Heart Belief Not Changed by Intellect
“I know it’s not true, but it still feels true.”
- Mind renewal is not about adding biblical knowledge to our intellect; it is about the Spirit replacing the lies we believe in our hearts with His truth. “…purify your hearts you double-minded…” (Ja. 4:8)
- The truth that people receive during a ministry session it isn’t revelatory —as in God speaking a new truth— but rather, an illumination of the truth that God has already made known in His written Word.
- Heart belief is the seat of our emotions whereas, intellectual belief does not produce any feelings. We feel whatever we believe in our hearts.
- We all have lie-based heart beliefs that wield great influence over what we do, while the intellectual truth we know may have little impact.
- Heart belief will always override our intellectual belief.
Mind renewal is not about adding biblical knowledge to our intellect; it is about the Spirit replacing the lies we believe in our hearts with His truth. James the Apostle declared, “…purify your hearts you double-minded…” (Ja. 4:8) Most of the time, we are intellectually aware of the truth already; we just didn’t believe it in our hearts. More often than not, the truth realized in a ministry session a very simple, such as, “I love you,” “You have value to Me,” “You aren’t in that danger any more,” “You’re safe now,” “You have My acceptance. You don’t need theirs.” The truth that people receive truth during a ministry session it isn’t revelatory —as in God speaking a new truth— but rather, an illumination of the truth that God has already made known in His written Word. Some understand this experience to be God moving the truth we believe in our heads down into our hearts.
So we see that people typically already know the truth intellectually before the Spirit illuminates it in their hearts. The distinction here is between what we know is true, and what feels true. Just because I can quote the biblical truths “God loves me,” “He is my provider,” and “I am protected by Him,” this doesn’t mean they are my heart beliefs or feel true to me. If the truth doesn’t feel true, then it is not a heart belief. The reason for this is that heart belief is the seat of our emotions. We feel whatever we believe in our hearts. Intellectual belief does not produce any feelings, but our heart belief does. People often say, “I know it’s not true, but it still feels true that…”. In other words, “I believe it in my mind, but my heart is contrary.”
For example: a woman I prayed with expressed a great concern about feeling “dirty” when she thought about the sexual abuse she had experienced as a child. In her mind she knew that what happened to her was not her fault, that she was an innocent child, and that she bore none of the shame of the experience. Nevertheless, she was a compulsive hand washer—washing her hands many times every day– and bleached her house regularly. She said she did this to help reduce the “nasty” feelings she felt inside. (Click here to learn more about SOLUTIONS.)
I asked her why she felt the way she did, and she could not come up with any logical or rational explanation for her feelings. She knew they were illogical and irrational and that there was no reason to feel what she did, but she could not make her feelings change. She also knew it was illogical to compulsively wash, but she could not refrain from doing it.
She was confused as to how she could know the truth in her head and yet be so controlled by what she felt. Even though she knew the truth with her intellect, she still believed something else in her heart that was causing her to feel bad.
During her TPM session, the Spirit provided her with His perspective concerning what had happened to her, and the truth about her current state of being. Immediately all of her shameful and dirty feelings lifted. She left that ministry session walking in a new freedom. When her heart belief was changed, her emotions also changed, and her obsessive and compulsive hand washing stopped.
What was true for this woman is true for all of us. We all have lie-based heart beliefs that wield great influence over what we do, while the intellectual truth we know may have little impact. For example, it is probably safe to say that most of us believe that God is truly the provider for all our needs, and that He is faithful to take care of us. If indeed we believe this truth, then why do so many of us feel stressed and worried over our finances? It is because we feel whatever we really believe, and our heart belief will always override our intellectual belief.
More Knowledge will not Change Heart Belief.
- Double-mindedness is holding an intellectual belief that is contrary to what is believed with the heart.
- It is impossible to hold two opposing heartbeliefs at the same time, or to hold two opposing intellectual beliefs at the same time. One will always cancel out the other.
- If we believe lies in our heart, piling intellectual truth on top of our lie-based heart belief will have no impact on that belief. What we believe with the heart will always prevail.
