EZEKIEL 11:17-20: “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Is it really possible to walk in obedience to God’s commands? Anyone who has been a Christian for very long has discovered the truth that – “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Like Paul, many times we find this inner struggle taking place in our lives…
- “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (Romans 7:15-21 ESV)
This is the dilemma that everyone faces. There is an inner struggle in each of our lives. Why does this not simply disappear when we place our faith in Jesus Christ?
When one turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in sincere repentance and faith in His death and resurrection, a transformation occurs. The heart that was made out of stone, or in essence dead to the things of God’s Spirit, is dramatically reborn and made alive. The minute after this happens one realizes that they still live in a body that is aging and will one day die, and they have a mind that needs to be renewed by the Truth of God’s Word. Everything remains the same, except the recreated heart. However, this is no small thing. Prior to this it was impossible to walk in obedience to God’s commands. Now, although there is always a struggle, we can learn to overcome this struggle through a life filled, guided, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The same Paul who confessed his struggles honestly now proclaims…
- “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-5 ESV)
God knew that Israel, and all of mankind would never be able to obey His commands unless they were transformed from within. So, sending Jesus Christ to take our punishment, die in our place, and rise triumphantly over the power of sin and death – He has now poured out His Spirit upon all who will believe. We are “born again” by the Spirit of God. We now have a new capacity to obey and follow God. It is not a new resolve, it is God Himself, Christ in us, the hope of glory through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
As we daily learn to walk after the Spirit, to renew our minds with the Word of God, we find ourselves naturally walking according to the commandments of the Lord. Why? Because the Fruit of the Spirit that begins to grow in us is the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets. Paul writes…
- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25 ESV)
Lord, this morning, help me to walk and keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Help me to run to you when I fail to be forgiven, cleansed, and give me the grace needed to get right back up and walk after the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Bring forth Your fruit in my life – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – for these are the fulfillment of Your commands!
In Jesus Name!