Tuesday: New Covenant and New Heart
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
As earlier lessons this quarter showed, the new covenant is one in which the Lord puts the law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-33). Not only is the law there, but according to the texts for today, Christ is, as well, which, of course, makes good sense, for Christ and His law are so closely connected. Thus, with Christ’s law in our hearts, and with Christ dwelling there too (the Greek word translated in the above text dwell means also “to settle in,” giving the idea of permanency), we come to another one of the great covenant benefits — a new heart.
Why do we need a new heart? What changes will be manifested in those who have a new heart?
Read again the text for today. Notice that Paul stresses the element of love, saying that we must be “rooted and grounded” in it. These words imply stability, firmness, and permanency in the foundation of love. Our faith means nothing if it is not rooted in love for God, and love for others (Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13). This love does not come in a vacuum. On the contrary, it comes because we get a glimpse of God’s love for us (a love that “passeth understanding”) as manifested through Jesus. As a result, our lives are changed, our hearts are changed, and we become new people with new thoughts, new desires, and new goals. It is our reaction to God’s love for us that changes our hearts and instills love for others. Perhaps this is what Paul means, at least partially, when he talks about our being filled with “the fullness of God.”
Read 1 John 4:16. How does this text relate to what Paul has written in Ephesians 3:17-19?
|Look at texts we have studied today. What can you do that will allow the promises of these texts to be fulfilled in you? Are there things you need to change, things that are perhaps hampering you from experiencing the “fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19)? Make a list of what changes you need to make in your life. Make one for yourself and, if you are comfortable, make one that you could share with the class. How can we help each other make necessary changes?|
I guess that if you were to look at the total music output of the world a large portion of it would be about "love" and a fair portion of that would be about schmaltzy love. I don't think there is a very big market for songs about cleaning babies nappies, sitting up all night with a sick child, or looking after an old spouse who has dementia. Yet at the end of one's life, when you have become tone-deaf to the schmaltzy stuff, you either learn about how to handle the tough stuff, or you lose the plot. Don't get me wrong! I have fond memories of falling in love, of my heart beating faster, of gazing into those limpid pools of her gorgeous eyes and so on. But somewhere along the line, I had to learn about dirty nappies, washing up, laundry, vacuuming the house, helping with the shopping. Like it or not, that is what I signed up for when I put my signature on the marriage certificate and kissed her!
And spiritually, is it any different? There is a lot of schmaltzy stuff written and sung about when it comes to love in the spiritual sense.
A song that I grew up with has these words:
The sentiments of this song resonate with us but it is no use singing about it if we do not put the words into action. The love of God has to be written, not on a hypothetical sky with a hypothetical ocean of ink, but in the actions of loving and caring Christians.
When Jesus signed up for loving us, he not only signed up for our loving adoration; he signed up to die for us. It wasn't just songs and cute words; it was faithfulness for us unto death. That is beyond words.
Maurice - thank you so very much for sharing these deeply inspired, loving words of praise with us! And yes, 'His faithfulness unto death is beyond words'!
New Covenant and New Heart
This new covenant and new heart is grounded in love. Love of Jesus for me and my love for him. 1 Cor 13:1-13. teach us what is love and what is not love. Love is not a feeling, its a principle.
I entered in my child vehicle recently and she had this song playing all rap up in worldly 'love'. What a thing.
When we think “new heart”, what does that mean? The psalmist prayed for “a clean heart, and...a right spirit”. So perhaps new is changed, different than before. The verse just before the verses quoted from Eph 3 says “to be strengthened with might by His Spirit”, which is how Christ dwells in the heart by faith. The Holy Spirit is One with Christ, and will bring the same likeness into the receptive soul. So how does one become receptive, should be our interest.
All have sinned, so the heart is corrupt, but the work of God in sinners will cleanse the soul of all defilement and by planting the influence of the Holy Spirit within(Eph 3:16), the transformation will take place(Rom 12:2, Titus 3:5). Since all that we do comes from the heart(Prov 4:23), all that we do will reflect the character and work of Jesus, who “went about doing good”(Acts 10:38). This is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes”(Rom 1:16).
