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. Ezekiel 36:26
The heart is not just the emotional seat of man. In the Bible, the heart is the very life center. Every part of your soul (intellect, emotion, and will) flow from your heart. “Above all else guard your heart, for out of it are the issues of life” Proverbs says. Jesus tells us in Mark 7 that the unregenerate heart is the source of all evil in our lives.
As Pastor Mark wrote yesterday the thing that makes true gospel Christianity unique is the new heart. Christians are given a new life force when they are saved. No other religion claims or promises this. This received life is the very life of God. The life of Jesus. The Holy Spirit inside of us. A new nature and a new nurture.
I believe that most Christians do not understand and will never live from this amazing truth. Those who are beginning to scratch the surface of understanding the new heart will still fall short each and every day. But it is still the truth that sets us free. The truth is this: you have a new heart. A new motivation. A new “want to.” A love for God and neighbor. All empowered by a love from God through the indwelling life of Christ.
Most Christians live from law. They are motivated by received blessing or avoiding cursing. New Covenant saints are living as if they are under Old Covenant prescriptions. Even though we have a new heart with new devotion and power and trust, we default back to the indwelling sin or law inside of us. But Christians have what Puritan John Owen called a “renewed will.” We have a desire to resist sin. The result of indwelling sin meeting the new heart is a battle within the mind. This is made clear in Romans 7:15-19, and Galatians 5:17.
It is important for us to understand that the new heart brings true freedom. Paul says it like this, “It is for freedom you have been set free…but don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh (indwelling sin) but rather in love serve one another.” You see the new heart gives us a freedom that allows us to choose to sin or to follow the Spirit. Before your new heart you did not have this freedom. Now you do.
God is not using the new heart to create an army of robots. Living from the new heart is still something that we must learn to choose. I have to choose to live from my new heart. I have to choose to live from Christ’s indwelling life rather than from my own dead effort and selfishness.
This is called faith.
Faith is an amazing gift from God. Faith keeps God from violating your humanity, your freedom. He does not pre determine every move you make, every thought you think. He gives you faith. And He gives you a new heart. A new life force. A new LOVE. And then He asks you to trust Him. To walk in faith. To choose to live within freedom for the glory of God and to the service of others.
The new heart is all about love. God’s greatest law is to love. To love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and strength. And to love our neighbors. And remember, your neighbor includes everyone even your enemy (Good Samaritan). When God pours the greatest, purest, most unconditional love into you it frees your heart. It cleanses your heart. It makes your heart new. It turns it from stone to flesh. Receiving the love of God allows us to now obey the command of God to love the Trinity and all of humanity. In love we let God control us through the indwelling life and love of Christ. What pleases God is seeing you walk in faith as you trust in this love of God, abide in His love, and choose daily to pour this love out to others.
Tomorrow we will look at three aspects of living with a new heart (desire, desperation, devotion) that will guide us toward trusting our new heart more and more so that we no longer need to live from law.