by Frank Allnutt
58 pages, 5" x 8", saddle-stitched.
black and white in printed booklet)
Why is it that some Christians live in freedom and victory
...and others live in bondage and defeat?
Creatures Old and New
The Modes of the Heart
Sin Divides the Heart; Love Unites the Heart
Varieties of Half-Hearted Christians
The Walk of the Half-Hearted Christian
The Hard-Hearted Christian
The Shallow-Hearted Christian
The Worldly or Fat-Hearted Christian
The Wounded or Broken-Hearted Christian
The Double-Hearted Christian
The Fruit of the Broken-Hearted Christian
The Fruit of the Fat-Hearted Christian
The Broken and Contrite-Hearted Christian
The Whole-Hearted Christian
The Spirit-Filled New Heart
Some Teachings of Jesus on Bearing Fruit for God
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The Heart of the Bible
The apostle Paul wrote of two types of human beings: those of the old or natural mankind who are “in Adam,” and those of the new or spiritual mankind who are “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22):
Figure 1: The Old man in Adam and the New Man in Christ.
Ontologically speaking, we Christians are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet, functionally, we sometimes act like old creatures in Adam. How we function within the heart and through outward behavior has no effect on our ontology—our state of being new creatures in Christ:
Figure 2: Two perspectives of the Half-Hearted Christian: Left, the ontological view. Right, the conditional/functional view.
The Modes of the Heart
Those two ways in which Christians can live stem from two very different conditions or modes of the immaterial or spiritual heart of the inner man. The Bible refers to those two conditions as the “divided heart” (Hosea 10:2; Hebrews 4:12) and the “whole heart” (1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 24:7). Other descriptions of the whole heart are the “united heart” (Psalm 86:11) and “all the heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30). I refer to the person with a “divided heart” as a Half-Hearted Christian and the person with a “whole heart” as a Whole-Hearted Christian.
The illustration above depicts the Half-Hearted Christian from two perspectives. The view on the left pictures this person’s entire being—their spiritual ("hidden") person, heart and body. Notice that they are white; this signifies that the Christian is ontologically a new creature, has relationship (unity) with Christ, and is positionally in Christ and God’s eternal realm of light.
The view of this Christian on the right shows his heart’s mode or condition of functionality. Because his heart is divided by sinfulness, he functions psychosomatically—primarily out of his fleshly soul and body, which are shaded to indicate he lives in conditional (not positional) darkness. His spirit, though substantively holy, is functionally passive, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is “grieved” (Ephesians 4:30) and “quenched” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or functionally shut out of this person’s way of living.
Figure 3: Two ways Christians can live.
Half-hearted” and “whole-hearted” are commonly understood to describe attitude and motivation. As we will see, motivation is integral to a person’s heart condition—whether it is divided or united, right with God or not right with God. In the biblical sense, however, those terms also denote the broader and very complex condition and functioning of the spiritual heart.
The Half-Hearted Christian is also known by a number of other Scriptural descriptions: “fleshly Christian” (or “carnal Christian,” KJV), “spiritually immature,” “hard-hearted” (Hebrews 3:18), “fat-hearted” (James 5:3), “wounded-hearted” or “broken-hearted” (Psalms 34:18; 109:22; 147:3; Proverbs 18:14; Isaiah 61:1), “broken and contrite-hearted” (Psalm 51:17), and “double-hearted” (Psalm 12:2). Psalm 95:11 (quoted in Hebrews 3:10, 11) speaks of the divided heart as being a “wayward heart.” Those who have a wayward heart “go astray in their hearts.” Scripture gives many other descriptions of the divided heart, including “heavy heart” (Proverbs 31:6), “vexed heart” (Ezekiel 32:9), “lustful heart” (Romans 1:24), “deceived heart” (Romans 16:18), “strife-ridden heart” (James 3:14), “doubting heart” (Mark 11:23), “troubled heart” (John 14:1), “darkened heart” (Romans 1:21), and on and on.
Virtually any negative (sinful) function of the mind, emotion, or will can, over time, potentially dominate and thus functionally divide the Christian’s heart, soul from spirit. Such a believer is “out of fellowship” or “out of step” with God and Jesus, and “quenches” the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). All Christians, in an ontological sense, are not of the flesh but of the Spurt (Romans 8:5-11). Yet, they can function and behave “according to the flesh” or “in the ways of the flesh”—as though they were “in the flesh.”
Paul writes: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Fleshly Christians are usually thought of as backsliders who may drift away from the church, don’t study their Bible, spend little time in prayer, and have worldly interests. It is commonly said that backsliders just don’t behave as “good Christians” are expected to behave.
There also are the less conspicuous—covert—Half-Hearted Christians. Some sit in the pews on Sunday mornings, and attend Bible studies and potluck dinners. Others actually occupy pulpits, sit on church boards and committees, are sent by mission boards to the four corners of the earth, travel the gospel music concert circuit, are engaged in other forms of “full-time Christian service” with all sorts of ministries, and even crank-out on their computers “inspirational” book after book.
The largest category of Half-Hearted Christians, however, is comprised of new believers, the undiscipled, the erroneously taught, the outright deceived, and others who, for other reasons, have not experienced much spiritual growth.
The expressions “divided heart” and “half-heart,” and “united heart” and “whole-heart” do not denote any sort of caste system; all Christians have unity with and identity in Christ, are the righteousness of Christ and children of God. Each of us is equally loved and accepted by God—and we should equally love and accept others (though not their wrongful beliefs and behaviors).
Figure 4: Sin Divides the heart ... Love Unites the heart.
The condition of the Christian’s heart fluctuates between two basic modes: divided by sin (“according to the flesh”) or united (“whole”) through walking in the Holy Spirit, in love and by faith in the truth. Figure 4 illustrates that the Half-Hearted Christian’s heart is divided, soul from spirit, as the result of sinful thoughts, emotions, will, and behavior, and that the Whole-Hearted Christian’s heart is cleansed and united (made “whole”) when the person confesses and repents of sinfulness, and walks in the Holy Spirit, in love and by faith in the truth:
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another... Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes, dissension, faction, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control... Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (excerpts from Galatians 5:17-25. See also 1 John 1:5-10 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
The Bible, when consulted with a sincere heart, can reveal our mode of heart and guide us into closer functional conformity with the new creature we are in Christ Jesus. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God penetrates the depths our hearts to reveal all the unholy thoughts and intentions that divide the heart, soul from spirit:
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:12, 13. I have added italics for emphasis).
