A New Spirit And A New Heart
Edward Samuel | Added: Mar 03, 2017 | Category: Theology
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We will now endeavour to describe the character in whose heart the Holy Spirit has triumphed over the second enemy, namely, spiritual death.
We have said that the Spirit in His triumph communicates Divine Life, creates a new principle in the Soul, which is called in Scripture “the new man”, and sometimes a “new heart”, and a “new spirit”. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Here the triumph of the Holy Spirit in the sinner’s heart is plainly exhibited by removing the stubborn heart, and putting in an opposite principle. The Spirit’s work does not consist in negatives only, but in positives also. It consists not only of the removal of the old heart, but the giving of a new one. The new spirit in the text, I understand to be the mind and judgment called the intellectual part of man; and the new heart in the text, I take to be the will and affections; and by both these I understand the whole Soul with all its faculties. And wherever this new heart and new spirit are found, the following things will also be found, namely:
New sight and feeling of our spiritual state
Previously to the Holy Spirit’s triumph there are two principles predominant in the heart; one is ignorance or blindness—(the sinner is ignorant of the condition of his Soul, he knows not what he is, nor what he does. “We were in bondage,” said the Jews. The way of wickedness is as darkness, “They know not at what they stumble,” said Solomon, Proverbs 4:19)—the other is, hardness of heart, or insensibility. A graceless man has a wicked heart, and that desperately so; but he is not sensible of it, he is ignorant, proud, impenitent, serving divers lusts, and under the curse and wrath of God. His sin abounds in the heart and life, rules and bears the sway; and yet, alas, he neither sees nor feels these things. But when the Holy Spirit in His triumph renews the heart by grace, spiritual life and feeling are soon discovered: the subdued sinner then sees things which he never saw before, and experimentally feels that which he did not feel before. “Alas!” says the conquered sinner, “O, wretched man that I am, my heart is full of sin and wickedness, and no good thing dwells in it! Ignorant, vain, worldly, stubborn, sensual and devilish, such is my heart. And the Lord threatens and declares His disapprobation!” So the gracious man groans under the burden of his sinful heart and life. “Mine iniquities,” says David, “are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long” Psalm 38:4, 6. The renewed sinner complains, loathes himself in his own eyes, and bewails his condition with a troubled heart. Here is a new sight, a new sense, and a new feeling.
A new judgement and opinion
The renewed Soul discovers within himself a new judgment and opinion; he has different thoughts of himself and his ways to those he formally had. He now judges righteously, according to the scriptures of truth. The Apostle said, “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” And in another place he speaks of himself as the “chiefest of sinners”. The Psalmist did the same, “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee” Psalm 73:22. With regard to God and His ways, the renewed sinner looks upon them as his only happiness, and could he but enjoy God as reconciled in Christ, as his God he would be blessed forever. He looks upon the ways of God as righteous, good, holy, safe, and pleasant, and on the way of repentance, faith and holiness, as the most excellent and beautiful, to be desired above all creature excellency, or the world calls good or great.
New cares and requests
New cares and requests are discovered. His cares are now more for the Soul than for the body; his cry is, “Lord, what will become of my poor Soul, and what shall I do to be saved? If Christ and pardon are not mine, I am undone for ever; let them who will take the world and its pleasures, but, O Lord, be thou merciful to me, a sinner: be thou reconciled to my Soul, and lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me!”
New principles are discernible
Every new spiritual and heavenly principle respecting Salvation will be found in the renewed heart: knowledge, spiritual and heavenly wisdom, wisdom for Salvation, wisdom to know what is good, to approve the things that are excellent, to know the time and seasons of the Gospel, and to embrace it, and love it. A holy, spiritual, and serious mind, to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, giving all diligence, by prayer and supplication, to make his calling and election sure, will manifest itself in the conquered sinner.
True humility is another new principle to be found in such an one. “All his saints are in thy hand, they sit down at thy feet, every one shall receive of thy word.” A humble disciple of Christ’s is willing to sit at His feet, and be instructed by Him; “Surely,” says David, “I have behaved and quieted myself as a child is weaned of his mother, and my Soul is even as a weaned child” Psalm 131:2. Indeed, except we become as “little children” we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven; and Paul said that he served with all humility of heart. Obedience is another principle. Cornelius and his friends said to Peter, “We are all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” “ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” was the testimony of Paul concerning true converts at Rome. Sincerity, or uprightness, is another principle. Christ said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.” The Apostle said, “In simplicity and godly sincerity he had his conversation in the world.” In a word, faith, hope, love, repentance, patience, and contentment, are found in all hearts where the Holy Spirit has triumphed.
