Aside from whatever other heart trouble any one individual might have, the real heart problem from which we all suffer is a moral evil so great that we ourselves cannot understand but which ultimately only the Lord can diagnose, as expressed in His Word (Jeremiah 17:9-10; confer Luke 16:15; Romans 8:27; Revelation 2:23).
Perhaps surprisingly the Bible seldom refers to the internal organ that is our physical heart (1 Samuel 25:37; 2 Kings 9:24), but the Bible most frequently uses the term “heart” to refer either in general to the functions of our immaterial personality or in particular to our emotion, thought, and will. Thus, our moral and religious behavior can be said to be rooted in our spiritual hearts.
By nature such hearts are distant from God (Isaiah 29:13) and hardened against Him (Ezekiel 2:4; confer Mark 3:5; 6:52; 8:17; Ephesians 4:18). From them flow all sorts of actual sins of thought, word, and deed, which defile us and warrant death here in time and torment in hell for eternity (Matthew 15:18-19; Mark 7:21-23; confer Romans 1:21, 24; 2:5).
But, such hearts can be “circumcised” (Deuteronomy 10:16) and cleansed (Psalm 51:10, 17; confer Acts 15:9), with a returning to the Lord and repenting that He enables (Joel 2:12-14; confer Galatians 4:6), a sacramental—that is, baptismal—replacing of our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27, and note well there the mode of “sprinkling” the water).
Such converted hearts reverentially fear God (Jeremiah 32:40), love Him (Deuteronomy 30:6; confer Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27), and trust in Him above all things (Psalm 112:7). As a result of what God has done for them, such as in the person of His Son Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, people with such converted hearts sing for joy (Psalm 84:2) and, they serve God in the person of their neighbors (1 Samuel 12:24; confer Luke 6:45).
Such new spiritual hearts ultimately will lead to new physical hearts that, unlike our troubled ones now, will beat for all eternity in resurrected and glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore.You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.