WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – The young preacher exhorted his audience to resist temptation: “I want to steal; I want to get drunk; I want to be unfaithful to my wife; I want to beat some people up. But I’m a Christian, so I don’t do what I want.” As one family walked to their car, the father asked his eight-year-old about the thoughtful look on his face. “Dad,” he said, “It seems like our preacher needs a new wanter.”
That’s been the need of the human race from the beginning: a new wanter. Today’s chapter reminds us that this was true even of God’s chosen nation, Israel. They knew what He wanted. He inscribed it on stone; He had it written in Scripture. He made a personal covenant with them. They just couldn’t keep it. He sent prophets to remind them, and He told them to remind each other. But they just couldn’t keep it. They wanted different things than God.
After the first covenant had racked up a 100 percent failure rate for centuries, God promised a new one. He explained why the New Covenant would succeed where the old one had failed:
“I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother or sister, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them” (Heb. 8:10-11 quoting Jer. 31:31-34).
God promised that the change in us, which could never be achieved from the outside, would be accomplished from the inside. He fulfilled that promise through Jesus. His death for us established the New Covenant (“This cup is the new covenant in My blood” Luke 22:20). His life in us activates it (“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – Our problem was not inadequate will-power but defective hearts. The marvelous thing is that the Lord places His new covenant into new hearts (Eze. 36:26). Reread Hebrews 8:10-11 above and rejoice in what He has given you:
- A new desire to please God – A God-implanted desire. A desire strong enough that, with His help, it can be fulfilled.
- A new sense of what pleases Him – What God’s word tells us to do and to avoid is no longer so foreign to us. It seems right.
- A new focus of our allegiance – Many voices still call for our attention, but He alone is our God.
- A new identity as “My people” – We belong to God. He claims us as His own.
- A new consciousness of relationship to God – He is no longer just a power over us. He is a Father who loves us, a Lord who leads us, and a Spirit who fills us.
He is changing what we want to what He wants. He’s giving us the “new wanter” that preacher needed. Our job is to cooperate with that.