To justify their beliefs people try to make the mind and the heart get into a spiritual fight. You begin to talk to them about what the word of God teaches concerning salvation and other issues but when they don’t like what they hear or see, they quickly turn and say, “You are teaching that God’s word is written only in biblical text and can only be known through reading of that text” or something else to that effect. They attempt to say that one’s heart (which can be thoroughly confused) knows better than what one plainly reads with the eyes (which can be rightly divided through study – 2 Timothy 2:15).
Now I will be first to say that God’s word simply memorized does an individual no good! The devil quoted scripture to Jesus after all. And Jesus quoted previously recorded scripture when He condemned those who were near to God with words on the lip but far away in the heart in Mark 7:6-8. So, God’s word must be planted within our heart just as the parable of the sower teaches in Luke 8. But what people who rely upon the “heart overruling the mind” miss in that parable (and the rest of God’s word) is that it is the word of God that stirs/begins the growth process in the heart. The heart can have good soil, which is essential, but good soil doesn’t produce seed or a crop by itself – it allows the seed to grow to produce the crop. In Mark 7 it was the emotions of the people in their hard hearts that steered them away from keeping God’s word in their heart. If we want to please God we must do so by allowing His word to get our hearts and minds on the same page.
People who rely solely upon emotions for a right relationship with God are trusting the weight of their soul to an undependable structure. Paul said in Romans 10:1-3, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (emphasis mine). The Jewish people had a heart for God, but their heart lacked a proper knowledge of God! Now how were they missing God’s righteousness? They were missing God’s righteousness because they rejected the knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel. In the same letter to the church at Rome, Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 – emphasis mine). If you, through faith, desire to do God’s righteousness in the heart, it will be because you have been exposed to it through His word (Romans 10:17).
Topics like this are frustrating because when a person reads about God putting His law into our hearts (Hebrews 8:10) they try to use that as a justification to avoid what the word teaches and that just simply is not true. God desires that we allow His law to grow continually in our hearts, but sadly, what people miss is that before that can happen we must learn what the law says to begin with! That’s why the very next verse (8:11) in Hebrews says, “And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest” meaning that, unlike the previous covenant that people were a part of simply by being born (Hebrews 8:9), God’s law and covenant with the church is entered into when a person is born again into it through the new birth that comes from hearing the gospel, believing the gospel and obeying the gospel (John 3:3-5, Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
When one rejects the knowledge of God’s word for the “knowledge/emotions” of one’s own heart they are following the same path that God warned His people about in Hosea 4:6 when He said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.”
Head knowledge and heart feelings are not meant to be enemies when it comes to God’s word. There is no way to be saved other than by believing the gospel with our heart (Romans 10:9-10), but our heart must be taught what to believe (Romans 10:14-15). Salvation isn’t about a fight between our heart and mind, it’s about stopping our fight against God and submitting to His revealed will so we can reveal His will in us (Romans 12:1-2).
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30)