Threats and promises aren’t enough to make us change.
We may know that exercise is really good for us and sitting on the couch every night downing bags of chips is really bad for us, but the benefits of exercise and the consequences of poor diets aren’t usually enough to motivate us to change.
You could tell me all the benefits of eating anchovies and threaten me with dire consequences for not eating them and I wouldn’t change my diet – I just have no heart for anchovies.
In the book of Jeremiah, God threatens his people again and again with complete disaster and destruction if they don’t turn from their idols. He promises them blessing after blessing if they will follow him. Yet threats and promises aren’t enough to make them change. Their problem? They had no heart for God.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Je 17.9)
The problem was their hearts – they were deceitful and sick. Threats and promises couldn’t change them. What they needed was new hearts. Which is exactly what God promised he would do in his new covenant:
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezek 36.26-27)
When Christ invades our lives and saves us, he gives us new hearts! He fills us with his Spirit and moves us from within. He gives us hearts to obey him and the Holy Spirit himself writes God’s laws on our hearts. Now when I read Biblical threats they move me, for I have a heart to obey God. And when I read God’s promises to bless my obedience, they stir me in a way they never would have when I was dead in my sins.
New hearts! What an amazing incredible blessing. God’s Spirit dwelling within, whispering “this is the way, walk in it,” illuminating God’s word, giving us the Spirit’s own desires to glorify Jesus.
What a blessing to live on this side of Calvary!
photo by ChodHound