“If you are tired of the load of your sin, let Jesus come into your heart; if you desire a new life to begin, let Jesus come into your heart.” As well meaning as Christians today are about spreading the gospel, I wonder why we insist on continuing to confuse people about the state of their heart. Jesus doesn’t want your heart, and frankly, neither should you.
Consider this: when man is allowed to “follow his heart”, this is where it leads him: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). That’s three superlatives in one sentence to describe the wickedness of man’s heart. Does that sound like a place Jesus would like to live? Or what about words of the Psalmist that describe the sinful heart as completely unfeeling like a heart clogged with fat (Psalm 119:70)? Zechariah characterized our hearts as “diamond-hard”–made so impenetrable by our own depravity that we are completely unaffected by God’s word or law as proclaimed through the prophets (Zech. 7:12). In fact, we have taken the idols we worship and erected monuments to them in our hearts to ensure that we fall into sin day after day after day after…(Ezekiel 14:3).
So, why would you even consider giving that kind of heart to Jesus? Honestly, he doesn’t want it. There is not a God-sized hole in your heart. The heart that you own as a non-believer is so hardened in rebellion against God that no sort of massaging, therapy, or exercise will ever soften its rock solid chambers and valves. The heart you currently possess is utterly worthless. Jesus has no use for it.
Well what then? If you are a non-believer, the call is simple. Unlike that revival preacher who begs you “to give your heart to Jesus”–which may seem utterly confusing, and now positively useless–Jesus calls you to simply, “Repent and believe.” Joel puts it this way, “Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13). The best thing you can do for yourself is to tear your current heart to shreds, return to the Lord, and believe in Jesus. The first two sermons given by Peter in Acts end with this appeal, “Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19; but also Acts 2:38).
If all you can do is repent and believe in Jesus, what about that stone-cold heart of yours? What can you do? Nothing. It’s God’s job to remove that craggy old thing and to replace it with something new: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put 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 be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
This is what we call regeneration. Oh, the blessed promise of a new heart! We ought to be giddier than the tin man! And praise God that he is not in the business of resuscitating stone hearts but of kindly and gently replacing our hardened, God-hating hearts with soft hearts of flesh that are freed to love him and to obey his commands!