- Intellectual belief is a precursor to heart belief. I need to “hear” the truth with my mind, so that I may “believe it” with my heart. “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?…”(Rom. 10:14).
As you may have already read many times throughout this training, double mindedness is the act of holding two or more opposing beliefs at the same time. Another way to describe it is holding an intellectual belief that is contrary to what is believed with the heart (i.e. heart belief). For example: someone may believe the truth of the Bible passage, where Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us, when He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age…” (Matt. 28:20). But at the same time that person may also feel alone and abandoned by God. This is double mindedness.
Though it IS possible to hold an intellectual belief that is contrary to a heart belief, it is impossible to hold two opposing heart beliefs at the same time, or to hold two opposing intellectual beliefs at the same time. One will always cancel out the other.
We cannot believe that 2+2=4 and also believe that 2+2=6 at the same time. One belief will cancel out the other. Likewise, we cannot believe with the heart that God loves us and also believe that He hates us, or that He is our provider and also believe that He is not, or that He is with us always and also believe that He has abandoned us. We can believe one or the other with our hearts, but never both.
If I believe a lie in my heart, no amount of intellectual truth will sway it. Once I believe the falsehood, it becomes my truth and I am unable to embrace an opposing heart belief. The good news is that God can shine His light of truth into my heart and dispel the lie-based darkness. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6 KJV 2000). When the lie is displaced, the new heart belief can find residence.
Because this is a principle, we have assurance that when we know the truth in our heart, we can never believe something contrary to this truth. Heart belief brings about an effortless victory when we know the truth. If we believe lies in our heart, piling intellectual truth on top of our lie-based heart belief will have no impact on that belief. What we believe with the heart will always prevail.
This is not to say that growing in the knowledge of intellectual truth will not be beneficial, for indeed it will. Our biblical knowledge provides God more to work with as He seeks to refine our faith and renew our minds. As we are journeying through this life with God, His Scriptures are the primary language He will use to communicate with us. When I know the truth of the Scriptures with my mind, it becomes available for God to utilize.
Learning the truth with my mind is also a precursor for much of the heart belief He desires me to have. I need to “hear it” with my mind, so that I may “believe it” with my heart. As the Apostle said, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?…” (Rom. 10:14). So we see that hearing, or intellectually knowing, often precedes heart belief. However, truth held only in the mind is intellectual and will not transform our lives. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew the Scriptures intellectually, but did not know them in their hearts.
Intellectual Belief is a beginning point, but it will not produce transformation alone.
People commonly try to fix the problems caused by their lie-based heart belief by learning more intellectual truth. Many of us assume that more Bible knowledge will result in more freedom. Although we increase our intellectual belief through studying the Bible, going to seminars, and memorizing Scriptures, the lie-based heart belief remains, and problems continue to follow.
This is because it is possible to fill our minds with an intellectual understanding of the truth without knowing it in our hearts. Here again, this is the state of being double minded (Jam 1:8). Bible study and Christian education are still very important. However, unless the Spirit illuminates the truth we hold intellectually, it remains mere knowledge. Even the most wicked of sinners can become Bible smart, but they are not transformed by it. Transformation follows believing the truth that God has illuminated within our hearts. This is a work of God and not an intellectual accomplishment.
Since we cannot hold opposing heart beliefs at the same time, we need God to reveal His perspective so that our lie-based heart perspective might be replaced. No one (not even we ourselves) can expel the lies we believe in our hearts. When we bring the lies we harbor into His light, the Lord will grant us His truth which will replace our lie-based belief.
Heart Belief is Static. Intellectual Belief is Easy to Change.
- Changing intellectual belief is easily accomplished by simply bringing accurate and corrective information that convinces me of the error of my thinking, whereas heart belief is not so easily swayed.
- God is able to change our heart belief by providing us with new heart belief, which dislodges the lies we harbored. God can open the eyes of a person’s heart and bring about instantaneous transformation in belief.
- Because we can correct each other’s intellectual belief, the Scripture can be used for this very purpose: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…”(2 Tim. 3:16).
