Head Knowledge vs Heart Knowledge

Heart Knowledge - Head Vs Heart
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“Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.” – Tim Keller, The Reason for God

When you hear about Jesus, what comes to mind? Who is Jesus to you? Depending on where you live, chances are you might have heard the Gospel before. Even now as you read this you might be saying to yourself “bla bla bla, yes I know the Gospel…move on to the next topic.” When it comes to Jesus, do you know Him in your head or in your heart?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Would you say you know Jesus in your head or in your heart?

We can fill up our heads with knowledge all day long. From reading the internet, studying books, watching TV, listening to music, and having conversations with others, it’s amazing to think how much goes into our heads each day. What would it mean though for us to apply these things to our hearts? When we apply something to our heart, it becomes very real for us at that point. It drives our minds, emotions, and affections towards whatever that thing or someone is.

Heart Knowledge

Jonathan Edwards from his sermon Divine and Supernatural Light has a great illustration to make this point using honey. He says, “your mind can know honey is sweet, people can tell you it’s sweet, you’ve read books about it, etc. but if you haven’t actually tasted it, you know with your head, but not with your heart. When you actually taste it, you experience it for yourself, you know it in a full way, and you can know it in your heart.”

Knowing with your heart however, is not to be confused by being led with your emotions. That is not what I’m talking about here. You obviously still learn things with your head. For example, we can definitely have head knowledge, and not have the heart knowledge to go along with it. However, it’s impossible to know things in our hearts, but not in our heads. When it comes to the Gospel, yes, we need to learn in our heads what Jesus has done for us, but more importantly, we need to learn this in our hearts. It needs to become real to us, personally. That’s exactly what happened to me when I realized that Jesus died for me.

A good way to think about this for yourself is when you read the Bible, pray, or when you’re involved in the local body (the Church), are you doing all of this out of an obligation to God to pay Him back for something or to earn your way? Or, instead, are you doing all these things because of an overflow of gratitude of what He has done for you? Are you loving Jesus with your heart or head?

Head Knowledge

When we say things like “I know God loves me, but I hate myself” or “I know God wants me to be generous, but I just can’t do it,” we are stating truths about God from our head and using that knowledge, but there is a lack of understanding in our heart. If we knew God truly loved us, we wouldn’t hate ourselves. God’s love would be so real to us that we would see ourselves the way He sees us, through His son, as an adopted child. If we knew God truly wanted us to be generous, we would joyfully give our money, time, and possessions back to Him and anyone in need. Especially because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

So where are you in this? If you haven’t been using heart knowledge, there is no need be feel guilty or condemned (Romans 8:1). Pray to God, ask Him to search your heart, test your thoughts, guide you into understanding that what Jesus has done for you is very real and personal. Make a decision to become a follower of Christ today and to realize that you are forgiven by God through Christ.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” – Psalm 139:23-24

Question: When it comes to Jesus, do you know Him personally, in your head or in your heart? Please feel free to comment below.

Here are other Frequently Asked Questions and how the Bible answers them.

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Kath
Kath
4 years ago

Great word- really helped me on my theology course, thank you. Kath k

Jennifer Peters
Jennifer Peters
5 years ago

I constantly have doubts about my salvation. Well, it used to be just about my salvation now I’m doubting everything. It’s like a little bit of doubt has festered into unbelief. There was a time when I knew without a doubt what Jesus did for me. I trusted it. But now, all I have is doubt. I have a sinking feeling that I was never really saved. I wonder if I have the Holy Spirit. There have been times when I have questioned things in my mind and immediately a Bible verse would come to mind that answered my question.… Read more »

Denny Alan Fenstermaker
Denny Alan Fenstermaker
Reply to  Mike Mobley
5 years ago

Wow Mike thanks for sharing with Jeniffer I could strongly identify with Jen & at the same time I was hearing my self say things similar to what you said about the deceiver…
Reading your reply grew a smile & confidence in my salvation & the many convictions I’ve been experiencing lately & the way Gad has been revealing truths to me showing me the way especially the wear with all of the darkness & how the enemy of God & his followers are being attacked with lies that spear real…
Let us pray one for another.
Dennis

