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Chapter 2. Receiving a New Heart

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"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).

What is the heart?

Let's begin our study of character transformation and restoration by taking a look at the concept of receiving a new heart. What does the Bible mean when it refers to "the heart"?

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." (Proverbs 23:7).

"For the word of God is quick...and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).

The Greek word most often translated to "heart" is "kardia," which means the thoughts and feelings, or the mind. Everything we are and do, is driven by our minds. So, when the Bible refers to getting a new heart, it means that our very brain, is the object of transformation. This includes motives, affections, emotions, thoughts, intellect, the will and the entire person.

"When Jesus speaks of the new heart, He means the mind, the life, the whole being. To have a change of heart is to withdraw the affections from the world, and fasten them upon Christ. To have a new heart is to have a new mind, new purposes, new motives. What is the sign of a new heart?--A changed life" (Our High Calling 159.5).

Key Point:
The "heart" in the Bible refers to the mind, which encompasses thoughts, motives, affections, emotions, intellect, the will and the entire being.

A creative act

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).

The word "create" in this text in the Hebrew is the same word that is used in Genesis when God creates the world. There is an actual creative act that occurs when a person receives a new heart. There has to be a new formation; something that hasn't existed before.

"When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature" (Desire of Ages, pg. 324).

"'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.' Rom. 8:7; Matt. 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure... The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit' (The Desire of Ages 172.1).

In order for the heart to be clean or made new, there has to be a transformation of our nature, the source of our thoughts and actions. This means that the inclinations and natural tendencies of the mind are changed. But, how can this be accomplished?

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Peter 1:4).

"It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature" (The Desire of Ages 671.2).

"The Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the only-begotten Son of God, binds the human agent, body, soul, and spirit, to the perfect, divine-human nature of Christ. This union is represented by the union of the vine and the branches. Finite man is united to the manhood of Christ. Through faith human nature is assimilated with Christ's nature. We are made one with God in Christ" (Selected Messages Book 1 251.1).

"It is the privilege of every believer in Christ to possess Christ's nature, a nature far above that which Adam forfeited by transgression" (The Upward Look 18:3).

"Jesus came to suffer in our behalf, that He might impart to us His righteousness. There is but one way of escape for us, and that is found only in becoming partakers of the divine nature" (Selected Messages Book 3 197.2).

This new "heart", is a new spiritual nature, Christ's nature, implanted in you as the Holy Spirit moves into your mind. There is a union of the human with the divine, which is a new formation; a new creature. The work of the Holy Spirit could be thought of as a divine infusion, that spreads throughout the entire organism of the brain, making it soft and pliable, clean, healthy and vigorous; renewed. The Holy Spirit intertwines and connects you with Christ Himself, like a branch to the vine, so Christ's nature and attributes can be transmitted to you and assimilated or replicated into your life. This new nature does not make you divine, but allows you to receive power from One who is divine. Your mind is still uniquely you, but your decision making processes and ability to implement changes are empowered.

"The Spirit works upon man's heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature" (Christ's Object Lessons 411.1).

"The Lord Jesus loves His people, and when they put their trust in Him, depending wholly upon Him, He strengthens them. He will live through them, giving them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to the soul a vital transfusion of Himself. He acts through their faculties and causes them to choose His will and to act out His character. With the apostle Paul they then may say, 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me' (Gal. 2:20)" (That I May Know Him 78.4).

"God does not force the will of His creatures. He cannot accept an homage that is not willingly and intelligently given. A mere forced submission would prevent all real development of mind or character; it would make man a mere automaton. Such is not the purpose of the Creator" (God's Amazing Grace 313.5).

"The Spirit of God does not create new faculties in the converted man but works a decided change in the employment of those faculties. When mind and heart and soul are changed, man is not given a new conscience, but his will is submitted to a conscience renewed, a conscience whose dormant sensibilities are aroused by the working of the Holy Spirit" (Mind, Character, and Personality Volume 2 692.3).

This new nature paves the way for a transformation of character. Not only that, it is critical to your very survival. Ezekiel asks an important question:

"Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18:31).

"The words, 'A new heart also will I give you' (Ezekiel 36:26), mean, A new mind will I give you. This change of heart is always attended by a clear conception of Christian duty, an understanding of truth. The clearness of our view of truth will be proportionate to our understanding of the word of God. He who gives the Scriptures close, prayerful attention will gain clear comprehension and sound judgment, as if in turning to God he had reached a higher plane of intelligence" (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, & Students - 452.3).

