“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19).
Have you ever been a part of the mighty work of God in a group of people? My husband and I had the amazing privilege of seeing God move in a supernatural way on our college campus in the 1970’s. When we attended the first meeting of the Freshman Baptist Student Union at Baylor University, the room was filled with upperclassmen sharing testimonies of growing up in church, coming to college, and losing their faith. The room, which was filled with excited freshman, became deathly quiet with the discouraging words. Most of us had grown up in Christian homes, excited to be attending a Christian school. Hundreds of enthusiastic new students left the gathering without speaking a word, just stunned by the crises of faith in those campus leaders. However, during the next three years, we saw God change the spiritual climate of our campus and build an active body of believers. In our last years of college, more than 1,500 college students met weekly for prayer and Bible study. God gave the students a new heart and a new spirit!
Throughout the Bible and especially in the book of Ezekiel, God promises to restore His people to Himself, giving them a new heart and new spirit. This theme is more often present in the last twelve chapters of the book by the prophet Ezekiel, but it appears first in Ezekiel 11:19. What a precious promise to the Israelites and to us today! God will give a new heart and a new spirit to those people who follow Him and His Word.
What does God actually mean about a new heart and new spirit?
· A new heart is contrasted with a “stony heart out of their flesh” (v. 19). God changes personal demeanor and spiritual attitude as sin is confessed and forgiveness is granted. Before this divine encounter with God, the Israelites were described as “impudent” (sassy) and “stubborn” (2:4). Their lives were characterized by rebellious sin. God promised that a remnant of His people would have “a heart of flesh,” a soft, pliable heart to obey God’s statutes and keep His commands.
· A new spirit refers to the “real person” or the essence of an individual’s character. Through faith and obedience, God transforms a believer into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation brings about a soul cleansing in a new believer, and sanctification continues the process of soul cleansing as a believer grows in Christ. An obedient follower of the Lord has both a new heart and a new spirit.
Has God given you a new heart and a new spirit? If not, cry out to Him in prayer. He promises to hear you and to answer you. He wants to save you and desires to see transformation in your heart and life. A new heart and new spirit are beautiful reflections of God’s amazing grace!