The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel was held captivate in the land of Babylon during the seventy years of exile from Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar had forcibly taken him away together with the nation of Judah as captives.
“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24) In this verse, God is talking to the people of Israel. They knew that they were His chosen people, had heard of His faithfulness from their fathers and had seen His hand of judgment upon them when He took them from their promised land and made them captives in Babylon. And yet they were lost in their own sin. They put their trust not in God but rather in the work of their own hands. They lived to satisfy their own desires rather than to please God.
This is strangely similar to what is happening today, If we continue to hear God’s Word, and turn a deaf ear; if we continue to see our real need, but turn our backs; we put ourselves and all that we hold dear in danger. How then do we go about changing our ways?
Do you know what the theological term for “change of mind” is? It is the word “repentance.” To repent literally means to change your mind. Once you choose to repent, God then steps into your life and makes changes. You can’t change everything but God can change you.
“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.” (Ezekiel 36:25) God is speaking figuratively in this verse. He wants to cleanse us from the pollution and filthiness of our sin, false gods, false worship, false opinions and false hopes. Why don’t we each search our hearts now and repent of our sins, bringing it in prayer to our faithful Father.
“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.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
Most of us have figured out how to look so beautiful and so in control on the outside. But inside, where no one but God can see, it’s very different story. Inside there are those secrets that no one knows; that darkness that we hope no one ever finds out; those wounds that remove; the answers no one can give us; the fear and insecurity and frustration of not really being sure why we’re here or where we’re going.
The trouble that hides behind our image of strength is really telling us that someone’s missing; that somehow we are away from the God who is the source of our life and of all that’s missing inside us.
The greatest Heart Specialist in the universe is more than willing to perform spiritual heart surgery on each of us. We need a heart of flesh. This heart can only come from God. That’s why we need a Savior. Not just a religion about a Savior. In fact, the sin-cancer is so horrific that it took Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross to cleanse and cure the sin of mankind.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:27)
The Holy Spirit works within us to become gradually more and more like Him. When God wants to renew us, He sometimes has to remake us. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, He enables us to “walk” in obedience to carefully follow the laws and decrees of God. The secret to changing your life is not willpower. It’s God giving you the will and His power through the Holy Spirit to do what needs to be done.
When we repent of our ways, that’s when God can replace and renew our hearts and lives so we can celebrate in the newness of life living in the power of His Spirit.