers within themselves, only as facilitators; yet always guiding the client towards ungodly presuppositions, claiming that their services are benign; wherein reality they have eternal consequences.
The field of psychology has always begun with certain presuppositions; rather stated, hided, or even known by some of its current practitioners. There are many types of psychology; consequently, there are many different groupings of these presuppositions. A random listing might consist of: Determinism, Experimentalism, Reductionism, Naturalism, and Relativism. Others might also add Materialism, Evolution, Empiricism, Humanism, and even Occultism.
Therefore, it is only according to the guiding principle and foundation of the Bible that anything in psychology can be loosely handled – such as, what is referred to the observation of “Thinking Errors,” which are simply patterns of excuse making and rationality, in order that a person can rationalize negative behavior which we as Christians call sin.
These observations may be correct – and as such dealing with them on their own basis is as far as one should go; going any further concerning the simple observations, that of utilizing psychological remedies or treatment, do so by violating Biblical principles in the pursuit.
Recognizing these observations, these patterns; can become beneficial only in pointing out these deficiencies, which biblically speaking are acts of sin; to the individual so as to confront their sense of denial.
It is in confronting denial that these tools hold any validity, yet from this point it is the Bible and only the Bible that has the answers. The Bible is full of Scriptures which speak about the confrontation of denial, especially noted whenever you find the phrase “… did what was right in his own eyes.”
The Following is a short Essay on “Thinking Errors”:
The following was used with a inmate population – a written handout – and is meant to serve as an example only.
Inborn to all humans is the desire to think we are right. The thief will always rationalize his larceny, the liar his fabrication, and the adulterer his indiscretion. As the forgoing illustrates, we even devise new words that sound less offensive and attempt to soften our wrong doings. Even if our pride compels us to admit we are wrong because we are caught red handed, and we supposedly assume responsibility for our actions, internally we still justify why our wrong actions were really legitimate. Some examples of those internal justifications are, “well that’s just the way I am,” or “everybody knows I have a bad temper, it just gets the best of me,” or “that was what I was taught,” “everyone has a bad day every so often,” or even, “well my heart was in the right place.” However, these excuses are just that, excuses; and with repeated use seem to affect their consciousness out of existence.
A person can rationalize many bad behaviors with their mind but their feelings are not convinced, in spite of the fact that they drown their emotions and refuse to listen to their guilt or shame. After repeatedly refusing to listen to their emotions (Guilt, shame, remorse, conviction, values, principles, or beliefs), their conscious becomes hard, rigid, scarred and non-pliable. They misuse and abuse their conscious to the point that they can not live with themselves if they allow themselves to own up to the wrong that they repeatedly do and plan to keep doing. To do otherwise, they would be incongruent, inconsistent, and fake with a double standard in the way they live their lives. The rationale they use to live with themselves is called denial.
Denial is the defense mechanism that we use to protect something that is wrong. It is the way we excuse negative behavior and wrong thinking. It will either, present a reason that our wrong actions or thinking was really right or divert attention from the real issue at hand, which is, we are wrong. When humans find themselves in a difficult place of trying to hide or excuse wrong behavior, denial is the prefect tool with many forms that empower it.
With use, denial becomes automatic and we are not even aware of it or how it has tainted our thinking. Some have given denial an acronym that spells out denial. Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying. Denial not only hinds and protects our bad behavior, but it hinds itself. It is the worst wrong of all wrongs, because it’s job is to hind all other wrongs covertly. Denial goes beyond being just a tool, to become a technique and a life style. The reason for this is because of the habituation that becomes apart of our defensive rationale, which in turn corrupts our thinking process.
Denial assumes many faces, which when habitually practiced becomes ways of thinking, they are called, “Thinking Errors.”
It has been wisely said that negative thought processes can perpetuate problematic behavior and result in the generation of negative consequences rather than assisting in our problem solving and the creation of alternative solutions to our daily dilemmas. Some common thinking errors are:
Anger Is usually a secondary emotion that hides or is a reaction to a primary emotion: fear, jealousy, or envy. It can also be a mental reaction to: rejection, resentment, greed, self-centeredness or other negative thoughts or events.
Assuming Thinking I know what others need, want, expect, or think, without asking them if I am correct. Usually leads to anger.
- Catastrophizing Assuming the worsthas or is going to happen.
- Generalizing Making assumptions about people based on limited Information.
Blaming Making others somehow responsible for my behavior. Usually used in conjunction with Victim Stance.
