Lesson 27. Promise He will Give You a New Heart
Promise He Will Give You a New Heart
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. Ezek 36:26
Are you battling a bad attitude in any areas of your life? Have you ever "lost it" with your children, a parent, or your spouse, said a lot of things you regretted, and then felt like a heel? Did you confess it? Did you lose it again a few days (hours) later? Why can’t we get victory over sin that plagues us?
You may have a spiritual blockage!
Losing our temper is a symptom of a spiritual blockage obstructing the flow of the Holy Spirit. Simply confessing the sin is not enough. You have to get to the root pf the problem—to the heart of the matter. Why did you lose it? Was it the children’s actions, or bitterness toward a friend or family member that you’ve been pushing down? Was it the noise level, or was it that lie you believed in your teen years that has grown and eaten at your spirit? Was it their actions, or your guilt for not disciplining more diligently?
In this lesson we will look at what the Bible says about the heart, and then I will use an analogy comparing my open-heart surgery to sin our hearts.
The New Bible Dictionary provides the following explanation in their definition of the term heart:
The Bible never speaks of the brain as the center of consciousness, thought, or will. The Hebrews thought in terms of subjective experience rather than objective, scientific observation, and thereby they avoided the modern error of over-compartmentalization. It was essentially the whole man, with all of his attributes—physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, and spiritual—of which the Hebrews thought and spoke, and the heart was conceived of as the governing center for all of these. It is the heart that makes a man or a beast what he is and governs all of his actions (Proverbs 4:23).
Character, personality, will, and mind are modern terms that all reflect something of the meaning of heart in its biblical usage.1
The Heart is the Center of Our Intellect
- We can understand with our heart. (Deuteronomy 8:5).
- We can pray in our heart (Isaiah 1:12–13).
- We can meditate in our heart (Psalm 19:14).
- We can hide God’s Word in our heart (Psalm 119:11).
- We can doubt in our heart (Mark 11:23).
- We can ponder in our heart (Luke 2:19).
- We can believe in our heart (Romans 10:9).
- We can sing in our heart (Ephesians 5:19).
- The heart provides wisdom (1 Kings 3:12).
The Heart is the Center of Our Emotions
- Joy (Deuteronomy 28:47; Acts 2:26)
- Grief (Psalm 13:2)
- Ill-temper (Deuteronomy 15:10)
- Love (Deuteronomy 6:5; Philippians 1:7)
- Courage (2 Samuel 17:10; Psalm 27:14)
- Fear (Genesis 42:28)
- Gladness (Exodus 4:14)
The Heart is the Center of Our Spirit
- The heart can be yielded to God (Joshua 24:23).
- We can discern good and evil with our heart (1 Kings 2:44).
- We can request a pure heart (Psalm 51:10; Matthew 5:8).
- The heart can be devoted to seeking God (1 Chronicles 22:19).
- The heart receives from God (Psalm 21:1–2).
- The heart can be turned toward God’s statutes (Psalm 119:36). 2
Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 23:4
Change of Heart
Ryder Smith suggests that "The First great Commandment probably means ‘You shall love (agapān) the Lord your God with all your heart—that is with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’" (e.g. Mk. 12:30, 33). The heart of man does not always do that, however. It is not what it should be (Gn. 6:5; Jer. 17:9), and the OT reaches its highest point in the realization that a change of heart is needed (Jer. 24:7; Ezek. 11:19), and that, of course, is fulfilled in the NT (Eph. 3:17).
There are exceptional people whose hearts are right with God (1 Ki. 15:14; Ps. 37:31; Acts 13:22), though it is obvious from what we know of David, the example referred to in the last passage, that this is not true in an absolute sense, but that repentance and conversion are still necessary (2 Ki. 23:25, of Josiah).
The right attitude of heart begins with its being broken or crushed (Ps. 51:17), symbolic of humility and penitence, and synonymous with ‘a broken spirit’ (rûaḥ). This brokenness is necessary because it is the hard or stony heart which does not submit to the will of God (Ezek. 11:19). Alternatively, it is the ‘fat’ or ‘uncircumcised’ heart which fails to respond to Yahweh’s will (Is. 6:10; Ezk. 44:7).3
There are those in habitual sin, in flagrant and open rebellion against God. They make no pretense about their sinful lifestyles. Their hardheartedness cause damage to their life and those around them.
There are also those sincere in seeking freedom but who never experience true repentance. Although they may cry over their sin, plead with God to set them free, and make determined efforts at achieving victory or solemn vows to never go back, they haven’t truly had an inward change of heart.