New conflicts arise in the subdued sinner’s Soul. The flesh begins to lust against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and they are contrary the one to the other. “But I see”, said the Apostle, “another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.” The flesh is the corrupt nature. The law in the members is the old man. The spirit, the renewed heart, the “law in the mind”, is the new man. All these are in the regenerated person, and are dispersed over every faculty of the Soul; they are contrary the one to the other, and war one against another. This war is commenced the first moment the Holy Spirit triumphs over the internal enemies, and will continue to the last moment of life, until the Soul, through the Spirit, triumphs over death and enters into glory. Every new principle in the gracious heart has an antagonist. As, for instance, faith meets with opposition from unbelief, hope from doubt, love of God from the love of the world, the fear of God from the fear of the creature, or slavish fear, humility from pride, patience from peevishness, resignation from rebellion, diligence from sloth. Let the living Soul make an attempt to call upon God in prayer, the old nature will try to keep it back or else make some excuse; and if that will not do, it will go off asleep; and if that will not do, Satan will put some other stumbling block in the way, and so assist the old man. If the living Soul be desirous to read the Word of God, except the Holy Spirit assists him, his mind will be filled with confusion and his thoughts will wander, or else some business which must be done will force itself into his memory, and so the Word of God will only gain a divided attention. If he be desirous of going to the house of God, this excuse will arise, “I am tired, or, I am full of confusion, and shall not profit if I go.” Thus, whichever way a living Soul turns, he is liable to meet with opposition, and every step he takes he is apt to find obstructions in the way, and himself encompassed with many infirmities.
It is true, that sin shall not have dominion over a living Soul, yet, sometimes, sin, for the moment, gets the mastery. Sometimes Heaven draws up the Soul, and at other times earth drags it down; and when this is the case, the Soul cries, “I cleave to the dust, quicken thou me, O Lord.” The world and our earthly nature will at times keep the Soul down, and without the assistance of the Almighty Power of the Spirit, it cannot shake off the burden, but lies groaning beneath the weight; but when the blessed Spirit comes He removes this burden and communicates fresh strength. The Soul, like Naphtali, is then let loose, giving praises and thanksgiving to the great Deliverer. When the mind is spiritual, heavenly things are precious, and earthly things become insipid; but when the mind becomes carnal, spiritual things are insipid and earthly things rise in seeming value. But “to be spiritually minded is life and peace, and to be carnally minded is death” Romans 8:6. Hence the Apostle exhorts the Colossians to set their affections on things above, not on things on the earth. Sometimes light will get the ascendency, and at other times darkness will envelope the Soul. Sometimes joy, and at other times sorrow; sometimes peace, at other times war; sometimes liberty will be enjoyed, and at other seasons great bondage of soul is felt. Thus, the gracious Soul discovers a daily, yea, an hourly conflict. This is like Jacob and Esau struggling in the same womb. Grace in the heart will oppose sin, the least as well as the greatest, secret as well as public sins. This conflict is natural, not accidental; it is natural for grace to hate sin, and for sin to oppose grace; and where the animosity is natural the opposition will be greater, and the longer grace is engaged in the conflict the stronger and more courageous it becomes, though it may occasionally get foiled, yet it will not give up, but will renew the battle and fight more strongly than ever. When it is cast down by the enemy it will rise again, singing, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise,” Micah 7:8. Grace will not quit the field till it is called away by the Captain, and when it is called off the field, it is crowned with glory. Grace must reign, and grace must finally conquer, because it receives daily strength from the Holy Spirit.
New power is discovered in the subdued sinner’s heart. Divine grace is in itself a powerful principle. There is a spirit of power and might in it and with it; if it were not so, it could never change the heart of a sinner, nor dethrone sin, nor maintain the conflict with all the powers of sin and Satan; neither could it perform great works of service to its Author, as it does, and that in an eminent way. This also is done through the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Grace confers a power upon the Soul; indeed, grace is given for that very end. When a sinner is renewed it is said he is quickened from death to life; and life implies power, a power which the sinner had not before. Divine grace will enable a sinner to perform greater things than the wisest philosopher or profoundest hypocrite can effect. It will enable a sinner to deny his own opinion, his unholy affections, his supposed worth, his false religion, and all his own ways. It creates sincere love for Christ, and all that belongs to Him; acts out a cordial compliance with the whole revealed will of God; produces a submission of the whole heart to Christ in all His offices; implants an unfeigned hatred of every sin; and enables a man to live by faith upon the promises of God in all the contingencies of his pilgrimage.