All of us can relate some characteristics of the Half-Hearted Christian to our own life. Do not let this discourage you; God has provided you with the way to wholeheartedness—through His Son, who is the “way” (John 14:6).
The writer of Hebrews gives us the encouraging good news that: "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Figure 5: Two ways Christians can live.
In Figure 5 we again see those functional illustrations of the Half-Hearted Christian and the Whole-Hearted Christian. Notice that the Half-Hearted Christian’s soul is functionally divided from the spirit, and is shaded to depict its state of conditional and functional darkness and fleshliness. By contrast, the Whole-Hearted Christian’s soul is functionally united with his spirit, and is white to signify that, through walking in the Spirit, it is filled with God’s light and love.
The Half-Hearted Christian lives out of character—his heart functions and outer behavior do not coincide with his ontological self in Christ. This Christian is living in self-sufficiency and is estranged from fellowship with the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Whole-Hearted Christian, on the other hand, lives in conformity with who he is in Christ and experiences the dynamics of Christ’s life throughout his whole being. One believer lives a fleshly life of conditional darkness, bondage, and defeat, and the other lives a spiritual life in the light, freedom, and victory in Christ Jesus.
Half-heartedness, or fleshliness, does not change a Christian’s ontological nature, relationship with God, or position in God’s Kingdom, for those are absolute realities that will never change.
To help us better understand this, the Bible refers to us as new clay jars, lovingly formed by the creative hands of the Master Potter, our Father in Heaven. Now, let us consider for a moment how an actual clay jar might be used: It could contain honey or rat poison. But the contents do not change the substantive nature of the jar. And so it is with us: Whether a soul has sinful content and function or holy and righteous content and function does not change who we are in Christ.
Though we had been rescued by Jesus from out of the bondage of darkness and into the freedom and victory of His light, many among us live in conditional darkness (fleshliness, sinfulness, worldliness).
The Spirit of God permanently dwells in the heart of every Christian, never to leave. But if a believer lives out of a divided heart, he does not walk after the Spirit or in His ways; he is functionally estranged from the Spirit, and his fellowship is strained at least and severed at worst. Division of the heart affects the believer’s fellowship, not his relationship; his salvation and unity with Christ Jesus remain irrevocably intact and unchangeable.
God searches the heart
God knows the condition of your spiritual heart—whether it is divided or united. He says, “I, the Lord, search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10). He searches “all the innermost parts” [soul and spirit “chamber-parts” of the spiritual heart] (Proverbs 20:27). In doing so, He knows the secrets of your heart (Psalm 44:21). “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).
God’s examination of the heart that is not right with Him concludes that, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8).
Just as God examines our heart, so too should we examine our hearts and lives. For who among us lives sinlessly? For, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.... If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10). “Let us examine and probe our ways,” lamented the prophet Jeremiah, urging repentance on the part of all Israel, “and let us return to [fellowship with] the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40, 41b).
“The truth shall make you free”
It is important to understand that, when a Half-Hearted Christian rejects the truth of God’s Word, they also rejects Jesus Christ who is the Truth (John 14:6) and the Word of God (John 1:1). Such rejection does not result in their “loss of salvation” and relationship with God through Christ Jesus, for those are absolute and eternal, but it does estrange this person from fellowship with the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
Jesus said: “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). There is a double meaning in what Jesus said: First, to “know” the Truth refers to the ontological relationship between Jesus and those who are in Christ; and, second, to “know” the truth in an understanding and behavioral way. The Christian has a relationship with the Truth, who is the person of Jesus, but might not understand the truth of God’s spoken and written Word. While this person is made free in terms of their eternal relationship with Jesus, who is their true Lord and Master, they do not experience freedom through their broken fellowship with Him, but rather experience temporal (temporary and episodic) bondage to the false masters of flesh, Satan, sin, the world, and even the condemnation of God’s law.
Varieties of Half-Hearted Christians
Now, let’s consider Scriptures that describe several varieties of half-heartedness, among believers:
1. Hard-Hearted Christians
2. Shallow-Hearted Christians
3. Worldly or Fat-Hearted Christians
4. Broken or Wounded-Hearted Christians
5. Double-Hearted Christians
6. Broken and Contrite-Hearted Christians
The parable of the sower
Our Lord’s parable of the sower uses the agricultural metaphors of good and bad soil to illustrate the two humanities—those “in Christ” and those “in Adam,” and how they respond to the Word of God. Understand that the Half-Hearted Christian is quite capable of responding rightly or wrongly, as do those who are in Adam.
Now, let’s consider how this parable applies to the two modes of the hearts of Christians—the divided mode and the united mode:
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. And others fell upon the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil, and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:3-9).
The disciples asked to have the parable explained to them, and the response of Jesus is recorded in verses 19-23. As we read through these verses, I’ll make comment.
Jesus began His explanation by saying, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” This verse indicates that the sower is a witness of Christ Jesus, the seed is the spoken or written Word of God, and the soil is the spiritual heart. The hard soil by the wayside is too hard for the seed to take root. This person has a hard heart and so rejects the Word. The hard soil of his heart must be broken in order for the seed to take root.
Jesus continued, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he falls away.” Having “no firm root” indicates that this man has a shallow heart: The Word establishes shallow roots in his soul but not deep roots in his spirit.
Jesus then explained the third type of heart: “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” This man has a worldly heart that is “cultivated” by the things of the world at the expense of nurturing by the Word. This brings to mind the question, “How does your garden grow?”
Then Jesus explained the fourth man: “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty” (verse 23). This man has a whole heart—functionally united soul and spirit—that is open to receive and understand, through the Holy Spirit’s illumination, the truth of God’s Word. As a result, the Word in his heart is dynamically alive and produces “fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).
Figure 6: The Hard-Hearted Christian.
