26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Yesterday we looked at this verse, but today we will dig deeper into it layer by layer. There is much here to consider. First consider the similarity to Jeremiah 31:33
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Both prophets are given a prophecy when there will be a new outlook by God’s people, very different from the outlook they had before. God means to change their hearts from selfish and sinful to holy and sanctified. Their hearts will have God’s law written on them. This will be their great advantage where they will be aware of God’s incredible grace for them spiritually and in their return to the land He had given them.
God says He will take away their stony hearts, a heart only interested in today and what is in it for me, for us, with no interest in the afterlife or what God has to offer. With such a heart we are only interested in this life and not the one to follow. So what is God going to do? He is going to remove that heart and give them, us, a heart of flesh – a heart that would immediately understand Paul’s statement to the Galatians
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6b
In other words, a kind and tender heart spiritually awakened, aware of spiritual rights and wrongs. A heart desirous of doing God’s will, even to suffering to do His will. But God did not end there for He was also going to put a new spirit in you. The Benson Commentary describes this as God saying
I will put my Spirit within you — My enlightening, regenerating, and sanctifying Spirit; that Holy Spirit which is given to and dwells in all true believers; and cause you — Sweetly and powerfully, yet without compulsion; to walk in my statutes — In all my ordinances and commandments, and that from judgment, choice, and affection. For our spirits, when renewed by God’s Spirit to a disposition conformed to his holiness, readily comply with his will in all things, concur with his designs, and become workers together with him. And ye shall keep my judgments, and do them — Ye shall be willing and able to perform all acceptable obedience, and to live a life of universal holiness and righteousness.
This is what God did for the Jews who would return from exile to the promised land. God has reconciled His people to Himself. What about the rest of the world, the Gentiles? The Apostle Paul provides the answer where we have a new heart as new creations in Christ.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20a We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5
What are we to do as new creations in Christ? As the Jews were to be a light to the world, so are we to be a light to the world, committed to the message of reconciliation and as Christ’s ambassadors to the world. So how are we doing? Are we expressing our faith through love? Have we given our new hearts reign over our lives or have we rejected our new hearts for the old?