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Bible verses about Laws Written in Hearts and Minds
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Jeremiah 30:18-20

God will destroy the nations to which Israel and Judah are scattered, and He will correct Israel and Judah in measure, as verse 11 says. But when the punishment is done, He will bring His people back to the land that He promised them and give them rest and peace. A number of other prophecies concerning the Second Exodus relate how God will bless the land, which will once again produce abundantly. Israel and Judah will have the Promised Land, they will have peace—because this time their enemies will be completely destroyed, which Israel failed to do the first time—and they will have prosperity. They will also be blessed numerically, as the remnant begins to multiply.

But this time the peace and prosperity will last, because two factors will be different. First, Israel and Judah will have perfect leadership: Jesus Christ will be King, and David will be His prince (Ezekiel 37:24-25; Jeremiah 23:3-7; Hosea 3:5; Micah 2:12-13). Corrupt or ambivalent leadership will no longer lead Israel astray; instead, the leaders will set the example of righteousness for the people to follow. Additionally, the twelve original apostles will be resurrected and sit as judges over the twelve tribes, ensuring that proper judgment is given (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

Second, Israel and Judah will both make the New Covenant, meaning that they will be given the Holy Spirit, which will enable them to keep the law in its spiritual intent (Jeremiah 31:31-34). They will be given a new heart, and will finally be able to know their God (Ezekiel 11:17-20; 36:24-29).

David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part Two)


 

Jeremiah 31:31-34

(See also Ezekiel 37:26; Jeremiah 50:5, 20)

Jeremiah 31:31-34 provides an encouraging conclusion to the saga of Israel and Judah once they have repented and returned to the land. These verses, quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16-17, show that this is the same covenant that the church has already made with God. Rather than doing away with the law of God, the New Covenant gives the people the means, not merely to obey it, but to accept it and make it a part of their lives. God will give the people of Israel and Judah new hearts, and they will finally be able to follow God consistently and have real relationships with Him. God will forgive their sins, and Israel will finally begin to be the witness to the rest of the world that God intended her to be (see Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Isaiah 62:1-2).

Even though God makes this covenant primarily with Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31), it is not exclusive. Through Isaiah, God shows that Gentiles who submit themselves to Him can and will also make this covenant. Of particular interest is the requirement that the Sabbath be kept by those wishing to do this (Isaiah 56:1-2, 6-8).

Ezekiel 11:17, 19-21 foretells of Israel and Judah receiving from God a new heart—a spiritual heart that will enable them to keep His commandments and statutes.

Throughout its history, the essential difficulty in Israel's relationship with God has been one of the heart. God exclaims, "Oh, that they [Israel] had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29). In Hebrews 3:10, God again identifies this problem: "Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways'" (emphasis ours throughout).

The heart or spirit of a man is the center of his thought, reason, and motivation. Because of human nature, the natural—unconverted—heart is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). It has an innate, powerful pull toward the self, always making evaluations based on what it perceives as good for the individual regardless of the effect on others. Humanity has had approximately 6,000 years of such self-centered and destructive living, proving that man is simply unable to govern himself for very long. He needs direction and leadership from another—divine—source.

The Old Covenant that God made with Israel was a good agreement as far as it went, because all of God's works are good. The problem was not with its terms, but with the people who made it (Hebrews 8:7-8, 10). They lacked the right heart that would have allowed them to follow God truly and obey His laws. God, though, will give a new heart—a new spirit—to repentant Israelites, along with any others who desire to covenant with Him.

This "new spirit" is the Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit (see also Jeremiah 32:37-42; Ezekiel 36:26-27; 37:14; 39:29; Joel 2:28-29). It is the same Spirit that Jesus told His disciples they would receive, the power that would allow them—through their words and especially through the conduct of their lives—to be witnesses of God (Acts 1:8; see Luke 24:49). It is a Spirit "of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7)—a mind that is balanced because God's concerns reside at its core. It is a mind inclined to obey God and to seek Him as the only Source of true solutions in a world that does not have the means or inclination to live in a way that is good for everybody and good eternally.

As Israel becomes God's model nation, due to her new heart and Spirit, the rest of the world will see that God's way—including His commandments, statutes, and judgments—produce peace and abundance. It is the nature of God's laws that, because of their Source, they bring good, prosperity, health, abundance, peace, and contentment (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). Yet, it takes the same spirit—heart—as the Lawgiver for one to understand and keep the laws in their true spiritual intent.

David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part Three)


 

Ezekiel 36:25

Jeremiah's prophecies preceded Ezekiel's, so we see an unfolding of how this will be accomplished. In Jeremiah 5, we find people setting their wills and choosing to forsake God. They cannot sustain the relationship with Him. In Jeremiah 31, God says He will propose a New Covenant, and the flaw will be taken away. Ezekiel 36 takes it one step further by beginning to tell us how this will be done.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Ezekiel 36:26

Ezekiel's prophecy is of the institution of the New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:33). The new man is the New Covenant man! What is it, exactly, that makes the new man new? Two things: his new heart and the new spirit within him, God's Holy Spirit, which enables him to walk in God's ways. Ezekiel's reference to "a new heart" parallels Paul's command for a renewed mind in Ephesians 4:24. Moreover, both Ezekiel and Paul (in Ephesians 5) make use of the walking metaphor. Did Paul have Ezekiel 36 in mind when he wrote his letter to the Ephesian church? Probably! The similarities are remarkable.

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Two)


 

Ezekiel 36:26-27

The keeping of the law is directly connected to this new Spirit—God's Spirit! In II Corinthians 3:3, He clarifies this even further.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

Matthew 12:14

The heart represents the seat of feeling and affection. For instance, one is said to be tenderhearted when easily affected by others' sufferings. A person may be affected by his own sin or, in contrast, by the love and commands of God. The Pharisees act, not with sorrowful indignation, but with ruthless, murderous hearts (Mark 3:6). While theirs were hardened, Jesus' heart ached. What a contrast!

