14Then the word of the LORD came to me: 15Mortal, your kinsfolk, your own kin, your fellow exiles, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, “They have gone far from the LORD; to us this land is given for a possession.” 16Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far away among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a little while in the countries where they have gone. 17Therefore 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. 18When they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, says the Lord GOD.
22Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 23And the glory of the LORD ascended from the middle of the city, and stopped on the mountain east of the city. 24The spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen left me. 25And I told the exiles all the things that the LORD had shown me.
The great miracle of the new covenant is the reality of the "new spirit within" and the "heart of flesh" made possible by the giving of the Holy Spirit through Jesus.
Both Jeremiah (31:33, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.") and Ezekiel (11:19-20 above) prophesied that one day human beings will love God from the "inside-out." No longer will the Law of God stand as an impossible standard. No longer will humans become frustrated in their inability to live according to God's Law. One day all this inability and frustration will change, when the power to live out (willingly) the will of God becomes not only a distinct possibility but an expected actuality.
The seismic shift between the old and new covenants lies precisely in this new ability that the Spirit of God provides for those who follow God in Christ. That is the great news! We are able because the Holy Spirit makes us able!
The Holy Spirit within us, we can say, is the necessary and sufficient condition for our new life of loving God from the "inside-out." The Spirit of God provides the "material" and "efficient" change necessary to trust and love God from within. We are no longer strangers to God but His sons and daughters. We've become members of God's household. Sons, daughters, heirs, friends, the beloved -- you name it, we belong to the Lord because of the Spirit of adoption.
This new covenant truth, for example, is behind John the Apostle's encouragement in 1 John 4:4, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." This new covenant truth is also behind Paul's command in Philippians 2:12-13, "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."
Our true and only hope of maturing in Christ and our true and only hope for overcoming sin and the devil is this new covenant reality of the Spirit of God living inside of us. And since this new covenant reality is an actuality, let us be full of hope today.
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for sending your Son and releasing the Spirit. We thank you that what was impossible (loving you from the inside-out) has become possible. We ask you that we would enjoy you today in the fullness of your grace through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. May our hearts come more fully alive and awakened to the great good news of the new covenant fulfillment -- that you have "put a new spirit within" us and you have given us "a heart of flesh." In Jesus' Name, Amen.