I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).
Before the new birth, the sinner has a heart of stone. I’ve known many unbelievers who are emotional with feelings and sensitivities. How can God say they have hearts of stone?
The unsaved have stoney hearts toward God, being insensitive toward the things of the Spirit. Jesus said that He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) because the lost can’t seek after Him. There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God (Romans 3:10-11).
Unbelievers may diligently seek after the things God provides, but they don’t – and can’t – seek after Him.
Some years ago I sat in a church service and listened to a very capable pastor talk about the value of balancing your checkbook. When she was done, she asked everyone in this huge congregation to bow their heads and close their eyes. Then she asked, “If you want what we’ve been talking about today, please look at me.” Then she led a prayer of salvation and counted each person as newly saved.
There was no talk of sin and the need of redemption. There was not a word of the sacrifice of Christ for the rebellion of man. There was no mention of the Lord’s resurrection for our justification. But there was a sermon on balancing your checkbook and then wanting “what we’ve been talking about.” It was seeking the benefits of Christ without Christ.
Jesus said that All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out (John 6:37). Only to those whom the Father calls does He give new birth through Jesus and exchanges the heart of stone for a heart of flesh, sensitive and aware of the things of God and of God Himself.