The Bible speaks frequently of God giving His people a “new heart.” This concept is an important one in Scripture, as it represents the spiritual transformation that takes place when a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ. A heart transplant is the clearest illustration of what takes place spiritually when we are born again. Let’s explore the meaning of the new heart promise and why we need a spiritual heart transplant.
The Natural Heart of Man
In order to understand why we need a new heart, we first need to understand the condition of our natural heart. According to Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (ESV). By nature, all of our hearts are tainted by sin and selfish motives. Even when we do good things, sin still permeates our thoughts and actions. As Romans 3:10-12 says,
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
The natural human heart is hopelessly lost in its sinful state. No matter how skilled a spiritual surgeon we are, we cannot operate on ourselves and fix our own hearts. We need a complete heart transplant that only God can perform.
God’s Promise of a New Heart
In contrast to the natural heart of man, God promises to give His people a new heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 records God’s promise: “And 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.”
Rather than leaving us in our sinful state, God in His great mercy wants to give us new hearts that can worship and obey Him. This promise is repeated in Ezekiel 11:19:
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…”
God does not merely want to patch up our old sinful hearts. We need an entire spiritual transplant. The new heart He gives is not half-good and half-bad, but wholly new.
The Meaning of the New Heart
To better understand the new heart, let’s break down three key aspects of what it means.
1. A Circumcised Heart
Deuteronomy 30:6 speaks of God circumcising our hearts:
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
In the Old Testament, circumcision was a sign of being set apart for God under the covenant He made with Abraham. To circumcise our hearts is to set them apart for God by removing the sinful flesh. Only God can perform this spiritual heart surgery.
2. A Heart of Flesh
As we saw in Ezekiel 36:26, God removes our stony, stubborn heart and gives us a warm, living “heart of flesh” that is sensitive to Him. A stony heart is cold, dead, and unyielding. A fleshy heart is responsive to God’s touch.
3. A Pure Heart
The new heart is a cleansed and purified heart. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” God gives us a new heart so that we can serve Him in righteousness and purity.
As the Above Verses Show, the new heart represents the spiritual transformation that only God can do. We are helpless to change our own sinful hearts, but God does the work through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Why We Need a New Heart
It is vital that we understand why we need a radical heart transplant. As we saw earlier, Jeremiah 17:9 describes the natural heart as “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” Our hearts are fatally flawed from birth. No amount of cosmetic surgery can fix them.
Some key reasons we need new hearts include:
– Our natural hearts are full of sin and corruption. Genesis 6:5 says that “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” From birth, our hearts pump sin rather than righteousness.
– Our hearts distort our thinking. Jeremiah 17:9 goes on to say that the human heart is “desperately sick.” When our thinking and desires come from a sinful heart, it corrupts our entire worldview. We need to learn to process life through a righteous heart.
– Our hearts lead us to rebellion against God. Ephesians 2:3 speaks of the lost as “carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.” Our natural hearts provoke us to rebel against our Creator. We need to be guided by a heart devoted to godly obedience.
– Our hearts cannot change on their own. Jeremiah 13:23 asks rhetorically if a leopard can change its spots or if people can do good “who are accustomed to doing evil.” We cannot transform our own hearts by willpower. Sin has corrupted our entire nature.
– Our hearts cannot please God or earn salvation. Romans 8:7-8 says, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Our sinful hearts guarantee we cannot merit salvation.
In summary, the depth of sin in the human heart is why we desperately need the new heart God offers. We are powerless to fulfill His purposes without the radical transformation only He can provide.
How Do We Receive a New Heart?
The million dollar question is: How can we receive this new heart that God promises? How does this spiritual heart transplant take place? There are several key biblical answers to understand:
– We receive it by faith in Christ. When we put our trust in Jesus for salvation, we are spiritually united with Him. His righteous heart replaces our sinful one. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
– We receive it through spiritual rebirth. Jesus said we must be “born again” to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). This happens when we are born of the Spirit of God. He gives us new hearts when we receive Christ by faith.
