Yolanda Beavers urgently needed a miracle.
After struggling for years with dilated cardiomyopathy, an irreversible heart condition where the heart enlarges and weakens, Yolanda’s doctors told her they had exhausted all their medical options to keep her alive. She would need a heart transplant soon, or she would die.
Organ donors are few and far between—usually one available organ is needed by at least 10 people. Yolanda was placed on a waiting list to receive a donated heart. Then, her condition grew so serious that she was placed in an intensive care unit while she waited.
On day 30, Yolanda heard the phone ring at the nurses’ station. “I just knew that call was for me,” she recalled. Even before she heard the details, she sensed a heart had been found. “I knew I was going to get better, and there was a reason for me to live.”
Within six days of the transplant, Yolanda was up and walking around the unit with a new heart.
Three years later, Yolanda met the family and friends of her donor, Kristen Corbett. It was bittersweet for Kristen’s family, who lost a precious 20-year-old daughter in a fatal car accident. But meeting Yolanda and seeing how much she treasured her new lease on life was a healing moment for them.
“If Kristen were here right now and God asked her if she would give up her life so someone else can live, she would say ‘yes,’” Kristen’s father said through tears as he hugged Yolanda.
One of Kristen’s close friends embraced Yolanda and wouldn’t let her go. Then through tears she asked Yolanda if it was OK if she pressed her hand to Yolanda’s chest to feel her friend’s still-beating heart.
Yolanda says her life is not her own. “Someone had to die so I could live.”
Yolanda’s story contains many spiritual lessons. We are born with defective spiritual hearts that are naturally selfish and rebellious. Because of what we lost at the Fall, our hearts (minds) are at enmity with God’s law, which is the path of life and peace for the whole universe of sinless beings. In fact, our defective spiritual hearts influence us so strongly that we would find heaven, where purity and selflessness reign supreme, a miserable place to be.
Our only hope is to receive a new heart.
Good news! God promises to give us a new heart—an unselfish, pure heart that looks like His. But the process of receiving it involves the death of His dearly beloved Son. And, in a sense, it involves our death, as well.
Join us in studying how to receive God’s promise of a new heart!
“Heart Transplant Recipient Meets Relatives, Friends of Crash Victim,” Boston Globe, bostonglobe.com, Oct. 7, 2012.
1. How does the Bible describe the condition of our natural hearts?
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
The expression “heart” used throughout the Bible refers to the whole of the innermost part of humans, made up of the mental processes, the emotions, and the will.
2. How did Jesus describe our natural state from birth?
John 3:3, 6 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
The New Testament also equates the “the flesh” with “the carnal mind.” See the next question.
3. What kind of mind is incapable of pleasing God or keeping His law?
Romans 8:7, 8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
We may see great wisdom and beauty in God’s law, but unless we are born of the Spirit and converted, we will find ourselves powerless to live up to all that the law of God demands.
1. What core principle are all God’s commands, including His moral law, based on?
Matthew 22:37–40 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
2. What would God do for disobedient Israel so that He could be their God and they, His people?
Jeremiah 31:33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the LORD: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Having His law of self-denying love as their principle of action would enable them to appreciate, love, and obey Him as well as treat others, even their enemies, with love and respect.
3. Was this covenant only for the Israelites?
Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
God’s covenant to give a clean heart filled with unselfish love is for anyone who wants to belong to Jesus and have a changed life.
1. In what ways does God link our lives with Jesus so that we can experience God’s covenant?
Ephesians 2:4–6 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
God will count Christ’s perfect life, death for sin, and resurrection to eternal life as ours if we give ourselves to Him. The biblical term for this is “justification.” It sets us right with His law as if we’d never broken it.
2. What else does God do for us when He makes us “alive with Christ”?
2 Corinthians 5:17, 18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliationÉ.
When we accept Jesus into our life, our old life “dies” and we receive new attitudes and motives. This is what it means to be born again. We are no longer alienated from God; we are reconciled to God and His law of love. We will also want others to experience the same.
3. What is God’s main purpose for uniting us with Jesus and re-creating our hearts and minds?
2 Corinthians 5:15 He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
God does not live for Himself—He is love. When He enables us to stop living for ourselves, we’ll find the greatest happiness in lovingly obeying all of God’s commands and sharing His love with others in acts of service.
4. Who specifically places the love of God in our hearts?
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
The Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative. When we accept Jesus and invite Him into our life, He sends the Holy Spirit to abide in our heart, bringing all the beautiful aspects of Christ’s character with Him.
1. What does the Holy Spirit do for us when we keep our focus on Jesus’ life and Word?
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Being changed from “glory to glory” and becoming more and more like Jesus in character is called “sanctification.” It’s a lifelong process. It happens as we read about Him in the Bible, think about Him, and give ourselves unreservedly to Him daily.
2. What will remembering we’re “alive with Christ” help us to do?
Romans 6:11, 12 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
Remembering we’re alive to God with Christ helps us choose to live Jesus’ way: resisting temptation to sin and obeying the law of love that God has put in our hearts.
3. When the apostle Paul prayed for the Colossian believers, what did he ask for?
Colossians 1:10, 11 That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.
If we ask, we’ll be strengthened by Christ with all the power we need to live for God instead of ourselves. We need to ask this for one another, too.
4. What special sign has God asked us to observe to show that we accept His covenant of grace in our lives?
Exodus 31:13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.’”
When we’re in Christ, we are part of “Abraham’s seed”—spiritual Israel. Gal. 3:29. Keeping the Bible Sabbath shows that we belong to Christ and accept the Spirit’s power to change us into God’s holy people.
I would like to experience God’s new creation in my life daily so that I can love others like He does and obey His commandments through the power of His indwelling Spirit.