It is difficult to express the thrill of sharing in a client’s heart-level breakthrough over some obsession or self-defeating behavior they have struggled with for years. The realization hits the first time they discover an inner change in how they react to the challenges of life. Statements such as, “…and I wasn’t even trying, it just wasn’t there” is confirmation of God’s transformation.
In Romans 8:29, God reveals His plan to mold us to inwardly reflect Christ. This plan for our internal transformation began with our conversion and continues throughout our Christian life by the working of the Holy Spirit and our belief and reliance on the Truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13). So how do we know if we are really changed on the inside or just acting differently on the outside?
This question is at the root of trying to understand behavior we commonly see in professing Christians that is contradictory to Christian principles. We have all been bewildered by the moral failure of people we know as well as the demise of prominent Christian leaders. And if we are honest, most of us are frustrated by our powerlessness to change ourselves.
Scripture clearly anticipates a change in our behavior as Christians. In 1 Peter 4:1 the message is that inwardly becoming more like Christ results in reduced habitual sin as we put God’s desires before our own. There is no requirement to ever be fully sinless, but there is an expectation that God’s transformative molding will impact our behavior from the inside out.
[pullquote_right]Behavior change comes from either behavior modification or from heart transformation. [/pullquote_right]Behavior change comes from either behavior modification or from heart transformation. Behavior modification requires adopting routines or disciplines in an effort to respond differently to life situations through our will. Heart transformation is a God orchestrated change in the condition of our heart which modifies our motives and desires, resulting in a natural change of our behavior.
It seems improbable at first, but it is actually quicker, more effective and less work to cooperate with God’s plan to transform our hearts rather than striving to modify behavior. I have witnessed God consistently transform people who seek His answer for sustained life change. Evidence of transformation is when a person simply loses interest in a behavior that was previously out of control.
Transformation is available to all who are willing to honor God in their lives. When we come under conviction that we are not reflecting the heart of Christ in some way like unforgiveness, self-righteousness or believing lies about ourselves, we have the opportunity to cooperate with God to mold our hearts. Choosing to forgive, and asking God’s forgiveness for holding a grudge or judging others can bring a profound change in the condition of our heart. He empowers us with the strength to resist those temptations in the future and blesses us with a sustained change in how we react to our world.