“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
~ Ezekiel 11:19
This was the great and glorious promise the Lord gave to Israel under the Old Covenant through the mouth of His prophet Ezekiel. God was going to restore His people, but in a new and refreshing way. He was going to place in them the drive and desire to listen, obey and serve the Lord by giving them a new undivided heart and a new revived spirit. Through this work of grace, God’s people would be eager to live for Him.
It takes a new heart and a new spirit to truly serve God. Through Christ, sinners become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). By faith in Him, we can receive that new heart and new spirit which is not only means our merciful salvation, but means we have the high privilege of serving Him. We owe the Lord an undivided heart. Our salvation cost Him His own Beloved Son whose heart was not undivided in His sacrifice for you. Let us then take our new heart and new spirit and wholly and undividedly give them back to Him.
“The will of the Father is the originating cause of our salvation, the worth of the Son’s redemption, its meritorious cause, and the work of the Spirit, its effectual cause.”
~ Arthur Pink (1886-1952)
We must never separate the Spirit and the Word. The Spirit speaks to us through the Word; so we should always doubt and query any supposed revelation that is not entirely consistent with the Word of God. Indeed the essence of wisdom is to reject altogether the term “revelation” as far as we are concerned, and speak only of “illumination.” The revelation has been given once and for all, and what we need and what by the grace of God we can have, and do have, is illumination by the Spirit to understand the Word.
~ Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
Since the first fallen man got still long enough to think, fallen men have been asking these questions: “Whence came I? What am I? Why am I here? and Where am I going?” The noblest minds of the race have struggled with these questions to no avail. Did the answer lie somewhere hidden like a jewel it would surely have been uncovered, for the most penetrating minds of the race have searched for it everywhere in the region of human experience. Yet the answers remain as securely hidden as if they did not exist. Why is man lost philosophically? Because he is lost morally and spiritually. He cannot answer the questions life presents to his intellect because the light of God has gone out in his soul… Apart from the Scriptures we have no sure philosophy; apart from Jesus Christ we have no true knowledge of God; apart from the in living Spirit we have no ability to live lives morally pleasing to God!
~ A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…”
~ 1 Peter 1:22 (NKJV)
The souls of Christians must be purified before they can so much as love one another unfeignedly. There are such lusts and partialities in man’s nature that without divine grace we can neither love God nor one another as we ought to do; there is no charity but out of a pure heart. It is the duty of all Christians sincerely and fervently to love one another. Our affection to one another must be sincere and real, and it must be fervent, constant, and extensive. The Spirit convinces the soul of its impurities, furnishes those virtues and graces that both adorn and purify, such as faith, hope, the fear of God, and the love of Jesus Christ.
~ Matthew Henry, Complete Commentary on the Bible
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
~ John 14:26 (NKJV)
The role or purpose of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian is to teach us all things related to the one true Faith and to continually point us back, to bring into our hearts and minds, the person, work and words of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth for it is His design to illuminate the life of the believer in the glorious truth of God and the Lord Jesus. It is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit that empowers us to know, love and serve the Lord. He draws us, leads us and moves us continually to Christ.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ…~ Colossians 2:11 (NKJV)
Which [circumcision] is of the heart, in the spirit; every man… is uncircumcised in heart, until he is circumcised by Christ and his Spirit; which is done, when he is pricked to the heart, and thoroughly convinced of sin, and the exceeding sinfulness of it; when the callousness and hardness of his heart is taken off and removed, and the iniquity of it is laid open, the plague and corruption in it discerned, and all made naked and bare to the sinner’s view; when he is in pain on account of it, is broken and groans under a sense of it, and is filled with shame for it.
~ John Gill, Exposition of the Whole Bible
You will always observe that when forms of service become formal, the Spirit is less in evidence, and you move further away from the New Testament. The very characteristic of the New Testament Church was this spontaneity, this life, this living quality, this vivacity. But, as you fall away from the Spirit and his influence, everything becomes formal.
~ Martin Lloyd Jones (1899-1981)
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore thee,
a heart to delight in thee,
to follow and to enjoy thee,
for Christ’s sake.
~ Ambrose of Milan (339-397)
I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with understanding.~ 1 Corinthians 14:15b
I would like to take a few posts and survey some of the prayers and prayer methodology of the Apostle Paul. Paul is well-known for his fervent proclamation of the Gospel and his tireless defense of sound doctrine. But this dear saint was also a deeply devotional and passionately Spirit-filled man of prayer. With even a cursory reading of Paul’s epistles, one will find a treasure trove of guidance and instruction for their own prayer life. After studying Paul’s prayers, I might even say he is the quintessential New Testament example for believers today. My sincere hope is this series will be of spiritual profit to those who read it.
In 1 Corinthians, the 14th chapter, Paul lays out two guiding principles for his prayer life. Number one, he will pray with the spirit. Number two, he will pray with understanding. Any meaningful and moving prayer will always consist of these two elements. As for praying with the Spirit, it can be said there is no godly prayer without it. Prayers of our own making, prayers of our own strength, without the abiding and enabling help of God’s Holy Spirit are no prayers at all. We pray in the power of the Spirit or not at all. The person who seeks to bring their supplications before the Lord, must first seek and find the communion of the Holy Spirit to make their prayers pleasing and acceptable to God (Romans 8:26-27).
Second, Paul’s desire is to pray with understanding. The idea here is he will pray intelligently, with a working knowledge of how and what to pray for. This is accomplished through the ongoing cultivation of our over-all spiritual life. People learn to pray with more and more spiritual understanding as they grow in their faith and fellowship with Christ and by feasting on His Word. There are those who pray without understanding and you will find them praying in a frivolous and worldly manner. Paul’s principle of praying with the understanding is essential for growth in God and in a purposeful and fruitful prayer life.
If you find yourself struggling to know where to begin in your own prayer life, take these two fundamental principles of the Apostle Paul to heart. Prayer with the spirit and with understanding; they are so important and a prerequisite to finding fulfillment in prayer.