A Heart Cleansed of Idols

In my morning prayer and Bible reading time I was praying over this famous text in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 36.25-28
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
I was struck by the phrase "from all your idols I will cleanse you." I think for many of us raised in Protestant traditions with penal substitutionary atonement what we'd normally expect in this phrase is "from all your sins I will cleanse you." But that's not what we get. What we get is "from all your idols I will cleanse you."

This text in Ezekiel helps highlight how the deep rot in our lives is idolatry. What we need to be cleansed of are false allegiances. We need to purify our hearts from idolatry.

Sin, in this view, is more a symptom than a disease. When the heart is set on false gods sin is sure to follow. Idolatry is the virus, sin is the fever.

Thus the prayer of the prophet, to be given a heart of flesh, a heart that is soft, tender, and responsive to God. It all begins with love, a heart that loves God. And it's that love that gives us the capacity, enabled by the Spirit, to follow the statues of God.

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