The New Heart Part 2 of 3
by John Lowe
You may have seen a man who is an enemy of God that’s proud of his honesty, and yet he is robbing God. Or a man that’s proud of his chastity, and yet his thoughts are full of lust and filth. Or a man who’s proud of the praise he receives from others, but he knows himself; he knows that God and his conscience blame him. It seems strange to me that a man can be proud, when he has nothing to be proud of. What is man but a living, animated lump of clay—defiled and filthy, a living hell, and yet proud?
I am the son of a man that robbed his Master's garden, and went astray and was disobedient, and lost everything when he ate a single apple; and yet I am proud of my ancestry! I am living on charity from God, but I am proud of my wealth, even though I don’t have two nickels to rub together, unless God chooses to give it to me. I came into this world naked, and I must go out of it naked.
Now, the strangest thing of all is that a man who has a heart that’s full of adultery and all types of idolatry, and lust, can talk about being a good person, and take pride in himself and claim to have some good points about himself, which deserve the admiration of his colleagues, and some consideration from God. It’s human nature, then, for a man to be proud of himself, while he has nothing to be proud of. Let’s put our pride away, and let God give us something new for the old nature, since it can never be made better. It is helplessly insane, decrepit, and defiled. What's more, I am pretty certain that human nature cannot be made better, since many have tried to do it, but they have always failed.
I have seen men try to make themselves religious, but they wind up making a mess of themselves when they try to do it. They go limping along in the service of God, and everyone soon discovers the inconsistencies in their life. It might be easier for a leopard to change its spots than it would be for a man to imagine that he can conceal the wickedness of his nature by any attempts at religion.
I have tried for a long time to improve myself, but I never had much luck at it. I found I had a devil within me called the flesh or the old nature. Instead of becoming better, I became worse. Now I had the devil of pride and jealousy and lust, and many others had come to take-up lodging with them. My friends, you may try and reform, but you will find you can’t do it, but even if you could, it still would not be the work that God requires. He will not accept reformation, because He wants renovation. He wants you to have a new heart, and not a heart that’s changed a little bit for the better.
There’s another reason why we must have a new heart that becomes apparent when you consider how Christ wants Christians to live and enjoy Him. Can you imagine that a lion will lie down with a lamb, and eat straw like a cow, so long as it is a lion? No; there must be a change. You may put sheep's clothing on it, but you cannot make it a sheep unless the lion-like nature is taken away. Try to improve the lion as long as you like; try for a thousand years, but you’ll never make it into a sheep.
There must be a total change of character, so if you ask me if it is possible for a man that is a drunkard, and an adulterer, and has cursed God, to sing the high praises of God in heaven as well as a man who has loved and had communion with Christ for a long time? My answer is no, never, unless his nature can be entirely changed. So long as his heart is what it is, he will never be capable of having the spiritual nature of the child of God. Therefore, folks, there must surely be a new nature put into us.
I want to conclude the first part of the message with this point. God hates a depraved nature, and therefore it must be taken away, before God can accept him. God hates the sin, but not the sinner. The Lord is not only angry at our sinful acts, but against the nature which orders the acts. God is not so short-sighted that He merely looks at the surface; He looks at the source of our disobedience and sin. He said, "in vain shall it be, though thou shouldst make the fruit good, if the tree remains corrupt. In vain shalt thou attempt to sweeten the waters, so long as the fountain itself is defiled."
God is angry with man's heart; he has a hatred for man's depraved nature, and he will have it taken away, he will have it totally cleansed before he will admit that man into any communion with Himself—and above all, into the sweet communion of heaven. There is, therefore, a demand for a new nature, and we must have it, or otherwise, we can never see the face of God.
And now for my second point, I want to try to describe for you, very briefly:
THE NATURE OF THIS GREAT CHANGE WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS IN US.
And, I’ll begin by saying that it is a work of God from first to last. God alone can give a man a new heart and a new nature. "Salvation is of the Lord alone;" this truth will stand the test of time, because it is the indisputable truth of God. And this truth, applies to this indispensable part of salvation; the making of a new heart within us. That must be God's work, since man cannot reform himself. But how can man give himself a new heart?
How can man put a new heart into himself, given that the heart is what motivates all life, and must exert itself before anything can be done? But how could an old heart, by its own efforts, bring forth a new heart? I have heard of some kind of insects that when they have lost their legs, they are able to grow new ones. But take away the source of power, the heart, and what power is there that can repair it, unless it’s a power from above?
My friends, there hasn’t been a man yet who can make himself a new heart. Only God can make a new heart and put new life into the soul, and most likely, He will have to overcome a man’s resistance against it. Once, again, this all happens because of God grace. When God puts a new heart into man, it is not because man deserves a new heart; the Lord simply gives a man a new heart because he wishes to do so; that’s his only reason.
It could be that someone would ask, "Suppose a man was earnestly seeking for a new heart, would he get one?" I’m sorry to say it’s impossible; so long as the man's heart is depraved and vile, he will never do such a thing. The fact is, no man ever did, or ever will seek a new heart, or a right spirit, until, first of all, God’s Spirit begins to draw him. I want to emphasize again, a man is saved by grace through faith, not by any effort of his own.
When God first begins the work of changing the heart, he finds the man is totally against such a thing. It’s natural for a man to kick and struggle against God, because he doesn’t want to be saved.