The Regenerated Heart
Christianity is different from other religions. First of all, it is not a religion, but a personal relationship between man and his God. Religion says "change your behavior to please God," whereas Christianity operates out of the heart of a repentant and submissive believer for God to make those changes.
There is a biblical doctrine called “regeneraton.” In the Book of Ezekiel, the Old Testament foretells what God has planned for His people. God told His people that He will give us a new heart and put His Spirit within us (Ezek 36:26). God had planned all along to give His people a new heart, and it began when Christ paid the penalty for mans' sin and He left a part of Himself by giving His believers the indwelling Holy Spirit within their hearts. It is God's desire to mold your heart to where it is like soft clay and God the potter can shape you to be the best person He has created you to be.
Let’s look then at what a new heart is like – a regenerated heart. Above all else, the heart of Christianity is love – love for God and love for others – a love that comes from the heart. In other words, when we come to Christ, repenting of our sins, acknowledging Him as Lord over our life, then God can take our selfish heart and change it to a heart of love. God gives us a new heart because he planted Himself into our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit to take up residency and do the work of change in us. As our hearts keep being yielded to Him, what was once a stoney, hard heart becomes a heart of love. As a result, our heart now have a yearning to love God and love others with our heart. We now have new power – power to do things or stop doing things to do what God wants us to do. When we receive a new heart, we have a new purpose. For instance: We want to go to church. We want to be around other believers who love God the way we love Him. We want to read our Bible and pray. We want to worship God because we are now in a relationship with the One Who created us. The world may call it a religion, but it is not - it is a relationship born out of love. We no longer want to live to do whatever we want. We want to live in such a way that is pleasing and honoring to our God.
The Holy Spirit lives within your heart
We live in a fallen world, with the devil in charge. He works subtly at first. If we allow it, it won't be long before our time in God's Word and our fellowship with Him takes a back seat to the demands of life. For instance: If you let the devil keep whispering his ideas into your head, you will find yourself drawing away from the Lord instead of running to Him. As a result, your hearts becomes harder and harder toward the things of God. Down deep in your heart there is a battle raging because you know you have been self centered and have allowed other things to take place over the Lord. You know it in your know-er. Remember, the Holy Spirit resides in your spirit, and He is there to gently remind you what God wants of you. Don't fuel into that war inside you by giving into the devil's schemes and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit gently nudging you back. Eventually, you will no longer hear the voice of the Lord. That is why it is so important for believers to always keep a repentant, submissive heart toward God. Sometimes, we just need to say we are sorry to God, and ask Him for forgiveness and to take over our life again (1 John 1:9). Just allow God to do that inner work of change within you. Remember, you already have a new heart – God lives within you to change you. As such, you need to plug your ears to the tempting voices of the enemy and simply let those inner desires that God placed within us to develop.
Does this mean we will become perfect? No, not while we live on this earth. We, however, are to strive toward that end. While we live in a fallen world, we can go to God, repenting of our sins and ask Him to change us. Over and over, without exception, He forgives, cleanses, and changes us. While we live on this earth, we will never arrive at perfection, but we can keep our hearts in a continuous mode of being perfected - so that one day we will become completely perfect when we see Jesus face to face.
We are all still learning - still growing in the Lord. We must always remember, we have a new heart to become all that God created us to be. But it starts with accepting Jesus into our life as personal Savior and Lord. A new heart journey then begins, as we allow the Holy Spirit to operate in our life to do those changes that are so needed.
Live out your passions
It is so important to understand the concept of a new heart. By allowing our new heart to develop, our lives can become more wonderful than the world could ever imagine. A new heart in Christ isn’t about what you can’t do, but what you can do. The Psalmist wrote Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. If you have repented of your sins, asked Jesus into your life, you now have a heart of love for God. As such, God has put HIS desires on the inside of your heart along with a passion to pursue them. As long as you seek God first, you can trust that those deep desires inside you is something God wants you to pursue. You need to pay attention to them, and purpose to develop them. Follow what your heart is telling you. Again, the Bible tells you to live out of your heart.
What kind of passions has God placed within you ? It will most assuredly be love – love for God and love for others. The more you yield to the things of the Lord, the conflicting desires of the world will lessen. When you live out of your heart your appetite for sin diminishes. Your life will change. You will become more Christ-like.
Remember, Christianity isn’t a religion – it is a relationship with Christ. As you deepen your relationship and fellowship with the Lord, you will discover that God has placed within you gifts, and He wants you to use them. While gifts are not for us, they are given to us to be used for others. As such, God wants those gifts to be nourished within you. As you do, seeking after them will give you a meaningful, fulfilled life. Allow those passions to nourished and developed. Live out your passions. Live your Christian life as God intended you to live. This is what living out of your heart is all about. Live the Christian life as God intended you to live.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Pastor Joyce Erickson
Believers Bible School