Closed Channel A strong, single focus of thought that wipes out other options for action. I do not hear or see the things that might change my mind.
- Cut off & Corrosion A strong, single focus of thought that sets itself up as the only choice to a pending decision. We find reasons to do what we wanted to do all along by discrediting all other options. This is a legalistic rationalization designed to have only one answer to a question, ours.
Excuse Making The habit of finding reasons why we did not do something we should have done or said we would do.
Euphoric Recall Thinking of only the past “good old days,” without remembering the bad that followed. We don’t focus on the outcome of negative behavior and consequently don’t deal with or thinking about possible negative consequences that occurred, and can occur again.
Isolation The belief that it is irresponsible or wrong to ask for help or support. We think that people are either in control or are controlled by others and we try to manipulate rather than ask for what we need.
Justifying The habit of finding reasons for what we do. Why our behavior is logical and correct.
Lack of time perspective The desire for Instant Gratification. An unreal expectation of how long something should take in light of our desire to have it prematurely.
Lying A habitual behavior for some, lying is used as a defense to confuse, distort or take the focus away from the liar’s behavior.
- Commission Making up things that aren’t true.
- Omission Leaving things out…only speaking part of the truth.
- Assent Pretending to agree to stop an argument or something incomputable or to look good.
Minimizing Trying to make negative actions, events or behavior appear small and trivial.
Power Thrust Using loud or aggressive behavior or emotional manipulation to get our way. Often there is a threat of violence of some type.
Perfectionism Expecting everything to be done our way or else it is wrong. Generally our expectations are extremely high.
Rationalization Any and every attempt to say what I am doing is ok, because….
Shifting Focus Directing attention away from our behavior or ourselves, onto a different person or situation.
Suggestibility Going along with someone else’s idea when we know it might not be right. We do this to look good or be liked; it also gives us someone else to blame if it goes bad.
Super-Optimism Refusing to entertain the possibility of any negative outcome to our ideas, plans, or actions. Other people get caught in or suffer the consequences… not us.
Uniqueness Feeling that we are different from everyone else. We are special, entitled to whatever we want or rationalize we deserve. We don’t deserve the same negative consequences as others do.
Victim Stance We believe that bad things always happen to us and that we are always the victims, we always lose. Our behavior seems to beg for the help of others, but we find reasons that the help that is offered will not work. Because we are the victim we are not responsible for what happens and we always avoid the responsibility for anything.
Zero State A state of mind where all options for positive change are unavailable. We are helpless, hopeless and can see nothing that can save us.
Thinking errors concretionize (go from something fluid, flexible, and deliberate; to something rigid, petrified, and automatic) with use, and so corrupt our thinking process, that our belief system is polluted. We become what we think. If we lie all the time, we must rationalize it, and therefore we keep lying about being a liar (because, a liar is one who practices lying) to ourselves as well as everyone else.
Therefore, since it took practice to become a liar, it takes practice to un-become a liar. The same is true about thinking errors. As it took habituation for thinking errors to become embedded in our lives, it will take the habituation of stopping the thinking errors, for us to start to think more healthily (honest and true). Consequently, the first step is to identify thinking errors. The list above is for this purpose, to help you find and acknowledge thinking errors in your life. The following tool should help accomplish this in a effective, user-friendly, and thorough manner.
Correcting a Thinking Process so as to Change a Belief System
RIP is an acronym that stands for Realize-Identify-Practice. RIP is used to aid in burying your old (untruthful and therefore, self-defeating) thinking errors, which corrupt your belief system (worldview), and help in creating a new (truthful and therefore, self-affirming) belief system.
Realize. It has been said that realizing something is wrong is 50% of solving the problem, at this point, you see there is a problem; it is at this painful point that you choice to have eyes to see.
Identify. From here, you must recognize how the problem is manifesting itself, what particular way is it showing itself, what exactly are you doing? At this point you must focus your eyes so as to identify the precise thinking (or behavior), so you can correct it from happening again.
Practice. Finally, you must choice to prepare for not doing it again by practicing in your mind what is wrong, and what is right and committing to it:
1. Telling yourself it was wrong thinking; because you can see what it was denial.
2. Identifying the exact type of denial.
3. Exposing to yourself what it was and that you choice to not let it continue.
4. Concretionize (make real and solid) your commitment to correct this thinking error by putting it to paper, and thereby examining and dissecting it, piece by piece. This is the stage of change, where you tell yourself that you will not continue in this thinking error because you can see it is a lie (use a Think Error sheet to dissect and understand your denial).