Carol M Weber
Carol M Weber
Reply to  Mike Mobley
4 years ago

I can’t believe that I am hearing a situation exactly like I am going through. The only difference is, Jennifer seems like a young Lady and I am an older Mom, Grandmom and Great-Grandmom. It seems that I should know better since I have known the Lord since March of 1977. My Walk with Him had been awesome since the beginning. Then, around 5-6 years ago, I started going through much of what Jennifer shared. I used to hear His Voice and then all of a sudden I noticed that He wasn’t speaking to me anymore. I thought, at the… Read more »

Carol M Weber
Carol M Weber
Reply to  Mike Mobley
4 years ago

Thank you Mike for responding to my message. I believe that every word out of the Mouth of God, which is the bible is truth and I am just going to hold on to what I remember that He has done for me in the past. By the way, since the post was the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge, I had an experience that showed me the difference that I would like to share. I was raised going to a Catholic School for my grammar school years. I remember hearing about Jesus all the time. In front of… Read more »

Jayma
Jayma
Reply to  Mike Mobley
1 year ago

Mike, quick question, you said above If you believe in Jesus in your heart and confess Him with your mouth, the Bible says you are saved. how do you know if you believe in your heart and not your head?

Frances
Frances
5 years ago

I am supposedly saved but my heart doesn’t feel like it believes. I’m constantly angry at God for life circumstances. In church the Pastor makes me angry by sending the message that all you have to do is to ask Jesus to be in your heart and he will. That’s not true. J I have begged Jesus for years and years and years to give me peace and change my heart. He does nothing. I have no faith. The sad part is I really want it. I am in church every Sunday. I am alone in church every Sunday. At… Read more »

,Rev Sylvester B wisseh
,Rev Sylvester B wisseh
6 years ago

Well I know God from mine head and mine heart,because I read about him, I heard about him. As the result of my head knowledge about God, I was able to accepted him in heart to be my servoir. Because I know him from heart my life is different in my community and the ligy of God is shining upon me, so other people are attracted by the light of God that is upon mine life.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
6 years ago

Hey Steve, First, thanks so much for sharing this and being vulnerable. Second, I’m really sorry I’m just now responding to you. There’s a lot in what you wrote so I’ll do my best to respond, but at the end of the day, know that you CAN know if you are saved or not. A lot of times after we surrender our lives to Christ and start following Him, we do feel “on fire” and then for some reason a bunch of troubles come into the picture. That is not a coincidence. It’s because we are now living for Him… Read more »

Mike Hill
Mike Hill
6 years ago

I am very VERY unsure and confused on this matter I genuinely don’t know which category I fit into I know What Christ has done and I desire a deep relationship with Him I have repented of sin and asked for forgiveness but I have struggles with SO many things assurance of salvation being the main one which has lead to question my motives in everything I do which I want to be in the right heart but I don’t know if it is or if its filthy rag works I’m really confused. There have been times people have said… Read more »

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Mike Hill
6 years ago

Hey Mike, thanks for sharing. It is difficult at times to follow Jesus and one of the biggest battles we’ll ever face is the assurance of our salvation. Not because we don’t have assurance…the Bible tells us we can be sure and that the Holy Spirit is the promise…the guarantee of our inheritance…..the problem is because of spiritual warfare and us too often thinking we are not good enough. We have to be reminded on a daily basis that what Jesus did on the cross was in fact..enough. And that He only had to do it once. And just like… Read more »

Lia
Lia
7 years ago

Today in Bible study with middle school girls we tackled this question. I met God with my head when I was 12 but didn’t become personal in my heart until the age of 48. He became real… So when was I actually saved? Even before my personal relationship with Him began I was volunteering at church and leading the prayer team, woman’s team, etc. However, I felt my heart change when my personal relationship with Him began. I began craving His Word, whereas before I would read as necessary. So, should the rapture have happened prior to my personal relationship… Read more »

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Lia
7 years ago

Hey Lia, thanks for sharing and that’s exactly something I went through. Looking back I believe I was NOT a believer during times I even served in the Church…it was just a head knowledge but never any heart in it. It wasn’t until I realized Jesus actually died for my…personal…sins until I really became a follower of Jesus. Wrote more about this here – https://beforethecross.com/encouragements/jesus-died-for-me/ Thanks for sharing!

