Q. I need your help to refute a charge an atheist has brought against the Bible. He claims the Bible says we “think with our hearts.” He claims approximately 920 verses say that we think with our hearts. Is he right? Does the Bible claim we think with our hearts? Isn’t it our soul that guides our actions?
A. I’m often amazed to see the arguments some “atheists” use against the Bible. God created our heart to pump blood, and our brain to think. In many cultures, the heart symbolizes the seat of emotion. Thinking with our heart means thinking emotionally, based on our feelings. It’s not to be taken literally, any more than being heartbroken over a failed love affair means the blood pump in our chest no longer works.
When Jeremiah 17:9 says that man’s heart is incurably wicked, it means that when we act on our feelings, we will almost invariably do something that’s opposed to God’s will for us. And when David asked the Lord to create in Him a pure heart (Psalm 51:10) he was asking for the ability to always do God’s will for Him, because only God’s motives are pure.
The hardest habit to acquire as believers is learning to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and make “contrary to feelings” choices, deciding to act out of God’s will instead of self-interest, jealously, revenge, etc.
When we stop acting on the basis of our own feelings, and start following the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we discover that we’re happier and much more fruitful because we’re drawing closer to Jesus. And that’s right where we want to be.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephes. 4:22-24).