A New Heart
Two weeks ago, I shared a reflection on the human heart. I explained that, contrary to the worldly wisdom of ‘following your heart’, our hearts often lead us astray, away from God and towards sin. It can seem rather hopeless, can’t it? That wellspring of life, the centre of all our emotions and desires, is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and can fool and betray us. If the very centre of my being is “evil from my youth” (Genesis 8:21), then what can I possibly do about it? Well, this is the fantastic thing about our position as Christians. Whilst we are powerless to change anything, the Almighty is not.
While the Jews were in exile, they lived in utter hopelessness. Their temple was ashes, Jerusalem nothing but rubble, and they were living away from the Promised Land. And it was during that time that God sent them Ezekiel. Through Ezekiel, God promised them renewal, reunification, and return. They would be gathered from all the countries and brought back into their own land. They would have a new temple built. And, most importantly, they would be given “a new heart and… a new spirit”; God would remove their hearts of stone and replace them with fresh, clean hearts (Ezekiel 36:26-27). The Jews felt that they were as good as dead, nothing but a valley of dry, dusty bones, but God promised to breathe new life into them, breathe His Spirit into them.
This prophecy from Ezekiel extends beyond the return of the Jews to their land because we know now that one aspect of this renewal didn’t happen until a day much, much later, a day that we call Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ followers, and came to stay. And we too have that same Holy Spirit within us, right now. So, what does all this have to do with our hearts? Well, the human heart lies, and sins, and falls into evil – but a new heart has been given to us, guided by the presence of the Holy Spirit. A heart that now has the freedom to choose not to sin.
Does this mean that Christians will never sin again? Of course not! This is where the secret to living a good Christian life lies. We each choose, every day, whether to walk in the Spirit or to walk in the flesh. Our old, sinful, evil hearts are still there, still tempting us to go astray, but now we also have the Holy Spirit, teaching our hearts to listen and live in the way of the spirit. Paul urges in Colossians 3:5 to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature”. That’s why Jesus said that the most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37).
Daily Christian living is a series of choices. Everyday, I must choose to love God and love others. Everyday, I must choose to act in ways pleasing to God. Everyday, I must actively choose to put the sinful nature to death, to walk in the Spirit. Choose today to ignore your old, sinful heart. Choose with us today to cultivate a new heart, one that loves and obeys God above all else.
SONG: Refresh My Heart – Hillsong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvLjuRXMWNA