What Does the Bible Say About Personality?

Personality is a Matter of the Heart

Another expression Scripture uses to describe people is the term “heart”. This term is used to describe the personality of people. Expressions of personality such as intellect, emotions, and will are all described in the context of the heart. Also, the Bible describes the heart as the center of a person’s moral awareness, the conscience. Obviously, when the Bible uses the word heart, it is talking about human personality rather than the organ which pumps blood through our bodies.

Several intellectual activities of the heart are specifically mentioned in Scripture. People think with their heart (Phil. 4:8). Planning is also described as a function of the heart (Prov. 16:9). People can hide the Word of God in their heart through Scripture memory (Ps. 119:11). Perception is also described as a function of the heart (Matt. 13:14). Finally, the ability to weigh evidence and make a rational and reasonable decision is described as an intellectual function of the heart (Mark 2:8).

Our Emotional Center

Most people today would agree with the Bible’s description of the heart as the emotional center of our personality. Our culture even today commonly ascribes such emotions as love and empathy as springing from one’s heart. The Bible identifies several emotions springing from the heart including love (Matt. 22:37), confidence (John 14:1), joy (John 16:6), peace (Phil. 4:7), unity and gladness (Acts 2:46), hate (Matt. 15:19), fear (John 14:27), sorrow (John 16:16), frustration (Ps. 131), and division and strife (1 Cor. 1:10; 3:3).

Our Personality and Our Faith

People also exercise their will as an expression of their heart. This is especially seen in several areas. First, people are converted when they respond to the Gospel with their heart (Rom. 6:17; 10:9). Second, ongoing spiritual growth in our life also grows out of a heart response to the things of God (2 Cor. 9:7). Third, we relate to one another as Christians out of a willingness to do God’s will from our heart (Eph. 6:5, 6).

Our Moral Awareness

Finally, the heart is also described as the seat of our moral awareness. Deep within every person is a natural consciousness of God and sense of absolute moral standards based on the character of God. The Bible describes this as a work of Christ, the Light which enlightens us (John 1:9). It is also described in Scripture as both the law of God inscribed on our heart (Rom. 2:15) and an awareness of eternal values which exists within the heart (Eccl. 3:11). While God’s input into our conscience makes it a reliable guide in decision making, the conscience can also be so corrupted by sin in our life that it is virtually rendered inoperative (1 Tim. 4:2). It is important to train our conscience by the Word of God.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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