The New Covenant: Written on the Heart

The prophet Jeremiah, speaking of a new covenant that Jehovah would make with the faithful remnants from the house of Israel and Judah (his people), wrote these words by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But this covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31.31-33). 

The Hebrew writer quoted Jeremiah’s words (Hebrews. 8.10-11; 10.16) as he addressed Christians (“holy brethren” (Hebrews 2.11; 3.1)). What is the significance of GOd’s law being written upon the hearts of his people? Certainly a proper understanding of the heart is the starting point. Jeremiah was not referring to the chest pump when he mentioned their “inward parts.” The meaning of “inward parts” is clarified by the Hebrew writer as being the mind. Notice both passages:

  • Hebrews 10.16 — “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hears, and write them on their minds.
  • Hebrews 8.10-11 — “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and on their heart also will I write them: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all will know me.”

The connection of the mind with knowing is evident. Jesus also made reference to this in John 6.45 when he said, “It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me.” It is clear that an understanding of God’s laws is meant by the phrase “written on the mind.

Notice how the concept of understanding resides in other texts:

  • 1 Corinthians 14.25 — “The secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”
  • Ephesians 1.18 — “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…
  • Philippians 2.13 — “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
  • Colossians 4.12 — “Epaphras…always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God…

The “inward parts” and the “mind” correspond to the “heart.” So, the focus of the new covenant is that it be grasped with the mind and exhibited in the life lived.

The life we live, after our initial conversion, is proof as to whether the new covenant has reached our innermost depths (i.e., our hearts). The life we live either approves or disproves whether we have understood God’s will as it relates to our own conversion. Our life proves (to others) whether Satan or Christ is our master. It is evidence as to whom we have submitted our will. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6.16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Note: this passage further proves that the heart is referring to the will.)

Psalms 5.9, 49.11, and 64.6 all mention the “inward part.” This is referring to the place where intentions and purposes to be carried out are conceived. Hence, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23.7a). God’s purpose for the new covenant was that it reach beyond man’s external being, to his innermost being: the seat of his thought and desire. This may be summarized as follows: God purposed this new covenant to be understood in man’s mind. The purpose, the nature, and the terms of this covenant must be understood. This is how it differs from the first covenant. Notice how purpose of heart is demonstrated in the life of the individual from what Jesus said: “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself” (John 7.17).