Living With a New Heart

Living With a New Heart

Robert Wurtz II

And having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:21-22). 

The writer to the Hebrews to this point has explained many great truths concerning the picture of the Old Covenant priesthood and how it relates to New Covenant life. Simply stated, the Wilderness Tabernacle and the Temple were illustrations of man in his relationship to God in the service of God. It is the kingdom of priests doing the service on earth under the authority and guidance of the throne of grace. 

Picture the Wilderness Tabernacle and Temple as vertical and not horizontal. Imagine the High Priest ascending to Heaven through the vail on the Day of Atonement with the blood. For the priests, beginning at the entrance to the courtyard there was an altar where the fire of God burned continually. Next was the brazen laver that was lined with polished metal (like mirrors). It was at the laver where the priests were to wash before entering the Holy Place. The laver is of supreme importance because it represents the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit promised in Ezekiel (see Titus 3:5, Eph. 5:26). 

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 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. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36:25-27). 

Ezekiel 36:25-27 is closely related to Jeremiah’s New Covenant promise (Jer. 31:31-34 cited in Heb 8:7-13; Heb 10:15-18). God has given to the regenerate a true heart that does by nature the principals of the Old Covenant law. The true heart is received in a crisis event and will require ongoing care and maintenance to maintain it as true. It can become defiled and hardened again if care is not taken. 

In the same sense that receiving a new heart makes for a new tongue (for an explanation of this process see the previous blog post), receiving a new heart and maintaining that new heart will also keep our bodies cleansed. When the heart has changed the conduct of the tongue and body will be changed. It can be no other. The tongue and body are directly connected to the heart. If the heart is evil so will be the deeds of the tongue and body. The true heart (new heart) sets a totally different course for our life. 

  

The true heart has been “sprinkled from an evil conscience freed from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). This is more than being purged of the sting of a transgressed conscience by the blood of Christ; it is the true heart that longs to live by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. It echoes the words of the Lord Jesus, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34 ESV). God has written his laws upon the true heart as anticipated by Jeremiah and referenced in Heb. 10:16. 

It is in this state of a true heart that we can draw near unto God, Holy, undefiled, cleansed from the Sin of Adam, and eye to eye with God. The writer uses the present continuous tense for drawing near (see Heb. 4:16; Heb. 7:25; Heb. 11:6). Drawing near to the Throne of Grace is the means of direction, enabling for service, Holy living, and perseverance until His appearing. In public and in private we are called to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:21-22). 

The Prodigal King

Robert Wurtz II

The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the tablet of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars. (Jeremiah 17:1)
Jeremiah was lamenting the fact that though the children of Israel ought to have had the laws of God written upon the tablets of their hearts, sin and idolatry was written in its place. The several “thou shalt not” commands had been replaced with “thou shalls.” The repeated warnings not to harden our hearts, given to us by the writer to the Hebrews, come into view. We hardened ourselves when we refuse to hearken to the many impressions that God makes upon our hearts when we are tempted to sin. We are further hardened by the deceitfulness of sin once we indulge in it. Taken together the heart can become as hard as a stone tablet. Such was the case with the remnant Judah. Their sin was written, not with a quill or a pencil, but with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond.
A Change Of Heart
As important as it was for the people of Judah to have what we sometimes call, “a change of heart,” what they truly needed was a new heart. Many people examine their lives and decide upon so-called new years resolutions. In fact, physical fitness centers see an explosion of new members at the start of each new year. What happens? Many attend for a few months, but by summer, things are back to the bad habits and lack of discipline again. Why? Because there is a great difference between a “change of heart” and a “changed” heart. A change of heart has the risk of being temporary, while a changed heart has a chance to be permanent. God is more than willing and able to remove the old and install the new.
The Wretchedness of the Heart
It is impossible for us to comprehend the power of God. We use words like “omnipotence” and “all powerful”, but often these are mere concepts or theological propositions. Do we really believe God can do anything? Or do we hesitate when it comes to believing that God can really give a person a new heart? Jeremiah asks the question later in the chapter:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? I, Jehovah, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
John Wesley adds to Jeremiah’s sobering diagnosis, “There is nothing so false and deceitful as the heart of man; deceitful in its apprehensions of things, in the hopes and promises which it nourishes, in the assurances that it gives us; unsearchable by others, deceitful with reference to ourselves, and abominably wicked, so that neither can a man know his own heart, nor can any other know that of his neighbor’s.” All we can do is observe and weigh a persons’ actions against the word of God. We cannot know their heart. In fact, we lack the wisdom and knowledge to know our own heart. Jeremiah asks, “Who can know it?” (emphasis on can) Answer: God does. Moreover, “What can discern its thoughts and intents?” The word of God.
All things are naked and open to the eyes of God. He knows the heart and He watches it. This is how He caught Satan plotting to rebel in Heaven. He told Satan, “You have said in your heart (…).” Jesus added that it was from the heart issues forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings. (Matthew 15:19)

