Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
You have a heart condition. I’m not speaking medically, but theologically. Scripture says that every intention of the heart of man is only evil continually (Gen. 6:5); that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9); that out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matt 15:19).
You are not sinful because you commit sins. You commit sins because you are sinful. You don’t commit sins that then make your heart sinful. You commit sins because your heart is sinful. You may be good at hiding it from men, but God knows your heart (Luke 16:15). That’s why God knows that you need a new heart.
It’s not just a matter of repairing the old heart. The old heart cannot be rehabilitated. It cannot be made better. Trying to do better won’t help your sinful heart to be any more alive than exercise and a balanced diet would help a dead heart to start beating. You need a heart transplant.
This is what God does for you. Ezekiel records God’s words, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 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.” (36:25-26)
Already in Baptism you were cleansed from your uncleanness and given a new heart. Your impenetrable, stubborn heart has been replaced with faith created by the Holy Spirit. You’ve been given a new heart, a living heart. You have been brought from death to life, with your heart sprinkled clean (Heb. 10:22).
So does that mean that you have two hearts? Well, in a way yes. You still have your sinful heart of stone that never wants to do God’s will, and you have also been given a new heart that desires only to do God’s will. When you die you will no longer have your sinful heart but only your new God-given heart. This means that you will never again sin. There is no sin in heaven. Then you will have a heart that desires only what God desires.
Until then, you have two hearts, including one that is rock-hard. The only way to deal with this condition is through continual repentance; continually turning away from sin and receiving forgiveness from God.
Our rock-hard hearts are the reason why Jesus came to earth. Jesus had compassion on us and brought us salvation. He was heart-broken over our sin, so He came to save us.
Jesus’ heart is only full of love. His heart is always giving, loving, and forgiving. His heart holds no grudge against you because of your sin. Jesus’ heart is so full of love towards you that He willingly came to earth and died in your place. He paid the price of every hard-hearted sin you’ve ever committed.
Because of Jesus’ death for you, you can pour out your heart to God (Ps. 62:8). You can confess your sins with full assurance that all your sins are forgiven. You don’t have to hold anything back. When you sin, you can pray with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps. 51:10)
Because of Jesus’ death for you, you can take to heart what the apostle John writes in his first epistle, “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (I John 3:20) Whenever your heart feels the guilt of your sins, know that God is greater than your heart. Your sins are forgiven even if memories of sin remain. Your sins are forgiven even if consequences of sin remain. God is greater than your heart.
Until God takes you home to be with Him, you will have a battle with your sinful heart. But know that the battle has already been won. You have already been given a new heart that is alive in faith. Your sinful heart will no longer exist once God takes you home to Himself. Until then, the old heart in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and the new heart should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever (SC IV.4).
Because Jesus’ heart is filled with love towards you, you have been given a new heart. It is this new heart that will live forever before God in righteousness and purity. This new heart, which you already have, will be yours for eternity. Because of this new heart, you will live forever. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.