The writer of the book of Hebrews quoted God in speaking of this to his “holy brethren”:
“Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; and they did not know My ways’; as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me” (Hebrews 3:8-15; see also 4:7).
On two occasions, the disciples experienced a conditional hardening of their hearts. The first came after the incident of the loaves and when Jesus walked on the water to reach His disciples in their boat. Mark wrote that, “they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:45-52). The second incident came after the multitude of about 4,000 was fed the fish and loaves, when the disciples discovered they had no bread left for themselves. Jesus said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?” (Mark 8:17).
Functional hardheartedness in the Christian refers to a hard-shelled soul with a closed and skeptical mind toward God and His Word. Due to this hardness, the mind, emotion, and will are also closed to understanding the truth of God’s Word and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Hardheartedness in the Christian can be a prolonged condition or episodic, particularly in times of distress. Hardheartedness can be of a “show me” “doubting Thomas” kind. It might be directed toward certain aspects of God’s Word, such as His promises, prophecies, and His declared love, faithfulness, and sufficiency for the believer. This person may even experience a temporary period of doubting that Jesus is “real.” Such doubt and unbelief will divide the Christian’s heart and strain if not severe his fellowship with God. But it will not result in the severance of his relationship with God. The believer’s salvation, in all of its implications—including a new heart and the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ—is absolute, permanent, and irreversible. A believer can fall away from God in terms of fellowship, but not in terms of relationship.
We need to be clear on this point: Hardness of heart, and thus functional division of the soul and spirit, is a condition brought about by sin. Referring back to Hebrews 3:13, Paul warns us not to let our hearts become hardened by the “deceitfulness of sin.”
Figure 7: The Shallow-Hearted Christian.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of the seed “sown on the rocky places.” He explained that, “this is the man who hears the Word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately he falls away” (Matthew 13:20, 21).
Jesus was speaking of a man with an old, Adamic or natural heart, not a Christian with the new heart.
Yet, some Christians are shallow-hearted in terms of heart condition and functionality. They are spiritually immature and function in flesh-like ways out of the soul that is functionally divided from the heart’s spirit and indwelling Holy Spirit. The Word takes shallow root in the soul’s mind, emotion and will, but not deep root in the spirit.
In good times, such Christians rejoice in God and their Christianity, but in times of affliction and persecution, they tend to drift away from fellowship with the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
Shallow-heartedness is common among new “babies” in the faith, but also among those who have experienced stunted spiritual growth. They are superficial—soulish or fleshly—Christians who lack spiritual depth. As the saying goes, “they may talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.”
Many attend churches that advertise themselves as “Christ-Center and Bible-Based,” but many are apostate in that they are pastor-centered and dogma-based. Those who affiliate with such “churches” are not being adequately nourished by the truth of God’s Word, but by false gospels that are little more than ear candy and eye candy for the flesh.
The sad consequence is that many Christians hear and see only with the ears and eyes of their heads, but not with the ears and eyes of their hearts. Consequently, their hearts are not open to critical truths and realities of God’s Word. They might read the Bible, but do not study it or adequately understand it. Their dull minds rely mostly on the teachings of their pastor or others, and they do not discern for themselves what is truthful and what is not.
The “faith” of a deceived person or a Scripturally illiterate person is most likely a fleshly belief system with some shallow faith that is not deeply rooted in the truth and reality of God’s Word.
Paul wrote to Timothy: "[P]reach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
Please, my friend, do not become a blind follower of this teacher or that teacher. If they are true to their calling, they will tell you the same thing. For, as the apostle Paul cautioned: "[E]ach one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?...For Christ did not send me to baptize [in my name], but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void (1 Corinthians" 1:12-13, 17).
Paul asked, "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting to death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" (Romans 6:16). "Examine everything careful" (1 Thessalonians 1:5:21).
Figure 8: The Worldly or Fat-Hearted Christian.
Continuing on in the parable of the sower, Jesus next spoke of “the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns.” He explained, “this is the man who hears the Word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Such can happen with a Christian. Scripture describes such a person as Fat-Hearted because his heart is fattened by worldliness.
“Fat-hearted” is a very rich metaphor. Heart disease is a major cause of death. Fatty foods are oftentimes the culprit. Fat can plug arteries and actually form around the heart and in the heart muscle. And that can impede blood flow and heart muscle function. In acute cases, fatty foods can lead to death.
There is biblical evidence that the ancient Hebrews were somewhat knowledgeable about the damaging effects of an overly rich diet on the biological heart, and that spiritual fat-heartedness can be damaging to one’s spiritual health.
In the book of James, reference is made to the “fattened heart,” which literally is the “wheat-strained” heart (James 5:5). Here we see a correlation between a fattened biological heart and a fattened spiritual heart. To “fatten” (Greek, trepho) is to “pamper oneself with nourishment.” The motivation to pamper oneself stems from a fleshly-, worldly-, sinfully-divided spiritual heart.
There are numerous examples and references in Scripture regarding self-pampering. Some of those refer to a fattened heart, such as James 3:3, Psalm 119:70, and Isaiah 6:10.
The believer’s spiritual heart must be nourished psychologically and spiritually to satisfy certain needs and desires. We “feast our eyes” upon things of wholesome beauty and wonder, “digest” Scripture, “eat” the body of Christ, and “drink the blood” of Christ’s covenant (Matthew 26:26-28). However, the self-indulgent, Fat-Hearted person wrongly seeks fleshly, worldly, and sinful nourishment, and that at the expense of spiritual nourishment.
James offers more insight into the soulical condition and behavior of the worldly, self-pampering, Fat-Hearted Christian: "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:1-4).
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasures! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter" (James 5:1-5).
Not all Fat-Hearted Christians are rich, but they all strive to pamper self.
The Bible reveals these common characteristics of the Fat-Hearted Christian:
Worldly. The Fat-Hearted Christian so loves his worldly life-style that his quest for self-aggrandizement and self-sufficiency take him to great lengths to protect his worldly possessions, social standing, and wealth. His dependence on such worldly resources, coupled with fear of losing them, have conditioned him to develop a complex structure of self-protective measures.
He may profit greatly (in worldly terms) from interaction with the world. He depends on the world to help him meet his needs and desires.
