Whenever you see the word “heart” in your Bible, you can be certain of one thing: the majority of times it is discussed in scripture, the discourse surrounding it is NOT talking about the vital organ beating inside you. In New Testament context especially, where the original word used is the Greek “kardia,” which refers to both the organ and the “thoughts or feelings (mind).” The Greeks used this term because they associated the physical organ as the seat of life within a living thing, and so the literal heart became forever tied to the center point of life in us.
The Bible has A LOT to say about the heart, but most notably and most often overlooked by the casual reader is the emphasized point that the heart isn’t just what means you are alive, but it is the origin point for the type and quality of life we live. Jesus said it like this in Mark 7:
“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders…
All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
Mark 7:15, 21, 23 KJV
In simpler language, Jesus was facing a culture whose religious elite focused the majority of their time and attention on the visible things: their appearance, their cleanliness, their public service. They religiously washed their hands because their elders commanded it, not because God had. They would publicly tout their charitable donations and even stand in the midst of an assembly and pray loudly and boastfully for all to hear. They were broadcasting their goodness publicly and conspiring to or just straight up committing sin in private. They were putting on the show, but their hearts, the focal point of life, was for them, far from God.
Jesus notoriously brought this to their attention. What He was trying to communicate to unhearing ears, was that their public religious life was “good” in human terms, but it was not and never would be good ENOUGH to get them from their sinful life into relationship with a holy God. The enemy had contaminated their heart, the middle of them, the seat of life in them, and they were entirely clueless about it! Jesus came and exposed the tactic of the devil in their lives and blasted them with the truth that their hearts were distant from God, so everything else was superficial.
But why does the devil want your heart, the seat of life in you? According to scripture, the workings of your heart has a HUGE impact on every area of your life! A few vital examples are:
Sin begins in the heart of a person (Mark 7:15, 21-23; previously mentioned).
The contents of our hearts come out of our mouths in the form of our words (Matthew 12:34-35).
Our heart shapes how we perceive ourselves (Proverbs 23:7).
Our heart shapes how others perceive us; they see our fruit and know us (Matthew 7:18-20).
Our heart determines our values, or what is treasure (valuable) to us (Matthew 6:21).
Our heart is the point of contact between us and Jesus, where He encounters us with the good news of His sacrifice and subsequent free gift (Romans 10:10).
Why does the devil target your heart? Simply put: If he can get your heart, he will effectively influence every avenue of your existence. We cannot afford to remain ignorant to his devices!