new heart

In the past two articles we have been discussing the nature of sin. More specifically, we have been zeroing in on our common struggle with secret sin—both volitional (sins we physically commit) and sins of the heart such as lust, anger and pride. Both corrupt our lives and both destroy our relationship with God (Genesis 3, Romans 6:23). Therefore, if we are to overcome these transgressions we need a solution.

As human beings our first inclination is to want more rules. Just tell me what to do and I will do it. But more rules will not solve our sin problem (Romans 3:19-20). Just look at the people of Israel. God graciously delivered them from Egypt, established them as His special people, and then gave them His perfect law (Exodus 14-31). And what was their response? Idolatry! They worshipped the golden calf (Exodus 32).

Point being, rules cannot change behavior, thoughts, or desires any more than a man change skin color or a leopard change his spots (Jeremiah 13:23). Only God’s grace in giving us a new heart (thoughts, desires, and will) can do this. We need to be changed on the inside, not just the outside (Matthew 23:26).

Thankfully, this is what God offers us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross He uttered those final words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The salvation of God’s people was procured. The new covenant was inaugurated (Matthew 26:26-29).

So, how does this apply to our discussion on the new heart? It applies because, by spilling His blood, Jesus purchased the Spirit’s power in giving us this new heart. Consider Jeremiah 31. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…not like the covenant that I made with their fathers.” First of all, this covenant is new. It is not like the old covenant God gave to Moses (Exodus 20-31). Secondly, in this covenant, the law is not on stone tablets. Rather, the Lord promised, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. (Jeremiah 31:31-34). We will have God’s law within us because in this covenant we will have a new heart that desires to obey God. In Ezekiel the Lord said it this way. “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. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

These, along with many others, are new covenant promises that Jesus secured through His death (Hebrews 8). The moment we believe the Gospel we are justified before God (Romans 4:5). Our eternity is secured. But, God also gives us His Spirit who creates in us a new heart. This is called regeneration. As a result of the Spirit’s work of indwelling and renewing, we desire to obey God and put to death our sin; especially our secret sins. Commandments alone cannot do this. Only God’s supernatural power is capable.

Will we still struggle with sin? Yes. That’s when we repent and rest in His grace (Romans 8:1). And, we remain confident, “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).