5. At this point, you must confess to someone that you have been lying to yourself and others; you told a lie now tell the truth. Back yourself into a corner, by confessing you are choosing not to continue to use this lie to rationalize your behavior.
Change is not easy, especially in your thinking, but it is possible. How many times have you changed your mind about something, hopefully a lot, otherwise you must be perfect, and it is this kind of thinking that must be changed the most, pride. We must humble ourselves enough to allow ourselves to become people of change. For it is people who are constantly changing for the better that are becoming better people. If you want to keep on living in denial, being the only one who really believes the lies you keep telling others and yourself, looking like a fool to the world, not growing as a person, being self-centered, serving only your own purposes, staying a child; then go ahead, there are prisons, jails, halfway houses, hospitals, mental wards, and homeless shelters, that you can spend the rest of your life (all of these places are good and necessary, but they are only meant to be temporary, not permanent) in.
This is not to say you won’t or can’t be rich and live in a palace, and have all the things money can buy, and maybe you won’t be alone, but you will be miserable, because things don’t buy true joy. You may have happiness. Happiness is due to good things that happen (which is the root of the word “happiness”) to us, but it is temporary at best and always fleeting. What makes life full, and brings contentment (the feeling of satisfaction)is joy. Joy is an inward feeling, a peace based upon how we feel about our God and ourselves, and the relationship between the two (which explains why a true believer can lack joy when he is out of fellowship with God, even though he is still a believer, and destined for heaven. We can rob ourselves of joy by disobeying and not trusting God in faith). Joy is expressed outwardly by peace, and you don’t get it by being self-centered and always thinking you are right, and in always demanding to have your own way. You don’t get it by acting like there is no God, except yourself (little god), and expecting your will to be done on earth. You will never achieve the peace of joy, if you continue to keep lying to others, to prove how you are right, or that your wrong is not wrong.
You cannot achieve the true peace of joy in your life as long as you keep lying to yourself – and don’t be fooled, you must lie to yourself first before you lie to others.
If all that you do is use this handout to address “Thinking Errors,” and never go on the conclusion which is most important in life, concerning who God is and who you are, and that He is worthy of your trust and faith; you will have a better life on this earth, but it is the eternity to come you will face the greatest regret ever conceived (this is wholly inadequate – hell is beyond our own conception). Think about it….
I appreciate your commentary regarding the second half of Judges 21:25. Would you mind clarifying the last sentence in this paragraph? I’m not grasping the thought as stated.
“When the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) uses the word “heart”, it is never means solely the emotions. It is the whole inward of the man, including 1) man’s reason (mind), and his 2) emotions, and his 3) will; which encapsulates the word “heart.” Man is never to walk according to his emotions, but according to the intellect (the mind – the Mind of Christ, better stated) that God has man in the understanding God’s Word.”
I am very aware that this sounds pretty strange. It wasn’t until I had been a Christian 20 years until I first heard this teaching concerning the Greek and Hebrew words which are translated into the English word “heart.”
I was always aware that there was a problem and depicting the biblical word heart (in both languages) as the seat of the emotions, especially whenever you examined some of the verses which utilize the word heart, yet do so in a manner which cannot be speaking about emotions, yet could only be dealing with the rational aspect of the mind.
What is amazing to me is the ongoing ignorance (as in that lack of knowledge, not to be confused with stupidity or any other negative insult) that permeates a crossed America concerning this very obvious teaching which has to do with the makeup of the language, which cannot be disputed (which is dealt with later below).
There are many teachers that I respect that still treat the word heart as if it has something to do solely with the emotions; wherein reality the word heart, in both Testaments, always meant the inward man which consisted of 3 aspects. 1) the rational mind, the emotional center, and the seat of the will – where decisions are made, many times referred to as discretion or volition. It is never used solely concerning the emotions. A few of the obvious examples are found in such pictures as:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psa_19:14
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? & why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God?” Psa_42:5
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” Psa_119:11
“Keep* thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Pro_4:23
“be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” Rom_12:2
“…bringing into captivity every thought” 2Co_10:5
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” Php_2:5
“forgetting those things which are behind…” Php_3:13
“…think on these things” Php_4:8
“…gird up the loins of your mind” 1Pe_1:13
*”Keep” (nasar) = “guard” A verb meaning to guard, to keep, to observe, to preserve, to hide. The word refers
to people’s maintaining things entrusted to them, especially to keeping the truths of God in both actions and mind.
