A Clean Heart – Part 3
This is an excerpt from a longer talk, “A Clean Heart”
That’s the situation with so many of us. We’ve received the Spirit of Jesus. In a sense, He has made us alive. He has made us aware of God. We actually even have great respect for Jesus and some acquaintance with Him. But our heart was never cleared of the sour stuff that was still at the bottom. And actually you know fine well there’s only one way to make that bottle fit to contain fresh milk and to keep it fresh for a long period of time. There’s only one way in which fresh milk can abide in that bottle without becoming contaminated and that is that I pour out the sour stuff and then I put it under a faucet and I wash it right out, and I wash all the sour stuff out from the bottom of the heart and then I bring in the fresh milk and then there is every possibility that the fresh milk will remain sweet and fresh.
The tragedy with so many of us is we haven’t gone that far, you see. We received the Spirit of Christ in some sense into our hearts, but He is not able to dwell there and abide there because there is sour self-spirit that has never been cleaned out of the heart, from the bottom of the heart. And so, we find that our life is like that, up and down. Every time we get a new filling of Jesus’ Spirit it kind of overwhelms the sour stuff at the bottom of the heart and we walk for a while in victory — then we begin to take another dip as the sour stuff spreads all over His Spirit and then it comes Easter time and we get another infusion of His Spirit and so we walk in victory for another little while but really our life is like that, up and down, switch back.
And actually the truth is that our nature has never changed. Our nature has never really changed. Our heart — deep, deep down — is still unclean. Our heart has never been cleansed by the Holy Spirit, and we have a sense of aliveness to God and we have a sense of our sins being forgiven, but our heart is still unclean and continues to contaminate Jesus’ Spirit every time He pours it in. And so, in a way, our nature has not been changed, it’s been just overwhelmed from time to time, by Jesus’ Spirit.
We do what we want.
Loved ones, that’s why we cry that cry of despair so often, even those of us who are children of God. That cry in Roman 7:15: “I do not understand my own actions. I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” The only mistake is this! We are confusing the issue by using “I” in both cases. In actual fact there is something deep down in your heart that DOES do what it wants! And that’s what actually produces the evil in your life and mine. It’s the unclean heart that still wants what Jesus doesn’t want and it would be better for us to say: “Well, I don’t understand MY own actions because Jesus wants to do certain things in me when He comes in, but my own heart doesn’t want to do those things.”
Loved ones, that’s the situation with many of us, I’m sure, here in this room this morning. That we have in some sense been acted upon by God’s Spirit and in some sense we’re a little further on than the Jew; we are at least regenerated and we are aware of God and alive to God and we know that He has forgiven us our sins. But actually we are very like the Jew in that our nature — deep, deep down — is still unchanged and our heart is still unclean and that heart continues to send up sin as we try to walk progressively with Jesus
We each need a new heart and new spirit.
There is a verse, you know, in the Old Testament that I think makes it very clear and will help you to understand it if you look at it. It’s Ezekiel, and it’s a verse where God is describing the New Covenant to the Jewish people and it’s Ezekiel 36:26. God is describing the New Covenant: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
So God will do two things, you see. He’ll give us a new heart and then He will give us a new spirit and the new heart is explained a little more in the next verse, in verse 27: “And I will put my spirit within you.” That’s how He’ll give us a new heart. He’ll make our own spirits new, He’ll put a new spirit within us, He’ll renew our spirits, He’ll regenerate our spirits and make us aware of God and aware of Jesus, so that we’ll have some acquaintance with Him. But then, He’ll put His own Spirit in us, you see — “And I will put my spirit within you,” (my Holy Spirit, He will dwell with you and stay inside you and He will create a new heart inside you) “and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.”
So there are two parts to the New Covenant. One is a new spirit and many of us have entered into that. Many of us have had our spirits renewed and regenerated and that’s why we come to church here. We know that it’s true; we know that God is real, we know that Jesus died for us, we know that our sins are forgiven and our spirit is renewed. But we know also an inconsistent Christian life, an up and down life. It seems when that little renewed spirit gets its way we are in victory, but it seems there are other times when that spirit isn’t getting its way and that’s because we haven’t entered into the second part of the New Covenant, where God said: “I will put My Spirit in you, My Holy Spirit in you, to dwell in you and abide in you and He will create a new heart in you and He will enable you to walk in my statutes and observe my ordinances.”