Bettathen Uraverage
Bettathen Uraverage
7 years ago

This is hard question because head knowledgeis one thing butfrom my heart, I desire toknow Jesus more and I’ve asked the questions everyday and when I hear the trutb it just makes me cry in joy. Wanting to fellowship and ask other’s and work out whts been worked in. Wow

Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
7 years ago

I struggle with this. I don’t know how to get my head knowledge into my heart. My fondest desire is to know and love Jesus more. Help!

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
7 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing. I think the single fact that you have the desire to know and love Jesus more says a lot about you having heart knowledge. Many people don’t really have the desire to know Jesus more so they walk around with head knowledge and they are not effected in their heart. This sounds like it’s different for you and that you are effected. Read the Bible, pray, be involved in community and in your Church, and take things one day at a time, one step at a time. God cares for you, loves you, and will… Read more »

Lia
Lia
Reply to  Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
7 years ago

The thing we know is that God pulls us to Himself at His time. He opens our eyes when He feels we are ready… However reading and meditating on His Word is the best way to get to know Him! Prayer, journaling, fasting…. dedicating your life to Him…. Praying for you…

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Lia
7 years ago

Thanks for sharing Lia! Yes God is in control at the end of the day. He knows when we are ready and we can choose at anytime to begin to follow Him. Amazing grace!

Shirley
Shirley
Reply to  Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
6 years ago

Priscilla, i am with you totally on this. How do you get head knowledge into your heart? No one has been able to answer that question. I’ve read the Bible through about 10 times, prayed, attended church, served for about 30 years. I thought I was saved but could never sense that Jesus was in my heart. Everyone tells you it happened to them. Is it possible the reason I don’t know Jesus in my heart is because He doesn’t want me? No one comes to the Father lest He draws him.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Shirley
6 years ago

Hey Shirley, thanks for sharing. I don’t think we can force anything to get into our heart from our head or that there is a formula to this, however, we know from scripture that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9). As we believe in Jesus, God has the power to change our hearts and the Holy Spirit gives us the promise of eternity because of what Jesus has done for us. That is something we know for sure… Read more »

Savitri Guard
Savitri Guard
Reply to  Shirley
6 years ago

Hi Priscilla & Shirley, I used to feel the same way… raised in a Christian home I knew God with my head my entire life. He was never as “real” to me as He was to some Christians. I was desperate to know Him as my best friend… I thought I was drawing near to Him by continually submitting and surrendering my life to Him, and He was supposed to draw near to me (James 4:8). At 26 I was married to a “Christian” man and I was abused physically, emotionally & spiritually. I stayed, believing I was being the… Read more »

Mike Hill
Mike Hill
Reply to  Shirley
6 years ago

Simple answer many have told me cry out to God ask and pray to Him with a sincere heart He will make it real for you in His timing :)

Pastor Sudarshan
Pastor Sudarshan
7 years ago

Wonderful my Brother. This topic helped me a lot to prepare my
sermon. The quote of the Tim Keller is also apt. Now we can see in any
church, there are head knowledge people, but not the heart knowledge.
The
book of Daniel 12:4 ” many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be
increased.”. These people are very dangerous to the body of Christ.

Thank you so much brother, please forward your posts to my email: [email protected].
Your Brother in Christ,
Pastor Sudarshan, India.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Pastor Sudarshan
7 years ago

Awesome pastor…thanks so much for sharing and I’ve added you on our email list!

Jennifer
Jennifer
8 years ago

Wonderful post. Thanks for writing the “honey” puts things in perspective.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Jennifer
8 years ago

Thanks Jennifer! Appreciate you sharing that!!

