WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 18, 2023
TOPIC: A NEW HEART
BY T. O. BANSO
“They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them” (Zechariah 7:12 New Living Translation).
When the Bible talks about the heart, it’s not talking about the muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body. As Easton’s Bible Dictionary says, “According to the Bible, the heart is the centre not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life.” It notes that the heart is “the home of the personal life,” and hence a man is designated, according to his heart.
The heart of man determines everything that a man does. The type of heart a man has influences how he behaves or what comes out of his life. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20 New King James Version). Mark 7:21-23 says a similar thing.
There are basically two kinds of heart in the Bible: the stony heart and the heart of flesh. We can classify this further as the good heart and the evil/bad heart, or the stubborn/rebellious heart and the obedient heart. When people’s hearts are right, other things will be right. Many parents are struggling to change the lives of their children, including adults who are giving them problems, but they seem not to be achieving the desired result. The problem is that of the heart. As long as the stony or rebellious heart is still in them, nothing will change.
When someone has a stony or rebellious heart, what he needs is spiritual heart surgery or a transplant. He needs a new heart. When he receives a new heart, everything about him will change. It is a common saying that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig! Unless there is a change in its nature, it cannot behave differently.
The heart is very important. It determines what comes out of your life or the direction of your life. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (New King James Version). Many people need spiritual heart surgery for the change others desire for them or what they desire. They must have their stony heart changed to a heart of flesh, and only God can do this.
God said, regarding the Israelites, “They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them” (Zechariah 7:12 New Living Translation). Did you see the direction of their lives and the effect of having a stony heart? They didn’t listen to God’s instructions or messages. This led to God’s anger against them. There would always be consequences for having a stony heart.
People with stony hearts are disobedient and rebellious. When children have stony hearts, they don’t obey their parents. Some parents are currently tired of beating and disciplining such children. Their children have frustrated all their efforts to make them turn out well in life. What such children need is a new heart, which no parent can give. Only God can.
Every sinner needs a new heart. The stony heart is a heart of sin. We can preach to sinners, talk to them, and encourage them, but without a new heart, nothing will change in their lives. The reason sinners persist in their sin and reject the gospel is that they have not received a new heart. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. When sinners receive a new heart, they will surrender their lives to Jesus and everything will change in their lives.
God said in Ezekiel 36:26-27, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (New King James Version). Did you see the two types of heart I mentioned earlier: A stony heart and a heart of flesh? The Easy-to-Read Version puts the passage this way: “I will also put a new spirit in you to change your way of thinking. I will take out the heart of stone from your body and give you a tender, human heart. I will put my Spirit inside you and change you so that you will obey my laws. You will carefully obey my commands.”
We need to pray more that God will remove the stony hearts of sinners and rebellious/disobedient children and give them a new heart of flesh and a new spirit. When this happens, they will be saved and their lives will change. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b). He told the house of Israel in Ezekiel 18:31-32: “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? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (New International Version). But they can only receive this new heart and new spirit from God.
In Ezekiel 11:19-20, God said, “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (New King James Version). A heart of flesh will cause a hitherto rebellious person to begin to walk in God’s way.
Those who have a new heart fear the Lord, not negative fear but reverence for Him. And as Proverbs 16:6b says, through the fear of the Lord, a man avoids evil. A new heart! Jeremiah 32:38-40 says, “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (New King James Version).
A new heart! God wants everyone to have a new heart, not a stony heart, for without a heart of flesh, we cannot do His will or live the kind of life He wants us to live. David cried to God in Psalm 50:1 to create in him a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within him.
A new heart or a heart of flesh is very important. That’s why at salvation, God gives us a new heart. That’s what happens when someone is born again or born anew. According to 1 Corinthians 12:3b, no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. In John 3:3 Jesus says unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God and goes further in verse 5 to emphasize that unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
A new heart! Hear more what Jesus says: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:6-8 New King James Version).
When someone is born again, God gives him a new heart and his life begins to change because he is a new creature. That was what happened to Onesimus, Philemon’s slave. He had run away from him and fled to Rome. He got born again through the ministry of Paul in Rome. Because Onesimus was a changed person, Paul wrote to Philemon and appealed to him to receive Onesimus who was formerly unprofitable to him but had become profitable to him and Paul (Philemon 1:10-11).
Just as Onesimus returned to his master after spiritual heart surgery, the prodigal son also returned to his father after coming back to his senses. He had a change of heart and returned home. “At last he came to his senses and said, ‘All my father’s hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve! I will get up and go to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.’ So he got up and started back to his father” (Luke 15:17-20 Good News Translation). I pray that all prodigal sons and daughters, who have run away from home, will have a similar experience and return.
Perhaps the most outstanding case of heart surgery in the Bible is that of Saul of Tarsus. When he went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus to take the followers of Christ as prisoners to Jerusalem, he didn’t know he had just booked an appointment for spiritual heart surgery to be performed by Jesus! This eventually took place on the way to Damascus where Jesus encountered Paul and he became a Christian. Paul’s life was changed forever. He joined the people he had come to persecute and immediately preached in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:1-20).
What an amazing change! Verse 21 says, “Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’”
Paul’s conversion tells us that there is nobody whose case is irredeemable. We shouldn’t give up on anyone. What the worst sinner needs is a new heart. Paul said, “‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ This saying is true, and it can be trusted. I was the worst sinner of all!” (1 Timothy 1:15 Contemporary English Version). What a rebellious child or hard-hearted spouse needs is a new heart. Nobody’s case is hopeless. Maybe you’re battling with a particular sin in your life. God can deliver you from that sin if you cry for His help. He will change you. There is hope for you.
As you have read, God has promised to give us a new heart and put a new spirit within us. He said that He would take the heart of stone out of our flesh and give us a heart of flesh and a new spirit; He will put His Spirit within us and cause us to walk in His statutes, and we will keep His judgments and do them. He is not a man, that He should lie or a son of man, that He should repent. Has God said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Number 23:19).
May we pray for spiritual heart surgery by God for everyone who needs it. Dear Father, do it.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, remove the stony hearts of all sinners, including the rebellious children, give them hearts of flesh, and put a new spirit within them. Give them a new heart and a new spirit today. Put Your Spirit in them so that they will follow Your way.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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