Indeed, he loves the world and his worldly life-style. And he pampers himself with a rich diet of worldliness—a diet of reaping financial gain, a higher social status, a greater sense of self-importance, more controlling power over others, a prestigious reputation. Through all such pursuits he fattens his heart.
His undoing is in his doing. Jesus said such worldly Christians hear the Word, but “the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). And “He who loves his life [worldly life-style] loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal” (John 12:25).
Prideful. The fattened heart is a “puffed-up” heart—a heart that is self-absorbed and prideful. “Puffed-up” (Greek, physiology) mans to inflate, as inflating one’s ego. Paul admonished the Corinthians for being puffed-up (1 Corinthians 4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 13:4), and pointed out to the Colossians that a puffed-up heart is caused by a fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18).
This prideful believer is self-centered, arrogant and conceited. He places self above others, regards himself as superior, and credits himself for his self-sufficiency.
False Identity. This Christian probably does not know his true identity, and so he proudly perceives who he is in terms of his physical appearance and prowess, wealth, social standing, intellect, and so on. His self-centeredness, arrogance and conceit may well be self-protection mechanisms born out of the insecurity of the transient nature of his pseudo identity and the potential insufficiency of his self-sufficiency.
His mind set and behavior are inconsistent with his true identity (which is a righteous new-hearted, new creature in Christ), and so he proudly perceives who he is in terms of his physical appearance and prowess, wealth, social standing, intellect, and so on. To know one’s true identity and to take it to heart is humbling, and the humble are not prideful. Scripture tells us that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18).
Self-indulgent. The news media often inform us of wrong doings of Christians in high places who have fattened their hearts and feathered their nests with worldly luxuries by exploiting their God-given positions of leadership and influence for selfish gain. Such a self-indulgent Christian may wrongly believe that his “good works” has earned him favor over others with God, for which he is rewarded special worldly as well as heavenly blessings.
I once met a TV evangelist who lived in a Spanish villa on a vast estate. I learned that he and his gaudily-bejeweled wife drove luxury cars and vacationed at exotic places throughout the world—all in the name of “ministry”—and, of course, at ministry expense. Though this wealthy evangelist paid himself extremely well from donated funds to the ministry, his staff were so lowly paid that even some members of his top management qualified for food stamps. This man fits the biblical description of a Fat-Hearted Christian enmeshed in positive worldliness.
Libertine. The Fat-Hearted Christian is not uncommonly libertine in wrongful response to laws in general and to God’s laws in particular. This person may hold to the philosophy that “the ends justify the means,” and may have a misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul’s teaching that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable” (1 Corinthians 6:12). While the context here is food for the body, the libertine wrongly generalizes the teaching. Thus, his choices are lawlessly-based on profitability to self’s fleshly desires rather than on observing God’s laws as motivated by a spirit of love for Him and His law.
Fat-Hearted Christians consider their wealth, possessions, time—their very lives—to be their own to do with as they wish. Paul contends that we belong to Christ and are beholden to Him: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
Since we belong to Christ, then we and all we have belongs to Him. We are to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. This is not to say that the Lord will not bless us with certain things for our own enjoyment and comfort. And for reasons known only to Him, He chooses to give to some more than He gives to others. When it comes to the responsibility of stewardship, however, the parable of the talents, as taught by Jesus, makes clear that, “to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). Each of us must examine the motives of our hearts and learn to trust Him in all things, to be content in all things and not covet, and to be good stewards of all He entrusts to us.
Figure 9: The Wounded or Broken-Hearted Christian.
The spirit of man can endure his sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14).
The Bible refers to some Christians as having wounded or broken hearts or spirits (Psalm 34:18; 109:22; 147:3; Proverbs 18:14; Isaiah 61:1). This is not in reference to those who experience a disappointment and then “get over it” (Paul is an example; see Acts 21:13). It is Half-Hearted Christians who are in view here—those who are spiritually or emotionally traumatized by a devastating event or by numerous negative circumstances in life over an extended period of time. They don’t just get over it. They typically compound their problem by responding to negative circumstances in fleshly, worldly, sinful ways.
“Wounded” and “broken” are translated from several Hebrew words in the Old Testament. When referring to the heart or spirit, the literal meaning is usually “stricken” or “crushed.”
Paul was “wounded” in many ways, among them he was imprisoned, ship-wrecked and stoned. Yet, he was not wounded-hearted. Rather, his Whole-Hearted reaction contributed to his spiritual growth, even to the extent that he learned to be thankful and content in all things. Because he had unflinching faith in the sufficiency and trustworthiness of God.
Wounded-Hearted Christians share some characteristics with Fat-Hearted Christians, in that they have not placed their love, faith and hope in Christ, but rather in self, the world, and circumstances. Furthermore, they have not reached a point of giving up on self, repenting, and totally yielding themselves to God.
The Wounded-Hearted or Broken-Hearted Christian may have little confidence in self, has not fared well in the world, and may have suffered much loss and suffering through adverse circumstances. He has attempted to get ahead in life by walking according to the flesh, but it has not worked out well for him. And yet he is not ready to give up on fleshly self and to trust God.
Let’s look at some typical functional characteristics of the Wounded-Hearted or Broken-Hearted Christian:
Negative mind set. This person dwells on painful memories, often seeing past experiences at their worst, ignoring the good, and even exaggerating the negatives of his life. He has become conditioned to detest the present and to fear the future. Worry, doubt, fear, and anxiety fill his soul. Such emotions are sinful because as each increases, loving faith in God and His Word diminish. When such emotions are not overcome with loving faith, “sin-debt” accumulates in the soul of the heart, dividing it from the spirit and the indwelling Spirit of Christ.—the residue of sinfulness.
False identity. The Wounded-Hearted or Broken-Hearted Christian does not understand or experience his identity as a righteous new-hearted, new creature in Christ. He has based his identity on circumstances and behavior, and this frequently results in poor self-esteem and a self-depreciating spirit or attitude. He may see himself as a victim who is doomed to go through life suffering. He expects to be victimized and exposed to even more and greater suffering. This makes him distrustful of others, especially of God. Because of his skepticism, he may misinterpret the mercies of God and good intentions of others to further “prove” that he is a victim and a sufferer. He may use his plight as an attention-getting means, only to find fault with those who genuinely care about him. And when his suffering and pain go unnoticed, he feels rejected, hurt, and all the more a victim and sufferer.
