Sometimes, Scripture sets us up, takes advantage of our habit of taking everything literally.
This past Sunday, Ezekiel did just that. God, through the prophet, tells the people, "get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit" (18.31). And we dutifully venture off trying to find a new heart and a new spirit, never thinking for a moment what we will do if we find a new heart. Good luck giving yourself a heart transplant. It just doesn't work that way.
It's a trap!
God sets a trap for us, hoping that in being entangled in it, we might learn something about trusting in God, and about the futility of trusting in ourselves.
Ezekiel 18.31 is a trap. It is setting us up to work futilely ourselves for a bit in order that we might fully hear with all of its hope and promise Ezekiel 36.26: "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."
Or better yet, that we might be ready to hear from Jeremiah 31.33 on Reformation Sunday in a few weeks: "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
Good luck finding a new heart. Good luck performing a heart transplant on yourself.
When you need heart surgery, you need a surgeon. When you need a new heart and a new spirit, you need Jesus.