Summary: A sermon about allowing God to write God's Law on our hearts.
“A Change of Heart”
The people of Judah faced a huge problem.
The Babylonians had demolished the Temple in Jerusalem and dragged the king off in chains.
The situation was bleak and the Prophet Jeremiah laid the blame on the Israelites and their inability to follow the law and/or their rebellion against the Law of God.
After-all, Jeremiah had been wailing and trying to get the people to see that their idolatrous ways would lead them to destruction.
But now that the destruction has come God, through Jeremiah, offers great hope.
Despite the people’s disloyalty, despite corrupt kings and priests, despite injustice and the exploitation of people, despite idolatry, despite all the ways people have sinned against God—God will not stop loving them, will not stop seeking to restore them, rescue them, save them.
So, now that the people are completely broken…
…Now that they have hit rock bottom, God doesn’t condemn them or judge them, God gives them an amazing promise—real unexpected Good News!!!
God will bring newness out of destruction, hope where there is none, life out of death…
…God will make a way where there is no way.
And that is how God works, is it not?
How many testimonies from people have you heard, where they had ignored God, lived life on their own terms, went their own way only to find themselves either literally, figuratively or spiritually…
…or all three--face down in the gutters of skid row?
I’ve experienced that myself, how about you?
But it is often in the deepest valleys that we come to our senses.
It is often when we are most desperate that we are able to finally hear the voice of God.
And if and when we do—God will raise us up to new life in Christ.
In Jeremiah, God speaks to the broken and hopeless Israelites: “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant…
…it will not be like the old covenant…
…this is the covenant I will make…
…I will write my law in [your] minds and write it on [your] hearts.
I will be [your] God and [you] will be my people.”
You know, this New Covenant God speaks of is where we get what we call the New Testament.
It is the New Covenant that, as Jesus says in Matthew 26:28 is His blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
And we remember and give thanks for this New Covenant every time we take Holy Communion.
Along with, hopefully, every minute of every day.
In the Book of Hebrews, which quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 word for word we are told that Jesus Christ is “the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set [us] free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
What we couldn’t do on our own, God has done for us through His blood shed on the Cross.
And the New Covenant that God talks about is no longer the law written on stones for all to see but none to follow.
The New Covenant is the law of love engraved on people’s hearts and displayed by the new lives we live in Christ.
What does Jesus say is the greatest commandment?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
And what does this look like in practice:
It looks like the parable of the Good Samaritan.
It looks like the Sermon on the Mount.
It looks like Jesus.
In Romans Chapter 8 the Apostle Paul writes: “what the law was powerless to do…
…God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering…
…in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us…”
Not being able to follow the Law of the Old Testament or Old Covenant was not just Israel’s problem, it is our problem as well.
That is why we all need Jesus.
The New Covenant is based on Grace through faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.
It is a gift of God.
And if we accept this gift, God writes the Law on our hearts.
You know, there is a big difference between being required to live a certain way because of some outside Laws and seeking to live a certain way because we want to, because of Love.
A colleague writes the following:
“After I graduated from college I worked in a Christian facility that houses teenaged wards of the state.