A Heart That Hears Part 2

In my last posted I noted that this time I would talk/write about how to perceive or experience our spirits. There are a couple of key verses that lay a foundation.

27  The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV) 37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39 (NKJV)

In the Proverbs reference the footnote in the NKJV says that the phrase “inner depths of his heart” in Hebrew is literally “rooms of his belly.” This tells us something about where we locate or experience our spirit. Scripture being consistent with scripture, this is also what the Greek literally means in John 7:38. The old King James has belly instead of heart. The NASB translates it as “innermost being” but has a footnotes that says it means “out of his belly.” The Greek word is not the one normally translated as heart kardia, from which we get cardiac. It is a different word, koilia.

2809. κοιλία koilia noun, Cavity, belly, stomach, womb, uterus, innermost being.

Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Zeta-Kappa.

What is significant is that while koilia refers to the belly or stomach area, it is also the Greek word for the womb, and is translated that way 12 times in the NT in the NKJV. The womb is the place of birthing. I believe the significance in this is that the Holy Spirit is telling us He wants to birth things in our lives through our spirits.

While I do not believe our spirits are simply in our abdomen, I believe that is generally where we experience them. I won’t go into all the scripture but the other point is that whether or not people have been born again they still have a functional spirit, it just lacks the Holy Spirit rebirthing it with a new nature, Jesus nature, and residing in it. However the idea of the centre of our body as the place where we encounter our spirit goes across cultures and belief systems. The Japanese in some traditions refer to the centre of the body, the belly, as the hara, the source of spirit and energy. The Chinese use the term dantien to refer to the same thing. So there is understanding across cultures and beliefs that our spirit is located in the centre of our belly.

However, whether or not other cultures possessed that understanding the key thing is the testimony of scripture. Look at what Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 2.

9  But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 (NKJV)

Paul was clear that we ‘know’ things via our spirit and the Holy Spirit in us reveals the things of God to us. When we seek to bless others in ministry He will reveals things about them so we may help them and they know it is from Him because they are things we could not naturally know. Very importantly in this passage Paul tells us how receive from our spirits and the Holy Spirit. The word ‘entered’ in verse 9 has a specific meaning in Greek.

303. ἀναβαίνω anabainō verb

Ascend, go up, bring up, to spring up.

The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma.

Paul is telling us that things rise or spring up into our hearts from our spirits. So why are not more of us aware of this and why do we not pursue more? A little evangelical history will help in understanding why so many miss out on operating in spiritual gifts. A. W. Tozer was a key leader in the Alliance church in the mid twentieth century and I think one of the very important writers and prophetic voices in the church in his era and still today. I highly recommend his books and have had the privilege of reading most of them and even listening to recordings of some of his sermons.

That being said there is a however coming. The Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination (generally known as Alliance churches today) preceded the Pentecostal movement. As movements they were both seeking the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit as a post conversion experience. The early focus of both movements was a baptism for holiness. When the Pentecostal movement began it split into different streams but a dominant emphasis for most was a second experience of the Holy Spirit marked by speaking in tongues and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. This became a divisive issue in both movements.

One of the outcomes was the Alliance church formulated a position, as I understand it led by Tozer, of ‘seek not forbid not.’ The intent was noble, to maintain unity and avoid division. However, I believe it led to the quenching of the work of the Holy Spirit in many places and spread across other evangelical movements as a positon of being ‘open’ to the gifts and work of the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to be ‘open’ to whatever the Holy Spirit has for you in the context of pursuing intimacy with Jesus and an expectation that something will happen, not being sure of the ‘what’ but being open as long as it aligns with scripture.

The problem with the ‘open’ position that I see is that it often manifests as passivity. We are ‘open’ but not genuinely seeking or pursuing anything. That type of ‘open’ position, noble as it may seem, stands in opposition to scripture. Scripture says we are to pursue love and desire the gifts of the Spirit, not one or the other. In fact the word translated as ‘desire’ in 1 Corinthians 14:1 in the NKJV version is below.

2189. ζηλόω zēloō verb

Strive, fervently desire, be zealous; be jealous or envious.

Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The – The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Zeta-Kappa.

While I understand the intent of the positon of Tozer and others the scriptures exhort us to fervently desire and be zealous for spiritual gifts while pursuing growth and maturity in loving others. As much as I admire and appreciate Tozer and others, I want to follow the scriptures in this area and the scriptures calls us to learn how to live out of our spirits. In fact the way Paul framed it elsewhere it is the key to victory over desires we struggle with that are contrary to His desires for our lives.

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

In my next post I will look deeper at how we experience the Holy Spirit in our ‘belly’ and how He desires to birth things in our lives out of a place of intimacy with Him. I will also share more of my own experiences and those of others as a means of both example and encouragement. It seems fitting here to give Paul the last word.

1  Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NKJV)

Published by


I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *