One of the main things that distinguishes christianity from other religions is the Bible’s continuing emphasis on the persons fundamental need of change. While most other religious systems make their central emphasis on gaining an entrance into heaven, the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s presents salvation as a totally free gift of grace, which is then followed by a lifestyle of change into the pattern that we have presented in the Scripture.
Paul writes the following words in Romans 3. Notice the emphasis on the entire person:
“For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,10 as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands;no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. 13 Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. 14 Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known. 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The Bible presents sin not just as something that gets you into hell, but as something that ruins you as a person; sin skews one’s ability to think about life, to react to the various issues that they face, and to know true joy. Sin is not presented as just a problem of one’s actions. Rather it is presented as the algorithm by which the inner life of the sinner functions. Thus, everything that the heart produces is contrary the character and will of God.
From what we see above, we can see that the essence of saving faith is not simply a ticket to heaven, but rather the change of heart that happens as a result of the influence of God’s word on the willing listener. God, says the following words in the book of Ezekiel, concerning his future work through Jesus Christ:
“And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36)
The change of heart, that happens as a result of saving faith, opens the door for one to learn and have the ability to live life according to God’s intended purpose. After God saves, he begins the lifelong process of undoing the permeated impact of sin, and by way of his book, building his own character into ours.
Understanding our fundamental need of change and our total inability to accomplish it, is the foundation of saving faith, and the daily life of every christian. Because Christ paid the price for our sin, we can now be forgiven and God can intimately involve himself in every aspect of our life. Pursuing this change is the drive of the christian life, and the reason that we come back to the Book time and time again.
“Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2