I have seen 2 extremes in Christianity regarding our hearts. The one that I grew up in was more legalistic and clung to Jeremiah 17:9 ~ “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” but the opposite says things like ~ “Just follow your heart.” Which the Bible does not support.
However, both are wrong. Jeremiah was not prophesying our future, after Jesus came to give us a new heart. He was simply stating the facts at the time. Because one of the first promises of the New Covenant (which we live in) was that God, Himself would give us a new heart and a new spirit!
Ezekiel 36 ~25“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27“I will put My Spirit within you…”
The key to notice first is 3 promises. 1) Clean water will clean us! 2) God-given new spirit (even God’s Spirit!) 3) God-given new heart of flesh.
This was the foundational promise of the New Covenant which Jesus came to unveil and Jesus very clearly alluded to this passage when he spoke to the most famous teacher of the Law in John 3:5~ “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus, like all educated Pharisees would have been well versed in Old Testament Scriptures and should have immediately recognized Jesus’ promise of fulfilling Messianic Prophesy. The question is not whether Nicodemus understood it but do we? Consider the next verse ~
“6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
This is much easier than it may sound. Remember, Jesus is in the middle of articulating an old promise and expounding on it. Jesus isn’t merely whipping up some completely new idea to sound deep. The Word in the Flesh is revealing the mystery of God concealed within O.T. Scriptures!
In the Baptism of Christ (1) “washing with water”) God was about to give believers a 2) new spirit (even His Spirit!) because” that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” God was also about to give believers a new heart 3) of flesh because”That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”
Being born-again means we have been given a new heart of flesh but it is still flesh! Flesh is not perfected. It was pure when given to us but, we are the stewards of our own heart; to keep it pure! However, God is Spirit (John 4:24) Since we were born-again of God; we were born-again in the spirit! 1 Cor.6:17 boldly declares that our spirit was joined to the Lord’s Spirit!
There is so much freedom in really perceiving and being fully convinced of who we are in Christ that it’s almost unbelievable! However, the Scriptures always encourages us to follow the Spirit and never our heart. Why?
Because the heart is still flesh and can be tainted. I believe that the fact is that our heart was created completely neutral when we were born-again but, our heart is like a very absorbent sponge and it stores up what we treasure! But, our Spirit was literally joined to Christ (Eph.2:6, Col.2:11-14, Romans 6:3-8) and died with Him in baptism, raised with him in resurrection and His ascension which is where we are NOW in the spirit…completely one with the Risen Lord and King forever! The Born-again Spirit is sealed forever and created in God’s likeness, in righteousness, holiness and truth!
WE’VE GOT TO GET THIS! Ephesians 1 declares us joined to Christ (” In Christ”) over 10 times in one single chapter! How dare we ever consider ourselves separated from the Lord despite this abundant Truth!? Our identity is now hidden in Christ with God because He is the Cornerstone of our life!
Next time, I will wrap up the cautious side about our heart and why we don’t follow our heart. The Scriptures declare more times than I have counted to “follow the Spirit” and since we know the heart is NOT of the Spirit, we cannot follow it. But, we do have liberating promises that purify our heart and clarify it’s God-given purpose!