Placed In The Mind, Written On The Heart
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12
Okay, we’re in our fourth week on our study of Jeremiah’s prophetic utterance concerning the coming New Covenant as quoted by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews. This week, we’ll begin our consideration of the superior benefits, blessings and promises of the New Covenant. Remember now, Judah was in its death throes headed for the Babylonian captivity, and Israel to the north was long gone as a nation. These were the conditions that existed when Jeremiah was moved to utter and record these hopeful words for the posterity to come. This was the great hope of the faithful prophet and a prophesied faithful remnant. Here’s Jeremiah’s quote in its entirety as found in the Old Testament (NAS). “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)
Laws placed in the unregenerate mind
The words of the Old Covenant, once spoken, were definitely on the minds of the people, particularly following certain events and the repercussions that followed, the golden calf caper being one example. After coming down from the mountain a second time following the golden calf caper, Moses was commanded by God to teach the people “the words of the covenant”. (Ex. 34:28) Following Moses’ time, the LORD used the prophets to continue to remind the nation of Israel of the covenant He had made with them on Sinai. It wasn’t like they weren’t aware of the words of the covenant (Law and ordinances). However, the Law, no matter how often it is placed in the mind of the hearer, is unable to produce true righteousness in unregenerate man. It is, as the apostle Paul avers, a ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7), a ministry of condemnation (2Cor. 3:9), activated negatively only when broken. It wasn’t able to impart life or produce perfection in this type of people.
Written on the heart
The Old Testament record and the New Testament reminders are that a system of law does not produce the right result. Oh, it’ll produce the desired outward conformity, but it does nothing to, shall we say, the human condition. The problem wasn’t the Law, the problem was the heart condition of the people-one of stone that was so hard, even the finger of God could not write His holy, righteous and good Law (Rom. 7:12) upon it. Therein lies the law’s weakness-the human heart. Through personal experience and the revelation of the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah knew this was the core issue. Therein lies its weakness-the human heart representative of a fleshly, carnal mindset. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jer. 17:9
Jesus said the mouth speaks forth that which fills the heart. (Matt. 12:34; Luke 6:45). So what’s the solution? A supernatural injection of the Spirit and a heart transplant. This too, was prophesied by a contemporary of Jeremiah’s, the prophet Ezekiel. “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezek. 36:24-28, c.f. Ezek. 11:19) Sounds vaguely familiar to what Jeremiah prophesied, right?
First question. When is the “heart of stone”, the fleshly mindset, the body of sin removed according to the New Covenant? That’s right, in the waters of immersion when you are immersed into Christ. (Col 2:11,12; Rom. 6:6) Oh, and when does God put His Spirit in you? Right again! In your immersion (Acts 2:38, 3:19; Titus 3:5) So, what does Paul call the New Covenant in 2 Corinthians chapter 3:8 & 9? The “ministry of the Spirit” and, “the ministry of righteousness”. This ministry of the Spirit opens the spiritual eyes to see the glory of the Lord, that which transforms us (2 Cor. 3:17-18). This ministry of righteousness, working in conjunction with the word of God through the New Testament apostles and prophets, changes the way we think and see ourselves, from victims to victors, from sinners to saints. The Law of liberty is now etched properly upon our minds and freely written upon our hearts, allowing the Spirit to lead us, those in Christ, to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law (Rom. 8:4). Amen.