The Mind, Heart, Thoughts and Imagination


The Mind, Heart, Thoughts and Imagination
Special Lesson

Instructor: Rob Lankey

See also: Bible Verses for Special Lesson (opens in new tab)


The Christian life is a constant battle of the mind and yet, our weapons in this warfare are not ‘worldly’ ones. They are spiritual ones.

Satan is a real force to be reckoned with in the intellectual realm. It is, therefore, crucial for every Christian to know how to bring their thought life into submission to Jesus Christ by learning to think biblically about every aspect of their life. And, therein, lies a problem.

The only way to ‘think biblically’ is to know what the Bible[1] says. The modern Christian does not, however, STUDY the Bible and, as a consequence, is ill-equipped to think biblically because their lack of study means they do not know what the Bible says about life.

As we shall see in this lesson, the Bible is very negative when it deals with the subject of the unregenerate mind, heart, thoughts and imagination of man. So, the Christian must know what the Bible says about the relationship between his/her mind, heart, thoughts and imagination.

The mind, the heart, the thoughts and imagination of man all feature in the Bible. Individual studies of these words can be interesting, but even more interesting is a study of where a combination of these words appear in the Bible.

  • The Bible also has a lot to say about the soul and the conscience. But these are not within the scope of this lesson.

In this lesson we shall:

  • Have a brief look at what the Bible teaches about the individual words mind, heart, thought and imaginatio.
  • See what we can observe from where these words appear in combination
  • Look at the relationship between these things in practice.

We’ll come to combined mentions in a moment but let’s look at what we can learn from the Bible from a few examples of the single mentions of the words, ‘mind’, ‘heart’ and ‘thoughts’. We’ll include ‘imaginations’ when we look at combinations.

Note that, where multiple bible verses confirm the same truth; only a few (and in some cases just one) bible verse is quoted. There may be many others, deliberately omitted which you are aware of.


These are the occurrences of single mentions in the Bible.

Mind[2]: 152 (52 OT / 80 NT)

Thought (s): 134 (89 OT/ 45 NT)

Think : 79 ( 26 OT / 53 NT)

Imagine (or imagination): 36 ( 32 OT / 4 NT)

Heart : 884 (724 OT / 160 NT)


  1. The first ‘challenge’ on a person’s mind resulting in the formation of doubt comes in Gen 3:1 where Satan creates a challenge on Eve’s remembrance of what God said to her. We know from 2 Cor 11:3, [But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ] that the serpent beguiling that Eve is a type of how a Christian’s mind can be corrupted, because we see in 2 Cor 11:3 the ‘as’ and ‘so’ type construction.
  2. It is interesting to note that the functions of the mind such as thinking and ideas were all present before the fall of man. We know this because Adam named all the creatures, for example. This would have require the use of the creative thinking. The above verse suggests that Eve’s beguiling happened before the fall, which is interesting.
  3. However, using the law of first mention, the word “heart” “thought” and “imagination” do not appear until Gen 6:5, where all 3 are present after the fall and are linked to gross wickedness. Genesis 6:5
  4. It appears that the freewill [which Adam and Eve could both exercise] and ‘thoughts’ and ‘ideas’ are characteristic of being a ‘living soul’, and were imparted to man when the Lord breathed life into him in Gen 2:7. It is also fair to deduce that the imagination, the conscience and the ‘thoughts of the heart’ are something post-fall, and are linked to the fallen state of man. Romans 2:5 and Titus 1:15
  5. Numbers 24:13b Balaam says “to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak?” and Acts 28:6 reveals that the mind is capable of good or bad by choice and can be changed.
  6. The mind is not the heart or the soul because Jesus says Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind Matt 22:37. The ‘soul’ is not within the scope of this lesson.
  7. You can be in your ‘right mind’ Mark 5:15 and its possible to be blinded in the mind 2 Cor 4:4
  8. God gives the Christian the spirit of a sound mind 2 Tim 1:7
  9. The mind can be influenced by others for evil; it can be corrupted and defiled. Acts 14:2; 2 Cor 11:3; Tit 1:15
  10. It is the place of memories and linked to our emotions Mark 14:72
  11. It is a place where things are wondered, contemplated and determined. Luke 1:29; Rom 14:5; 2 Thess 2:2
  12. The mind can be doubtful, wearied and faint Luke 12:29; Heb 12:3
  13. It is possible to have a willing mind and a mind in a state of readiness for the word and fervent towards other believers. Acts 17:11; 2 Cor 7:7; 2 Cor 8:12
  14. A humble mind-state can be ‘put on’ and the mind can be in a state of humility for serving the Lord. Lowliness of mind is linked to esteeming others better than yourself. Acts 20:19; Phil 2:3; Col 3:12
  15. A mind can be ‘reprobate’, which is linked to not retaining the knowledge of God in it. Rom 1:28
  16. It is possible to serve the law of God with the mind Rom 7:25
  17. There are only two states: a carnal mind or a spiritual one. A spiritual mind brings life and peace. Rom 8:6-7
  18. The fleshly mind has desires which our lusts wish to satisfy Eph 2:3 / Col 2:18
  19. The mind can be renewed and if it isn’t, you cannot prove God’s will. Rom 12:2
  20. Wickedness alienates the mind from God Col 1:21 / Ezek 38:10
  21. You need to adopt and arm ourselves with a different mind Phil 2:5; 1 Peter 4:1
  22. You can glorify the Lord with the mind. Rom 15:6
  23. The mind features in the Trinity. The Spirit Rom 8:27; God the father Rom 11:34; Christ 1 Cor 2:16
  24. The mind is the seat of Christian Unity 1 Cor 1:10; Phil 1:27
  25. It’s possible to gird up the loins of your mind in greater determination. 1 Pet 1:13
  26. A pure mind can be stirred up by remembering Godly things. 2 Pet 3:1
  27. It’s a place where the opinions sit and ideas are formed. Judges 19:30 / 1 Chron 22:7 / 2 Chron 24:4
  28. Having a mind stayed on the Lord brings peace Isa 26:3 / Phil 4:7

