Earlier this year (2018), I was having a conversation with a friend at church. During our conversation, he referred to this song and mentioned that there was a line in it that bothered him. It bothered him so much he told me he would not sing the song again. The line in question is, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” His comment got me thinking so I decided to research the history of the song and determine if this is a song we should throw out, keep as is, or update so NT believers can sing it.

Johann Winer

The song “Create in me” was written by Johann G. Winer sometime in the 1600’s.[1] He wrote the song using the exact words of David in Psalm 51:10-12 (KJV).

The original lyrics of Winer’s song are:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with your free Spirit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

Keith Green

This song was popularized in America by Keith Green. He reworked some of the lyrics and the song was included as the final track in his album Jesus Commands Us to Go! which was released in 1984, after his death.[2]

The lyrics he sang are:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence;
Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation;
And renew a right spirit within me.

Problem & Proposed Solution

My friend told me that the NT teaches that God will never take his Spirit away from believers. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.” These verses show that when a person is sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit serves as a “down payment” of an inheritance that will be delivered in the future. Hebrews 13:5 repeats a promise given to Joshua in the OT. In this verse God promises NT believers, “I will never leave you or abandon you.” Together, these verses show that when God gives his Holy Spirit to a believer, he will not take him away.

That said, the NT does teach that the Holy Spirit can be grieved and quenched by believers. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NKJV) exhorts, “Do not quench the Spirit.” William MacDonald explains that, “To quench the Spirit means to stifle His work in our midst, to limit and hinder Him… the Spirit is quenched whenever His ministry is stifled in an individual or in the church.”[3] Thus, while the Spirit won’t be taken away from a Christian, it is possible to quench him and limit his effectiveness in one’s life.

I am in agreement with my friend: that the song doesn’t appropriately reflect NT truths. I differ from him because I don’t want to let this song fall by the wayside. I’ve decided to try and rewrite the problematic lyrics to make it more accurate so we can continue singing it today.

Here are revised lyrics that I believe help bring this song up to date without sacrificing biblical accuracy:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence. (O Lord)
Don’t let me quench your Spirit again.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation
And renew a right spirit within me.

Response

What do you think? Does this song need to be updated for the Church? Do my edits improve the song? Do they distract from the original Psalmist’s meaning? Would you have gone about it differently?

 

[1] https://hymnary.org/text/create_in_me_a_clean_heart_o_god_and_ren

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Commands_Us_to_Go!

[3] Believers Bible Commentary

2 thoughts on “Create In Me A Clean Heart – Rewritten

  1. I am enjoying John Piper’s new book, which he enabled free downloads. He recommends we seek to savor the Glory of God, always in truth. The truth is, He has given us His Spirit as a seal. David did not know this, so he could not delight in this yet. That phrase has bothered me also, since I knew the Spirit would not be taken from me, yet I could, in effect, dull His impact on me by my response to Him.
    file:///C:/Users/Geri/Dropbox/Geri’s%20Files/Desiring%20God%20articles/Reading%20the%20Bible%20Supernaturally.pdf

    Like

    1. Thanks for the reference to Piper’s book! While I couldn’t follow your link, I found the book through a Google search.

      What do you make of the verse that says, “Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul” (1 Samuel 16:14a)?

      Like

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