“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).
Who was the prophet Ezekiel speaking about when he said, “I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (v. 26)? The Israelites had sinned against God, defiling the land with their idolatry. God had judged them, pouring out His wrath and scattering them among the nations (vv. 16-19). Even in their exile, the people called by His name had profaned that holy name of the One True God and continued worshiping their idols (vv. 20-23). God promised to restore His people to the land, but also to cleanse them from their sin (vv. 24-27). Ezekiel was addressing the sinful children of God then and now!
Sin is subtle, a slippery slope for many believers. It is doubtful that the Israelites deliberately set out to destroy themselves by willful disobedience and ultimately experience the wrath of God. Christians today would be unlikely to sin if they could see the devastating consequences to themselves and others. What reassurance to know that God loves the sinner and forgives the sin! He forgives even the most harmful behaviors and restores sweet fellowship with His contrite children. The Holy Spirit creates a clean heart and renews a right spirit in anyone who seeks repentance (Ps. 51:10).
I was an eye witness to a believer, a minister of the Gospel, whose heart became stone as he rebelled against God and lived his own way. My father was an evangelist who had a national television program and crusade ministry as well as a chapel on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. After years of faithful service, Dad left our mother, our family, and the ministry…hardening his heart toward God and us. His personal failure had a life-changing impact on him and many others. When Dad returned to the Lord, he confessed that pride and professionalism had led to his fall. His heart had grown cold and his actions had become automated. He said, “The devil threw me a pass, and I ran for defeat!” What a joy our family experienced to see his new heart and new spirit when Dad returned to the Lord after seventeen years of rebellion!
While God does forgive our sin when confessed, He warns us of the painful consequences of sin. The Israelites experienced separation from God and lived in exile for 70 years as consequences of their sin. Their nation was destroyed, and many people were killed (Ps. 137). My dad experienced the consequences of his sin too. He lost his marriage and ministry. He was estranged from his family for many years and lost his wonderful life as he knew it before turning away from God. But, God in His grace and love reached out to Dad in his despair and forgave him. In my dad’s last days, he had no conscious awareness of his years away from the Lord. God’s forgiveness took away his memory of his sinful life and gave him sweet peace.
What is the condition of your heart today? Is your heart on fire for God, or has it become cold toward spiritual matters? Recognize any attitude or action in your life that is coming between you and God. Turn to Him now in confession and accept His forgiveness. Make the decision to turn back to God before the consequences of your sin are even more painful. Let Him give you a heart transplant – a new heart, fully committed to Him!