The sin must be dealt with in the heart.
My Open Heart Surgery
When I was fifty-one, I had open heart surgery. There was an obstruction in my heart controlling, dictating, and influencing my attitudes and frustrating my daily activities. It was not just slowing me down—it was killing me. This was a reminder of how obstruction of sin can stop the flow of the Holy Spirit.
The Heart and Spirit Need to Flow Freely
Let us look at the function of my physical heart and the functions of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual hearts.
The Function of the Heart : The heart is an amazing organ. God designed the heart as the center of our physical life. It never rests for more than a second. It is astonishingly efficient. Its few moving parts are almost indestructible. It is far more durable than any man-made pump.
The Function of the Holy Spirit: When we trust Christ to save us, the Holy Spirit enables us to have victory over the desires of our sin nature (Col. 2:11.) When we allow him to freely flow through us, we grow and produce fruit of the Spirit evidenced by seeking time with him, and receiving and obeying instruction from him. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Obstructions Blocked the Flow in My Heart
My left main coronary artery was 90% obstructed (it supplies blood to about two-thirds of the heart; it’s about the width of a straw, when this major artery is obstructed it is called the Widow Maker). The LAD is an essential coronary artery and its occlusion can result in immediate death, hence the name.
This blockage caused a decrease in the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart resulting in weakness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pains.
Obstructions Blocked the Flow of God’s Spirit
The Holy Spirit is always flowing in the Christian. God doesn’t turn his Spirit on and off. The Lord is always ready to flow through us as his vessel.
Sin is a blockage preventing or constricting the flow of the Holy Spirit, resulting in separation from God and his perfect will for our lives. God’s Holy Spirit allows us to receive and transmit the wisdom, splendor, and power of the Living God into the world. We must guard it lest it become obstructed!
A Blockage in My Heart
For six months I experienced rapid decline in my health. It was easy to measure my energy level because I have a specific routine every morning. I would feed my horses grain in the barn area, get them hay and walk it across a half-acre pasture, then muck the paddock for thirty minutes. After hernia surgery, I was unable to get my energy back enough to muck the entire paddock without stopping to rest. This continued until I couldn’t even pick up a pitchfork.
Eventually, I could no longer walk across the pasture to feed the horses hay. Finally I could no longer care for the horses at all. Walking outside or across a room was too difficult.
The obstruction was controlling, dictating, and influencing my attitudes and behavior. It was oppressing and discouraging me. The obstruction greatly affected how I related to circumstances and people.
Sin Obstruction Blocking God’s Spirit
When we stop producing the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control—it is our first symptom that there is a problem—an obstruction stopping the Holy Spirit and allowing the sin nature to take over.
It may start slowly, but the momentum quickly picks up the pace in a downward spiral. Instead of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, we find anger, resentment, pride and unforgiveness.
An obstruction is anything compelling enough to hold you in its power, keeping you from receiving God’s love and truth.
Once a blockage is established—usually because we have not taken every thought captive—we provide a foothold for the devil (Eph 4:27). The obstruction will control, dictate, and influence your attitudes and behavior; it will oppress and discourage you, and it will affect how you view or react to situations, circumstances, and people.
Finding the Obstruction in My Heart
The symptoms I experienced required testing to find the cause. I went to six different doctors to find the cause of the symptoms. It was so hard to get any of them to listen to me, but in June 2007 I met my hero, Dr. Askew, my wonderful, dear cardiologist, who was the only doctor who read a test result from the previous November in my medical history file. That test revealed problems that required more tests in order to find the main problem.
A nuclear stress test revealed the blockage but it appeared to be a mild blockage. The doctor scheduled a better test to view the problem in more detail. The next test, a cardiogram (cardiac catheterization) revealed the root problem—blockage of the left main artery. Immediate open heart surgery was required.
I was given a drug when they performed the cardiac catheterization so I was very loopy. Most people don't remember the test, but I do. I remember fighting sleep and watching the monitor when Dr. Askew said very loudly, "Wow, I wasn't expecting that!" I almost sat up! I was immediately wide awake (it must have been the adrenalin) and asked what he saw. He said, "You need a bypass, today." It was July 4, late in the day, so my bypass was scheduled for the next morning. It was too dangerous for me to even walk around. I'm glad now I couldn't go home before surgery because if I had gone home, I would have researched open-heart surgery.
During coronary bypass surgery, your breastbone is divided in half to expose your heart. Your heart is then connected to a heart-lung machine which completely takes over the function of your heart and lungs, permitting the surgeon to temporarily stop your heart. This was an ignorance-is-bliss situation.
Finding What's Obstructing God’s Spirit
When there is a spiritual blockage in our heart, the symptoms are a lack of the fruit of the Spirit. The next step is to find the cause. The secular world blames the problems we experience on a lack of money or lack of education, or the way we were potty trained. It is true that the results of sin in our childhood (sin done to us or sin done by us) will cause long-term effects, but sin can only be fixed by God,. Psychology might help but is not the real solution. When we strive to overcome problems without God, we will suffer consequences. Holy Spirit surgery is required.
Spiritual obstructions are rooted in some kind of sin. Sometimes it sin you committed. Sometimes it is sin committed against you which causes you to be bitter or unforgiving—i.e., in sin.
Finding the obstruction is necessary to deal with it, tear it apart and remove it. Not dealing with the obstruction will lead to frustration and probably more sin and the establishment of other strongholds.
Before we deal with the obstruction, we need to have a clear understanding of how God made us, and what really motivates us. Prayer is the way to find the obstruction. God will reveal it to you. Once you recognize the root you can deal with it.
Removing the Obstruction in My Heart
Double bypass open-heart surgery fixed my heart problem and allowed blood to flow again. My obstructed left main artery was replaced with an artery from my arm and another from my heart, and the blood could flow again. My energy level increased daily. I’m just waiting for the broken breastbone and incisions to heal.
To experience optimal health, the blood flow in the circulatory system must remain unhindered.
Removing the Obstruction Blocking God’s Spirit
The circumcision operation symbolizes the spiritual surgery that God wants to perform on the human heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4).
“We have a nature of sin that must be dealt with by the knife; only then can the Holy Spirit flow freely. In Christ, we can “walk in the Spirit and… not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). We submit to his surgical knife through repentance.
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts3:19–21)
Whatever the obstruction—bitterness, jealousy, anger, pride, etc.—God is bigger! Mike Dowgiewicz explains:
If you’ve entered into your relationship with Jesus based on a faulty understanding of who he is, you can’t grasp how high and wide and deep is his love for you. He is LORD, and as such desires lordship in your life. If you’re focusing more on the adverse circumstances in your life than on the one who can free you, you’re listening to the spirit of confusion. When you truly comprehend just how great a sinner you are and the vastness of Jesus’ atonement on your behalf, you’re better able to persevere in the “arena of suffering” that your earthly life calls for. When you’re assured of his plan, you can be confident that his purpose and his presence will continue without fail. As you desire to draw close to God, he will draw close to you.4
The free-flowing power of the Spirit frees us from all restraints of shame, fear, and hate and allows us to truly blossom as children of God who are much loved.
The more fully you relinquish yourself to him, the more you will discover that he has your best interests at heart and that his will truly is good, acceptable, and perfect.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Get rid of any obstructions and stress, and allow him to flow—and guard your heart!
'For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.' Jeremiah 29:11–14a
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12.
Heart of Wisdom
I adopted the name, Heart of Wisdom, for my small publishing company and for one of my books from Psalm 90, verse 12:
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90 was written by Moses, making it the oldest of all the Psalms (possibly written in conjunction with the events of Numbers 13–14).
In verse ten of this psalm, Moses declared: The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength. Seventy or eighty years is all that we are likely to be given, and that means that we have somewhere between 25,550 and 29,200 days on this earth. If you could imagine a timeline of eternity, a lifespan of eighty years would be a small speck. James wrote, You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14.
We have only a fleeting existence on this earth, yet God’s mighty love can bring joy into the lives of his people and make life meaningful and worthwhile, if we seek him.
What if you discovered that you had only one day left to live? Serious illness and death of those near us have a way of instantly putting our priorities into focus.
When we become aware of how short our time on Earth is, we become conscious of what is truly important in life and what is merely trivial. So often we look up and realize that time has passed us by. The things we promised we’d accomplish remain undone. Before we know it, days have become weeks; weeks, months; and months, years. We so often miss the opportunities that God places in our path, and we need to learn to number our days aright.
As I write this lesson, I am battling heart disease again. Recently I have had to stop watching the news because my blood pressure is out of control. I am working on guarding my heart. God is teaching me even more "heart lessons" I hope to share with you soon.
- Banwell, B. O. (1996). Heart. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed., p. 456). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Sampson, Robin, The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach. Heart of Wisdom Publishing, Nashville TN.
- IBID. New Bible Dictionary
- Dowgiewicz, Mike and Sue Dowgiewicz. Restoring the Early Church, Colorado Springs, CO: Empowerment Press