Depression. The Wounded- or Broken-Hearted Christian has not achieved the level of self-sufficiency and comfort he has worked so hard to attain. He has become depressed (marked by attitudes of unfulfillment, disillusionment, defeatism, inability to cope, hopelessness, worthlessness, and unworthiness) because he cannot better control circumstances in life according to his will. He uses tactics of verbal and written communications, body language, behavior, and life-style to draw attention to life’s unfairness to him. However when others respond with sympathy he may turn against them and accuse them of not truly understanding or caring.
Blames others. Rather than acknowledge the insufficiency of his own efforts, he may blame others and negative circumstances for his plight. He may even blame God, and will not trust Him.
His soul has been negatively conditioned to disbelieve certain promises of God. For example, he may be familiar with Psalms 147:3 that speaks of Jesus: “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds,” but is resentful because he sees no healing in his life. This Christian may early on believe that, “God causes all things to work together for good...” (Romans 8:28a), but when circumstances do not improve as he wants them to, his faith and trust in God wane. This Christian ignores the rest of God’s promise which points to his role in the relationship: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”
A Christian who walks according to the flesh is not “living out” his love for God and his calling by God because he walks in sin and fleshliness, and not in loving faith and in the Spirit. Paul writes that, “the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8).
A Wounded-Hearted Christian may go through a time of trying harder and praying more, but it seems to him that God no longer hears or cares. Some simply give up on self, others, and God. They may become bitter and resentful, and the wounds of their heart do not heal. Their heart may become hardened toward God and His Word. But circumstances only worsen and suffering increases. Life may become unbearable, and this may lead to the intensification of bitterness and increased resentment toward God and others.
What the Wounded-Hearted Christian ultimately does not comprehend is that his trials are allowed by God for the purpose of brokenness—to break him of self-will and self-reliance, and to turn to God out of loving humility, obedience, and trust.
Figure 10: The Double-Hearted Christian.
The Double-Hearted Christian does not actually have two spiritual hearts, but he functions as though he does. His heart fluctuates between self-centeredness and Christ-centeredness, fleshliness and spiritualness. In modern parlance, it is sometimes said that this person has a “Jekyll and Hyde personality” or a “split personality.”
The “double heart” is mentioned in Psalm 12:2, and “undivided heart” in 1 Chronicles 12:33 is in reference to a person without a “double heart.”
Practically synonymous with the “double heart” is the “double mind.” In the Greek of the New Testament, the “double-minded” believer is literally said to have “two souls” (Greek psuchē). However, the literal rendering is figurative in meaning: This believer only behaves as if he has two minds or two souls. Sometimes he chooses to live righteously, and other times he chooses to live sinfully.
James wrote of the “double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). This vacillating condition between self-centeredness and Christ-centeredness arises when a person has not totally surrendered or forsaken all things apart from Christ, and has not totally surrendered or yielded all things to Christ. This person believes in God, but places more confidence in the flesh and the world than in God.
In Romans 7, Paul flashes back to his pre-salvation days as a devoutly religious though unregenerate Jew when he experienced a type of double-mindedness. “One mind” wanted to observe God’s law (good desire), but his “other mind” quite often compelled him to yield to the ways of the flesh.
The war between the “two minds” of this Chris Christian is most intense in the conscience, with one “rein” or “kidney” fighting for the sake of righteous behavior, and the other fighting for sinful behavior. This fleshly Christian either commits actual sin or hypocritically allows law to substitute for his conscience and does what might appear to be righteous, but is not. The latter response may satisfy the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.
To use a contemporary example, this believer might donate a considerable sum of money to his church or a ministry to apparently satisfy the “law” of tithing, but all the while his true motive is to receive a lucrative tax benefit; were it not for the tax write-off, he would not make the donation. So, while his donation satisfied the letter of the law, it did not satisfy the spirit of the law because it was not done out of a love-motivated, pure heart.
“Well-adjusted” and “maladjusted” ﬂeshliness
Some Half-Hearted Christians are more successful than others in meeting their needs and desires through fleshly and worldly ways. Yet, the two have this in common: Their self-centered and divided hearts never seem to attain quite enough knowledge, understanding, and wisdom; the emotion can never quite reach and maintain a consistent level of contentment and happiness; the will can never fully satisfy its insatiable, lustful desires; and the individual’s creativity and achievements never consistently seem to measure up to his and others’ expectations. And so they attempt to overcome such deficiencies through fleshly and worldly ways.
Psychology cites “well-adjusted” and “maladjusted” persons. The well-adjusted person fares well in the world and generally meets society’s expectations of a good citizen. Some maladjusted people struggle for acceptance and success; others may become reclusive or even antisocial.
Some Christian counselors use the descriptions “well-adjusted” and “maladjusted” to describe types of ﬂeshliness. According to this model, people who are more successful at fulfilling their needs and desires through fleshly ways are said to have “well-adjusted ﬂeshliness,” “positively conditioned ﬂeshliness,” or “positively programmed flesh.” They are said to have experienced little trauma and have received general acceptance in life. Those who fail are said to have “maladjusted fleshliness,” “negatively conditioned fleshliness,” or “negatively programmed fleshliness.” And they are said to have experienced serious trauma and considerable rejection in life.
Let it be clearly understood, however, that Christians are no longer “in the flesh” but are “in the Spirit.” They do not have the flesh nature, but rather the love nature of Christ. So when a believer is referred to as having “flesh,” understand that it is fleshliness or flesh-like condition and function of the heart.
There is some correlation of meaning between “positive fleshliness” and the biblical description of “fat-hearted,” and between “negative fleshliness” and the biblical description of “broken-hearted.”
Some fleshly Christians engage in various forms of self-improvement or behavior modification (sometimes called “flesh management”) in which they attempt, through fleshly and worldly ways, to overcome their “negative programming” and attain more “positive programming.” This is to say they strive to move from negative half-heartedness to positive half-heartedness.
