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. 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 36:26-27)
These are the main two verses I used tonight while speaking to the men in jail. I shared with them that God isn’t looking at us as if to say, “You should be doing better than that.” Rather he’s looking at us, if we haven’t been born again, saying, “I will give you my Son, I will put my Spirit in you and change you from the inside out.” Ever since I first read these verses I have been in awe of them. To think that most people are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength and hundreds of years ago God promised He, Himself, would move us to do what he says.
It seems as though I’m always taking these guys all the way back to the Garden of Eden to explain why we’re in the condition we’re in. Without seeing that Adam died in his spirit when he disobeyed, we can’t really see that we too were dead in our trespasses and sins. I want so badly for others to see that we have a deeper problem than just bad behavior. We have to be enlivened by God’s Spirit.
According to the scriptures, we have been crucified with Christ, buried and even resurrected to walk in newness of life. It isn’t that he wants to make us “bad people”, good. He wants to resurrect our dead Adamic spirit. Once we have been joined to Christ, we’ll begin to see changes in our behavior. That’s the part about him causing us to walk in his statutes and observe his ordinances. It can only happen after our heart transplant and Spirit infusion.
As I shared these things with the men tonight I could tell some were quickly becoming distracted, some were really scrunching their faces wanting to get hold of what I was saying, and others were sitting with their heads down. One of the men sitting right up front raised his hand and spoke up saying, “What you’re saying may be a little deceiving…You’re saying to just place your faith in Christ but the Bible says, “faith without works is dead.” I reminded him that Jesus said he was the vine and we are the branches, and apart from him we can do nothing. I agreed with him that there will be “works” but only as a result of Christ and us joined together not us independently attempting to do things “for” God. Our main work is to agree with him and he will move us on to good deeds.
Overall, my point to them tonight was God wants to change our hearts and our want to’s. There’s a story I once heard a preacher tell. He said back when he was a lost man he used to love to fight. He said, “I used to love fighting so much if I were to drive down the street and see two men fighting I would stop and ask if one of them wanted to rest a while.” He went on to say, “Since I became a Christian I can fight all I want to, I just don’t want to. I can chase all the women I want to, I just don’t want to. I can drink all I want to, I just don’t want to.” I thought this summed the night up pretty well. God is after our hearts. If he can get our heart he’ll have all of us.
My wife Tracey says it like this. “I don’t clean the house or cook dinner for Louie because I have to. I do it because I love him and I want to.” She doesn’t have to look on the refrigerator every morning to read the Ten Commandments of how to love my husband; she just loves the one she is joined to and the works, if you will, are the outward evidence.