Moreover, the power of renewing grace is discovered in the performance of such work as the graceless Soul is incapable of doing, e.g. to weep for sin in outward peace and prosperity, to prize Christ above all, to thirst after Him, take delight in Him, and suffer reproaches for His sake; to forsake the dearest lust, to cry mightily to God, to take delight in Him, in His will and ways. This capability and the power for exertion are communicated by the Holy Spirit.
New works and obedience
New works and obedience are discovered in a renewed heart, and also the means of working. All works and operations are answerable to the nature in man. The old nature will perform old works, and the renewed nature new works. Before Elisha healed the spring in Jericho, it sent forth bitter water; before he cast meal, in the pot, there was nothing but death there; so, before the heart is renewed, the works proceeding therefrom are bitter, corrupt, vile, and abominable; but when healed by renewing grace, its works are holiness and righteousness, suitable to the renewed heart. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
There are four qualifications in a renewed heart, enabling it to perform good works. First, it performs them in the strength of Christ, by virtue of union and communion with Him, just as the members of the body act by virtue of union with the head; “I can do all things,” said Paul, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Second, it performs them with love; the love of Christ constrains the renewed man; he finds delight in doing good works. Third, these duties are discharged with fervency of spirit, not in a cold, careless, and indifferent way. The renewed man seeks the Lord with all his heart. Fourth, there is integrity of intention; the renewed man looks not at himself, but to the Glory of God, in Christ.
New delights and satisfaction
New delights and satisfaction are also discovered in a gracious heart. Every heart is known by its delights. The proud heart finds delight in the vanities and fashions of this world; the ambitious heart, in honours and applause; the covetous heart, in riches and profit; every graceless heart seeks satisfaction from the world, if it could obtain enough of the world it would be satisfied; but not so with the gracious heart, it has new objects, new ways, delights, and satisfactions. If the Lord would say to a renewed man, “I will give you the riches of the whole world, but I will withdraw myself,” the gracious Soul would utterly reject the proposition. The Heaven-born Soul views the world as vanity, and sees a Hell in every sin; his delights and satisfaction are in those objects which are suitable to the renewed nature, viz., a reconciled God, His favours, and experimental knowledge of Him, the fruition of Him, meditation on Him, communion with Him, blessed manifestations of Him to the Soul, the hopes of the future and eternal enjoyment of Him in heaven, Psalm 73:25. These are the pleasures—the Soul-satisfying enjoyments of a child of God. His heart is employed upon the excellent glories of Christ, a near relation to Him, the life of Christ in the Soul, and the comfort and peace which are inseparably connected with the manifestation of His love, His power, and His presence. Such are the new delights of a renewed Soul: they constitute His food and raiment, his riches, his estates, his friends and relations: one smile from God in Christ, one drop of His Love, one Word from His mouth, one streamlet from the river of peace, or one drop of joy from the ocean of bliss, affords greater satisfaction than all the world beside.
The choice of new society
The choice of new society is another mark of a gracious heart. The renewed man has a new master, new friends, and new companions. David said, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee” Psalm 119:63; the Saints were the excellent of the earth to him, and he delighted in their company, he rejoiced to go with them to the house of God, “I went there with the voice of joy” Psalm 42:4. The company of the ungodly was a burden to him, “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech”, he hated their ways, “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?” Psalm 139:21. Paul said, “What communion hath light with darkness?” and John the Divine said, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
Thus I have attempted to delineate the characters in whom the Holy Spirit has triumphed and to whom He has given a new heart and new spirit. Such an one has new rules to walk by; the law written in his heart, and the Word of God are his rules whereby he steers his course the remainder of his days, not by his own judgment, or by supposed revelations, or by his own will, affections, or the opinions of men, or the customs or applause of the world, but by the written Word of God; by it he orders his steps, and judges all matters of faith and importance. This, says the believer, I must believe, because God has revealed it, and commands me to believe it; this I receive as truth, because He has revealed it; by this I desire to walk, speak, and work, by the Word of God, I desire to live and die, through the assistance of God the Holy Spirit.
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