Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 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. (Ezekiel 36:25-27 NKJV)
Part of the messianic hope and promise was that God would perform a radical transformation inside the hearts of His people. Since the beginning of the story of scripture, the fact of the matter seems clear; mankind has a serious problem. Whether it was Adam and Eve in the garden, Cain’s jealous rage, or humanities swift descent into world spread violence and evil, man seems to have an issue that is rooted deep within his own spirit and nature. The issue is sin, and a natural tendency toward it.
In the story of scripture, God seems to address this horrific condition by giving Israel a holy gift at the nation’s conception. The Torah. God takes for Himself a nation, the Israelites, out of the nation of Egypt and gives them His holy instructions on mount Sinai. Israel is to live by these instructions in righteousness and be an example to the rest of humanity by living in obedience to God’s word instead of living a life of sin. There’s only one problem. The Torah is able to show the difference between sin and righteousness, between life and death, between blessing and cursing, but there’s one thing it can't do. It can’t radically transform the human heart.
The Torah gave Israel the diagnosis of sin and the proper example of righteousness but didn’t transform Israel from the inside out. In fact, we see a sad pattern of Israel falling time and time again into sin, rebellion, disobedience, and disaster, ultimately leading to their exile from the land. It’s in this context that the prophets of God speak of a future, miraculous work that God would do in the hearts of His people. He promises to change His people from the inside out by giving them a new heart and a new spirit. But how?
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39 NKJV)
When Yeshua came on the scene in the first century, He did something miraculous. Not only did He lead the way in His life and ministry with the radical example of a true, authentic obedience to God, He left us with the spirit of God that would come and transform the hearts of those who follow Him. By following Yeshua, laying down our own lives, and committing ourselves to God, we have the ability to not only be filled with the spirit of God but to be radically transformed by it. True change doesn’t come by knowing the difference between good and evil, between righteousness and sin, but by allowing God to fix the brokenness inside of us and give us righteousness within. It’s this lasting heart transformation that can’t help but overflow out of us in to our day to day lifestyle and behavior.
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7 NKJV)
Let us tap into the amazing transformation that is available to us in Christ and not just merely follow the easy, religious routines we so deeply love.