“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Ouch! As I sit down to write this week’s message I find myself asking God, “What does a circumcision of the heart mean and more importantly, will it hurt?” I know what the literal definition of circumcision is but how does such an outwardly physical sign pertain to an inwardly spiritual and muscular organ? These are the kinds of questions that draw me deeper into God’s word. It’s almost as if He presents us with a bread trail that leads us to a greater knowledge and understanding of His purpose for our lives, His unconditional love for us, and His deep desire to see us be transformed from stone to flesh. What is required of us, though? I believe He simply wants our genuine devotion and obedience. In essence, He wants our hearts.
In the verse above, God spoke through Ezekiel to people who were in exile. It highlights the story of how God restored the Israelites not only physically but also spiritually. God promised His people a new heart in exchange for their willingness to follow Him. He offered them a fresh start, a chance to leave their old sinful selves behind for a renewed and transformed life ahead. And guess what God offers the same to us today. Yes! We, too, can be the recipients of this new spiritual life so that our hearts and attitudes will be right with His and with one another. Are you willing to cross over from the old life to the new, to ‘cut-away’ any selfish desires so that you can fully turn to Him in dedication and faith?
The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” –Joshua 5:9
Let’s take a closer look at the Israelites’ story found in the book of Joshua. Before the Israelites could possess the land God promised them, they had to renew their covenant with Him; the same covenant that was granted to their ancestors. The Israelites had to undergo a physical circumcision in order to bear the mark of their heavenly citizenship. It stood as an outward symbol of cutting off their old lives of sin, purifying their hearts, and rededicating themselves to God.
The meaning behind this one, necessary act is profound for our walk as Christians today. God ‘rolled away’ the Israelites’ sin, shame, and disgrace so that they could step into their inheritance, not to earn anything but to receive it. The Israelites no longer had to look at the wilderness behind them. They could now strive toward the life that awaited them…a restored life, a renewed life in the image of their Creator.
Today, the Holy Spirit marks us as God’s covenant people. He serves as the One who guides us in ways that make us responsive and receptive to God’s truth. He turns our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, hearts that yearn to seek and know God. This circumcision of the heart is the act of becoming who you are; it is the symbol of God on your heart!
Friends, it is not enough to be a follower of God from only an outward, physical appearance. We must allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts, to free us from the strongholds that keep us in bondage so that our inward, emotional body becomes a living reflection of our faith in God.
But when we will know that our heart has been transformed from stone to flesh? We will know when we live in the land God gave us!
God bless each of you…