“Positive” in this sense should be clearly understood. Things “positive” are usually considered to be the acceptable norm, but not so in the case of “positive flesh.” Positive and negative fleshliness are both unacceptable and displeasing to God. Whether a Half-Hearted Christian has positive fleshly symptoms or negative ones, he walks the wrong path—in the ways of the flesh, or “according to the flesh”—and certainly does not walk in the Spirit.
Figure 11: The Fruit of the Broken-Hearted Christian.
All Half-Hearted Christians produce “fruit for death,” which has the meaning of “fruit for separation of fellowship with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
There is variation of fruit among the various types of half-hearted Christians. We can see some of these distinctions through comparison. Perhaps the most apparent contrasts are between the Broken-Hearted Christian and the Fat-Hearted Christian.
Whether the Half-Hearted Christian’s behavior and life-style are obviously sinful or appear to be “religious,” “moral,” and “righteous,” his heart is not right with God; he walks according to the flesh, is out of fellowship with God, and all of his apparent “good works” or manifest works are “fruit for death” (Romans 7:5), which is unacceptable to God. Isaiah writes in graphic language that “All our righteous acts [manifest works, independent of God] are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)—that is, as lifeless and worthless as the discharge on a menstrual cloth.
All of us have experienced a “broken heart”—disappointment, sorrow, loss, etc. That does not necessarily make us Broken-Hearted Christians. A Broken-Hearted Christian is one who consistently responds out of a divided heart to negative circumstances in life, in fleshly, Satan-like, sinful, worldly, legalistic or lawless ways.
The Broken-Hearted Christian has experienced trauma, rejection, failure, pain, suffering, sadness, and loss. Nothing he does, as hard as he tries, seems to help. And it seems to him that God does not hear his prayers or does not care about his plight.
Some of the possible effects of the Broken-Hearted Christian’s way of living are indicated in Figure 11. The sin-motivated and fleshly condition of his broken heart contaminate his soul with fleshly, Satan-like, sinful, worldly, legalistic or lawless thoughts, feelings, desires and plans. His behavior may be outright sinful or fleshly attempts to live righteously. But righteousness rooted in the flesh is counterfeit righteousness. This believer’s “fruit” or accomplishments are not love-gifts for God, but sin-debt (defilement or consequences of actual sin) that further divide his heart and strain his fellowship with the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
This believer has been subjected to many lies, deceptions, and fantasies. His memories—and the lies and fantasies associated with them—are like a cancer in his soul that attacks his mind, emotion, and will, and thwarts their proper functioning.
He has distorted concepts of God, self, others, the world in which he lives, and meaning and purpose in life. He may seek to know: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What does the future hold for me?” “Where is God in the middle of my messed-up life and this rotten world?” Emotionally, he may experience self-depreciating feelings of guilt, anxiety, fear, shame, rejection, humiliation, and depression. He quite often sees himself as a failure, worthless, incompetent, and insignificant. In his will, he may harbor desires and intentions that are lustful and perverse. He may blame God for treating him unfairly. And all of this leaves him feeling frustrated, confused, rejected, hopeless, helpless, unloved, and used.
The Broken-Hearted Christian has little trust in God. He chooses to depend on the flesh and the world in getting his needs and desires met. And when such dependency proves to be mostly unsuccessful, he resorts to methods of escapism or coping in order to protect self.
Escape methods might include denial of reality, rejection of the truth of God’s Word, extreme depression out of pain, suffering, loss, self-pity, cover-up, and any number of addictions.
To cope is to attempt to ride out the storm of negative circumstances through one’s own limited strength and resources. Those who attempt to cope utilize defense mechanisms. For example, the coper may be co-dependent and overly submissive to control, manipulation, intimidation, and exploitation by others. He may resort to employing some of those methods himself, along with lying, cheating, stealing, seduction, people-pleasing, temper tantrums, self-pity, escapism, and withdrawal. Some copers may seek outside strength, solace, and pleasure through sinful and harmful behavior such as substance abuse, illicit sex, gluttony, gambling, and death-defying extremist activities.
Such Christians often try to cover-up their shortcomings by attempting to convey the opposite of what is truly going on in their hearts and lives. They may be outspoken against the very addictions or fleshly patterns of functioning and behavior that hold them in conditional bondage. For example, a person who chronically lies may display open contempt toward others who lie, and this in an effort to deceive others into believing that, since he hates lying so much, he surely would not lie himself.
When fleshly coping mechanisms eventually prove to be unsuccessful, a person might simply give up trying. At the depth of brokenness, he loses all hope in himself, his fellow man, and even in God. It is not uncommon for him to think about suicide. Tragically, he does not understand that Christ already died for him and made him a new-hearted, new creature who ontologically, relationally, and positionally, is free and victorious in Christ.
It is both ironic and tragic that many Broken-Hearted Christians strive to become like Fat-Hearted Christians. And the so-called “prosperity gospel” preached in some churches is designed to motivate and teach them how to do it.
Figure 12: The Fruit of the Fat-Hearted Christian.
Fat-Hearted Christians may be successful achievers in the worldly view. They may believe God has rewarded them because they are superior to others, that their works are especially pleasing to God, and that they have higher standing with God. But those are deceptions. God loves all of His children unconditionally and equally, though He disdains fleshly living. Fat-Hearted Christians function out of a fleshly, divided heart, and walk according to the flesh and in the ways of Satan, sin, the world order, legalism or lawlessness.
God regards the achievements of their fleshly living as “fruit for death” (Romans 7:5).
In contrast to the Broken-Hearted Christian, the Fat-Hearted Christian’s life experiences might appear to have been mostly positive, with relatively few and insignificant rejections and soulical trauma. His life and memories are mostly pleasant, and so he is comfortable in his fantasy of self-sufficiency and fleshly manner of living. However, he lives a lie—that his apparently successful way of living must be the “right” way, and even God’s will for him.
As Figure 12 illustrates, the Fat-Hearted Christian experiences mostly “positive” fleshly dysfunctionality in his spiritual heart. Intellectually, he has distorted concepts of God, self, others, and the world around him.
