"And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God." — Ezekiel 11:19-20, ESV
As I've been reading through Ezekiel for my quiet time, there has been a key theme that has been standing out: GOD IS TICKED!!! Seriously. His judgment is being announced by Ezekiel to the people of Israel and Judah. God is showing Ezekiel signs and using object lessons for Ezekiel to portray to the people about God's coming wrath (click here to read the object lesson that I pray God never calls me to live out. Quick summary: lay on your left side for 390 days. Then lay on your right side for 40 days. Then make bread with specific ingredients to cook it over human dung, but then allowed to cook it over cow dung...). God is serious when it comes to sin, which causes me to ask this question: am I? God has a standard based on his preference, not my opinion of his standard. The thing is: he's very serious about his standard being kept.
But then comes Ezekiel 11, showing us the heart behind God's punishment and wrath. He will give them one heart (being that they are united), and will replace the heart of stone that they have with a heart of flesh. Why? ...that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. The only way that I am able to obey God, and live for him, is for him to do heart surgery on me. I CANNOT obey him without him in my life. I CANNOT follow him without him changing my heart to do so. God is the necessity to my walk with him, not a nice addition to my life. It all starts with him. It ends with him. It's about me relying upon him so that I can walk with and live for him. God must begin the new work in a heart in order for that person to begin a new life. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).
It's not about being good so that you can go to heaven one. Rather, it's about God changing your heart. The result of this will be an ability to obey his commands. But the key to the heart change is this: relationship. Notice the end of the passage: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Our relationship with God has always been at the heart of the matter.