Ezekiel 36:23-28 “I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display My holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you, and make you follow My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
“A new heart I will give you.” What is “the heart” which our God is speaking of here? The heart in the scriptures often refers to the combination of the mind, will, emotions, and conscience in a person. The heart is always central to the work of our God in humans. Our God’s purpose is not to simply modify our behaviors to His liking. He is seeking a people into whom he can place a new heart – His own heart. He seeks a people who will live by His mind, will, and emotions.
This was the original heart found in Adam and Eve, prior to their rebellion by the assertion of self in place of God. The rebellion of the race has eliminated life and heart of our God in us as the normal human experience. The self-life, which is living by the flesh and self-will, became the dominant feature of the human heart, replacing the life of our God. The self-life is the source of all sin in us. We live by our humanness, our fleshly capacities, and cannot by any amount of fervor or effort exhibit any true godliness.
Thus, the words of God to Jeremiah the prophet in Jeremiah 17 speak of the condition of the human heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I, the Lord, know the heart….”
In Ezekiel’s prophecy, God described the hearts of the people as hearts of stone – hardened against the Lord, hardened into a self-serving and rebellious lifestyle. This wickedness and hardness of heart has no human remedy. There is nothing any of us can do to fix or improve our hearts of stone. No amount of behavior modification will change a stony heart.
Ezekiel’s prophecy highlights our need for a new heart altogether. Rather than fix our hearts of stone, our God will remove and replace them with what He calls a “heart of flesh.” He is referring to His heart in us, the life of Christ Himself in us placed there by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” This new heart is the mind of Christ, the will of Christ, and the love, joy, peace of Christ lived in us by His Spirit and not in our fleshly efforts.
When we cooperate with our God in becoming emptied of all self-life, we experience the new heart – the life of our God Himself in us. No longer need we be subject to the ravages of our old, self-focused, fallen, deceitful and stony heart. We can now live fully healed by the life of Christ lived in us by His Spirit.
“I will put my Spirit within you, and make you follow My statutes and be careful to observe My ordinances.” The Spirit of God Himself will live the life of Christ in us. He will live the holiness of Christ in us. The Spirit of Christ in us will not live disobediently to the will of the Father.
Here is the secret of living a holy and godly life every day. When we are yielded fully to the life of Christ in us, the Holy Spirit will live Christ’s life us. Our God’s holiness will be on display to all the nations, and not our fleshly values and efforts or our scandals, disagreements, disputes, and worldly values that are displayed in every Christian organization today.
Only those whose hearts have been removed and replaced will then live out the promise in this passage:
“I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display mMy holiness before their eyes.“
As in the days of ancient Israel when Ezekiel brought this message from our God, the great name of our God has once again been profaned by those who claim to follow Him. One need only to read of the many scandals, disagreements, disputes, and worldly values of most Christian organizations today for the evidence. This message to Israel is also a message to us. May this prophecy be true of all of us as well.