O God, give us Your Spirit, and create a new heart in us. Amen.
Text: Ezekiel 36:25–27
“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.”
The heart of the children of the world clings to created things: they love and trust themselves, or other people, or riches and power. And if they do not have temporal treasures or goods, they work for them and are unhappy because they do not get them. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things” (Phi 3:18-19). But the Lord has cleansed His faithful from all “filthy idols.” From all of them! If there is anything you still love more than the Lord or rely on instead of the Lord, then your heart is not right with Him. The Spirit’s life, the living stream of love, sweeps idols away. Aren’t the faithful happy with God’s gifts: marriage, children, country, home, etc.? Yes, they love them and enjoy them as God’s gifts, but the heart belongs above all to the Lord, “and besides Him they have no pleasure in anything on earth.”
“The heart of stone” the Lord speaks of here, does not feel God’s admonition and does not submit in obedience to His command. Some are completely without feeling for the Spirit’s working, so that they live with a feeling of complete security and hurry to assure their eternal condemnation. Others are sometimes restless, and still others walk with the constant burden of their conscience, but they love darkness more than light, harden themselves against God’s call, and become more and more like stone.
It is completely different with the children of God. Their conscience is alive and tender, they feel God’s wrath and God’s love, they are driven to seek the Lord and rejoice in the Lord, they are sorry for doing things against Him, and cannot be at peace without being assured of His grace. They submit to His will, patiently endure His discipline, and diligently walk in His good pleasure, contrary to their own self-will and the desires of their flesh. The Lord’s pure and heavenly image is imprinted in them more and more. God’s Spirit leads them more and more to follow Jesus’ perfect example. In their dealings among people this new heart shows itself in gentleness, mercy, peaceableness, meekness, and all kinds of goodness toward friend and foe.
Lord, let us all experience this miracle of the new creation, and let the new mind awaken in us to the full measure of Christ’s maturity. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me! Help me to walk in Your ordinances and keep Your commands. Amen.
Our hearts let new-created be,
Our walk make pure and holy.
Help us offense and sin to flee,
And ever serve God solely,
So that our faith in Christ, our Lord,
May prove itself in deed and word
Before the world about us.
Thy gracious heav’nly dew let fall,
The fainting Church to quicken;
Thy soothing ointment pour on all
Whose souls are sad and stricken;
Sustain us, Lord, in evil days,
And let our lives in all our ways,
Abound in love and mercy.
Ringwaldt: O Holy Ghost, Thou gift divine L 431:3-4 ELH 26:3-4 tr. O. H. Smeby;
tune: Herr, wie du willst