8 A new heart



In Ezekiel 11:19 God says:

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

In Ezekiel 36:26,27 God says:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you …”

In this gracious, saving action:

God replaces our hard, stubborn, unresponsive, non-living ‘heart of stone’ with a soft, cooperative, responsive, living ‘heart of flesh’.

God changes our rejection of him to acceptance of him.

God changes our rebellion against him to submission to him.

God changes our determination to disobey him to a desire to obey him.

God reverses Genesis 3: he changes our fundamental ‘no’ to a fundamental ‘yes’.

If we read the surrounding context of these two verses from Ezekiel we find that the bottom-line characteristic of our old ‘heart’, our old ‘spirit’, is our rejection of God. Ezekiel 11:18 and 21 refer to the ‘vile images and detestable idols’ that the people were worshipping instead of God. In Ezekiel 36:25 God states that he will cleanse those to whom he gives this new heart from all their impurities and their idols.

The old heart is anti-God. It will worship nothing at all, or anything at all … except the one true God.

The new heart acknowledges and worships the one true God, and it acknowledges and worships him alone. This new heart, this new spirit, knows, beyond all doubt, that this God alone is God: that all other powers, all other ‘gods’, are counterfeit substitutes for the one true God.

There is another chapter in Ezekiel in which God talks about this ‘new heart’:

“Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” [18:30-32]

This passage identifies how critical having this new heart is. Unless we repent, unless turn away from our false gods to the one true God, unless we get from him this new heart and this new spirit, we are dead – cut off forever from the true God, the only source of spiritual life. But we do not have to stay that way. God so loves us that he has provided the way of escape, the way of restoration, the way of life.

God, the one true God, incarnate in his Son Jesus Christ, stands before us. His hand is out-stretched. He says to us: Return to me, whom you forsook in the Garden of Eden ... I will give you a new heart and a new spirit. Return to me, the one true God, the one you have rejected … I will give you ‘life’ to replace your ‘death’. Come to me … I will give you rest. Rest from that heavy burden of having false gods or no god at all.

And when we do, when he gives us this new heart, an outcome far broader and more magnificent than our own personal salvation also occurs:

I will show the holiness of my great name which has been profaned among the nations … Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.” [Ezekiel 36:23]

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” [1Peter 2:9].

God, the unique, holy, one-of-a-kind, true God, is made known through and by those to whom he gives the new heart and the new spirit.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012, 2019