Point of Interest: God however searches the heart; there are no references to God searching the mind.


A full study of the heart is not possible when we are looking at it as part of a wider subject. A whole lesson could be dedicated to the 884 mentions of it in the Bible. Below are a few of the verses to demonstrate that, whilst the heart and mind, occasionally, are used interchangeably, the heart tends to be more often linked to our spiritual state and relationship with our Maker, than the mind does. It is interesting that the fool says there is no God… his heart Ps 14:1, not his mind.

The Lord pronounces His assessment of the heart of man as follows:

Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Answer? The Lord does. Acts 1:24 “Thou Lord which knowest the heart of men”

Genesis 8:21 KJV

And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 17:17 KJV

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

Exodus 7:3 KJV

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 25:2 KJV

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

Exodus 31:6 KJV

And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;

Deuteronomy 4:29 KJV

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him , if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

Judges 16:17 KJV

That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

1 Samuel 17:28 KJV

And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

1 Kings 4:29 KJV

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore

1 Chronicles 22:19 KJV

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord , and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the Lord .

2 Chronicles 6:30 KJV

[30] Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men🙂

Psalm 4:4 KJV

[4] Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

Psalm 7:9 KJV

[9] Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts …

Psalm 14:1 KJV

[1] The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

Psalm 34:18 KJV

[18] The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psalm 37:4 KJV

[4] Delight thyself also in the Lord ; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Psalm 44:21 KJV

[21] Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

Psalm 51:10 KJV

[10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 64:6 KJV

[6] They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them , and the heart, is deep.

1 John 3:20-21 KJV

[20] For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. [21] Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 KJV

[5] And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Colossians 3:15 KJV

[15] And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Ephesians 3:17 KJV

[17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Luke 5:22 KJV

[22] But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

Ephesians 3:17 KJV

[17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,


These occurrences of the following phrases demonstrate how the heart is linked to a person’s spiritually more than the mind.


This alone demonstrates that the heart has a special role in determining how a person reacts spiritually to God. So, we can deduce that when dealing with someone with the gospel, an intellectual plan of attack is rarely going to cut it. The issue is not one of the mind. It is more of a corrupt heart.


  1. First mention of thoughts is Gen 6:5 and it is linked with sin. This verse is interesting because the heart is doing the thinking, and the imagination is a by-product of those thoughts
  2. Exo 32:14 The Lord has thoughts and thoughts are linked to future plans / ideas.
  3. Thoughts can accuse or excuse a person’s conscience: Rom 2:15
  4. Dreams are seated in the thoughts: Dan 2:29, 4:5 and Job 4:13
  5. No thoughts can be kept from God: Luke 5:22, Job 42:2
  6. Thoughts of man are vanity and those of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: PS 94:11 / Prov 15:26
  7. But they can be turned to good (Ps 119:59; Prov 12:5 ). But how? By committing your way to God and forsaking wicked thoughts Isa 55:7 and allowing God to establish thoughts.
  8. God’s thoughts are infinitely above ours Isa 55:8
  9. Thoughts need to be captured and brought under control 2 Cor 10:5


The Bible does not speak well of the imagination of man. Take Genesis 11:6 KJV for example. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Psalm 21:11 KJV

For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform .

Nahum 1:11 KJV

There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the Lord , a wicked counsellor.


Interestingly, there is one verse where mind, thought, imagination and heart all appear which is 1 Chron 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

The most common combination of these 4 words we’re looking at in the Bible is: “heart” and “thought” which appear together in verses 24 times.

This is followed by:

  • Heart and imagine (or imagination): 20 combined appearances
  • Heart and Mind 13 combined appearances

There are various combinations of thought, think, heart, mind, imagine or imagination outside of these but none occur more than 5 times.

Looking at the most common combinations of occurrences provides extra insight into what the Bible has to say regarding the mind, heart, thoughts and imagination.

