‘I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.’ Ezekiel 36:26
Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 30:7–9
Men who have lost their stony hearts are afraid of sin, even before sin they are afraid of it. The very shadow of evil across their path frightens them. The temptation is enough for them, they flee from it as from a serpent; they would not dally and toil with it, lest they should be betrayed. Their conscience is alarmed even at the approach of evil, and away they fly; and in sin, for even tender hearts do sin, they are uneasy. As well might a man seek to obtain quiet rest on a pillow stuffed with thorns, as the tender conscience get any peace while a man is sinning. And then, after sin—here comes the pinch—the heart of flesh bleeds as though it were wounded to its very core. It hates and loathes and detests itself that ever it should have gone astray. Ah, stony heart, you can think of sin with pleasure, you can live in sin and not care about it; and after sin you can roll the sweet morsel under your tongue and say, ‘Who is my master? I care for none; my conscience does not accuse me.’ But not so the tender broken heart. Before sin, and in sin, and after sin, it smarts and cries out to God. So also in duty as well as in sin, the new heart is tender. Hard hearts care nothing for God’s commandment; hearts of flesh wish to be obedient to every statute. ‘Only let me know my Master’s will and I will do it.’ The hearts of flesh when they feel that the commandment has been omitted, or that the command has been broken, mourn and lament before God. Oh! there are some hearts of flesh that cannot forgive themselves, if they have been lax in prayer, if they have not enjoyed the Sabbath day, if they feel that they have not given their hearts to God’s praise as they should.
For meditation: The tender heart before sin (Genesis 39:7–12), in sin (Romans 7:14–25) and after sin (Psalm 51:1–5). God will not despise a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Spurgeon asks, ‘Have you, dear friends, such a heart of flesh as this?’
Sermon no. 456
27 May (Preached 25 May 1862)