And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26, ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV
Scripture teaches us that when we come to Christ, we receive new hearts transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—we are literally new creations. Nonetheless, Scripture also teaches us that we are still in a war with our flesh, and we are frequently reminded to live out of the Spirit and our new identities and to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:1-17).
So essentially, we exist in a constant state of internal civil war. I’m sure you can relate. When a student pushes our buttons, or a parent criticizes our teaching, or a colleague highlights our imperfections, we are tempted to respond in kind.
However, we also experience times when God’s love overwhelms us, and we extend that love in unexpected ways to those He puts in our paths. We do, in fact, experience our transformed hearts.
So how do we strengthen our transformed hearts against our flesh that stubbornly refuses to die? I am currently reading Minding the Heart by one of my former seminary professors, Robert L. Saucy and something he writes helps us here. (Sidenote: one of the very first times I ever preached in a church, while still a seminary student, I looked up from the pulpit to find Dr. Saucy visiting our church that morning…gulp!)
Dr. Saucy compiles and categorizes all of the scriptures that describe God working in our hearts (p. 116). I’ve taken his list and turned them into prayers. Would you pray these prayers along with me to strengthen our hearts in Him?
- Father, incline my heart toward you, toward your word, and toward your love (Josh. 24:23, 1 Kings 8:58, Ps. 119:36, 2 Thess 3:5, 2 Cor. 13:11-14).
- Jesus, open my heart to greater knowledge and understanding of the revelation of You and Your word (Eph 1:18, 1 Kings 3:9).
- Holy Spirit, increase the love you have placed in my heart, and the other fruit that flows from it (Rom. 5:5, Gal. 5:22).
- Father, establish my heart in faith and godly living and encourage my heart when I feel down (Ps. 107:17, 1 Thess. 3:13, 2 Thess. 2:17, James 5:8, Is. 57:15).
- Jesus, set my heart free from the bondage of sin, and enlarge my heart with wisdom and joy to experience your life (Ps. 119:30-32, 45).
- Holy Spirit, direct my heart according to your will, that I might accomplish what you have for me (Neh. 2:12, 2 Cor. 8:16).
Dr. Saucy concludes by pointing out that God does not transform our hearts without our participation. “In fact, Scripture tells us to perform many of the very same activities that God performs in changing our heart” (p. 117).
It’s a partnership. As we continually surrender our hearts before the Lord and ask Him to grow and mature us, He will help us do it with Him, as God is faithful to complete the work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).
Father, thank you for the new hearts You have given us through Christ and by the power of Your Spirit. Give us the strength to partner with You to live out of our new life in You, and put to death the deeds of the flesh. Strengthen our hearts! In Jesus’ name.
Copyright David Schmus.
David is the Executive Director of Christian Educators.