According to the Word of God, man’s heart is by nature like a stone; but God, through His grace, removes the stony heart and gives a heart of flesh. It is this prodigy of love, this miracle of grace, which is to engage our attention to-night. I trust we shall speak now, not of something that has happened to others only, but of a great wonder which has been wrought in ourselves.
Why is the heart of man compared to a stone at all? First, because, like a stone it is cold. You may heat a stone for a little season if you thrust it into the fire, but for how short a time will it retain its heat; and though it glowed just now, how very soon it loses all its warmth and returns again to its native coldness. Such is the heart of man. It is warm enough towards sin; it it grows hot as coals of juniper, towards its own lusts; but naturally the heart is as cold as ice towards the things of God. The heart of man, like marble, is stone-cold.
Then, again, like a stone, it is hard. Some of you now present, have given more than enough evidence of the hardness of your hearts. Sickness has befallen you, death has come in at your windows, affliction has come up against you, but like Pharaoh, you have said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I will not bow my neck, neither will I do his will. I am my own master, and I will have my own pleasure and my own way. I will not yield to God.”
Again, a stone is dead. You can find no feeling in it. Spiritually this is just its condition. “Ye are dead in trespasses and sins.” Tears are lost on him; threatenings are but as the whistlings of the wind, the preachings of the law, and even of Christ crucified— all these are null and void and fall hopelessly to the ground, so long as the man’s heart continues what it is by nature— dead, and hard, and cold.
A HEART OF FLESH AND ITS PRIVILEGES. “I will take away the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What is meant by a heart of flesh ? It means a heart that can feel on account of sin, a heart that can think, a heart that can aspire, a heart that can love— putting all in one— a heart of flesh means that new heart and right spirit which God giveth to the regenerate. There is tenderness of conscience. Men who have lost their stony hearts are afraid of sin. 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. It hates and loathes and detests itself that ever it should have gone astray. 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.”
If the heart of flesh could have its way, it would never sin, it would be as perfect as its Father who is in heaven, and it would keep God’s command without flaw of omission or of commission. Have you, dear friends, such a heart of flesh as this?
A heart of stone can hear God blasphemed and laugh at it; but our blood runs cold to hear God dishonoured when we have a heart of flesh. A heart of stone can bear to see its fellow creatures perish and despise their destruction; but the heart of flesh is very tender over others.
The heart of stone says, when it has done great iniquity, “Oh, it is nothing, it is nothing! Who am I that I should be afraid of God’s law?” But not so the heart of flesh. Great sins are little to the stony heart, little sins are great to the heart of flesh— if little sins there be. Conscience in the heart of stone is seared as with a hot iron.
In the tender heart there is a tenderness of the affections. The hard heart does not love God, but the renewed heart does. The hard heart is selfish, cold, stolid. “Why should I weep for sin? Why should I love the Lord? Why should I give my heart to Christ?” O may God give us a tenderness of affection, that we may love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves.
The soft heart is ready now to receive every spiritual blessing. It is fitted to yield every heavenly fruit to the honour and praise of God. Oh! if we had none but tender hearts to preach to, what blessed work our ministry would be. What happy success! What sowings on earth! What harvests in heaven!
Has God taken away the heart of stone, and has He given you the heart of flesh?. Dear friend, you cannot change your own heart. What, then, is to be done? Christ is the great heart changer. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be be saved.” The Holy Spirit gives faith, and then through faith the nature is renewed. What sayest thou, sinner? Dost thou believe that Christ is able to save thee? Oh, trust Him then to save thee, and if thou doest that thou art saved; thy nature is renewed, and the work of sanctification which shall begin to-night, and thou be redeemed with the saints in white, made spotless through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Excerpted from the sermon titled “The Stony Heart removed” (Ezekiel 36:26) by CH Spurgeon dated 25 May 1862. You are encouraged to read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/the-stony-heart-removed/#flipbook/