Ezekiel 11:19-20. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Ezekiel 36:26-27. 26 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
What is Christianity?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? What is the core belief, the foundational reality of our faith? Is it a moral code? Is it law keeping? Is it WWJD?
No. The central truth of Christianity is that we have been graciously made new by the heart changing indwelling Spirit of God. As Ezekiel puts it, the heart of stone has been removed, and the heart of flesh has been given.
Jeremiah’s prophecy of God’s New Covenant only hinted at the life changing reality of the new heart – “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” But Jeremiah did show us the necessity of God’s grace in this process of being made new. We could never keep God’s law of love ourselves. We could never change on our own. We could never formulate a new desire, or stir up love from within. Why? Because as Jeremiah 17:9 says, “the heart is desperately wicked.” We were each born with a heart of stone. An inflexible, unchangeable, stubborn, hateful, fearful, full of contempt for God and his love, heart of stone.
But Ezekiel takes us further than Jeremiah’s prophecy did. Ezekiel 11 reveals that God’s law of love can’t just be chiseled onto our stone hearts. More than a heart change, we need a heart exchange – I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. A tender heart. A heart that is broken by sin and injustice. A heart that is moved by the gospel. A heart that desperately longs for grace. A heart that beats for the love of God and others. A heart that is conformable to the image of God.
But how is all of this possible?
God must change the very nature of our hearts. The outside force of God’s grace must become the inside force of God’s love. For us to become the image of God, God must take over our lives. And that is the greatest truth of Christianity and the greatest work of God – I will put my Spirit within you. The Spirit of Christ.
Romans 8:9-11. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Each and every Christian has this promise of the life-giving Spirit of Christ abiding in them forever. To have the Holy Spirit is to have Christ in you. The new heart, the heart of flesh, the new spirit, IS Christ’s own heart. It is Jesus’ own Spirit.
His desires are your desires.
His affections are your affections.
His mind is your mind.
His will is your will.
His emotions are your emotions.
This is amazing grace! In Christ God has done it all. He has left nothing up to us. God has performed the heart surgery on us that we desperately needed. The Word of Christ, the gospel, has brought its conviction and grace to the hearer. And now by our simple faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross God has acted upon us from the inside-out. His life giving, indwelling love, is now supernaturally changing us day by day into the perfect image of God, Christ Jesus.
That, my friends, is true Christianity. That is “to live is Christ.” Knowing that God has done it all. That it’s all of his grace. And that now, all that remains is to trust him.
Can you identify in yourself the heart of flesh (tenderness) from God, or only a heart of stone?
You in Christ
You have the heart of Christ! How might believing this change how you live today?
Christ in you
What is one specific way you can put off the heart of stone and live from a tender heart today?
Playlist: The Transforming Spirit
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