"One of the most earnest prayers recorded in the Word of God is that of David when he pleaded, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God.' Ps. 51:10. God's response to such a prayer is, A new heart will I give you. This is a work that no finite man can do. Men and women are to begin at the beginning, seeking God most earnestly for a true Christian experience. They are to feel the creative power of the Holy Spirit. They are to receive the new heart, that is kept soft and tender by the grace of heaven" (Our High Calling159.2).

Receiving a New Heart: The implanting of a new spiritual nature, Christ's nature, in your mind as the Holy Spirit moves in, which purifies your inclinations and empowers your decision making process and ability to make changes in your life.

The source that feeds the stream - Is your water pure?
Backpacking to a far-removed, remote mountain location is exhilarating. The majestic trees, pure mountain streams, lush hidden valleys and colorful wildflowers are far away from the activity, waste and pollution of human populations. Drinking the cold, crisp water from the clean, fresh mountain stream is delight... until the next morning when you take a short walk upstream and find another hiker bathing in the stream.

Is the source and makeup of the water you drink important? Do you wonder where it comes from and where it has been? Should you choose well water, spring water, mineral water, distilled water or purified water? Is the source of your water from the rain, surface water or ground water?

Much time and resources are spent in trying to purify the source of our water. It means the very life or death of millions of people. Of even more importance, is how much time and effort is spent trying to clean up a person's behavior. Until the heart (spring/source), is purified, no thought or action (stream) will be pure. God's solution goes right to the heart, the spring, and purifies it first.

Motives and desires

The transformation of your motives and desires, corresponds to a willingness to hand them over to God. It can be an intriguing, if not terrifying, exercise to look into one's own motivations with a deep, probing inquiry. With all the layers of thought and subconscious abilities of the mind, it is often difficult to even pinpoint the truth. God helps you to unwrap your thoughts and discover their source and fountain. Do not be afraid. Digging into those innermost layers is necessary in order to recognize the true state of your motives and desires.

"It is in mercy that the Lord reveals to men their hidden defects. He would have them critically examine the complicated emotions and motives of their own hearts, and detect that which is wrong, and modify their dispositions and refine their manners. God would have His servants become acquainted with their own hearts" (My Life Today 92.3).

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalms 139:23-24).

"Christ Himself calls our attention to the growth of the vegetable world as an illustration of the agency of His Spirit in sustaining spiritual life. The sap of the vine, ascending from the root, is diffused to the branches, sustaining growth and producing blossoms and fruit. So the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Saviour, pervades the soul, renews the motives and affections, and brings even the thoughts into obedience to the will of God, enabling the receiver to bear the precious fruit of holy deeds. {TDG 252.2}

"Ask the Lord to reveal to you yourself; place your life under His searching eye, and when He lays hold upon your case you will see that you have made grievous mistakes, and what you supposed was of little importance was offensive in the sight of Heaven. You will see that there is a decided need of thorough transformation of character. You will realize that you must put away the evil of your doings, and cooperate with God and heavenly angels who are sent to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation" (TMK 237.3).

The presence of a new heart, or spiritual nature, means the presence of new motives and desires. This first step of recreating your nature purifies the intentions and empowers the will, which is necessary before the development of character can proceed successfully. Otherwise, any modification of habits and traits would not only be more difficult, but would be predominately external. It would not ensure true desire, pure motives and long lasting change. God works from the inside out, thus the external changes in the life will be a natural result and come from a solid inner desire and pure motivation.

Without a new heart that is soft and pliable, God cannot mold your character. A stone cannot be molded, only broken or removed. Later we will study how He wants to give you the imprint of Christ's character and seal it into place. Think of a king who impresses his seal on melted wax. This impress cannot have an effect on a hard heart.

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).

The new heart is clearly vitally important. And to be clear, it is a gift from Christ. It is His divine-human nature, made available to you as a source of empowerment by the Holy Spirit who moves into your mind. This new nature is no small matter. It is a change of such magnitude that only a divine being could impart it. This is a true change of heart.

"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart" (Jeremiah 24:7).

"In the unregenerate heart there is love of sin and a disposition to cherish and excuse it. In the renewed heart there is hatred of sin and determined resistance against it" (The Great Controversy 508.2).

Next Bible Term: Circumcising the Heart
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