“Create in me a clean heart O God, renew a right spirit within me.” We say those words, we sing them, almost every Sunday, in our Liturgy, after the Sermon. Yet, how much do we actually think about them? Or, do we just say them? “Create in Me a clean heart.”
What a perfect prayer to say when a child is brought into this world. “Create in him or her, a clean heart, O God.”
The wisdom of the world says “we’re just fine the way we are. We are born innocent, without sin. Babies are so cute and cuddly. How can they have sin?” Yet, how soon a child learns the word “mine”, “that’s my toy, not yours.” The world responds by saying, “well, the problem is that we just need to learn to love ourselves more, and tap into that inner-goodness that’s already there, within us. It’s just a matter of being confused about how to love one another, it’s not that we’re sinful.” But God’s Word says otherwise. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Jesus says we must be born again, because we need a brand new heart. “Create in me a clean heart O God.” We need a brand new life. That’s why Jesus went to the cross. He says, “Behold, I make all things new.”
That’s how He created us anew.
On the cross He satisfied God’s anger toward us. We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Jesus spoke of it in today’s Gospel lesson: “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away.” He spoke of going away, to the cross.
“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”
Children of God, baptized of God. You’ve been given the gift of God’s Spirit, the Comforter. He brings understanding and faith in the forgiveness of our sins in Christ. He convinces us that God pardoned the whole world because of Christ’s perfect life, and sacrificial death for us. Since Christ died and rose again for the whole world, it must mean He did it for your and me. God’s Spirit grants us this saving faith in our Baptism, and keeps nourishing it by the Word.
So it’s not at all about us tapping into any inner-goodness within us. First and foremost Jesus went to the cross, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, not to leave us, but so that He might send His Spirit unto us…how? By and through His Word. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Dear Baptized of God, that’s what you have by Grace. The Word and the Spirit. There’s no reason to doubt. You were given both in your Baptism. Ask not how it takes it place, but simply be comforted in that it did take place. By Grace, the Lord brought you to the fountain of living waters. Your Baptism wasn’t just water, but water comprehended in, and connected to God’s Word.
“I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but…..what? The Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel”. For “no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”
I did not choose, or decide to follow Jesus. I did not invite Him into my heart. “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.” It is nothing short of a miracle, by God’s gracious Spirit working in us, through the Word, that we believe.
So the Gospel is not only what Christ did, but also what He continues to do for us. He still sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit into our hearts by His Word.
“The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Many things in life don’t make sense. We often ask, why this or that had to happen the way it did. Yet, the Spirit reminds us, that all things, whether we understand them or not, all things, work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The Spirit brings us peace that nothing else can. No matter how strong the storms of life blow, we know Jesus has already stilled the greatest storm of all, overcoming all sin and death, and He freely gives us His victory.
“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” It’s so easy to let things get us down, to let negative things in life get the best of us. Yet God’s Spirit continues to lift us up, and comfort us in the forgiveness of our sins. Even though we may have little of this world’s fame or fortune, He comforts us in Jesus Christ. He gives us what matters most: the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things.” Because of Him we know, and trust, and rely on His promises. “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.”
Through Him we have a new life right here and now. We are temples of the Holy Ghost. He lives within us. He gives us new desires, new strength, and a new life to live as He continues to work in us through the Word and Sacraments. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.”
All these things, and more, we receive by the Gift of God’s Spirit, who continues to uphold and strengthen us by the Word. Amen.