Summary: A New Year's Message: Today's sermon looks at the new work God wants to do within the lives of the believers and the church, giving a new beginning through a new heart and spirit.

New Year Sermon - New Heart, New Spirit, New Beginnings

Ezekiel 36:22-32

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This is not the first time I’ve taught on these Scripture verses, and I doubt that it will be the last, because of just how powerful they are, especially as a New Year rolls around. And as I look at what has been happening in our church this past year, and where we’re going in our new series on the Holy Spirit, I feel these verses have special significance, because I believe God wants to give us and our church a new beginning, but such a new beginning can only happen when we possess a new heart and a new spirit.

As we approach the coming of the New Year, many of us are thinking and making resolutions about those things we know we have to do, like losing weight, exercising, eating healthier and taking our vitamins. And for many of us this list not only continues to be reprinted every year, but it grows as well.

We also begin our spiritual to do list, like reading the Bible and praying every day, using our gifts and talents in God’s service, to be more loving, Christ-like, and obedient to God’s word.

The only problem is that while we resolve to do these things, our resolve dissipates because we really don’t have the power within us to keep them, and what is also brought up in our passage, and that is our not dealing with our sin according to God’s word.

And so we need a new beginning, which starts with a new heart and new spirit. This promise is given to us through the prophet Ezekiel.

Read Ezekiel 36:22-32

Ezekiel’s prophecy and God’s promise wasn’t given to people who didn’t know God, rather it was given to His chosen, His elect, those who knew Him and had experienced His divine favor and judgment.

Therefore, Ezekiel’s prophecy and God’s promise has direct relevance for believers and the church today, in other words, us. We know God, we are His chosen and elect through faith in Jesus Christ and the blood He shed upon the cross for our sins to be forgiven. Therefore, in accordance to God’s word, we need the same thing God promised to the Jews back then, that is, a new heart and a new spirit.

However, to receive this new heart, new spirit, and therefore, a new beginning it takes several things the Lord brings out in our passage.

1. God’s Restoration

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24 NKJV)

God’s promise was to restore the Jewish people to their rightful land, the Promised Land, that which they were taken out from because of their disobedience. It’s a promise God had made way back to Abraham that this land would be theirs for all time.

After Abraham’s nephew, Lot, left him, God took Abraham aside and said,

“For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.” (Genesis 13:15 NKJV)

And so in Ezekiel’s prophecy, the Lord is reaffirming this covenant agreement and will restore them, not only from their Babylonian captivity, which lasted 70 years, but also from the diaspora, when the Roman Empire removed the Jewish people from the land and shipped them around the world, and this dispersion lasted for almost 2,000 years, and ended when God brought the Jewish people back into their land, the land of Israel, and made them once again a nation, which was recognized by the world in 1948.

God is in the restoration business. Today, however, God’s promise of restoration is not to a specific piece of property, but rather to Himself. God wants to restore our relationship with Him, and He has done so through the next step.

2. God’s Cleansing

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” (Ezekiel 36:25 NKJV)

God would cleanse them from their sin, which was to be done through the sprinkling of water. In Numbers chapter 19, there is the law of purification, that not only involved the sprinkling of water, but also of blood.

King David understood this cleansing after His sin with Bathsheba.

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2 NKJV)

David and Ezekiel both saw themselves before a Holy and Righteous God, realizing that nothing could be hidden from God, especially our sin and disobedience. Through Ezekiel the Lord states,

“Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.” (Ezekiel 36:31 NKJV)

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