THE MAIN PART RELATED TO THE INNER LIFE BEING THE HEART
The inward parts are not a concept we invented. This term is mentioned in the Scriptures, specifically in Jeremiah 31:33 (King James Version) and Psalm 51:6. Within our body we have a spirit and a soul; these are the two main parts. However, the main part related to the inner life is neither the spirit nor the soul but the heart. The relationship between us and God does not depend firstly on our spirit or our soul but on our heart. The heart is neither the spirit nor the soul, nor is it separate from the spirit or the soul. Rather, the heart is a composition of the three parts of the soul and one of the functions of the spirit: the mind, will, and emotion plus the conscience. Therefore, the heart is almost a composition of the spirit and the soul, but not exactly. All three parts of the soul are in the heart, and one part of the spirit is also in the heart.
The relationship we have with God first depends on the heart, because the heart is the very organ by which we express ourselves and by which we make decisions to receive or reject things. The heart controls these things, so the heart is the guard to the being, the person. The main entrance of a building is its guard, controlling what should remain outside or what should come in. In the same way, our heart is our guard. It is the entrance into ourselves. Whatever goes out or comes in does so through our heart. There is at least one verse in the Scriptures that tells us this. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, / For from it are the issues of life.” This can also be translated as, “Guard your heart.” The issues of life are the flowing out of life. By this verse we can realize that the heart is the entrance, the guard, of our whole being. We believe in the Lord Jesus, but by what organ do we believe? It is by the heart (Rom. 10:10), because the heart is the organ we use to make a decision, to reject or receive something.
The heart, I say again, is our guard. Ezekiel 36:26 says that at the time of our conversion, God renewed our heart. In God’s salvation, in His way of conversion, the first part within us He recovered and touched was not the spirit but the heart; then the spirit follows. In verse 26 there is first the heart and then the spirit. The heart is the first thing God must deal with and touch. The first thing we touch when we come to a building is the entrance; we have to find a way to get through the entrance. In the same way, God must deal with us to open an entrance to Himself. What is the entrance? It is the heart. When God comes to deal with us, it is first to deal with our heart.
THE FOUR STEPS OF GOD’S DEALING WITH THE HEART
First, God Touching the Mind
As we have seen, the heart is of four parts: the mind, will, emotion, and conscience. When God comes to deal with us in our heart, what part does He touch first? The first message, the first word of the gospel of the New Testament, is “repent” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). In Greek, repent is metanoeo, meaning to change the mind. You have to change your mind. In God’s dealing with us, the first thing within us that He touches is the mind. He enlightens the mind. This is why we need to preach the gospel. Second Corinthians 4:4 says, “In whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelievers that the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine on them.” The god of this age has blinded not the will, emotion, or conscience, but the thoughts, the mind. Then verse 6 says, “Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” By these two verses we know that God shines in our heart through our mind. We may compare ourselves to a camera, our mind to the lens, and our heart to the film; in addition, Christ is the figure before the camera and God is the light. The light from the figure (Christ) comes to the film (our heart) firstly through the lens (our mind). Once when I traveled on a train, I took some pictures with a camera. However, I did not get anything because I was hurried and did not take the cover off the lens. This illustrates how Satan blinds the mind.
The mind is the first thing God touches. That is why we have to preach the gospel. To preach the gospel is to give knowledge to the minds of people, to enlighten their minds. If someone is in darkness, he cannot turn to God and he cannot be touched by God. We must be brought under the knowledge of God by the preaching of the gospel.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)