There are many passages of scripture that describe the manner by which God enables the repentant sinner to be transformed into the image of God as a “partaker of the Divine nature”(2 Pe 1:4).
"How can you help each other make necessary changes?"
Submit to God, resist the devil, draw near to God(James 4:7,8), come to Jesus and take His yoke(Matt 11:28,29), deny ungodliness and worldly lust(Titus 2:12), etc. The first work is repentance(Acts 2:37,38)
I just wanted to let you know I agree with what you have written today - because I view what you have said through the perspective of ongoing, progressive refinement (‘transformation-training’ : Romans 12:2; Titus 2:12 - as you mentioned). Being a “training”, I understand transformation to be a progressive process that is a collaborative ‘working-out’ partnership involving our active involvement and the Spirit’s (re)-creative work (including empowering) as per Philippians 2:12,13.
Today’s lesson states in part “…Christ and His law are so closely connected…” I would like to propose that this is actually a subtle though significant misperception that affects our understanding of how reality functions. I would propose that instead, the truth is Christ and His law are inseparable.
Without denying the ‘person-ness’ of God, it is essentially true to say that God is Love (pure self-renouncing omni-beneficence) and Love is God. Exactly the same can be said of Christ - the “express image” of God (Hebrews 1:3). And this Love/pure self-renouncing omni-beneficence is a constant principle - and as such, a ‘law’. In fact, it is The Law that is the foundation (and therefore the foundational nature) of all other true (non-arbitrary: that is, inherently embedded in actual reality) laws/reality-principles within God’s Kingdom.
At its most basic, God and His Laws embody and therefore reflect 3 inseparably-intertwined core principles: non-arbitrary, freedom-based, beneficence (eg; oxygen-CO2 cycle; water cycle; ATP/ADP intracellular cycle; law of the Spirit of life Romans 8:2).
I would propose that if we can appreciate this reality, we stop seeing ‘God’s laws’ as 'rules' and instead realise they are descriptions of what reality is and how reality functions. That changes our view of who God is and what He is about. Once you see this, you won’t be able to ‘unsee’ it.
So if you are thinking it’s time to get new/updated spectacles, this is the pair of spectacles you definitely want to get! You will get a much clearer vision of many things in scripture as a result.
(It is also worth being aware that, by contrast, the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) is a non-arbitrary law - but it is external to God’s Kingdom. This means that the law of sin and death belongs to the realm of formless and void which lies outside of God’s Kingdom for within God's Kingdom is an 'abundant-life-only zone').
Thanks, Phil. These words by Ellen White convinced me long ago that God's Law is not arbitrary but the essential foundation of life in God's universe.
Phil - thank you for always helping to refine our understanding of Scripture and the true nature of our relationship with the Father who saves/protects His children from destruction.
I found it a special blessing after learning and understanding that God's laws are not 'imposed as rules', but are 'descriptions' of what His reality is and how reality 'functions'.
By living His *Truth of Life and Light*, I live the 'rules' which govern the reality of God.
Yes, I love to live in God's Kingdom's "abundant-life-only zone"! 🙂
“Why do we need a new heart”? - ‘to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with the goodness of God’ - Eph.3:19. With His 'Goodness' living in us we are filled/inspired to live according to His Way of Life and Light.
Without this ‘new heart’ which is spiritually minded, we will not be able to discern the 'Goodness of God', which is the Love of Christ's spirit filling our heart and mind and guiding us into all Truth.
Without this new heart's ability to commune with the heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit, life will still be conducted under our flesh’s authority. The old heart and mind is cunning, attempting by ‘cleaning things up a bit’, to make our life look like we are doing the ‘good works’ required of a ‘good person’.
Mark7:21-23KJV; Matt.15:19KJV; Eph.4:22-24KJV; 1Peter3:15-18KJV.