Robert Zeurunkl
Robert Zeurunkl
8 years ago

The heart and the mind are the same thing. There’s actually a specific example of it in scripture where it says that “Mary pondered all these things in her heart”. And of course, “pondering” is a mental activity. When we say that “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…”, well, we speak what we are thinking. If I was speaking out of my heart, and that had nothing to do with the mind, that would be a very curious (if not creepy) thing.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Robert Zeurunkl
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing Robert. The point of the post is that often times we have a lot of “head knowledge” but that hasn’t transferred into any change in our lives. When our hearts have been affected, change happens, which includes changing the way we think about things and what we speak.

A lot of people carry around a lot of knowledge including Biblical knowledge, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are followers of Jesus because nothing has changed for them.

Thanks again for sharing!

Robert Zeurunkl
Robert Zeurunkl
Reply to  Mike Mobley
8 years ago

Hey, thanks for the reply. But you do know you are just repeating what I said? To say that we have head knowledge that doesn’t result in any change in our lives, we are just saying that we do not have the right head knowledge. We are what we think. If we have head knowledge that doesn’t change our lives, then we do not really have head knowledge at all. But I know the type of people you are speaking of. What they have is knowledge of the truth which they are purposely avoiding, or shunning. That is why they… Read more »

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Robert Zeurunkl
8 years ago

I see what you mean Robert. I guess you could make the point that it’s not “true head knowledge” but I think that would be more confusing. I think there’s head knowledge out there, we have a lot of it, and even Biblical head knowledge, but if that hasn’t turned into heart knowledge, I don’t think it will change us.

I’m sure in a lot of ways we are saying the same thing, just differently. Appreciate you sharing.

A dog
A dog
8 years ago

Seems like a false dichotomy to me. As Jesus teaches in Luke 6, “from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” and elsewhere Paul tells us no one confesses Christ apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12).

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  A dog
8 years ago

Thanks for sharing, what you mentioned in Luke 6 actually lines up perfectly with the post because it’s a matter of the heart…not just what’s in the head. What do you mean?

A dog
A dog
Reply to  Mike Mobley
8 years ago

Christ doesn’t seem to be drawing a distinction between head and heart knowledge but seems to say that the head knowledge flows from the heart knowledge. We know that God is through His Holy Spirit renewing our hearts and minds, giving us faith. If we are confessing Christ with our mouths, are we not confessing Christ from the overflow of our hearts? Maybe a question that should be answered is, does head knowledge lead to heart knowledge, and, how do we get heart knowledge (or from whom do we get it)? I think trying to make this distinction is dangerous… Read more »

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  A dog
8 years ago

Oh ok, sounds good. The point I’m making in the post is that there is a distinction..especially in our culture where a lot of people say certain things, but doesn’t mean it’s true. For example, there are tons of people who call themselves Christians or in their head, know about Jesus, but that doesn’t mean at all that God has transformed their heart and they truly believe in Jesus Christ. That’s the biggest distinction. I believe God and only God has the ability to change our hearts. And I think it starts in the heart, and flows to the head… Read more »

Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
Priscilla Stadelman Pinkowski
Reply to  Mike Mobley
7 years ago

This is a good discussion. I think the misunderstanding here is one of the idea of dichotomy vs. trichotomy. If one believes that the spirit and soul are one and that the terms are used interchangeably, then what “A dog” is saying would be true. However, if one believes that a person is three parts–spirit, soul, and body–then what Mike is saying makes sense. I was taking counseling classes in a church which believes in the dichotomous nature of man, and because I hold the trichotomous view, the way in which counseling is done is very different. I had to… Read more »

Robert McFaddin
Robert McFaddin
9 years ago

Thanks Mike! This has been very helpful.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Robert McFaddin
9 years ago

Anytime Robert! Glad it’s been helpful!

