Now don't misunderstand me. When we do wrong, we ought to feel guilty about it. We do need to have a high sense of duty too. And when faced with temptation, we should say No, with furrowed eyebrow if necessary. But listen: None of these approaches will avail to make the old man behave himself. The problem is not just that he doesn't want to be good--he cannot. Good intentions, resolute promises brute determination are useful for running a business or building a house; but here they are powerless. We need an entirely new heart, not merely a disciplining of the old one. The gospel does not call us to merely try and be good people. Rather, it summons us to die and rise to newness of life.
So what is the new heart and how do we receive it? Here's God's promise:
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" Ezekiel 36:26,27.
In the Bible the heart is often mentioned with an intended spiritual meaning. The literal, biological heart was seen as the divinely ordained center and source of physical life. So the heart was referred to as a symbol of the central faculties of man's spiritual nature. When used in this way its primary meaning seems to be the will or the motivational mainspring of human nature.
The word spirit has a closely related meaning. The spirit of man was rightly thought to be the breath or life force of God. In a spiritual sense it may be taken to mean the quality of spiritual life one sustains in his or her relation to God. More specifically, it refers to the disposition or attitude.
With this understanding in mind, we might read the above Scripture like this: "I will give you new motivation and put a new quality of life within you; I will take the selfish motives out of you and give you a willing heart that will be soft and pliable, a heart that will incline toward Me.
I will put My Holy Spirit within you and will influence you at the level of your motives and in this way cause you to live in harmony with My will."
There are many who try to be Christians before they become Christians in God's appointed way. They set out on a course to correct bad habits and do righteous deeds, assuming that by so doing they are Christians but they are beginning in the wrong place. The first work of the Holy Spirit is to change the heart , not correct the life. The outward life may be disciplined so as to give an appearance of Christianity, while the heart is left untouched. But if the heart is first transformed, the life will reflect that inner reality.
(Are you trying too hard to be a Christian. Why not give God a chance to change your heart, I am letting Him change mine. I will admit, I am a stubborn human being but I know that God is real and His word is true, so He will do it, I just need to surrender it to Him. Right? Grandma Joan)