“Be strong in the Lord” Eph_6:10
Present Tense: Continuous Action
Passive Voice: Subject Recievs the Action
Imperative Mood: A Command
You will find at the end of the essay a few resources, but for now let me say that those that define the word heart according to the Greek and Hebrew, which is what I described above are: John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, Strong’s New Testament Dictionary, Vines Dictionaries of the Old and New Testament, Holman Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Elwell’s Theological Dictionary, Harris’s Theological Word Him of the Old Testament, and all Orthodox Bible colleges and theological seminaries, especially those which are members of the Association of Theological Schools in United States and Canada, most notably: Dallas Theological Seminary, and Masters College; just to name a few.
The following essay has been touched upon in part if not in whole on this blog site, yet is taking from our teaching ministry website: “www.faithbibleministries.com,” listed in our “Resource Center,” drop-down link to the “Essay Archive,” the essay entitled: “The Heart and the Mind.”
The below excerpt is taken from “The Heart and the Mind” – however it is difficult to read as the comments section does not allow for proper formatting – going to the original essay is much easier to comprehend due to the AIDS provided by the formatting I use. Yet if you cannot get to our website I have provided the essay in this limited form. If you have any more questions, please feel free to post them.
I would suggest that you go to our teaching website and read the introductory pages “Rightly Dividing the Word of God,” it is listed under the link entitled: “Something to Think about.” Also the page entitled: “Faith?” ) There are approximately 50 essays which are downloadable in the Microsoft word document format found under the resource center, listed under “Recent Essays” & “Essay Archives.” If I can be of any further help Lee’s let me know.
The Heart and the Mind
In both the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT) the word heart is used to refer to the whole of the innermost part of the human. However, in the twenty-first century English the word heart is used to express the emotions as an individual compartment of the inner part of the human. It is common for Americans to divide humans into the physical and the metaphysical. While this is a widespread insight, the way most Americans compartmentalize the internal (metaphysical) aspect of humans is diverse from many other cultures. We tend to see people as having three parts:
1. A mental (rational, reasoning) component
2. An emotional (feeling, instinctual) component
3. A seat of the will (discretionary, volitional, decision making) component
However, the Bible does not divide man so easily. When both the Old and New Testaments speak about the heart, it never means simply (just) the emotions. The mental process is always part of the equation. The following excerpts, though thorough, are by no means exhaustive.
According to Ed Bulkley, in his book, Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, the Scriptures use at least four terms to describe the immaterial part of man: the heart, soul, spirit, and mind. The descriptions and functions of these aspects of man seem to overlap.
The biblical term heart (lawbab or lebab in Hebrew; kardia in Greek) is the clearest summary of the innermost center of the human being. Perhaps the closest psychological term to the heart is the ego, the Latin word for “I,” borrowed by Freud to denote the “self.” Peter describes the inner man as “the hidden man of the heart” (I Peter 3:4 KJV), or the “inner self” (I Peter 3:4 NIV). It is the center of one’s being (Proverbs 4:23), where he believes and exercises faith (Luke 24:25; Romans 10:9,10). It is the location of the human deliberation, where wisdom is employed. Understanding is said to be the function of the mind (Job 38:36), yet the connection to the heart is undeniable. The heart is where a person discerns the difference between right and wrong (I Kings 3:9).
Finally, Bulkley says, the heart is the center of courage, emotions, and will. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The heart is the center of man’s character – who he really is (Matthew 15:18). “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).1
According to Strong’s, the Hebrew word lebab (3824) is rendered: “heart” (as the most interior organ); “bethink themselves,” “breast,” “comfortably,” “courage,” “midst,” “mind,” “unawares,” and “understanding.” Strong’s Greek Dictionary, states that the Greek word kardia (2588) is rendered: “heart,” i.e. (figuratively) the thoughts or feelings (mind); also (by analogy) the middle.2
Vine’s Old Testament Dictionary
According to Vine’s:
The Hebrew word Lebab (3824), rendered “heart” is the seat of desire, inclination, or will and can be the seat of the emotions. The “heart” could be regarded as the seat of knowledge and wisdom and as a synonym of “mind.” This meaning often occurs when ‘heart” appears with the verb “to know,” “Thus you are to know in your heart…” (Deut. 8:5, NASB); and “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive [know]…” (Deut. 29:4, KJV; RSV, “mind”). Solomon prayed, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad…” (1 Kings 3:9; cf. 4:29). Memory is the activity of the “heart,” as in Job 22:22: “…lay up his [God’s] words in thine heart.” The “heart” may be the seat of conscience and moral character. How does one respond to the revelation of God and of the world around him? Job answers: “…my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live” (27:6). On the contrary, “David’s heart smote him…” (2 Sam. 24:10). The “heart” is the fountain of man’s deeds: “…in the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this” (Gen. 20:5; cf. V. 6). David walked “in uprightness of heart” (1 Kings 3:6) and Hezekiah “with a perfect heart” (Isa. 38:3) before God. Only the man with “clean hands, and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4) can stand in God’s presence.3
Vine’s New Testament Dictionary
According to Vine’s:
The Greek word kardia (2588), rendered “heart” (English, “cardiac,”), is the chief organ of physical life (“for the life of the flesh is in the blood,” Lev. 17:11), occupies the most important place in the human system. By an easy transition, the word came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements.
