Heart Belief Supersedes Intellectual Belief
“… to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,…”
- In the context of TPM, Faith is defined as “believing the truth with the heart with absolute certainty.”
- Faith —heart belief— can only be experienced when God grants us the truth and persuades us to believe it.
- Heart belief supersedes knowledge.
- We may know the Scriptures intellectually —as can any unbeliever— but only God can grant us faith to believe the truth with our hearts.
- We invest an enormous amount of time and energy trying to conform ourselves to the truth rather than allowing the truth to transform us into it’s image.
- Our behavior is an accurate reflection of what we believe, but not all “good” behavior is necessarily based upon the truth.
- It takes no more effort to live out the truth we believe in our hearts than it does to live out the lies: It is the exact same process.
- Bearing fruit is effortless because it is His fruit and not our own.
- The fruit is not a “to-do” list, but a “to-be” list.
In other articles in this training we have defined faith as “believing the truth with the heart with absolute certainty.” It is the “assurance of things hoped for (not hoping for something) … and conviction of things not seen (not a blind faith)..” (Heb. 11:1). When what we say we believe does not feel absolutely true, then it is not heart belief. We always feel whatever we believe with the heart. This is how God designed it and there is no work-a-round. However, this is good, because when we know the truth with the heart, it will feel true, and no one (not even ourselves) can ever talk us out of it.
We cannot produce heart belief ourselves.
This level of knowing and believing the truth is not something that we can bring about on our own. We can increase in knowledge of the truth, but we cannot arrive at heart belief apart from the Spirit granting it. Trying harder to believe or telling ourselves the truth over and over will not do. Faith —heart belief— can only be experienced when God grants us the truth and persuades us to believe it. This is why the Apostle Paul prayed, “… [May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory… give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. [May] … the eyes of your heart … be enlightened, SO THAT you will know what is the hope of His calling…” (Eph. 1:17-18) Unless God does this, we cannot know the truth beyond our intellect.
So we see then that Faith is believing the truth with the heart as opposed to believing it with our intellect. We can intellectually know the truth, but apart from God revealing the truth to our hearts, we cannot know it in faith. It was belief with the heart (faith) that resulted in our salvation, and it is through this same heart belief (faith) that we are to live out our lives in Christ. The Bible brings this to light where it says if you “… believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…” (Rom. 10:9); and “… as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord [by faith], so walk in Him…” (Col. 2:6); and “… I have been crucified with Christ (death) the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). An unbeliever cannot do what this passage proclaims, but then too, many believers are not. Notice the only thing that the believer is to do in this passage is die and believe.
There is nothing more frustrating than to know the truth with our intellect, and yet not be able to walk in it. The reason for this is we do not believe it with the heart. We see this played out in a sundry of ways. For example, most believers would say that they believe that God would never forsake them and yet find themselves feeling alone and crying out asking “Where are you God?” Most believers can quote the Bible passage that says, “My God will supply all of your needs…” (Phil. 4:19) and yet still worry over their finances. There is a disconnect here.
We can know the truth with our intellect and yet not believe it in the heart. Again, the answer is not telling ourselves the truth, reminding ourselves of what we already know, or even trying harder to believe. Unless the Spirit persuades us of the truth in our hearts, we cannot believe it.
Heart belief (faith) supersedes what we can believe with our intellect. This truth is expressed in the following passage that encourages us to “… know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). We can intellectually know all about the love of Christ, and yet not know this truth in our heart. For love and fear cannot coexist. If I feel afraid then I do not believe in my heart that God loves me perfectly since, “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 Jo. 4:18) Feeling afraid brings God’s love into question or otherwise I would not be fearful. How can I feel afraid if I know that God loves me?
Heart belief is granted by God and is not something that we can bring about ourselves since heart belief supersedes knowledge. We may know the Scriptures intellectually —as can any unbeliever— but only God can grant us faith to believe the truth with our hearts. A good question to ask ourselves as we are trying to believe the truth, live it out, or attempting to act more like Jesus is, “Is what I am doing, something that an unbeliever could do if he set his mind to doing it?” If it is, then something is amiss.
