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The Heart of Christian Living Part 2: Key Old Testament “Heart“ Verses – Prophetic Literature

In this blog series we're focusing on the word “heart,” an important and often used word in the Bible. I include some of the key verses that make important points for our Christian living from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

According to Dr. Waltke, “’Heart’ (leb/lebab) is the most important anthropological term in the Old Testament . . . but the English language has no equivalent. It occurs 46 times in Proverbs and 858 times in the Old Testament” (2004, 90).

Jeremiah 17:9-10: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

“The severity of the heart’s problems of deceit is revealed in Jeremiah’s words. . . . Moreover, according to Jeremiah, the depth of this illness can never be plumbed by the person himself or any other human. Only the Lord, the searcher of human hearts, fully knows it” (Saucy, 2013, 55).

Jeremiah 31:31-33: “’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, thought I was a husband to them.’ Declares the Lord. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” (This passage is cited in Hebrews 8:8-12.)

Ezekiel 11:19: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from then their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Ezekiel 36:26-27: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

At the last supper, Jesus proclaimed that he was bringing into existence this New Covenant in his sacrifice, death, and resurrection, “In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:30; 1 Cor 11:25).

Deep spiritual formation requires that we attend to the core of our self—our heart—and yield to God’s good work within.

Next blog - Part 3: Key New Testament “Heart” Verses - Jesus’ Teaching in the Gospels


Saucy, Robert L. 2013. Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation. Grand Rapids: Kregel.

Waltke, Bruce K. 2004. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, NICOT. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Bible quotations are from the NIV: New International Version.

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