In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life. The Bible describes human depravity as in the “heart”, because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man’s inward life, and then ‘defiles’ the whole circuit of his action, Matt. 15:19, 20. On the other hand, Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of Divine influence, Rom. 2:15; Acts 15:9….
The heart, as lying deep within, contains “the hidden man,” 1 Pet. 3:4, the real man. It represents the true character but conceals it (J. Laidlaw, in Hastings’ Bible Dic.). As to its usage in the NT it denotes (a) the seat of physical life, Acts 14:17; Jas. 5:5; (b) the seat of moral nature and spiritual life, the seat of grief, John 14:1; Rom. 9:2; 2 Cor. 2:4; joy, John 16:22; Eph. 5:19; the desires, Matt. 5:28; 2 Pet. 2:14; the affections, Luke 24:32; Acts 21:13; the perceptions, John 12:40; Eph. 4:18; the thoughts, Matt. 9:4; Heb. 4:12; the understanding, Matt. 13:15; Rom. 1:21; the reasoning powers, Mark 2:6; Luke 24:38; the imagination, Luke 1:51; conscience, Acts 2:37; 1 John 3:20; the intentions, Heb. 4:12, (cf.) 1 Pet. 4:1; purpose, Acts 11:23; 2 Cor. 9:7; the will, Rom. 6:17; Col. 3:15; faith, Mark 11:23; Rom. 10:10; Heb. 3:12. The heart, in its moral significance in the OT, includes the emotions, the reason, and the will.3
Holman Bible Dictionary
Holman gives the most thorough explanation concerning the definition of the English word “heart,” when it states:
The heart is the center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans. This contrasts to the normal use of kardia (“heart”) in Greek literature outside the Scriptures. The New Testament follows the Old Testament usage when referring to the human heart in that it gives kardia a wider range of meaning than it was generally accustomed to have.
First, the word heart refers to the physical organ and is considered to be the center of the physical life. Eating and drinking are spoken of as strengthening the heart (Gen. 18:5; Judg. 19:5; Acts 14:17). As the center of physical life, the heart came to stand for the person as a whole.
The heart became the focus for all the vital functions of the body; including both intellectual and spiritual life. The heart and the intellect are closely connected, the heart being the seat of intelligence: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross … lest at any time they should … understand with their heart, and should be converted” (Matt. 13:15). The heart is connected with thinking: As a person “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). To ponder something in one’s heart means to consider it carefully (Luke 1:66; 2:19). “To set one’s heart on” is the literal Hebrew that means to give attention to something, to worry about it (1 Sam. 9:20). To call to heart (mind) something means to remember something (Isa. 46:8). All of these are functions of the mind, but are connected with the heart in biblical language.
Closely related to the mind are acts of the will, acts resulting from a conscious or even a deliberate decision. Thus, 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give.” Ananias contrived his deed of lying to the Holy Spirit in his heart (Acts 5:4). The conscious decision is made in the heart (Rom. 6:17). Connected to the will are human wishes and desires. Romans 1:24 describes how God gave them up “through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies.” David was a man after God’s “own heart” because he would “fulfill all” of God’s will (Acts 13:22).