Emotionally, he is generally content, comfortable, secure, self-assured, confident, and competent. Because of his apparent success, he may have prideful and exaggerated feelings of self-strength, self-signiﬁcance, self-righteousness, and self-worthiness. And he believes most people have the same high regard for him that he has for himself. In his will, he may harbor desires and intentions that are lustful and perverse.
The Fat-Hearted Christian’s methods for protecting self and getting ahead may include control, manipulation, intimidation, aggression, assertion, bribery, extortion, lying, cheating, stealing, and so on.
Such sins create “debt” within the soul, and at some point even the Fat-Hearted Christian will begin to experience their negative effects. For example, he may experience anxiety over not having as much wealth as he desires, or over the prospect of possibly losing what he has. And when loss and suffering become intense, that he might become a Broken-Hearted Christian and experience the symptoms of guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, fear, and so on.
Psychosomatic health problems
Half-Hearted Christians of all types may develop psychosomatic health problems—and may even die from their effects. Paul writes that because such people do not rightly examine their spiritual hearts and do not allow the Holy Spirit to intervene and to heal, “many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [have died physically]” (1 Corinthians 11:29, 30).
And so the many lies, deceptions, and fantasies stored in the memory of the Half-Hearted Christian hold him in conditional and functional bondage. He is robbed of his freedom and victory, joy and peace, and other forms of grace and fruitfulness that can only be realized through whole-hearted living.
The Broken and Contrite-Hearted Christian
God allows us to go through one or more varieties of half-heartedness so that we might come to experience a broken and contrite heart. Understand that brokenness alone, caused by trauma, loss and suffering, does not necessarily lead to contriteness. Indeed, some who are broken sink to the depths of despair and fall short of contriteness. But here we are concerned with the Broken and Contrite-Hearted Christian who has a “resolute heart to remain true to the Lord” (Acts 11:23).
The prophet Joel wrote:
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;
And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness
And relenting of evil” (Joel 2:12-13).
When a Christian’s heart arrives at this condition, he is ready to take the first step on the path of wholeheartedness:
He has experienced the insufficiency of self-sufficiency. He has exhausted self’s resources in vain effort to overcome sin in his life and to live the Christian life. It is sometimes said that this believer has “come to the end of self.” His self-pride has given way to humility in view of who he was (a sinner) and who he is (a saint), and who God is. He is compelled by love and humility to be obedient to God’s will.
He accepts personal responsibility for his sins. We sometimes hear it said that, “The Devil made me do it,” “I heard voices telling me to do it,” “I had to choose the lesser of two evils,” and, “I didn’t do it; it was indwelling power of sin in my body.” Such statements reflect fleshliness and a misunderstanding of biblical doctrine. The Broken and Contrite-Hearted Christian, however, makes no such excuses and does not attempt to transfer the blame for sin in his life to someone or something else. He acknowledges to himself and confesses to God that he alone is responsible for his sins.
He experiences contrition. The Broken and Contrite-Hearted Christian is truly humbled and remorseful over his sins, and hungers for experiencing the victory over sin that came to him at the time of his salvation.
David’s kind of brokenness was broken self-will or a “broken spirit.” It occurs at that time in life when a person experiences and acknowledges the insufficiency of self-effort and the self-deception that comes from prideful self-will. Contriteness of heart is God’s desired result of brokenness. It is characteristic of a Christian who has discovered that the road to self-sufficiency leads to a dead-end, and who is humbled by his total dependence on God.
He is portrayed in Scripture as being overcome by the guilt and remorse of sinfulness in his life, and is sincere about repentance. He recognizes his need for conditional cleansing, healing, and renewal; seeks a return to fellowship with God; and desires to totally yield to the will of God. This believer has begun to have a functional change of heart.
He opens his heart to the truth. He seeks to learn and experience truth, freedom, and righteousness in Christ.
He desires a pure heart—to be conditionally cleansed and functionally healed of sin-debt: sinful thoughts, painful and bitter memories, fleshly motives, feelings of emptiness, guilt, shame, lustful desires, and so on.
He seeks to experientially know Christ as life. This believer has come to a place in life where his love and need for God compel him to place Christ at the center of his life, so that he will experientially know Christ as life. David wrote that, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17). This believer is ready to experience the fellowship of Jesus. He desires to walk in the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, and to be conformed to the functional likeness of Christ.
He is ready to surrender self-will for God’s will. This believer’s self-will has been broken—crushed, shattered, and pulverized. Having experienced the humiliation of fleshly bankruptcy, his heart is prepared to totally surrender self-will, and he humbly seeks to know and to do God’s will.
He is on the path to learn what Jesus learned from suffering: “He [Jesus] learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
Paul writes of the broken and contrite heart in his second letter to the Corinthians: “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God.... For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret...” (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10a).
Figure 13" The Whole-Hearted Christian.
God wants all of His Half-Hearted children to experience a functional change of heart. The process begins when we humbly surrender our broken and contrite heart to God out of faith, hope, and love for Him, and begin to actually walk in Christ and depend wholly on His sufficiency.
Ontologically, relationally, and positionally, the Whole-Hearted Christian is no different from the Half-Hearted Christian. Both are of the Tree of Life—the Family Tree of Jesus—and, as such, are in God’s realm of light. Both are new-hearted, new creatures in Christ. The differences between the two have to do with the condition or mode of their hearts, and the ways in which they function and behave. The Half-Hearted Christian, in varying degrees, lives as if he were a natural creature, while the Whole-Hearted Christian has, as Paul writes, has functionally “put on” the new heart.
If that’s confusing, here’s an analogy that might give some clarity: You receive a new coat for Christmas. You possess it—you have it. You have two choices: You can continue to wear an old coat or you can choose to put on the new coat.
“And so,” writes Paul, “as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bear with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).
A functional change of heart
The Whole-Hearted Christian has “put on” a new heart—has experienced, and is experiencing, a functional change of heart and all that comes with it: intimate fellowship with Jesus and the wonderful blessings of the abundant life He promised. This believer wholeheartedly walks in truth and does what is good in the sight of God (see 2 Kings 20:3). This is sometimes referred to as “knowing” or “experiencing Christ as life.”
