A. Humanity needs a radical spiritual transformation. God proposes to accomplish this transformation by giving each of us a new heart and a new spirit. He will do this for anyone who submits to His will.B. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God makes
this promise to the people.
I. THE PROMISE OF A NEW HEART
A. Read Ezekiel 11:19. God promised the people that they would live a transformative experience through the actions of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Ellen G. White wrote: “The dark years of destruction and death marking the end of the kingdom of Judah would have brought despair to the stoutest heart had it not been for the encouragements in the prophetic utterances of God’s messengers. Through Jeremiah in Jerusalem, through Daniel in the court of Babylon, through Ezekiel on the banks of the Chebar, the Lord in mercy made clear His eternal purpose and gave assurance of His willingness to fulfill to His chosen people the promises recorded in the writings of Moses. That which He had said He would do for those who should prove true to Him, He would surely bring to pass.”1
B. Israel’s tragic Babylonian exile was a
consequence of having broken the covenant with
God (see Jer. 21:10; 22:7-9).
1. Samuel Schultz wrote: “Jerusalem was
destroyed in 586 B.C. The temple was reduced
to ashes, and the Jews were taken into captivity.
The territory known as the kingdom of Judah
was invaded by the Edomites, on the south, and
by the Babylonian province of Samaria, on the
north. Demolished and desolate, Jerusalem became
a proverb among the nations.”2
2. In the midst of Israel’s suffering in exile,
God promised that, through His grace and
power, He would act in changing the hearts of
the people. “The heart, in its moral significance
in the Old Testament, includes the emotions, the
reason, and the will.”3
II. THE PROCESS OF CHANGE
A. The suffering of the people during captivity
aroused the need for repentance in sincere
hearts. John B. Taylor said: “The preparation
for God’s work in man was to be man’s willingness
to repent and to take practical steps
to demonstrate his repentance. This does not
mean that human beings have to clean up their
lives in readiness for God to enter them, but it does mean that God can do nothing for the man
who will not recognize his sins and turn from
B. In 600 B.C., the prophet Jeremiah foresaw
the Babylonian invasion in Jerusalem and urged
Israel to repent and reform (see Jer. 3:14, 15).
C. The most important feature of this national
restoration was spiritual revival (see Ezek.
D. The process of restoring the nation of Israel
to its former condition involved the restoration
of its land (see Ezek. 11:17).
III. THE CHANGE IN OUR LIVES
A. Human nature is sinful and powerless to
seek a changed life on its own (see Ps. 51:5).
Ellen G. White declares: “It is impossible
for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of
sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil,
and we cannot change them. ‘Who can bring a
clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.’ ‘The
carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not
subject to the law of God, neither indeed can
be.’ Education, culture, the exercise of the will,
human effort, all have their proper sphere, but
here they are powerless. They may produce an
outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot
change the heart; they cannot purify the
springs of life. There must be a power working
from within, a new life from above, before
men can be changed from sin to holiness. That
power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken
the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to
God, to holiness.”5
B. God’s promise to Israel and to us is that
every repentant sinner has the presence of the
Holy Spirit in their hearts to enable him or her
to walk within the Lord’s teachings (see Ezek.
Ellen G. White made the following comment:
“A revival of true godliness among us is
the greatest and most urgent of all our needs.
To seek this should be our first work. There
must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing
of the Lord, not because God is not willing to
bestow His blessing upon us, but because we
are unprepared to receive it. Our heavenly Father
is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them
that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give
good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by
confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest
prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God
has promised to grant us His blessing.”6
A. God’s promise of a new heart for Israel—
and also for us—is the dawn of a new period in
B. May this be our prayer: “Lord, take my
heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep
it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in
spite of myself, my weak, unChristlike self. Mold
me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy
atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love
can flow through my soul.”7
1 Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, 464.
2 Samuel Schultz, The History of Israel, 219.
3 Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, 509.
4 John B. Taylor, Ezekiel, 113.
5 White, Steps to Christ, 18.
6 ———, True Revival, 9.
———, Christ’s Object Lessons, 159.
Nerivan Silva is an editor at the Brazil Publishing
House headquartered in Tatui, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
ADDITIONAL QUOTE FROM ELLEN G.
“Man, who has defaced the image of God in
his soul by a corrupt life, cannot, by mere human
effort, effect a radical change in himself. He must
accept the provisions of the gospel; he must be
reconciled to God through obedience to His law
and faith in Jesus Christ. His life from thenceforth
must be governed by a new principle....
He must face the mirror, God's law, discern the
defects in his moral character, and put away his
sins, washing his robe of character in the blood
of the Lamb....The influence of a gospel hope will
not lead the sinner to look upon the salvation of
Christ as a matter of free grace, while he continues
to live in transgression of the law of God.
When the light of truth dawns upon his mind and
he fully understands the requirements of God
and realizes the extent of his transgressions,
he will reform his ways, become loyal to God
through the strength obtained from His Saviour,
and lead a new and purer life” (God’s Amazing
Grace, page 144).