We find:

Heart & Thoughts & Imagination & Mind Heart & Thoughts & Imagination Hearts and Imaginations Heart and Thoughts Hearts and Minds Hearts and Think(ing)
(1 occurrence) (3 occurrences) (20 occurrences) (24 occurrences) (13 occurrences) (5 occurrences)
1 Chron 28:9 reveals that we serve God with the heart and mind and God searches the heart; it reveals that imagination stems from thoughts Gen 6:5 reveals that imaginations and thoughts are linked and stem from the heart of man.

1 Chron 29:18 There are no verses which speak positively about the heart, imagination and thoughts of man, but this is one exception.

Mischief, wickedness and evil is imagined in the heart Ps 140:2 / Prov 6:18 / Prov 12:20

Strong links exist between the imagination and the heart Jer 7:24 / 9:14/ 11:8/ 13:10 / 16:12 / 18:12 / 23:17

There is no positive verse apart from 1 Chron 29:18 linked to the imagination – your imagination is fundamentally bad news.

Sin is conceived in thoughts and imaginations: Gen 11:6 / Psa 10:2. Ps 140:2

It is possible to be vain in your imagination and this is linked to a dark heart Rom 1:21

The heart and thoughts are inextricably linked in many verses: Deut 15:9, Judges 5:15, Est 6:6.

We are to pray and ask Go to search and try them both Ps 139:23

The heart is the repository for evil or many kinds Matt 15:19

Without the heart, there are no thoughts or intents Heb 4:12

Interestingly, the heart always proceeds the mind in the bible verses except for once, in Heb 8:10

The way to ‘keep’ both the heart and mind is to draw on God’s peace Phil 4:7

The heart can produce thoughts which are sinful Acts 8:22

Thinking affects the heart 2 Sam 13:33

A man is what he thinks in his heart Prov 23:7 / Matt 9:4


These diagrams are not exhaustive studies but help the Christian understand the basics of the relationship between the mind, thoughts, heart and imagination.

Sin is conceived in thoughts and imaginations: Gen 11:6 / Psa 10:2, Ps 140:2

The Opportunity of a Christian Mind

The Function of a Yielded Christian Mind

The Defiled or Carnal Mind Titus 1:5 / Romans 1:8

{additional material}:

A pure mind dwells on:

Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things

  1. Think on whatsoever things are true.

The true things are the eternal things in Heaven (Col. 3: 1–2), the things that are invisible (2 Cor. 4: 18), and the living words of the living God (John 6: 63). The word true here clearly means, “true as to fact”. It is not how the world uses the world ‘true’. God Himself is the only final test for truth. Jesus also claimed for Himself that He is true (John 7:18; also 5:31-32). Opposed to God and Christ, Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He is a deceiver, and he uses sin to deceive those ensnared by it.

The only way we can know the truth and walk in it is to steep ourselves in God’s Word. We should know the Word so well that we automatically run everything we encounter through the filter of God’s Word. We live in a day that is geared toward emotions and strongly influenced by the supposed “virtue” of tolerance. Our culture assumes that love means being tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything, even if God’s Word plainly declares that something is an abomination. If you go with the flow, you will be carried far from things that are true.

We also must resist the pragmatism of our culture, which determines ‘the true’ by whatever works. If something works, which means, it brings you happiness (at least at the moment) or it accomplishes what you want, then it must be true, the world says. But God’s Word doesn’t always line up with what works. In fact, it’s clear that sin often brings pleasure for a season; if it didn’t we wouldn’t be so enticed by it.

  1. Think on whatsoever things are honest. The things that are honest are conversations and dealings that are open and “above board” and men and women who are frank and sincere in their search for truth.
  2. Think on whatever is just. The things that are just are the judgments of God (Psa. 9: 16, 10: 5) and the things that are lawful for man. This word is used of God Himself who is righteous (Rom. 3:26; 1 John 2:29; 3:7) and of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:1).
  3. Think on whatever is pure. The things that are pure are the words of God (Psa. 12: 6, 119: 140), the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4: 30), and “the wisdom that is from above” (James 3: 17).
  4. Think on whatever is lovely. The things that are lovely are things that God has created (Psa. 19: 1) and the things that need and deserve love.
  5. Think on whatever is of good report. The things that are of good report (not “THAT which has a good ring,” Wycliffe Commentary) are the spiritual growth of new converts (1 Thess. 1), the maturity of saints (Eph. 4: 13–14), the salvation of souls (John 4: 27–38), the answers to prayer (Phil. 1: 3–10), and the fulfilment of prophecy.
  6. * if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. If there is “any virtue” in thinking about these things or anything in them for which a Christian can praise God (vs. 8), then “think on these things” (vs. 8).


  1. By ‘Bible’ we mean the King James Bible and any deviations from the text are the error of the writer of this lesson and not intentional.
  2. A small number of verse containing the word ‘mind’ relate to where someone ‘minded’ to do something. These are not excluded above occurrence numbers.