Here is illustrated the nadir of the Pharisees' hypocrisy. They policed Sabbath activities to ensure no one broke their human rules for keeping it, condemning those who did, while having no qualms about plotting Jesus' murder! They would allow the rescue of a sheep on the Sabbath but not the rescue—through healing—of a human being.

God prophesies about the church:

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

The day will come when we will all have "a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:22). As the next verse encourages, "He who promised is faithful." He will create this clean heart in us as we follow the righteous example of His Son.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Withered Hand (Part Two)


 

Matthew 19:16-22

The young man's question to Jesus is "How can I have eternal life?" In connecting it to the New Covenant terms in Hebrews 8:10, w can see that the writing of the law on the heart is a two-sided affair. Only those who have 1) made the New Covenant with God, and 2) met the terms within the framework of the time that they live, will be given eternal life. The Boss—Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, the Messenger of the Covenant, our Savior, the One who preached the gospel, who knows what He is talking about—says, "If you want to have eternal life, keep the law!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 10)


 

John 7:37-39

Jesus is prophesying of the giving of the Spirit, which is absolutely essential to the "circumcision of the heart," to "writing God's law on the heart," to enabling us to have a good relationship with God. Notice that He puts conditions on receiving the Spirit, which is a factor that did not appear much in the Old Covenant prophecies about it. But here the time to make the Spirit available is near, so God's Servant - Jesus Christ - tells us what the conditions are to be if we are going to agree to this Covenant.

He says that we have to believe, to come to Him. If we have been called, we have to respond. We have to thirst - to want it desperately - and on top of that, we have to drink. Remember the old cliché, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? A lot of people are like that: They can be led to the truth, but to get them to take it in and make it a part of them is very difficult indeed.

In addition, the Spirit would not be given until Christ was glorified, that is, until after His death and His resurrection to spirit life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 12)


 

2 Corinthians 3:3

Paul specifically says that the law will be written in the fleshly tables of our heart by the Spirit of the living God! However, the circumcision of the heart is a co-operative effort. God does His part, and we do ours by submitting to Him. Both parts are involved within this process, by which God is enabling us to have the power to sustain a relationship with Him. And that power is given only to the children of promise, the children of God, the church, the remnant, those who are in Christ, those who have received God's Spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 11)


 

2 Corinthians 3:3

Paul makes it clear that the Spirit God will give us will be the means by which the laws are written on our hearts. "Circumcision of the heart," "writing God's laws on the heart," "conversion," and "changing" essentially describe the same thing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 12)


 

Hebrews 2:10-11

God sanctifies us through Jesus Christ and graciously justifies us by means of Christ's blood, providing us with His Son's righteousness and granting us entrance into a relationship with Him. The sanctification process writes the laws of God in our hearts and minds, making His righteousness real and practical to daily life. During this process, which requires our cooperation with Him in His purpose, we literally become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The overwhelming majority of Christian works come to the fore within this process as part of the preparation for God's Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 

Hebrews 5:12-14

"First principles" are fundamental, rudimentary, elementary things. There are things with which we begin, but we have to get off the dime, as it were. Something must be done in order to increase, because if we remain at the starting point, we prove to be not very usable. How much good to human society is a baby? Even so, a newborn Christian is not a great deal of use to. This situation is remedied by growth.

From unskilled to skilled, from oblivious and uncomprehending to discerning—a process happens? It is an integral part of the way of God. It is how He writes His laws into our hearts.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)


 

Hebrews 8:6-13

In verses 8-12, Paul quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34. The writer begins by telling us that God found fault with the men of old, and this leads to the quotation from Jeremiah 31 in Hebrews 8:8.

From the failures of the past, Jeremiah turned his vision to the future. There are four significant things prophesied by Jeremiah and quoted by Paul about the new covenant in verses 10-12:

First, the New Covenant is inward and dynamic: It is written on the hearts and minds of the people. A shortcoming of the Old had been its outwardness. It had divinely given laws, but it was written on tablets of stone. Jeremiah looked for a time when people would not simply obey an external code but would be so transformed that God's own laws would be written in their inmost beings.

Second, there is a close relationship between the God who will be "their God" and the people, he says, who will be "My people." The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant is that while the formula of the covenant remains the same from age to age, it is capable of being filled with fresh meaning to a point where it can be described as a "new" covenant. "I will be your God" acquires fuller meaning with every further revelation of the character of God.

Third, all who enter it will have knowledge of God. There will be no need for a person to instruct his neighbor. The word rendered neighbor in verse 11 means "citizen," and thus a "fellow-citizen." Jeremiah moves from the wider relationship in the community to the narrower relationship in the family, saying that in neither case will there be a need to exhort anyone to know God because everyone will know Him.

This does not mean that under the conditions of the New Covenant there will be no place for a teacher. There will always be the need for those who have advanced in the Christian way to pass on to others the benefit of their knowledge. Rather, the meaning is that the knowledge of God will not be confined to a privileged few (as with the priesthood of ancient Israel). All those under the New Covenant will have their own intimate and personal knowledge of their God.

Fourth, under the New Covenant, sins are forgiven. Following repentance of sins and acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, sins are forgiven. The superior sacrifice of Christ is offered once and for all, paying the penalty of sin for those who repent.

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

Hebrews 8:7-8

There indeed was a fault: "finding fault with them." Them is a plural pronoun, so it cannot possibly refer to the singular noun covenant. It would have to have read "for finding fault with it." God's Word is telling us—not completely yet—that the fault was with a plural them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 10)


 

 




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