- During a ministry session a ministry facilitator does not need to share the truth with the person, tell them what they think God wants them to know, or give their personal opinion or insight.
- It is crucial for the ministry facilitator to know that he or she cannot illuminate truth in a person’s heart.
Intellectual belief is easy to replace when we are offered new information that is corrective and plausible, whereas our heart belief is not. The latter is like experiential belief or what we believe happened that is fixed and steadfast and nearly impossible to sway. For example, I might wrongly believe with my intellect that John 16:3 says, “For God so loved His Son that He gave His only begotten world.” But you could easily correct me by opening up the Bible to John 3:16, and then I would believe with my mind that the correct verse is true. However, if I don’t believe this verse with my heart, no change will occur in my life. I may intellectually believe that the Bible is true and yet believe that God does not love me and my sins are too great to be covered by His redemption.
Changing intellectual belief is easily accomplished by simply bringing accurate and corrective information that convinces me of the error of my thinking, whereas heart belief is not so easily swayed. No matter how accurate or convincing your intellectual persuasive information might be, I will not be moved. Heart belief will always over ride intellectual belief when they are in conflict. I will continue to believe what I believe in my heart, because it was born out of my experience. When something happened in my life, I came to an understanding of why it happened, and then I interpreted it. My interpretation is my heart belief. Your opinion—no matter how accurate and true it may be—will not sway me. This is based upon the principle we call “Truth and Authority Principle.”
God is able to change our heart belief by providing us with new heart belief, which dislodges the lies we harbored. On some rare occasions, heart belief can be swayed through life experiences that challenge our lie-based thinking. For example, when we express love toward others who believe lies about their value and worth, our genuine concern can sometimes change their lie-based heart beliefs in noticeable ways. Bringing about heart change in these cases usually requires much time and consistency, but it is possible. On the other hand, God can open the eyes of a person’s heart and bring about instantaneous transformation in belief.
Does this mean that we need not bother trying to teach the truth to someone who believes lies? Not at all. We are expected to call one another to account, to teach and instruct one another. Because we can correct each other’s intellectual belief, the Scripture can be used for this very purpose: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:16). All of these things listed here have to do with correcting intellectual belief and not heart belief. We just must never forget that God is the only one who can change our heart belief. We can correct each other’s intellectual error, but we cannot talk each other out of what we harbor in our hearts, but God can and is very willing.
We can teach, reprove, correct, and train one another using the Bible. We can educate one another by teaching what the Bible says. If someone is living in a manner that is contrary to the Bible, we can reprove them with the Scriptures. If someone is in error about what they believe the Scriptures say, we can correct them and train them to live out the truths contained there. However, when it comes to illuminating what the Scriptures say and bringing about a heart-believed understanding of the truth, only God can do this.
There is never a time during a TPM session when the facilitator needs to try to tell the person the truth. It goes without saying, there are other ministry contexts where teaching and instruction in the Scriptures is exactly what needs to happen. However, during a TPM session the Spirit is the dispenser of truth and not the ministry facilitator. It is crucial for the ministry facilitator to know that he or she cannot illuminate truth in a person’s heart. This is not their role. We can communicate information to the mind, but we cannot speak truth to the heart of a person.
Someone might disagree and say that when a preacher proclaims the Word, he is speaking to the hearts of his listeners. Not so. He is speaking to their minds. If the truth reaches their hearts, it is because the Spirit brings it about. Otherwise why would the apostle Paul pray, “…[may the] God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, …give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…” (Eph. 1:17-18 ASV)?
Why didn’t Paul just speak this truth directly to their hearts? After he wrote sixteen Spirit-packed verses, he then prayed this prayer. He knew that even though it was written down and would later be proclaimed in their midst, only God could bring about the illumination needed. Only He could open the eyes of their hearts so they might see.
So then, there is a time and place for teaching and instruction in the Word, but it is not in a TPM session. The facilitator does not need to share the truth with the person. They don’t need to tell them what they think God wants them to know, or give their personal opinion or insight. The TPM session is the person’s personal journey with the Lord.
Trust the process (and the Lord even more) and use the “MAP” to determine where you are and what question you need to ask.