The news was grim. My father had been having chest pains, so his doctor ordered a test to peer into his heart. The result? Blockage found in three arteries.
Triple-bypass surgery was scheduled for February 14. My dad, though anxious, saw that date as a hopeful sign: “I’m getting a new heart for Valentine’s Day!” And he did! The surgery went perfectly, restoring life-giving blood flow to his struggling heart—his “new” heart.
My father’s surgery reminded me that God offers us a new life as well. Because sin clogs our spiritual “arteries”—our capacity to connect with God—we need spiritual “surgery” to clear them.
That’s what God promised His people in Ezekiel 36:26. He assured the Israelites, “I will give you a new heart. . . . I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” He also promised, “I will cleanse you from all your impurities” (v. 25) and “put my Spirit in you” (v. 27). To a people who’d lost hope, God promised a fresh start as the One who could renew their lives.
That promise was ultimately fulfilled through Jesus’s death and resurrection. When we trust in Him, we receive a new spiritual heart, one that’s cleansed of our sin and despair. Filled with Christ’s Spirit, our new heart beats with the spiritual lifeblood of God, that “we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
How does God’s promise of a new life bring hope when you’re struggling with guilt or shame? How will you rely on the Spirit’s power today instead of your own?
The Old Testament prophets often wrote their prophecies in segments. As we read them now, it can seem as if we’re trying to put pieces of a puzzle together. This passage from Ezekiel fits together with an earlier one. In chapter 18, Ezekiel had said, “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit” (v. 31). But the people of Judah couldn’t do this by themselves (and neither can we). That is why Ezekiel says here, “I will give you a new heart” (36:26).
This theme of our inability to rescue ourselves is echoed in the New Testament. Paul writes, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), and then observes that we are saved “by grace” and “through faith” (v. 8). He concludes, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (v. 10).