The Regenerated Heart

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Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
So I won't get into the details of regeneration because I'm sure most of you know about it. In accordance to Ezekiel 36, we're born with hearts of stone, full of wickedness, and we just hate God. But when born again, and regenerated by the spirit to have the "heart of flesh", we're given new hearts that are alive and love God.

My question: Does this new heart of ours have any wickedness or is it able to be filled with wickedness? Like I'm sure you've heard the phrase "My heart is getting really hardened against this person". Other examples include "My heart is so deceitfully wicked, who can know it?". But do these describe the born-again Christian heart? Or are hearts deceived too?

I was watching a sermon by Paul Washer on the doctrine of Regeneration over here on this link and it brought this question to my attention.
YouTube - Being What You Are [Regeneration] (Paul Washer)
Watch at the 26:54 if you don't have time.

Paul Washer rebukes a pastor he listens to because the pastor is telling the congregation about how "I'm just a filthy wicked sinner and my heart is so wicked, who can know it?" (paraphrased from memory) and then Washer replies "Well what exactly did God do to your heart when he regenerated it?"

So when I'm sinning or struggling with sin, what is the correct thing to say? A.) My flesh is so vile and my mind is so corrupted or B.) My heart is so wicked, I need to be regenerated to love him more

If I said that my heart is wicked, and my supposedly "cleansed-by-his-blood-heart" was the one thing that could take me into eternal life, wouldn't that mean that during the times where my heart is full of wickedness, I'm not even saved? This leads me to believe that once the heart is cleansed, it's always cleansed. No darkness can enter in.

This has been bothering me for quite some time now. Things relating to the body organs like mind, soul, heart, body, spirit, etc. have become a bit confusing. Maybe there's a systematic book on the issue. I know that sometimes when the Bible uses the word heart, it's not literal and can simply mean the "inner nature".
 

Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
The article helped a lot. It says that regeneration is the birth of the new heart, while sanctification is the growth and cleansing? But what does this say for evil, wickedness, or hardness? I didn't really see the article talk about that area.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
"Well what exactly did God do to your heart when he regenerated it?"

John Owen on Indwelling Sin (Works vol. 6) provides an important biblical perspective on this subject. His comments on the desperately wicked heart (chapter 3) should not be ignored. They will prove very helpful in combatting the condemnatory ministry of the letter. Note especially the way he brings out the unsearchableness of the wicked heart. It should cause any pastor or theologian to think very carefully before he speaks of things too deep for him.

The heart of man is pervious to God only; hence he takes the honour of searching the heart to be as peculiar to himself, and as fully declaring him to be God, as any other glorious attribute of his nature. We know not the hearts of one another; we know not our own hearts as we ought. Many there are that know not their hearts as to their general bent and disposition, whether it be good or bad, sincere and sound, or corrupt and naught; but no one knows all the secret intrigues, the windings and turnings, the actings and aversations of his own heart. Hath any one the perfect measure of his own light and darkness? Can any one know what actings of choosing or aversation his will will bring forth, upon the proposal of that endless variety of objects that it is to be exercised with? Can any one traverse the various mutability of his afflictions? Do the secret springs of acting and refusing in the soul lie before the eyes of any man? Doth any one know what will be the motions of the mind or will in such and such conjunctions of things, such a suiting of objects, such a pretension of reasonings, such an appearance of things desirable? All in heaven and earth, but the infinite, all-seeing God, are utterly ignorant of these things. In this unsearchable heart dwells the law of sin; and much of its security, and consequently of its strength, lies in this, that it is past our finding out. We fight with an enemy whose secret strength we cannot discover, whom we cannot follow into its retirements. Hence, oftentimes, when we are ready to think sin quite ruined, after a while we find it was but out of sight. It hath coverts and retreats in an unsearchable heart, whither we cannot pursue it. The soul may persuade itself all is well, when sin may be safe in the hidden darkness of the mind, which it is impossible that he should look into; for whatever makes manifest is light. It may suppose the will of sinning is utterly taken away, when yet there is an unsearchable reserve for a more suitable object, a more vigorous temptation, than at present it is tried withal. Hath a man had a contest with any lust, and a blessed victory over it by the Holy Ghost as to that present trial? — when he thinks it is utterly expelled, he ere long finds that it was but retired out of sight. It can lie so close in the mind’s darkness, in the will’s indisposition, in the disorder and carnality of the affections, that no eye can discover it. The best of our wisdom is but to watch its first appearances, to catch its first under-earth heavings and workings, and to set ourselves in opposition to them; for to follow it into the secret corners of the heart, that we cannot do. It is true, there is yet a relief in this case, — namely, that he to whom the work of destroying the law of sin and body of death in us is principally committed, namely, the Holy Ghost, comes with his axe to the very root; neither is there any thing in an unsearchable heart that is not “naked and open unto him,” Heb. 4:13; but we in a way of duty may hence see what an enemy we have to deal withal.
 

Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
So is the new heart just less wicked or what? How about the fact that God will not accept an imperfect offering? I thought our hearts were all we could offer to the Lord.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So is the new heart just less wicked or what? How about the fact that God will not accept an imperfect offering? I thought our hearts were all we could offer to the Lord.

The new heart is a new nature and power to will and to do what is good. But there is also the remnants of corruption and corruption still continues to be as desperate and as deceitful as ever. Hence the need for continued influence from the Spirit of God to actuate grace and to undertake mortification.

Offerings, though imperfect, are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. See the Westminster Confession, 16.6.
 

Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
Imperfect offerings can be offered because they've been cleansed and perfected by Christ. Only his works through us are that of perfection.

If the heart is the power to do what is right, then what does that make the Holy Spirit? To me, it seems like you're painting a picture of good heart vs. bad heart when scriptures speak of our battles as heart vs. flesh.

Sorry if it just seems like I'm just continuously asking more questions against your position. Some of it doesn't add up to me.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
scriptures speak of our battles as heart vs. flesh.

This may be the problem. Scripture does not represent sin as dwelling in one part over another. Total depravity is throughout, in the whole man. Regeneration is throughout, in the whole man. Indwelling sin is throughout, in the whole man. Sanctification is throughout, in the whole man. The terms "spirit" and "flesh" do not refer to anatomical parts but to pervading spiritual characteristics in man.
 

saintandsinner77

Puritan Board Freshman
Peytah,

Since your question pertains to the heart of the matter...let's take a look at some passages about the heart and make some observations:

Acts.15
[8] And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
[9] And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

2Cor.3
[3] Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.(a fulfillment of the Ezekiel passage)

2Tim.2
22] Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Hebrews 10
[22] Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

So, in regeneration, our heart has been purified, it is a pure heart.

Who is said to have the wicked heart- the one who falls away from God and the one who is religious but not converted:
Hebrews 3:
[12] Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

James4
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

But what if my heart condemns me so that I am compelled to say I have a wicked heart?
1 John 3:20
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

In summary, believers have a pure heart via regeneration, but the principle of wickedness still remains within, which creeps up and manifests in our lives...but that does not follow that we are characterized by a wicked heart, since only the unregenerate are characterized by a wicked heart.
 

Peytah

Puritan Board Freshman
scriptures speak of our battles as heart vs. flesh.

This may be the problem. Scripture does not represent sin as dwelling in one part over another. Total depravity is throughout, in the whole man. Regeneration is throughout, in the whole man. Indwelling sin is throughout, in the whole man. Sanctification is throughout, in the whole man. The terms "spirit" and "flesh" do not refer to anatomical parts but to pervading spiritual characteristics in man.

Romans 7:25 - Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin

Our flesh doesn't get sanctified. It gets trained/disciplined, but the flesh remains in it's condemned fallen state and is the cause of our sinfulness. When we die, our fleshly bodies are decomposed but our soul goes to heaven or hell. To me, this implies anatomical meaning. The mind isn't sanctified, it gets "renewed" by sanctification of the heart. If I'm wrong, please correct me politely. :D

I don't like that these terms and phrases spoken by Jesus and the prophets are sometimes looked at as if they're poetic or symbolic. Some definitely are, but even though it may not be provable in science, I honestly believe there's a literal heart change in regeneration.

But the central question I had was answered. The main thing for me to find out was if it's correct for a Christian to make a claim about his "wicked heart". There's still a part of me that feels sketchy that the Holy Spirit regenerates a new heart in us that still contains principles of wickedness in it but I hope to come to more assurance of these positions if it is indeed the correct one.
 
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