Is Heart Belief Experiential
Please note that any instance of the term “Core Belief” should be replaced with “Heart Belief.”
In this training, we sometimes refer to Core Belief (heart belief) as being
Because this core belief was derived in the context of a life experience, it becomes inseparable from or bonded to the experiential belief about what happened and the understanding that was ascribed to it. So in a sense, it is experientially based. This is why, in part, it is fixed and unchangeable. Even when we know it is a lie and we logically know the truth, such an intellectually-held truth will not sway our experientially-derived heart belief.
For example, based upon the Scriptures, a person may know that God loves him and would never forsake him, and he may even be willing to lay down his life for this truth. But if he is being burned at the stake for refusing to denounce this truth, he may feel unloved and abandoned by God. His feelings are a dead giveaway that his core belief is contrary to what he believes intellectually (This is a state of double-mindedness.). Once we believe something with the heart, no one, including ourselves, can talk us out of what we believe—other than the Spirit.
If we borrow the term “experiential” when talking about core belief, it is for the purpose of expressing how core belief is established and to emphasize its enduring and static quality. We understand that core belief is not memory content, but rather it is what we have come to believe through our interpretation of what occurred in the life experience.
Our intellectual knowledge about the memory will never override the core belief we arrived at experientially, even when the intellectual information is indisputable and an absolute fact. No matter how hard someone may try to convince us otherwise, and even if we rationally and logically agree with the intellectual correction, we will still say, “I know that what I believe is not the truth, but it still feels true.”
For example, if I genuinely believe that God is faithful and trustworthy, then it will require no effort for me to trust Him. If I believe that He loves me perfectly, then I will never have any fear (1 Jn. 4:18). In the same way, if I believe the lie that I am worthless and no good, I will not have to get up in the morning and look in the mirror and remind myself of this belief. I will look in the mirror and see a worthless person and feel and act accordingly without effort. This is an impure faith, but no less, still my faith.
Life is difficult when our faith is impure. We know the truth intellectually and yet hold a contrary belief in our hearts. We may invest enormous effort to try to live in the truth, but our lie-based heart belief will pull us back into the quagmire. Whether we believe the truth or a lie, the process is the same. We live out our lives by faith. Either faith in the truth producing peace, or faith in a lie producing turmoil.
The primary cause of struggle in trying to live the Christian life is having to fight against the lie-based heart belief that runs contrary to the truth we believe intellectually. It takes great effort to resist the lies we harbor in our hearts, while we try to live out the truth we believe intellectually. A struggle to live out the truth is indicative of our believing a lie. When we know the truth the struggle subsides.
If we believe in our hearts that we are worthless, we will automatically live as if we were. It takes no effort to live as we feel and believe. However, trying to live out a truth we have memorized which is contrary to the belief in our hearts is another matter. It is difficult to live as though we have value when we believe the opposite. Our lie-based heart belief will continually pull us back. However, when the Spirit illuminates our heart and mind with the experiential truth of our worth, it becomes effortless for us to live it out.
- When we know the truth in our hearts, it takes no effort to live out that belief.
- If we believe a lie with our hearts, it will also take no effort to live out that lie as if it were true.
- If we have only intellectual knowledge of a truth (“God loves me”), but our hearts believe a lie, (“I am unlovable”), then we have to invest great effort into living according to the truth because we would easily give in to the lie in our hearts.
- We struggle to live out our intellectually held truth because that truth is contrary to the lie we believe in our hearts. We sometimes find ourselves putting sticky notes on our bathroom mirrors, saying “God loves me” or “God will take care of me” etc., to remind ourselves of the truth, because those are not yet our heart beliefs.
This is the purpose of TPM: to identify our lie-based thinking and to exchange it for the truth, which enables us to enter into the ‘rest’ that follows. We should not have to struggle to act on, or carry out the truth. Truth is given so that we might be set free. Freedom is a state of being and not a state of “becoming.” Jesus gave us His truth to free us, not so we would struggle. “It was for freedom that Christ has set you free…” (Gal. 5:1). If we are struggling to believe the truth and live it out, this is evidence we believe something else.