(Frances advises that I should add the following disclaimer:
"Do not try this at home." She's right.)
Several weeks ago I stepped on a small piece of glass that embedded pretty deeply in the pad of my foot beneath my left big toe. The shard was irremovable at the time, but rather than go to the doctor to have it surgically extracted, I decided to hold off and see if it would perhaps work itself out. I kept the site clean with a strong antibiotic cream, and waited to see what would happen.
The foot really hasn't given me too much trouble, but yesterday morning it became very sensitive. I decided that I would attempt to remove the shard myself, and if unsuccessful, schedule a doctor's visit. I'll spare you the gory details, but my self surgery (which involved a lot of prayer) was a success. Thank the Lord that my foot, while sore from Dr. Davis's procedure, feels better than it has in a long time.
Some things are like that. We can remove them ourselves. Some aren't, especially when considering the spiritual realities of life. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ declares that we cannot remove the sin-dominated hearts of our original birth, nor can we replace them with a new heart. Only God can do this, even as He promised Israel, and as He fulfills in every born again believer:
As we share the Gospel, it is vitally important that people understand we are not merely suggesting moral or ethical reordering of our lives. Such transformation will surely take place when a person trusts in Christ, but only the Divinely-performed replacement of an old heart with a new can accomplish so radical a change. Sin has a root; its mental, emotional, attitudinal, verbal and behavioral expressions are fruit. A new vine must be planted deep within us, uprooting the old. The Lord Jesus is this "True Vine," and only God can till the soil, plant the seed, and cultivate the planting that leads to the harvest of "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (John 15:1; Philippians 1:11).
Ok, I'll admit it: I should have gone to the doctor! My illustration would have been more direct and to the point. At least, however, my misguided self-surgical procedure provides illustrative contrast. Yes, sometimes we can remove an irritant from our foot. But never can we remove a heart of stone from our spirit. Nor can a lost sinner birth within himself the Holy Spirit-inhabited new heart given to us by God as a free gift when we believe. This is the hope offered by our Lord to a lost and dying world. May He lead us to clearly communicate the grace of the passing of the old whereby a way is made for the birthing of the new.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."