In the New Testament, “repent” (metanoeo) and “repentance” (metanoia) find their meaning in a functional change of heart (though a change of heart involves more than repentance). Repentance is the radical transformation of the functioning of the heart’s mind, emotion, and will. Faith without repentance is not biblical faith at all, for “faith without works is useless (James 2:20).
Repentance is two things. First, it is turning away from sin—mentally, emotionally, and volitionally. In deed, when a Christian sins, repentance must necessarily follow; and, second, repentance is to truly love God and others.
Sin functionally divides the heart, and love functionally unites it. For as light disperses darkness, so does love disperse sin.
Wholeheartedness is a superior way of life for the Christian—the way of living in Christ, and experiencing Christ living in and through one’s life.
The Christian with a whole heart is one who, out of the promised “new spirit” of love (Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Timothy 1:7), has undergone a functional change of heart. He has positively responded to God’s desire for him to “Give Me your heart, My son, and let your eyes delight in My ways” (Proverbs 23:26). He is experiencing true fellowship with God because love has functionally set him free from pridefulness and other actual sins, and their resulting separation of fellowship with God.
The Whole-Hearted Christian has forsaken fleshly, worldly, and sinful living. He has conditionally and functionally “crucified the flesh” (Galatians 5:24) and is living as a “new creature in Christ,” whose spiritual and loving bearings unite his soul with his spirit and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Through wholeness of heart, a person with its love-united soul and spirit functions “in Christ” and “in the Spirit.”
A whole heart is a healed or healing heart
Most of us, in various ways and degrees, have experienced a wounded or broken heart. The Whole-Hearted Christian has been, or is being, healed of any such wounds. God has promised all of His children: “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15b).
David and Isaiah testified to God’s love for the broken-hearted believer and His desire to heal their wounds: "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed [contrite] in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).
"He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3).
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
The purposes of our being healed are to promote wholeheartedness—to be more consistently loving God, yielding to Him, and walking in fellowship with Him out of loving obedience from the heart.
“They will return to Me with their whole heart”
It is God’s desire that all of His children will fellowship with Him out of a whole heart and live whole-heartedly for Him. Long ago, God promised and prophesied:
“I will give them [His children] a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to [fellowship with] Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7).
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit [of love] within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). The Apostle Peter assures us that God has fulfilled His promises to us: “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and Godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature...” (2 Peter 1:3, 4).
There is much evidence in Scripture that God has fulfilled His promise of a new heart, a new spirit of love, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Perhaps the most complete and concise statement to this effect is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, in which he prays that God will grant to them “to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
God made us new-hearted, new creatures to serve as the sanctuary or holy place for His Spirit. Through the Spirit, Christ’s eternal life was made our life. And through Christ’s indwelling Spirit and our shared life with Him, He lives His life in us (Galatians 2:20).
Figure 14: The Fruit of the Whole-Hearted Christian
The Whole-Hearted Christian walks in the Spirit out of whole-hearted (love-motivated) obedience from the heart (Romans 6:17), and produces “fruit for God” (Romans 7:4) through his inner-man functioning and outer-man behavior. Because he walks in the Spirit, he walks in the ways of God, God’s love, God’s Kingdom, and God’s grace. He enjoys close fellowship with the indwelling Spirit of Christ, and is cooperating with Him in the joint process of being functionally conformed to the likeness of Christ.
Now, let’s turn to the teaching of Jesus on the subject of producing fruit for God. We begin with His parable of the vine and the branches.
The vine and the branches
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:1-7).
“By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:8-11).
Loving each other
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:12-17). Our behavior is governed by the condition and functioning of our heart.
Figure 15: The dynamics of a whole heart—one that is functionally united, soul with spirit, and operates in harmony with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
When our hearts are whole and we walk in the Spirit and are filled by the Spirit, the gift of God’s love is poured out within hearts through His Spirit (Romans 5:5). “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22), and when love is manifested in and through us, we produce the fruit of love for God, for ourselves, and for others:
1. The fruit of joy is the loving heart’s strength in Christ.
2. The fruit of peace is the loving heart’s security in Christ.
3. The fruit of patience is the loving heart’s endurance in Christ.
4. The fruit of kindness is the loving heart’s conduct in Christ.
5. The fruit of goodness is the loving heart’s character in Christ.
6. The fruit of faithfulness is the loving heart’s confidence in Christ.
7. The fruit of gentleness is the loving heart’s humility in Christ.
8. The fruit of self-control is the loving heart’s victory in Christ.
9. In summary, the fruit of love is the loving heart’s freedom in Christ. The spirit of life in Christ set us free from the principle of sin and death (Romans 8:2)—ontologically, relationally, and positionally—at the time of and since our Savior’s crucifixion and resurrection. In the very practical matters of our everyday lives, the spirit of life in Christ also sets us free from the principle of sin and death (separation of fellowship with Christ)—if we function out of a whole heart. If we do not live wholeheartedly, we risk conditional and functional enslavement to Satan, sin, the world, and the law.
Because the Whole-Hearted Christian is motivated by love, the following statements can be made that characterize his life and life-style:
He is growing spiritually—is being functionally conformed to the holiness of Christ.
He is growing in his ability to know the mind of Christ and to think as Christ thinks.
He experiences Christ’s peace and joy, and is learning to respond to circumstances with Christlike feelings.
He experiences diminishing fleshly desires and increasing new desires that correspond with the will of God.
He experiences victories over the flesh, Satan, sin, and the world order.
He walks in grace, is lovingly obedient from the heart, and thus fulfills the law.
He responds to the Great Commission by helping find Christ’s lost sheep and discipling them.
He builds up the body of Christ through discipling, intercessory prayer, and many other practical ways of ministering to their needs.
He magnifies the glory of God through his holy life, life-style, behavior and works.
Our new hearts make us capable of loving God and others as ourselves. This is because we are partakers of the divine nature, of which love is a chief attribute. This “new spirit” empowers us with the motivational principle of love so that love will be dynamic in our relationship with God as well as with others. Without this new spirit of love, the soul could never be functionally united with the spirit, and thus could not operate in harmony with the Spirit of Christ.
When we live whole-heartedly we are always in a state of becoming more and more functionally conformed to the holiness of Christ Jesus. We come to live more in Him and see more of Him in ourselves.
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