– We receive it when we repent. Acts 3:19 connects repentance with times of spiritual renewal. Turning from our old ways in repentance is a key part of embracing a new heart.
– We receive it as an act of God’s grace. 2 Timothy 1:9 says God “gave us a new heart not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” A new heart is not something we can earn, but is a free gift.
The takeaway is that we receive a new heart by humbling ourselves before God, turning from sin, trusting in Christ for salvation, and allowing Him to do this supernatural work by grace.
Examples of People Receiving a New Heart in Scripture
Several biblical characters illustrate what a new heart looks like in a believer’s life:
King David: Though he committed adultery and murder, David begged God for mercy and a clean heart in Psalm 51. Despite his grievous sins, David’s faith was renewed.
Apostle Paul: When Saul persecuted the church, he had a vengeful heart full of self-righteousness. When Jesus appeared to him, his heart was forever changed. Saul became Paul, a man with a heart fully devoted to Jesus.
Zacchaeus: As a tax collector, Zacchaeus had a greedy and deceitful heart. After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus vowed to give to the poor and make amends for cheating people. Zacchaeus received a generous and repentant heart.
Each of these people underwent a heart change only God could work in their lives. The same applies to us today. When we turn to Christ, He replaces our sinful hearts with the capacity to love Him and obey His Word.
The Outworking of a New Heart
When God gives us a new heart, the effects begin to show in our lives. Here are some key ways a new heart impacts us:
– We gain new desires to obey God. Ezekiel 36:27 says God will “cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” With a new heart, we want to honor Christ with our actions.
– We display the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says the Spirit produces love, joy, peace and other Christlike traits in us. These flow naturally from a heart attuned to God.
– We devote ourselves to prayer and God’s Word. Someone with a new heart will regularly communicate with God and study Scripture. These practices keep our heart focused on the Lord.
– We flee from temptations. Psalm 119:11 says God’s Word helps us avoid sin. Instead of flirting with temptations, a new heart rejects them and stays loyal to Jesus.
– We live with eternity in mind. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” With an eternal perspective, we use our time well.
In summary, a new heart revolutionizes every area of life. When God performs heart surgery on us, the transformation will be evident in how we live each day.
The Blessings of a New Heart
Not only does the new heart change us from the inside out, it also brings great blessings to our lives. Here are some of the blessings:
– Our relationship with God is restored. Without a new heart, sin blocks us from closeness with our Creator. Once He gives us a pure heart, we can enjoy intimacy with Him.
– We find power over sin’s hold. Ezekiel 36:27 says God will enable us to walk in obedience. Sin’s dominion is broken when God gives us a heart that delights in righteousness.
– We gain victory in spiritual warfare. Before, our hearts were tools of the devil. Now our hearts have the Spirit of Christ within, helping us resist evil.
– We receive eternal life. Ezekiel 36:26 speaks of how a new heart allows us to “live.” Eternal life starts now for believers and continues forever in God’s presence.
– We are adopted into God’s family. Only those with transformed hearts can truly call God “Father.” We go from being enemies of God to becoming His beloved children.
These blessings demonstrate why the promise of a new heart is such good news. Through Christ, God graciously gives us what we could never do for ourselves.
Conclusion: Our Desperate Need for New Hearts
As we have seen in this study, the universal human condition is that we are all born with deceitful, wicked hearts that cannot be changed apart from God’s intervention. By nature and by choice, we are sinners hostile to God. Our natural hearts cannot save us or make us acceptable before a holy God. We desperately need what only Jesus can provide – a total heart transplant by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we place our trust in Christ for salvation, He begins the process of replacing our sinful hearts with new ones that enable us to live in obedience to Him. Receiving a new heart is not based on our merits, but on God’s grace working through faith. The wonderful promise of Scripture is that all who come to God through Jesus will be given a new heart. This spiritual heart surgery will revolutionize us from the inside out, making us new creations in Christ. As Charles Spurgeon said, “None but Jesus, none but Jesus, can make a sinful heart be clean.” Let us cling to the Savior and continue cooperating with His work to give us a pure and holy heart that brings glory to God.