Not only is the heart associated with the activities of the mind and the will, but it is also closely connected to the feelings and affections of a person. Emotions such as joy originate in the heart (Ps. 4:7; Isa 65:14). Other emotions are ascribed to the heart, especially in the Old Testament. Nabal’s fear is described by the phrase: “his heart died within him” (1 Sam. 25:37; compare Ps. 143:4). Discouragement or despair is described by the phrase “heaviness in the heart” which makes it stoop (Prov. 12:25). Again, Ecclesiastes 2:20 says, “Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun.” Another emotion connected with the heart is sorrow. John 16:6 says, “because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” Proverbs 25:20, describes sorrow as having “an heavy heart.” The heart is also the seat of the affection of love and its opposite, hate. In the Old Testament, for example, Israel is commanded: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him” (Lev. 19:17 RSV). A similar attitude, bitter jealousy, is described in James 3:14 as coming from the heart. On the other hand, love is based in the heart. The believer is commanded to love God “with all your heart” (Mark 12:30; compare Deut. 6:5). Paul taught that the purpose of God’s command is love which comes from a “pure heart” (1 Tim. 1:5).
Finally, the heart is spoken of in Scripture as the center of the moral and spiritual life. The conscience, for instance, is associated with the heart. In fact, the Hebrew language had no word for conscience, so the word heart was often used to express this concept: “my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” (Job 27:6). The Revised Standard Version translates the word for “heart” as “conscience” in 1 Samuel 25:31 (RSV). In the New Testament the heart is spoken of also as that which condemns us (1 John 3:19-21). All moral conditions from the highest to the lowest are said to center in the heart. Sometimes the heart is used to represent a person’s true nature or character. Samson told Delilah “all his heart” (Judg. 16:17). This true nature is contrasted with the outward appearance: “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7 RSV).
On the negative side, depravity is said to issue from the heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said that out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander (Matt. 15:19). In other words, defilement comes from within rather than from without.
Because the heart is at the root of the problem, this is the place where God does His work in the individual. For instance, the work of the law is “written in their hearts,” and conscience is the proof of this (Rom. 2:15). The heart is the field where seed (the Word of God) is sown (Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:15). In addition to being the place where the natural laws of God are written, the heart is the place of renewal. Before Saul became king, God gave him a new heart (1 Sam. 10:9). God promised Israel that He would give them a new spirit within, take away their “stony heart” and give them a “heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19). Paul said that a person must believe in the heart to be saved, “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10). (See also Mark 11:23; Heb. 3:12.)
Finally, the heart is the dwelling place of God. Two persons of the Trinity are said to reside in the heart of the believer. God has given us the “ernest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1:22). Ephesians 3:17 expresses the desire that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The love of God “is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).4
Easton’s Bible Dictionary
According to the Bible, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but also of all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” are often used interchangeably (Deut. 6:5; 26:16; compare with Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33), but this is not generally the case. The heart is the “home of the personal life,” and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc. In these and such passages the word “soul” could not be substituted for “heart.”
Easton’s goes on to say, the heart is also the seat of the conscience (Rom. 2:15). It is naturally wicked (Gen. 8:21), and hence it contaminates the whole life and character (Matt. 12:34; 15: 18; compare Eccl. 8:11; Ps. 73:7). Hence, the heart must be changed, regenerated (Ezek. 36:26; 11:19; Ps. 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 (Ps. 95:8; Prov. 28:14; 2 Chr. 36:13).5
Elwell’s Theological Dictionary
The Hebrew and Christian views on the nature of man were developed in a religious setting: there is no systematized or scientific psychology in the Bible. Nevertheless, certain fundamental conceptions are worthy of note:
1. In the OT there is no very marked emphasis on individuality but, rather, on what is frequently now termed corporate personality. Yet
2. A. R. Johnson has shown that a fundamental characteristic of OT anthropology is the awareness of totality. Man is not a body plus a soul, but a living unit of vital power, a psychophysical organism.
3. The Hebrews thought of man as influenced from without, by evil spirits, the devil, or the Spirit of God, whereas in modern psychology the emphasis has tended to be placed on dynamic factors operating from within (though at the present time, fresh interest is being evoked in the study of environmental forces as factors influencing human behavior).
4. The study of particular words in the OT and NT affords a comprehensive view of the underlying Hebrew and Christian conceptions of man.
The OT English versions of the Bible, several Hebrew expressions are translated “heart,” the main words being leb and lebab. In a general sense, heart means the midst, the innermost or hidden part of anything. Thus, the midst (or heart) of the sea (Ps. 46:2); of heaven (Deut. 4:11); of the oak (II Sam. 14:18). In the physiological sense, heart is the central bodily organ, the seat of physical life. Thus, Jacob’s heart “fainted” (Gen. 45:26); Eli’s heart “trembled” (I Sam. 4:13). However, like other anthropological terms in the OT, heart is also used very frequently in a psychological sense, as the center or focus of man’s inner personal life. The heart is the source, or spring, of motives; the seat of the passions; the center of the thought processes; the spring of conscience. Heart, in fact, is associated with what is now meant by the cognitive, affective, and volitional elements of personal life.
