Just recently Ezekiel 18 was brought to my attention by a loved one who felt these verses proved that we should be able to conjure up faith, repentance and obedience to God in our own power. Of course these verses came as no surprise, since I too had struggled with them and many others, most of my life. Coming from a legalistic background, I would read all the do’s and don’ts in God’s word and despair of ever being able to live up to them all. It wasn’t until God opened my blind eyes that I could finally understand that He actually wanted me to despair of ever being able to live up to His standards, so that confidence in my own self-sufficiency would be shattered and so I could finally realize my desperate need for a Savior (2Cor.3:5).
Ezek.18 is actually a perfect example of how God deals with His people. He commands them to do the impossible. In verses 30-31 He commands His people to “turn themselves” and make themselves a new heart and a new spirit. He tells them to do what He already knew they could never do apart from His divine intervention. Even in Ezek. 3:7 God tells His prophet from the very start that these people wouldn’t listen, for they were hard-hearted. So why did God even bother telling them to do what He already knew they couldn’t?
By reading the whole book of Ezekiel in context, the answer becomes obvious. He did this so they would realize they didn’t have the power to do the very things that would save them. And when they accused God of being unfair, He revealed even more of His glory by making it clear that He could destroy them all and still be just, because like all of us, they deserved hell for sinning against their holy Creator (Ezek.18:25,29). “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
But in Ezek.36:22 we see that God is full of mercy and grace and He shows us that He can change the most repulsive sinner in order to reveal His glory. Again in vs.26 and 27 God tells them He is the One who gives a new heart and a new spirit. Even as early as Ezek.11:19-20, God tells them they will become His people only because He Himself will put a new heart and a new spirit in them and that only then would they have the power to obey His commands. For no one has the natural power within themselves to do this, because we can only “believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ (Eph.1:19, 20).
The book of Ezekiel is just another beautiful reminder of how God’s mighty power can triumph over our sin nature. Just as Jesus commanded Lazarus’ dead body to come forth, He still commands sinners who are dead in their trespasses to do the impossible, to repent and believe the gospel. And just as Jesus gave Lazarus the power to come, He still gives His people the same power to come today.
So friend, that which is impossible for you, is not impossible with God. Come to Him today and confess your helplessness and place your trust in Him alone (not in yourself) to give you the new heart and new spirit that you so desperately need to be saved. And keep coming to Him. Pray, read God’s word, worship and commune with God’s people until you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has forever changed you and that you are forever His.
4 thoughts on “A New Heart and a New Spirit”
Thanks, Lee Anne!
These reminders are so encouraging. There is such spiritual bondage in any form of “do and do” (from Isaiah 28):
All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.
Who is it He is trying to teach? To whom is He explaining His message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here, a little there.
Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom He said,
“This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
and, “This is the place of repose”–
but they would not listen.
So then, the Word of the LORD to them will become:
Do and do, do and do,
rule on rule, rule on rule;
a little here a little there–
so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isa 28:8-13)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30)
Thanks “just1ofhis”—–these verses you’ve brought up are very helpful to piece all this together. It’s true, it really is throughout the whole Bible!! It amazes me that it becomes more clear everyday that the whole “do more” —-“try harder” moralism in our modern churches is at the very root of all the other heresies being promoted.
Because if we can’t understand that our salvation is based on Jesus’ merits alone, rather than human merit—–how can we not fall into a thousand other delusions?
I’m so thankful God is revealing this to His people.
Oh, so true!
It is God who calls you, who opens your eyes, who helps you understand your sin, who draws you near to Him, it is His word, it is through Jesus Christ, with the help of Holy Spirit.
I was a young child when He started talking to me, even though at that time I didn’t have any idea about God and anything to do with Christianity.
The thought of eternity….He planted it in my mind…..I instantly knew that is more than this earthly life….and this is how He started opening my eyes, looking for answers….and one day, like apostle Paul, He met me on the road and called me.
Praise be to God!
I’m so thankful to God for His mercy and abounding grace. Great testimony and makes me want to praise Him even more. Thanks