A changed heart and mind is offered, but we need to desire and ask for the new heart and the new mind.
We know .. ”The old heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.”? - Jer.17:9KJV.
We also know …… ”I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doing.” - Jer.17:10KJV
Therefore, our constant prayer should be for .. a clean heart and to renew a right (constant) spirit with in me – Psalm51:10KJV.
The Covenant of Grace is God's offer, which when the believer accepts it, God empowers him/her to live according to a new heart and mind – a heart and mind which is capable of true, altruistic kindness - loving consideration toward our fellow man - the Goodness of God. To be aware of His Goodness is our everlasting joy!
(4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
(5) even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together WITH Christ; by grace ye are saved (or, by whose grace) ye are saved.
(6) And hath raised us up TOGETHER, and made us sit together in heavenly places *IN* Christ Jesus:
(7) That in ages to come He(God) might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in/through/by his kindness toward us THROUGH Christ Jesus.
(8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God;
(9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Those who believe and live by the Word of God as a new creation by/through/because of God’s Grace are:
1Pet.5:10KJV - ”.. HIS workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus UNTO good works, which God hath before ordained (prepared) that we should walk (live) in them.
The only ongoing ‘change’ I want to experience in my life is to experience an ever closer relationship with my heavenly Father and my Savior Christ Jesus.
John14:21KJV - "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Hmmm.... the final question asks us what things we need to change to not hamper experiencing the fullness of God. And doubtless there are plenty of things to change. But lasting change comes from God. I feel trying to fix ourselves is not really effective long-term. I speak from experience. The most important thing we can do is give ourselves to God.
You are correct Christina, yet the question is one we must constantly ask(2 Cor 13:5), or why bother to surrender, if one feels no need. I don't know if the author/editor was suggesting WE do the changing, but it does require our permission doesn't it? Otherwise, all would be save by God who "so loves the world".
Absolutely, it does require our permission. And it can be hard to surrender to God. But now, instead of trying my hardest to overcome something, I ask God to change my attitude toward it. Make me hate the wrong. Make me want to do what's right. And I've found as I spend time with Him, the changes have happened, without all the fruitless struggling of before. Because God wants our heart to change. He doesn't want people who want to sin but don't so they can go to Heaven. He wants us to be in tune with His Heart.
Christina, I'm with you. There are so many things that need changing in my life. I can identify a lot of them. But How I've tended to approach it is asking God, and giving him permission to mold me after his will. When I look back at my life things I can see God working on where low or not even on my list. His order of working on me is definitely different and superior then mine.
Christina, you wrote, "I feel trying to fix ourselves is not really effective long-term. I speak from experience."
My experience is like yours. Yet what does giving ourselves to Christ involve? Is it a one-time affair? I like how Ellen White puts it in Steps to Christ, p. 70
I think it is also summarized in the song, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus ..." As we do this, He works the change in our hearts and lives that we cannot produce ourselves.
It is definitely not a one-time thing. It requires surrender, which can be hard. But I find when I'm struggling with something, the best thing I can do is spend more time with Jesus, be immersed in His ways, and then ask him to change my attitude toward what I'm struggling with. And I find He does.
Christina, this comment brings my mind to Dan 4:27. We can choose to do good for others, taking our mind off our "struggle" to...whatever, and will find that desire quickly fading away. We might need to toss something out or avoid certain situations, change up our routine...etc. Repentance begins this process in a right direction, all the while communing with the Lord and claiming His "exceeding great and precious promises whereby [we] become partakers of the Divine nature"(2 Pe 1:4).
I like Phil's thoughts. Love is not like the onslaught of an enemy to which one must surrender. Seeking Love is abundant life that is practiced every moment. Life is an opportunity to seek Love in every circumstance and in every moment. The seeking is what changes the heart because where your heart is, there will be your treasure.
Seeking Love is like breathing. We do it in every moment regardless of what we are doing and where we are because if we stop, we die.