The book of Proverbs is illuminating here: The heart is the seat of wisdom (2:10; etc.); of trust (or confidence) (3:5); diligence (4:23); perverseness (6:14); wicked imaginations (6:18); lust (6:25); subtlety (7:10); understanding (8:5); deceit (12:20); folly (12:23); heaviness (12:25); bitterness (14:10); sorrow (14:13); backsliding (14:14); cheerfulness (15:13); knowledge (15:14); joy (15:30); pride (16:5); haughtiness (18:12); prudence (18:15); fretfulness (19:3); envy (23:17).
The NT word for heart is kardia. It, too, has a wide psychological and spiritual connotation. Our Lord emphasized the importance of right states of heart. It is the pure in heart who see God (Matt. 5:8); sin is first committed in the heart (Matt. 5:28); out of the heart proceed evil thoughts and acts (Matt. 15:19); forgiveness must come from the heart (Matt. 18:35); men must love God with all their heart (Matt. 22:37); the word of God is sown, and must come to fruition, in the heart (Luke 8:11-15).
Paul’s use of Kardia is on similar lines. According to H. W. Robinson, in his book “The Christian Doctrine of Man,” in fifteen cases heart denotes personality, or the inner life, in general (e.g., I Cor. 14:25); in thirteen cases, it is the seat of emotional states of consciousness (e.g., Rom. 9:2); in eleven cases, it is the seat of intellectual activities (e.g., Rom. 1:21); in thirteen cases, it is the seat of the volition (e.g., Rom. 2:5). Paul uses other expressions, such as mind, soul, and spirit, to augment the conception of man; but, on the whole, it may be said that the NT word Kardia reproduces and expands the ideas included in the OT words leb and lebab.6
Harris’s Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
lebab is rendered heart, understanding, and mind (also used in idioms such as “to set the heart upon” meaning “to think about” or “to want”). Concrete meanings of leb referred to the internal organ and to analogous physical locations. However, in its abstract meanings, “heart” became the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature. In biblical literature, it is the most frequently used term for man’s immaterial personality functions as well as the most inclusive term for them since, in the Bible; virtually every immaterial function of man is attributed to the “heart.”
By far the majority of the usages of leb refer either to the inner or immaterial nature in general or to one of the three traditional personality functions of man; emotion, thought, or will. Thought functions may be attributed to the heart. In such cases it is likely to be translated as “mind” or “understanding.” To “set the heart to” may mean to “pay attention to” (Ex 7:23) or to “consider important” (II Sam 18:32). Creative thought is a heart function. Wicked devices originate in the heart (Gen 6:5). The RSV translates “which came upon Solomon’s heart” as “all that Solomon had planned” (II Chr 7:11).
Wisdom and understanding are seated in the heart. The “wise heart” (I Kgs. 3:12; RSV, “wise mind”) and “wise of heart” (Prov 16:23) are mentioned. This idiom can be so strongly felt that “heart” virtually becomes a synonym for such ideas as “mind” (II Chr 9:23; RSV) or ‘sense” (Prov 11:12; RSV). The heart functions in perception and awareness as when Elisha’s heart (i.e. Elisha’s perceptive nature; RSV “spirit”) went with Gehazi (II Kgs 5:26).
As the seat of thought and intellect, the heart can be deluded (Isa 44:20; RSV “mind”). The heart is the seat of the will. A decision may be described as “setting” the heart (II Chr 12:14). “Not of my heart” expresses “not of my will” (Num 16:28). The “hearts” of the Shechemites inclined to follow Abimelech (Jud 9:3). Removal of the decision-making capacity is described as hardening the heart (Ex 10:1; Josh 11:20). Closely connected to the preceding is the heart as the seat of moral responsibility. Righteousness is “integrity of heart” (Gen 20:5).7
The New Testament Word Psyche
According to Vine’s the NT word psuche (5590), which can be translated “soul,” or “life,” is rendered “heart” in Eph. 6:6, “doing the will of God from the heart.” In Col. 3:23, a form of the word psuche preceded by ek, literally, “from (the) soul,” is rendered “heartily.” See the following (RV) Scriptures: Col. 3:12 (NASB, NJ); Philem. 7, 12, 20 (NKJV, NASB); 2 Cor. 3:3 (KJV, NKJV, NASB, RS, AS); Eph. 1:18 (AS, RS, NASB); Heb. 8:10, 10:16 (RS, AS, KJV, NKJV, NASB); Luke 21:26 (KJV, NKJV); 2 Cor. 7:2 (KJV, NKJV, RS, AS, NASB).3
Dan Stolebarger, Executive Director of Koinonia House, has reiterated the biblical rabbinical sages interpretation of the word “heart” to be a metaphor as the seat of craving and aspiration.8 However, this may be a mark of Judaism which is on biblical and definitely not Christian. And while it can be said that the heart is a place that intensifies thought or reason, or even emotions concerning that which the heart is fixated upon; it can never be separated from the intellectual component of thought and reason, with the emotions always subservient to the intellect.
