And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)
Is the heart of a true heaven-born, Christ follower bad or good? Most of the believers I talk to reply with Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" ESV
This response is telling to say the least, and potentially fatal to living out and understanding Christ's saving work. Yes, the unredeemed man or woman is truly in this state before God.The heart is "deceitful" and "desperately sick" apart from the redeeming work of Christ. However, the promise of God prophesied through that great prophet Ezekiel tells a much different story. According to him, the New Covenant would usher in the day of a new kind of people with "new hearts" and "new spirits"!
The human "heart" as revealed in the Bible is that central place within us where our mind, will, emotion, spirit, intellect, passion, imagination and desire all intersect. I see it as that place where soul and spirit meet, and where all of our decisions are ultimately determined. Without Christ, our heart is a confused, selfish mess of intersecting and jumbled thoughts, feelings, and decisions all vying for preeminence. With Christ inhabiting the spirit of a man and governing the heart from within, we can finally begin to live out of our true center. We can finally be "good hearted" people who live out of the indwelling life of Christ from within.
I do realize of course that within popular society it is assumed that everyone has a "good heart" to begin with. However, if we are honest with ourselves, our nightly newscasts and private inward battles debunk that myth in short order . Without Christ the human heart is truly wicked, selfish, rebellious, murderous and without hope. Jesus made it clear that every evil deed we do issues from within the human heart and cannot be blamed on the old adage, "The Devil made me do it".
There is no doubt whatsoever that the heart can be deeply affected by what enters it, and can be altered even after the new birth. Solomon exhorts us in Proverbs 4:23 to "Keep your hearts with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life". He then goes on to warn us about what our mouths say, where we look, and where our feet take us. It is our sacred charge to be like a sentry and guard carefully whatever enters our hearts. Even so, the true Christ follower has been given a new heart with new desires and a new proclivity toward God and His kingdom! We must not forget that.
Jesus made it equally clear Matthew 5:8 that "The pure in heart will see God". Based upon my understanding of the Beatitudes, Jesus was not speaking of a future day after our death or at His second coming when He made that statement. He was showing us how to live in the kingdom of God now, while giving us great incentive for pursuing purity of heart. To "see God" is the yearning of every true God-lover and a pursuit worth giving our all for. We must believe that it is possible to see Him if it is to become an experiential reality.
We must be convinced that redemption includes receiving a "new heart" and a "new spirit", and that our inward nature is now God-possessed. Furthermore, we must believe that God is able to give us His desires and dreams for our lives. Receiving a new heart and living from that Spirit-filled heart gives me great hope that I can truly think and feel as God thinks and feels. It makes me confident that He will guide me by His Word and Spirit and help me to carry out His will and purpose for my life.
It all starts with BELIEVING IN HIM AND RECEIVING A NEW HEART!
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