Because we need God’s Spirit to convince and persuade us of these realities in our hearts, we should pray as Paul the Apostle prayed, that God “… may give to [us] a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him…that the eyes of [our] heart may be enlightened, so that [we] will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph. 1:17-18).
Any of us can increase our knowledge of the truth through choosing to learn it, but it is the Holy Spirit that illuminates it in our hearts. Did you notice that there is a difference between what God is doing in this passage and what we are expected to do? Too often we are more invested in trying to do something for God than we are in submitting to the work that God is trying to do in us. We invest an enormous amount of time and energy trying to conform ourselves to the truth and fail to allow the truth to transform us into it’s image. God is not interested in our ardent efforts in conformity, but only in the transformation that He brings about. There is a major difference in the two.
The illumination of truth is a work of God, not something we can make happen. He is the granter of truth, and we are the receivers. Trying harder to believe brings no benefit. God must “open the eyes of our hearts” and grant us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation.” Jesus made this know to us when He said, “…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13)
When we know the truth with our hearts, our behavior will follow.
If we are in Christ and Christ is in us, any stumbling we may experience in our walk is not because we are crippled, but only because we do not know (in faith) the truth of our restoration and completeness in Him. When I know the truth of this in my heart, my behavior will transform to match it. Our behavior is an accurate reflection of what we believe, but not all “good” behavior is necessarily based upon the truth. In the same way that it takes no effort to live out the lies that we believe (but rather, we struggle to not carry them out), even so, when we believe the truth in our hearts we will walk in it. It is the exact same process.
Too often our good performance is not flowing from the truth we believe in our hearts, but rather our “good works” are our best efforts to compensate for the lies we believe about being worthless, defective, unlovable, etc. Our spiritual service may be driven by our vain attempt to gain others’ approval, applause, and affirmation so that we can suppress the bad way we feel.
As we come into the experiential knowledge of who and what we are in Christ, our walk straightens out. God has not called us to a “do-it-yourself” conformity, but rather to a God-effected transformation. Conformity is our attempt at controlling our behavior, whereas transformation is solely a work of God. Trying to achieve something through controlled behavior and self-effort is essentially what followers of all other world religions seek to accomplish.
The focus of TPM is not on performance or on overcoming something through grit and determination. Rather, its focus is on identifying the lie-based belief that is hindering a person from being transformed and bearing the fruit of the Spirit. This is why the Scriptures say, “… do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2). When the Spirit persuades our hearts of the truth we can expect transformation to follow. Transformation is not outcome of increasing our Bible knowledge, working hard to live like Jesus or suppressing and denying what we feel. Transformation is solely a work of God.
God is not invested in behavioral modification or cognitive restructuring, but he is very interested in our transformation that is an outcome of purified faith which only He can bring about. When I know the truth in faith, then my life will be transformed by this truth. Faith is knowing the truth experientially within my heart, with an absolute certainty that supersedes the intellect because it is established in the heart.
When we are walking in faith (knowing the truth with absolute certainty), the Christian life becomes effortless and an expression of the fruit of the Spirit. Bearing fruit is effortless because it is His fruit and not our own. The fruit list in Galatians chapter five is not a “to-do” list, but a “to-be” list. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control becomes an expression of who and what we are, as opposed to a list of things to work on. Wherever this fruit is not evident, we need to ask ourselves, “Why not? What lies do I believe in my heart that hinder Christ from living His life in and through me?”
Note: As we have often said, TPM is a way for a person to position him or herself to receive the truth from the Spirit. God is not limited to this particular ministry model. However, every believer should be growing in the “knowledge of Him” in their hearts and experiencing an ever increasing measure of the fruit of the Spirit. If this is not so, then something is not working.