The New Heart Part 1 of 3
by John Lowe
The New Heart
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."—Ezekiel 36:26.
I want to begin by revealing a wonder of God’s love. When God makes one of His creatures, and that creature has a fall from the condition in which he was created, He causes them, as a rule, to bear the penalty of their transgression, and to stay in the place into which they are fallen. But here He makes an exception; man, fallen man, created by God, pure and holy, has willfully and wickedly rebelled against God, and lost his first estate, but he is to be the subject of a new creation through the power of God's Holy Spirit.
Here is the wonder of God’s love! What is a man compared to an angel? Would you say he is little and insignificant? Here’s what the Bible says about one particular group of angels, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." God showed them no mercy. He made them pure and holy, and they should have stayed that way, but instead, they willfully rebelled. He cast them out of heaven forever; and He didn’t offer a single promise of mercy.
He has delivered them to eternal torment in the place prepared for the devil and his angels.
But here’s the wonder of it; the God who destroyed the angels stoops from His highest throne in glory, and speaks to His creature man, and says to him, "You have fallen just like the angels did; you have made a big mistake and gone astray, but I’m not going to just throw you away. Instead, I am going to do something for you,—not for your sake, but for my own name's sake. I am going to undo the wrong you have done; I will take away that heart which has rebelled against me. I made you, but you have unmade yourself, therefore, I will make you over again. I will take away your stony heart, and give you a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you." Isn’t this a wonder of God’s grace; that mighty angels would be cast into the fire forever, and yet God has made a covenant with man that he will renew and restore him?
And now folks, I will attempt to show two things with this message.
First of all, I want to show why the NEW HEART IS NECESSARY, and then I’ll show the work that God does when He gives the NEW HEART.
And after that, I will make a few personal remarks.
I’ll begin with WHY THE NEW HEART IS NECESSARY.
I hope that the Holy Spirit will show us how sinful we really are in God’s eyes, and that we would crave mercy from Him, since both things are necessary if we are going to be saved.
Did you notice that in our text God does not promise us that He will improve our nature, or that he will mend our broken hearts? No, the promise is that he will give us brand new hearts. Human nature is too far gone ever to be mended. It is not like a house that needs a little repair, with a few shingles blown off the roof, and a couple of windows cracked. But, it is rotten through and through, and there is not a single board in it which has not been eaten by termites; and it’s ready to fall down.
God doesn’t attempt to fix it; he doesn’t shore up the walls, and re-paint the door; he doesn’t try to beautify it, but instead, he decides to tear the whole thing down, and that he will build a new one. It is too far gone, to be fixed. Perhaps it could be fixed, if it only needed a little repair. But that’s not the case; the whole house needs to be repaired. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is weak. From the sole of the foot, to the crown of the head, it has been wounded and bruised.
That’s why the Lord doesn’t attempt to repair it; but instead He says, "I will give you a new heart, and a right spirit will I put within you; I will take away the heart of stone, I will not try to soften it, I will let it be as stony as ever it was, but I will take it away, and I will give you a new heart, and it shall be a heart of flesh."
Now, I want to show you that God is justified in this, and that it was necessary for Him to do it.
To begin with, if you consider what human nature has been, and what it is now, it will not be very long before you will agree with God that it is a hopeless case. For just a moment, think how bad human nature must be to treat its God the way it does. That may just cause you to feel sympathy for God, and sorry that He is treated in such a mean way. I am glad He doesn’t treat us like we treat Him. My friends, there are many men that are hated and mistreated by their fellow man; but there has never been a man who was as despised as Jesus has been. Many men have been slandered and abused, but never as bad as Jesus has been. Many have been treated cruelly and ungratefully, but never was anyone treated as terribly as Jesus has been.
Let us look back upon our past 1ives—how ungrateful have we been to Him! It was God that made us and the first words out of our lips should have been praise for Him. It’s our duty to worship and praise Him, but instead of that, we have taken His name in vain. We have never thanked Him like we should, and we never think of Him as often as we should. It’s like we believe that He has entirely forgotten us, and so we were trying to forget Him. It is so very seldom that we think of Him that you would think that He doesn’t give us any reason to think of Him. This little poem may express how we should think of Him.
"When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I'm lost
In wonder, love, and praise."
But I think if we look back at our own lives, we might feel ashamed and want to say to Him, "How could I have treated a good friend so badly and forgotten Him so easily. He has been a devoted father to me, and yet I have never embraced him? Have I never given him a kiss of gratitude? I haven’t even let Him know that I am aware of His kindness, and that I am grateful for His love?"
But there’s something even worse than forgetting Him; it is that we have rebelled against him. We have attacked God and Jesus. Before we were saved, we hated anything that was God-like, and since we were saved we have despised other Christians, and called them hypocrites. We have despised the Lord’s Day; He set it apart for our good, but we use it for our own pleasure instead of devoting it to Him. He gave us a love letter in a book, and he wants us to read it. It was full of love for us, but we have kept it closed and allowed it to gather dust. He gave us a church and asks us to go there, because He wants to meet with us and speak to us; but we prefer to watch TV and play computer games. My friends, I want to emphasize again that there has never been a man who was treated so badly by his fellow-creatures.
And yet while men have been so cruel to Him, He still continued to bless them. He put breath into their nostrils, even while they were cursing Him. He gave them food to eat, even while they were His enemies. He gave light to their eyes, breath to their lungs, and strength to their muscles, and He blessed them even while they were cursing Him. I am so grateful that He is God and that He never changes, or else we would have been consumed long ago.
I want you to imagine a homeless person dying in a ditch. I hope that such a thing never happens around here, but it could if he begs for food and no one will help him, until at last, he dies in a ditch. That would be horrible; but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was treated even worse. It would have been an act of mercy if they had permitted him to die in a ditch; but that would have been too good for human nature. He had to go through the very worst, and therefore God allowed human nature to take Jesus and nail him to the Cross. He allowed them to mock Jesus while He suffered extreme agony. He allowed human nature to make fun of Him, and to stare with cruel eyes at his stripped and naked body.
Mankind should feel ashamed, because there never was a worse creature than man. Animals might just be better than man, because man has all the worst qualities of the animals and none of their best. He has the fierceness of the lion without its nobility; he has the stubbornness of an ass without its patience; he has all the devouring gluttony of the wolf, without the wisdom which bids it avoid the trap. He is a carrion vulture but he is never satisfied; he is a serpent with the poison of asps beneath his tongue, but he spits his venom all over the place. If you think of human nature and the way it acts towards God, you will agree that it is too bad to be patched up; man must have a new nature.
Now, there is another aspect of human nature where we can see the sinfulness of mankind: that’s its pride. The worse thing about a man is that he can be so proud. My friend, pride is woven into the very core of our nature, and we will not get rid of it until we are laid out in our coffin. It’s astonishing to me, that when I pray, I may try to make use of some humble words; however, I am betrayed by my pride. Pride can keep a person from seeing how sinful he really is.
No one should wonder why they go astray. The wonder is that I am not worse than I am, and all the credit goes to God, not to me. So, when we are trying to be humble, we may be foolishly rushing into pride. It’s a strange thing to see a sinful man that’s proud of his morals, and yet that’s a thing you may see every day.