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How can a man be changed? Can a leopard change his spots? How can a man have a whole new life when he is old? How can these things be?

A man named Nicodemus had these very questions for Jesus. The Master spoke to him of new life, of new birth, of a new dimension of life after the Spirit—and Nicodemus simply didn’t understand. “How can this be?” he wondered. “How can a man be born again when he is old? He cannot return to his mother’s womb to be born a second time; can he?” (John 3:1-21). Jesus replied, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In other words, “It all has to start with God, Nicodemus; that’s why My Father promised to give His people a new heart and a new spirit.

But how could such a remarkable transformation take place? John explains in the most famous verse of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When you believe in Jesus Christ—when you choose to ask Him to come into your life and to change you—God gives you that new heart and new spirit.

I don’t understand the ways of the Spirit, but I do know He works to put a new spirit within you. And at that moment, your life is transformed. You’re changed forever. The things you once hated, you now begin to love. And the things you once loved—the activities and attitudes that felt so important to you—you begin to abhor. Why? Because now you see them for what they really are: instruments of destruction.

Where is your heart today? Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). God responded to the prophet’s question like this: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (v. 10). God searches your heart in order to know it thoroughly. And when God judges, He will base His judgment on the deepest issues of your heart.

So then, when God says you are to love Him alone with everything within you, how does your own heart stack up? In the secret recesses of your heart, do other issues take precedence over your relationship with God? Do you consider some things more important than the things of the Lord?

Paul told the Romans, “Look, just because you are doing the expected religious things—just because you observe the Sabbath, just because you read the law, just because you’ve been circumcised—does not make you a child of God. God looks at your heart. It is what’s in your heart that counts” (Romans 2:17-29).

The ancient Jews had a very interesting way of expressing grief or sorrow when some great calamity overtook them. They would rip their clothes—just shred them. When bad news came, they’d say, “Oh, no,” and rrrrrrrrip. It was their way of expressing their deep feelings of sorrow. Through the prophet Joel, God said to them, “I want you to tear your heart, not your garments. Let your heart be ripped! I want a change there. This outward display of torn clothing, that doesn’t count for much. What matters is what’s going on in the heart. That’s what really interests Me” (Joel 2:13). 

Don’t deceive yourself. God already knows what is in your heart. If you will just allow Him, God will search your heart and lead you into His path. He will show you, if you’re really interested, what is in your heart. It might shock you. It might surprise you—but you need to know the real condition of your heart.

If you have not already done so, I urge you to surrender your heart to God today. Ask the Father to give you a clean heart, a pure heart, a heart of flesh as promised in Ezekiel 11:19-20. Only then will you be able to love Him with all of your heart.

– excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith


continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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