Robert McFaddin
Robert McFaddin
9 years ago

How does one know for sure they are trusting Christ as their savior? I “think” I accepted Christ as savior in October of 1976. I was in 6th grade. I had my ups and downs all throughout high school. I gothe closer to Him in college. Married in 92. Began to experience doubts not long after. Thought I had settles it at a Promise Keepers in 96. Doubt comes again and again. Some days I have no doubt. Other days I have VERY strong dout (“did I ever get saved in the first place”). I have prayed and prayed and… Read more »

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Robert McFaddin
9 years ago

Robert, the fact you have prayed and begged God about these doubts says a lot right there about your salvation through Christ. Why else would you even be interested in praying to God in the first place if He wasn’t working through you? This post might help you as well..a lot of people are walking around in doubt if they are believers or not and I don’t believe God wants us to be in doubt or be involved in an investigation about our salvation…He sent His Son so that we can have eternal life and be confident in Him…not to… Read more »

Robert McFaddin
Robert McFaddin
9 years ago

I am struggling with this right now. I don’t know if I have it in my heart or just in my head.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Robert McFaddin
9 years ago

Thank you for sharing Robert. The simple fact that you are asking the question means a lot because if you didn’t even care, you wouldn’t even ask. I wouldn’t want to confuse anyone into thinking that you have to live in doubt. There is no doubt about it that if you have decided to follow Jesus and trust Him as your Lord and Savior, then you are saved. That is something you can place your full confidence in because God says so. Struggling to live a Christian life will always be a struggle because we are still sinful as we… Read more »

Marie
Marie
10 years ago

It sounds like things start with head knowledge. So is it safe to say that someone with more head knowledge (who believes that Jesus died for his sin) is a Christian and that heart knowledge will follow as he continues to learn?

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Marie
10 years ago

I’m not sure Marie. I can’t predict if someone is a believer or not, but I would be carefully on guard about head knowledge. I know I claimed to know God and be a follower of Christ in my past because I had so much “head knowledge,” but I in fact was not a believer because nothing ever transpired to my heart (became real to me). I wasn’t a follower of Christ whatsoever until I realized Jesus died for MY sins…and He became personal to me in my heart. Heart knowledge and head knowledge obviously increases from there, but things… Read more »

Danie
Danie
Reply to  Mike Mobley
6 years ago

Well…how did you come to actually realize that he died for YOUR sins personally? :( I long to experience that.

Sean
Sean
10 years ago

understand both concepts of head and heart knowledge, but how do I grow in heart knowledge. I’ve prayed and I’ve asked and searched for it, but how do I make it real?

Sean
Sean
Reply to  Sean
10 years ago

I understand*

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Sean
10 years ago

Sean, I think it starts first with the Gospel and continuous reading and studying of God’s Word. Prayer should be accompanied with that at all times as well.

I believe that we can grow in heart knowledge about God has we remind ourselves of the Gospel each day and ask for the desire to continue to grow.

mmelin
mmelin
11 years ago

Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve noticed that my heart is smarter than my head.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  mmelin
11 years ago

Anytime, thanks for the encouragement!

Mary Harwell Sayler
Mary Harwell Sayler
11 years ago

Thanks, Mike, for this good reminder, and thanks for posting the URL on the Christian Poets & Writers group page on Facebook. I just reposted the link on the CP&W blog – http://christianpoetsandwriters.blogspot.com. God bless.

Mike Mobley
Mike Mobley
Reply to  Mary Harwell Sayler
11 years ago

Thanks so much for sharing Mary!

Joseph Asugo
Joseph Asugo
Reply to  Mike Mobley
6 years ago

Paul though he knew God before not until he had personal experience with Jesus on his way to Damascus. Problems we encounter in our life make us experience God in our lives and many times God delivers us from such circumstances. God is not story we read in the bible but God who is at work in his creatures.If you do not have a personal testimony about God then it is head knowledge like Saul

darrel davis
darrel davis
Reply to  Mike Mobley
5 years ago

my name is pastor Darrel davis from Memphis, Tn. first of all I like the discussion thanks for that now the name of my church is mind of Christ which was named I believe by the spirit of God. I have done an extensive study on the head or heart and what I found is that our minds are part of our soul which is subject to comparison, comparison with other thoughts in the head about 50,000 a day unprotected thoughts , and it takes the word of God to discern the thoughts and the thoughts we deem true or… Read more »

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