Hopefully from the plethora of references cited, it is beyond dispute that when the Bible refers to the heart it is not referring to the emotions solely. While the emotions are a blessing of God, that lend exuberance and passion, both in the negative and positive aspects of sensation; they are never meant as the sole device of discretion. This is the place of the seat of the will, but always according to the intellect in response to what God has said. And while we should consider the emotions in any decisions we make, this is always in a subservient role, never taking preeminence.
There is an abundance of references to the heart as having the lead role in decision-making. However, in both the Old and New Testaments, the word “heart” was always used to include the mental process (rational and reason), the will (volition), as well as the emotions.
Personally, I believe the best definition of heart, is the focus of the mind
The Bible never instructs us to be lead by our emotions, but rather by our minds. It is with our minds that we focus our attentions and choose to obey God, and it is those actions that first are decided with our mind in consideration of what we focus on, that God holds us accountable. Biblically speaking, we are to focus on God’s Word and His Will, as our will determines the direction that we take. We must always remember, what God says about the human heart, that it: “… is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,”9 but it is also with our hearts that we exercise faith unto salvation.
All Scripture verses listed, unless otherwise noted, refer to the King James Version.
1. WHY CHRISTIANS CAN’T TRUST PSYCHOLOGY, Ed Bulkley, PH. D., Harvest House
Publishers, Eugene, OR 97402, 1993, Page 335, 336.
2. STRONG’S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE TOGETHER WITH DICTIONARIES OF
HEBREW AND GREEK WORDS, James Strong, Baker Book House Company, Grand
Rapids, MI 49546, USA, 1981, electronic media.
3. VINE’S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, W.E.
Vine, Ellis Enterprises Inc., Oklahoma City, OK 73120, USA, 1988, electronic media.
4. HOLMAN BIBLE DICTIONARY, General Editor: Trent C. Butler, PH. D., Gerald Cowen,
Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TE 37234, USA, electronic media.
5. EASTON’S BIBLE DICTIONARY AND BOOK SYNOPSIS, Easton, M.G., Ellis Enterprises
Inc., Oklahoma City, OK 73120, USA, 1988-1999, electronic media.
6. ELWELL’S EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book
House Company, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, USA, 1984, electronic media.
7. HARRIS’S THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, Harris, R. Laid,
Moody Press, Chicago, IL 60610, USA, 1980.
8. KOINONIA HOUSE, Founder: Dr. Chuck Missler, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816, USA, 2008,
electronic media found @ khouse.org.
9. Jeremiah 17:9.
Biblical Counseling is an ongoing topical series that deals with the problems of life. It comes from a purely God centered, thus Biblical perspective; as compared with a man centered psychological one. The field of psychology has always begun with certain presuppositions; rather stated, hided, or even known by some of its current practitioners. There are many types of psychology; consequently, there are many different groupings of these presuppositions. A random listing might consist of: Determinism, Experimentalism, Reductionism, Naturalism, and Relativism. Others might also add Materialism, Evolution, Empiricism, Humanism, and even Occultism. Biblical Counseling is based on two presuppositions. First, Jesus Christ is the Son of God; He is Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and Divine. He is the central focus of all creation, the Bible, a believer’s life, and the Will of the Father. Secondly, the Bible is God’s communication, and more importantly, His words to men. It is inspired, inerrant, and most notably for the believer, it is sufficient to address man’s needs. Therefore, psychological endeavors which are humanistic in nature are not sufficient to meet the needs of man, only God’s Holy Word is. Our main focus is always on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Biblical Counseling is an outreach ministry of Faith Bible Ministries.com, a Divsion of Faith Video Ministries Inc. You may contact us at our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I read every post….every single one….!!!
I know you do – thank you for your commitment. bb