The heart is what pumps blood to every nook and cranny in our bodies. The blood is life. If the heart, or blood, is not working correctly then bad things happen, like blood clots or heart attacks. Making sure we keep a healthy heart is something for which to strive. We watch our cholesterol and attempt to exercise so we keep a strong heart muscle. But you already knew that.
Long ago, ancient people, such as the early Egyptians, used to think that our emotions centered around the heart muscle. Today we know that the brain triggers emotion, but we still feel tremors in the chest cavity and a racing heart when we feel anger, love, sadness, and anxiety.
We say phrases such as, “I am heart broken,” or, “He has a heart of gold.” Perhaps you’ve had a “heart-to-heart” chat with someone before. When we say those idioms we do not mean a physical heart has broken to pieces or turned to gold. No, we’re speaking about a person’s behavior, or emotions. It is as if we have two hearts. One that beats and keeps our blood flowing, and another one that symbolizes the emotions, character traits, and spiritual depth of humanity.
It is the spiritual depth, the center of emotions and what makes us human, that God focuses on all throughout the Bible. All of us have this center of being, who we are, our souls. Ezekiel writes about us being given a “new heart” from God.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26
If we are to receive a “new heart”, then there must be an “old heart”. The Bible tells us quite a bit about the “old heart”. This heart is more deceitful then anything. (Jeremiah 17:9) And the list goes on:
- It can be proud. (2 Kings 14:10)
- It can be hardened. (Exodus 9:7, Deuteronomy 15:7, Psalm 95:8, Matthew 19:8)
- It can melt with fear. (Joshua 14:8)
- It can be turned away from God. (1 Kings 11: 3,4,9)
- It can despise people. (2 Samuel 6:16, 1 Chronicles 15:29)
- It can tremble. (Deuteronomy 28:65)
- It can become enraged. (2 Kings 6:11)
- It can be unfeeling. (Psalm 17:10)
- It can be stubborn and rebellious. (Jeremiah 5:23)
- It can be deceived. (Deuteronomy 11:16, James 1:26)
- It can be troubled. (1 Samuel 25:31, 2 Samuel 24:10, 2 Corinthians 2:4)
- It can be as stone. (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26)
- It can be unbelieving. (Hebrews 3:12)
- It can be wicked. (Psalm 66:18)
Wow. The “old heart” doesn’t have a good track record. That list tells us everything our old heart can do or become. But that verse in Jeremiah tells us what our heart is: It is deceitful. And he goes on to tell us that our hearts are desperately sick. Not our physical hearts, but our spiritual ones.
We’ve all known people who have had a “change of heart” when it comes to some circumstance. That heart could change from bad to good, OR from good to not so great. Somehow we need to get our “old hearts” changed into “new hearts”.
Why does it matter? Because your heart is deceitful. ALL the time. It just is. The heart also needs to change because God tells us that he wants to put a new heart into us. Remember that verse from Ezekiel? Read it again.
How are we to change our hearts? Actually, we can’t. God has to do it. But we have to choose to allow him to change our hearts from old to new. We have to go to him with an attitude of repentance telling him we want our hearts to change.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Acts 2:37-38
- We must believe in our hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead. (Romans 10:9,10)
- We are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. (Colossians 3:15)
- Christ is to dwell in our hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:17)
- And we are sealed with the Holy Spirit in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Once the change takes place, what does a “new heart” look like? What does it do? The simple answer is that a “new heart” behaves in the opposite manner of the “old heart”. But there is more to it. A new heart does not automatically know how to act.
A new heart must be:
- Filled with God’s law (Psalm 37:31, Psalm 40:8) which means we must read the Bible on a regular basis.
- Obedient (Romans 6:17) to what God says through his word.
- Steadfast (Psalm 57:7) and not wishy-washy. You either believe in Jesus Christ, or you don’t.
As we start filling our changed hearts with God’s word, and being obedient and steadfast, then our “new hearts” begin to emerge. For some people the heart lights up automatically. For many of us, it is a slow, steady beam that becomes brighter over time. Either way, God is creating something new!
- Desires understanding and discernment. (1 Kings 3:9)
- Inclines itself towards the things of God. (Joshua 24:23, Psalm 119:36, Psalm 119:112)
- Displays wisdom. (1 Kings 10:24, Psalm 90:12)
- Is tender. (2 Kings 22:19, Ephesians 4:32)
- Is glad. (1 Kings 8:66, 1 Chronicles 16:10, Psalm 4:7)
- Is pure. (Psalm 24:4, 73:1, Matthew 5:8)
- Stirs to offer selfless offerings. (Exodus 35:22, 36:2, 2 Kings 12:4)
- Seeks the Lord. (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13)
- Serves the Lord. (Deuteronomy 10:12, 11:13, Joshua 22:5, 1 Samuel 7:3, 12:24, 1 Chronicles 28:9)
- Loves the Lord. (Deuteronomy 6:5, 30:6, Joshua 22:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27)
The blood is life. In order for our human bodies to stay alive and work correctly, the heart organ must pump blood everywhere. In order for our spiritual hearts to stay alive eternally and work as God intended them, then a new heart through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ must be placed within us. The old life goes away. A new life begins. (John 3:16)
I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. ~ Jeremiah 24:7
God desires for you, and me, to have a whole heart. Should we “follow our hearts” as many would encourage us to do? Not unless God has changed it!
God loves you. God wants you. He wants to be mighty in your life. He wants to help you through the tough situation you might be in right now. He wants to use you for good works.
Do you already have a changed heart? Being a Christian is not for the faint-hearted. If you are like me, I’m working on my new heart. It’s in me, but the struggle to fill it with God’s word and obey is real. There are times when it tries to become stone again. Or proud. Or stubborn.
We don’t lose our changed hearts, but they tend to try out those old behaviors we used to habitually do. That’s when we fill our hearts with scripture that fight against those behaviors and characteristics.
Which do you have? An old heart? A heart in the process of change? or a new heart?
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