The Power to Change a Heart
Nebuchadnezzar was a man who had some bad thoughts in his heart. He was proud and arrogated to himself all of the accomplishments of his life. Little did he know, God was watching and listening. In fact, God warned him that the next time he acted out (in this way), he would drive him from men and into the field to live like a wild beast. Sort of like a child that forgets that his or her parent has warned them of the consequences of continued behavior, Nebuchadnezzar, in time, forgot what God said.
At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee: and thou shalt be driven from men; and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; thou shalt be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over thee; until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (Daniel 4:29-32)
As he had been warned, God gave this man the heart of a beast and he began behaving like a wild animal. Can we conceptualize that? God is so powerful that He changed this man’s heart as if it were a light thing. His whole nature changed from a man who enjoyed the plush pleasures fitting a king, to an animal that wallowed in the field and chewed grass like an ox. Nebuchadnezzar the great king became a circus act in a moment of time. He was powerless to help himself.
What happened? This was no mere “change of heart.” This was not a new years resolution. When the conditions were met God acted and this man’s heart was changed like we would change a computer memory chip! It was a changed heart performed by the hand of God. One day he is lying in his soft pillow bed, the next day he is lying in the field like cattle. All because God changed his heart. He went from man to beast with a proverbial flip of a switch. This is the kind of power for change that God wields. Again, once the man fulfilled the conditions spoken in the dream, the heart was changed. O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee: and thou shalt be driven from men; and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field.
Sometimes God has to do radical things to get us to see our condition. In Nebuchadnezzar’s case, He warned Him and He waited. As soon as the fear wore off (that kept him in check for a little while) — he acted out again and God responded as He warned him. Understand that God had a purpose in doing this. We read again, seven times shall pass over thee; until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men. God was trying to change this king’s mind about life. He had to take the man down to the level of an animal to do it. This would not be the last time that God, as an expression of His great love, reveals His willingness to do whatever it takes to save a soul from hell.
I have to wonder, why do people have to live like farm animals before they change their mind? The prodigal son found himself eating the food that the hogs ate and Nebuchadnezzar was chewing grass like a cow. It’s as if he was a prodigal king. I must conclude that there is something about living with farm animals that brings people to their senses. Imagine the absolute humiliation! While at home in the fathers’ house or sitting on the throne in Babylon — these men could not see things right. They had to hit bottom before they gained the right perspective.

Tibetan yak with mountain background
“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to.” (Daniel 4:34 KJV)

Notice how nebuchadnezzar had changed. No longer sitting proud on his throne or boasting about his greatness. From the lowest of the low, he looked up to heaven. No fancy prayers. In fact, we don’t read that he said anything at all. He said, “I lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me…” God knew that this man had changed his mind about things. Compared to the lofty purposes God has for mankind it’s as if the whole human race is grazing the pasture chewing the cud. Living in sin is like a man wallowing in a hog pen in the eyes of God. Literally doing it has a way of waking a person up. Notice how easy it was for God to change this man’s heart back to normal. He lifted his eyes and God changed him.

Rather than making a new years resolution this year why not have a willingness to change our mind and agree with God about our condition? No need for drawn out prayers… God is simply looking for our mind to truly change. If we lift up our eyes He will change us too.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: