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Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA

 We Must Get Ourselves A New Heart and New Spirit

I'm sure that most, if not all of us are familiar with the wonderful truth that God grants a new heart and new spirit to those who repent and believe the gospel. This truth is clearly taught in scriptures such as Ezekiel 36:26 and Psalm 51:10. But I wonder how many of us are also familiar with Ezekiel 18:31 which teaches that God commands us to get ourselves a new heart and new spirit. Here is the whole passage in context:

"Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair? 30 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord God. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord God. "Therefore turn and live!"-Ezekiel 18:27-32

My point in bringing this up is to say that God COMMANDS us to repent. That is our part. We are not to be passive in the matter, as some would suggest. We are responsible and accountable in God's sight. Yes, we are dead in sin apart from Christ and weak in our flesh and need God to help us to repent and believe the gospel, and He does help us. But He does not require for us to know that He helps us to repent. He simply commands us to repent.

What He does require for us to understand in order to be saved is the gravity of our sins before Him. So He seeks to speak directly to our consciences to awaken us out of our complacency in sin. But again, once we are awakened to our plight as sinners before the holiness of God, the simple command is, "Repent, forsake your evil ways, be truly sorry for your sins against God!"

Matthew Henry's take on Ezekiel 18:30-32:

"Here are four necessary duties that we are called to, all amounting to the same:—1. We must repent; we must change our mind and change our ways; we must be sorry for what we have done amiss and ashamed of it, and go as far as we can towards the undoing of it again. 2. We must turn ourselves from all our transgressions, v. 30 and again v. 32. Turn yourselves, face about; turn from sin, nay, turn against it as the enemy you loathe, turn to God as the friend you love. 3. We must cast away from us all our transgressions; we must abandon and forsake them with a resolution never to return to them again, give sin a bill of divorce, break all the leagues we have made with it, throw it overboard, as the mariners did Jonah (for it has raised the storm), cast it out of the soul, and crucify it as a malefactor. 4. We must make us a new heart and a new spirit. This was the matter of a promise, ch. 11:19. Here it is the matter of a precept. We must do our endeavour, and then God will not be wanting to us to give us his grace...

II. Here are four good arguments used to enforce these calls to repentance:—1. It is the only way, and it is a sure way, to prevent the ruin which our sins have a direct tendency to: So iniquity shall not be your ruin, which implies that, if we do not repent, iniquity will be our ruin, here and for ever, but that, if we do, we are safe, we are snatched as brands out of the burning. 2. If we repent not, we certainly perish, and our blood will be upon our own heads. Why will you die, O house of Israel? What an absurd thing it is for you to choose death and damnation rather than life and salvation. Note, The reason why sinners die is because they will die; they will go down the way that leads to death, and not come up to the terms on which life is offered. Herein sinners, especially sinners of the house of Israel, are most unreasonable and act most unaccountably. 3. The God of heaven has no delight in our ruin, but desires our welfare (v. 32): I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, which implies that he has pleasure in the recovery of those that repent; and this is both an engagement and an encouragement to us to repent. 4. We are made for ever if we repent: Turn yourselves, and live. He that says to us, Repent, thereby says to us, Live, yea, he says to us, Live; so that life and death are here set before us."


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Oracio

 2015/1/5 18:14Profile
Sidewalk
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Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 708
San Diego

 Re: We Must Get Ourselves A New Heart and New Spirit

Ezekiel 18 is one of the most profound passages of Scripture there is in coming to understand how men relate to God. Thank you Oracio!

It is where individual responsibility is reborn, where man is challenged by God mano a mano, each face in direct connection with its maker, no excuses, no family traditions, tribal customs, or hiding in a group.

And the power of those words, "Make for yourself a new heart!" I am sorry, but the waiting for blessing game is some other religion, it is not God wrestling with the wayward hearts of men to come back, to turn from futile sinful ways.

In this passage I believe the notion of an inborn sinful nature is destroyed. "You shall no longer use this expression, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge!'" Children are not bound to follow their parents' sins, they do not bear the guilt incurred by those parents. Likewise, the children's sins are not born by the parents- each is responsible for his own behavior.

The passage weaves through this all carefully, and concludes with a challenge- whose ways are right, yours or God's?

I know there seems to be a conflict between "God will give you a new heart" and this one that commands you to get the new heart yourself.
Actually both are true, when a man turns to the Lord and the Spirit opens his eyes to his desperate condition, he is in a perfect position to receive a new heart. But first he goes through the furnace. He must first recognize the filthy rags he is wearing, and cry out for some new clothing.

Good call Oracio! A good passage in which to soak one's spirit on a regular basis.


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Tom Cameron

 2015/1/5 20:01Profile
Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Sidewalk, I say amen to your post except for the following part, and I'm sure you know I'd disagree with it ;) :

Quote:
In this passage I believe the notion of an inborn sinful nature is destroyed. "You shall no longer use this expression, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge!'" Children are not bound to follow their parents' sins, they do not bear the guilt incurred by those parents. Likewise, the children's sins are not born by the parents- each is responsible for his own behavior.



The reason I cannot fully agree with you there is because I cannot reconcile the rejection of original sin with Romans 5:12-21, for that passage seems to teach clearly that through Adam's sin all of mankind fell in sin and inherited guilt and death.

I know that you are very fond of Finney, whom denied the teaching of original sin. From what I remember of his writings he believed man inherited a "corrupted" or "twisted" nature through the fall of Adam. He believed and taught that man's nature was corrupted in the sense that it caused man to be largely tempted to sin; that man's nature caused him to be sort of "inclined" or "bent" toward sin (I use those two words hesitantly because I think Finney may not have preferred to use them). He rejected the term "sinful nature" because of the excuses he saw many non-believers make for their sins on account of that term and the teaching on original sin. But from what I remember of Finney's writings I got the impression that his teaching on an inherited "corrupted nature" was not that much different from the teaching of original sin when it came down to it.

Regarding Ezekiel 18, I believe it can be reconciled with Romans 5 through the understanding of inherited guilt from Adam. I'll try to explain how. When Adam sinned we all sinned along with Adam in God's sight, because God knew we would make the same choice as Adam (God dwells outside of time and knows all things). God allowed Adam to be the representative or federal head of the human race. So because God foresaw our agreement with Adam's sin, he pronounced the curse of death upon all of humanity through Adam's act of sin. It doesn't take much to see that we are born into a sin-cursed world. So while it is true that God does not punish people for the sins of their parents, Adams sin was not just his sin but ours also in God's sight. After we are born we also commit "actual" sins for which we are also accountable.

It seems to me that Ezekiel 18 refers primarily to "actual" sins committed in this life.

Well, there you have it, my feeble attempt at explaining one of the deepest theological issues that we wrestle with as Christians.

But thanks for the encouragement Tom, no hard feelings on my end regarding our disagreement there.


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Oracio

 2015/1/5 22:57Profile
Sidewalk
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Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 708
San Diego

 Re: Pursuing truth and wisdom within the bonds of love.

Oracio I not only deeply respect your wisdom and eloquence, but I really love you too! I have long ago abandoned the compunction to get everyone to agree with me, so hard feelings will not enter this conversation! Still, it is fun to get into a spirited back and forth, because real men of God are always learning, and appreciate the men and women God sends along in life to challenge our good stuff that we might obtain better stuff!

You are right, I tend to disagree on the Adam connection. I have heard teaching suggesting that Adam actually became sin to save Eve as some type of the Jesus /Church salvation message, but I think that is a stretch. I don't think God's foreknowledge of what has become the sinful human race means that He was using Adam as a symbol of sin to come. As early as His conversation with Cain He was warning against letting sin have its way. God told Cain that he needed to master the sin crouching at the door wanting to have him. He could not have said that if He didn't have a reasonable expectation that Cain could resist sin.

As to the passage in Romans 5, I read that "therefore just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."

The connection is always sin to death, and it does not say that guilt was passed down to men, just death. And that death was always the result of sin. There really is nowhere I have ever seen in scripture that sin is unavoidably natural, it is always willful disobedience. The pressures to sin vary of course- but I firmly believe that the strangely sweet characteristic of being accountable for sin enables me to agree with God that He is right, I am guilty, I am completely undeserving of His mercy because my sin is completely my own fault- and His Spirit whispers complete forgiveness by the blood of His Son. My Dad, his Dad, and Adam are out of the negotiation. It is just me, my sin, and the love of my Heavenly Father at the table. I bring a contrite heart, He brings the blood of His Son, the deal is sealed. And I come away knowing just how much this really cost!

Finney dealt with this from the standpoint that depravity was two separate spheres, moral and physical. Men are both moral and physical beings, and since Adam we all have physical depravity whether we sin or not.

Obviously some sin hastens and exacerbates physical depravity as the pictures of aging Rock Stars bears witness!

When we repent and are on our path to salvation, we have new life, eternal life- but will die from the curse of our physical depravity regardless. But the curse of our moral depravity is lifted when we are born again, we have passed from death to life and we have a witness in our spirits that we are alive unto God.

However, the physical depravity does not depart until the return of Christ, and that is a whole different topic. What is interesting is that Jesus was born into a physically depraved body, conformed to our dying bodies. Yet He was not morally depraved, sin was not a part of His day to day life.

But He did die, giving up His life in the "depraved" body He had been living in. The body died- the sinless man remained alive because sin had no claim on Him. "I lay it down, and I take it up again!"

All to my point that there is a separation between sin and death- a relationship to be sure, but a reason we can rejoice in our freedom from the curse of sin while still living in bodies cursed by Adam's sin in the beginning. Death did indeed spread to all men, but sin has always been a matter of choices. Guilt is a function of the conscience, "knowing together," that is a good gift from God to bring us to repentance- not a physical entity passed genetically from fathers to sons.

I express these opinions from the way I have come to interpret Scripture, from the trial and error of living in and out of sin, and from the guiding of Christ Jesus as I know Him. All of this varies from person to person so I know others will tend to see all this differently- not a problem for me and hopefully those who genuinely love God will not be offended. I share my opinions on SI because I believe I have gained some insights from God, and I love His body. Some of this might be a helpful blessing, some may be completely irritated.

If we are learning from each other and learning to love each other, we are doing well!






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Tom Cameron

 2015/1/6 1:28Profile
yuehan
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Joined: 2011/6/15
Posts: 510


 Re: We Must Get Ourselves A New Heart and New Spirit

I posted something on the biblical definition of repentance in the "Repentance Must Be Perpetual" thread, which I believe is relevant to this discussion too:

https://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=53946&forum=34

 2015/1/6 2:30Profile









 Re: We Must Get Ourselves A New Heart and New Spirit

The thing we miss when reading this and similar passages in Ezekiel, and other parts of scripture, is that God is speaking to those who are supposed to be His people, that is, people who already know Him and believe in Him, not people who need to first of all believe that there is a God.

It's easy to see why the mistake is made due to the words used which indicate that they are not yet saved and still need a new heart and spirit, but that is forcing doctrine into the text without considering that one might still have a stage to reach after one has come to Christ for forgiveness.

So God is saying to these His people, that they need to see their sins are not acceptable to Him and they must repent and especially of their complaints towards Him and lack of trust and they will 'get themselves' or receive because of their actions, the new heart and spirit, not as when they first came to the Lord and only faith was required. At that stage there was nothing we could do but accept His offer that He would enable us to BECOME the sons of God.

It is when we actually repent of our Christian behaviour and state that the promise is fulfilled and we become His sons.

 2015/1/6 5:25









 Re:

Acts 15:8-9, “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

When Paul preached the Gospel to the Gentiles and they heard what God had already accomplished for them in Christ they simply received the necessary faith and responded to this truth. As a result their heart was totally purified and cleansed.

The message of the gospel supplies the faith necessary for us to respond and to receive Christ, Himself as our life.

The true gospel is centered on what Christ has given and done to us and not on what we can do or give to Him.

 2015/1/6 8:38
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 5584
NC, USA

 Re:

Tuc--

Scripture clearly places responsibility on hearers of the gospel to do certain things. This includes repentance, faith, baptism and continued, loyal obedience to Christ. But identifying what the Gospel requires of us is not the same thing as saying what the true Gospel actually is. This list of duties correctly identifies the proper response to the Gospel—not the Gospel itself.

The Gospel is a particular message of good tidings, heralded through Christ and the apostles (but only rarely by modern evangelists). It is called "the Gospel of the Kingdom" (e.g., Matt.4:23; 9:35; 24:14), because it is the proclamation of the presence of another Kingdom and another King—one Jesus (Luke 2:10-11; Isa.52:7; Acts 17:7; 20:25). This entire proclamation can be summarized by the original Christian confession: "Jesus is Lord [i.e., King]." This is what one must confess, in order to be saved (Rom.10:9). It is because He is the King that we must repent (of our former neglect of His lordship), trust Him, and be baptized into His alternative, royal society. Obedience is the obvious response to Lordship:

"Why do you call me 'Lord,' 'Lord,' and you do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

One is not saved by the perfection of his/her obedience, but by the determination to obey completely. This is what happens when one hears, believes, and does not rebel against the proclamation of Christ's Kingship. Baptism is the public submission to the Crown, and a pledge to loyally follow Him until death. Many reduce the Gospel to a decree of justification only. However, justification, in the context of the Kingdom of Christ, is simply the amnesty granted by the King to penitent rebels, as they return in submission to the Authority they formerly spurned.

One is not saved by 80% obedience—nor by 100% obedience (which actually is possible over short periods, by the way). One is saved by having genuinely embraced the King and the life that logically follows from having such a King. None obeys completely, but we are commanded to do so, and true disciples have every intention of doing so. Failure to obey completely is a breach of the King's law, but it is not, in itself, damning. To inadvertently violate the speed limit is not to renounce your citizenship. Likewise, a child is not disowned by his parents because he forgets to do a particular assigned chore. There is grace in this Kingdom for those whose disobedience springs from weakness, ignorance or temporary insanity (James 3:2), and not from rebellion (Matt.26:41).

The Gospel is not a message of performance-oriented acceptance with God. We are saved by the grace of the Crown, and we obey because we love the King. If we do not love the King, whatever begrudged obedience we may render is a sham. It is not salvation.


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Todd

 2015/1/6 11:31Profile
Oracio
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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA

 Re:

Quote:
If we are learning from each other and learning to love each other, we are doing well!


Amen Tom! I very much appreciated the tone of your last post. I'll briefly reply and resume our spirited back and forth :)

Quote:
As to the passage in Romans 5, I read that "therefore just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."

The connection is always sin to death, and it does not say that guilt was passed down to men, just death. And that death was always the result of sin.


But we also have these other verses in that passage which imply a connection with Adam in terms of guilt:

"16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification."

"18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous."

So again, I don't see how we can get away from the plain reading of those verses.

And you admit that we inherit at least physical depravity and death from Adam. Yet God's Word declares that the wages of sin is death-Romans 6:23, and that the soul that sins shall die-Ezekiel 18:4. So if we die it must be because of our own sin, not just Adam's. And yet the Word also teaches that Adam's sin brought forth death upon all men. So I can understand how some could be quite confused in trying to reconcile the teaching in Romans 5 with Ezekiel 18. The only way I've been able to do that is with the explanation I gave in my last post.

So again, the bottom line for me here is that God's Word teaches that man's physical depravity is directly connected to, and is a result of his moral depravity. Without moral depravity there would be no physical depravity or death in this world. So the fact that we are born with physical depravity and inherit the curse of death reveals that we inherit guilt through Adam's sin.

And yet we are still responsible and accountable for our sin against God and have no excuse for it. We have a conscience that tells us we are guilty of sin.

Also, it doesn't take much to see that children are born with a corrupt nature and propensity toward sin. From the womb we are selfish by nature and have to learn to share, to tell the truth, etc. Finney called it physical depravity and others call it a sinful nature and/or total depravity. And I know there are some significant differences in understanding on certain points there.


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Oracio

 2015/1/6 12:03Profile
Sidewalk
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Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 708
San Diego

 Re: Thrust and parry... But always in love...

Oracio,

And everybody else of course, It seems to me from the careful reading of the Romans 5 verses, that a certain level of participation with Adam and with Christ is implied for both the guilt to be charged, and the deliverance to be apprehended. As we sin we join Adam in condemnation, as we repent and lay hold of Christ's atoning work we are redeemed into eternal life. But only those who participate are involved.

If we believe that sin is the knowing rebellion against the law of God, I do not see how guilt can be passed down to a man's offspring without their sinning first. Again, that strange quote from Jesus regarding the Pharisees, "Before I came, they did not have sin. But now they have hated both Me and My Father." Clearly Jesus acknowledged here that these men came into serious sin with their rejection of Himself, and it remains a question as to why he phrased it like that. Most of us would probably agree that in all likelihood these guys were the evil, whitewashed tombs of iniquity as He described them in another passage. A ponder...

As we have this discussion, I go back to the words of Paul in II Corinthians where he says "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ." (10:5). Every belief system we hold, every doctrine we embrace should be useful to Jesus as we proclaim His salvation in our words and our deeds. So for me, cutting off every possible excuse for sin is at the top of the list. I have referenced this in other posts, but let me say again that my life changed when I took full reponsibility for my sin and my sins, when I stood as the song says, "without one plea" before God guilty to all of God's wrath, deserving of zero mercy. I was ready to receive His pardon not by my works, but by His.

He gave His Son, and that suddenly made so much sense! Yes I was guilty, but there He was with the complete answer to the dilemma. Only a proud and selfish fool could look at that and say no!

Obviously, others have come to this incredible grace and sweet deliverance while still believing that their guilt has come down a genetic line from Adam. I just can't see that, even in the passages in Romans. I never see Jesus addressing sin as something natural in men, though I suppose when He says He knew what was in men might be used to support the inborn sinful nature position. But the passage does not elaborate that point. (Jn 2:24, 25)

It just seems that taking full responsibility for one's sin is an honest and strong position from which to see and comprehend the power of God's grace in salvation. I am disturbed in my spirit by the vast number of people who "receive Christ as Savior" one day, and a month later are back in the world disillusioned and embittered. They need a better message, and better preparation.


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Tom Cameron

 2015/1/6 23:02Profile





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