The Nature of a Truly Transformed Heart

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:10 ESV)

Some “evangelical leaders” in our time will tell you that transformation is actually part of the gospel and that the evidence of salvation is how busy a person is in “working in church ministry.” No where in God’s Word is transformation given as part of the Gospel. The Gospel is based in who Jesus Christ is and what He has done to be the propitiation for the elect. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including the elect. No one is able to do any work of any kind to deserve or earn salvation, that is, justification. However in Ephesians 1:3-23; Ephesians 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul gives us God’s solution. Notice that nowhere in these passages is the transformed life mentioned as part of being justified. Yes, Paul mentioned in Ephesians 2 that Faith was a gift and that tells us that it is a product of regeneration, and that God saves us unto good works, but that is not the same thing. Paul tells us more about the transformed life in Romans 12:1-2. Notice that this is talking about spiritual growth after salvation and is not part of our justification at all, but is part of our sanctification process. Notice also who is in control of this process. Is it a local church or a ministry or is it God?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. (2 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)

Carefully read the passage above my brethren. Notice that those whom God regenerates become partakers of the divine nature. This does not make them “little gods” not does it give them a “divine spark.” It gives them the mind of Christ. This is the gift of knowing the truth of God because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and as one lives in, studies and knows the Word of God. Those who mature in Christ this way, that is, they become transformed, will have a life that will grow more and more to be characterized by the attributes Peters lists in the part of the passage above that is in bold. These are the qualities that characterize a life partaking of the divine nature. These are virtues that are listed elsewhere in the New Testament as well (Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 12:10-11). These qualities reflect the desires and features of a truly transformed heart. This desire is part of those truly regenerated by God. This is why we must suspect the profession of faith of people who have no desire for these things and see transformation as something else.

This is an exhortation so this transformation is something that happens as we cooperate with God working in us to live a new life which is grounded in the divine power and promises that is granted to all believers when they come to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Please notice again, this is not talking about our salvation. This is our sanctification which is what makes us holy after our justification, which is our salvation where we come to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

Here are vv5-7 (the part in bold) from the Greek New Testament.

καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δὲ σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντες ἐπιχορηγήσατε ἐν τῇ πίστει ὑμῶν τὴν ἀρετήν, ἐν δὲ τῇ ἀρετῇ τὴν γνῶσιν, ἐν δὲ τῇ γνώσει τὴν ἐγκράτειαν, ἐν δὲ τῇ ἐγκρατείᾳ τὴν ὑπομονήν, ἐν δὲ τῇ ὑπομονῇ τὴν εὐσέβειαν, ἐν δὲ τῇ εὐσεβείᾳ τὴν φιλαδελφίαν, ἐν δὲ τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ τὴν ἀγάπην.

Here is a word-for-word translation of vv5-7 from Koine Greek to English.

And same this but diligence all having brought in along you supply further in the trust of you the virtue, in but the virtue the knowledge, in but the knowledge the self-control, in but the self-control the patience, in but the patience the godliness, in but the godliness the brotherly love, in but the brotherly love the love.

The key to this actually is in v5 where Peter is telling all Christians to, as the ESV says, supplement your faith. We are not to merely confess faith in Christ, but actually live it. Real living faith must take concrete form in life. These virtues are the fruit of this lived out in reality.

Real Christian transformation is not getting busy in church work, but is living one’s life growing in faith and Christlikeness as we have seen here. It is God directed and in most cases, it involves a great deal of tests and trials of faith. I pray you see the difference.

Soli Deo Gloria!

20 thoughts on “The Nature of a Truly Transformed Heart

  1. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, we can do nothing. A little something that happened to me this evening, man walking down the street, I said hi, he said hi, I invited him into my home, he was dropping mail all over the place, he said he didn’t belive in God. And probably still doesn’t, he got sick in this house, I told him don’t worry, for it will be cleaned up. I shared the Gospel with him, but he still didn’t hear it. He thanked me and gave me a hug. Again without the Power of the Holy Spirit we are speaking into the wind! But someday, this man may hear the words again and I still will pray that the Lord changes this mans heart and if I was wrong that God changes my heart. For none of us can change another person’s heart! For if we could change another person’s heart we make ourselve like God. Are we in control of our own destiny? If we are we are a god. Be all you can be??? Oh, do we seek the Lords face or trust in ourselves. Was also told afterward by a phone call the I live in a shell and I’m scaring people away from the Lord. I asked them how big is your god, do you think a person can scare them away for the Lord and they said yes. Praise the Lord they stated again that I do. I will continually state to repent in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the fogiveness of sins! Speak the Word in season and out of season. I can’t scare anyone away for the Lord. His is on the throne and in control of all things and me is not in control of anything!
    In Christ,
    David

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  2. We certainly can see how Satan takes words OUT of scripture for his agenda. “Transform”/”Transformational” is one of them. You have written on what is so very important and that is only Jesus transforms the heart- it’s not through man’s methods nor any method.

    Thanks for this, Mike. amen.

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  3. We can all try to lead a horse/mule to water but we can’t make them drink! Yes and all of us are nothing but a rebellious people. What is the water???? God’s living word! But even after knowing this we are still called to speak the Truth at all times. For if we don’t share the True Gospel we all will come under a higher condemnation! Fine line between truth and error! Read the Chapters in 1 John and test yourselves. Are you in the faith? Me, I’m nothing but a wicked sinner and a good one by what God’s word states! I only deserve death in Hell for Eternity! I don’t know why He has choice in this one wicked sinner but I do know that it is not unto me but His Power and Glory and my own good forever and ever.
    In Christ,
    David

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  4. Isn’t it great that after the Lord saves you from you sinful self he then causes you to want to obey him, not only that, when you do walk away from time to time he disciplines us out of love! On my own I would have walked away a 1,000 times but because of his Spirit he keeps me and not only that he causes me to love him more and to desire his word! I used to be sad when my friends weren’t believers because they might spend eternity in hell (if they don’t repent) but now I’m sad because they are missing out in the sweetest fellowship with our Lord in the here and now!

    Thanks for all your posts they are really helpful. Its fun to see my life changing like the gospel says it would in lots of your posts. it makes scripture come alive!

    Your brother in Christ
    Matthew

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  5. Church leaders have always used guilt tactics to get people to “work” in the church. It ends up being a works salvation, i.e. alms, earning your salvation. This is bad doctrine!
    And some of the “work” that they want done is wood, hay and stubble and so much dung that will one day burn up!
    What about the person that is physically unable to “work” in the church, are they less “Christian” than those that do?
    This is how you are made to feel. The more you “DO”, the better you are!!
    My pastor called it “do-do religion”!
    Because we could never DO enough to earn anything. That is why it is finished, no more sacrifice is needed!
    Again, “obedience is better than sacrifice”….. thanks for this post Mike. (sorry for all the “quotes”, ha!)

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  6. Thanks, Mike, for reminding us that the Christian life is about “being” and not “doing.” God will use us where He places us, but it is always about the relationship with Him first!

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  7. I know exactly what you are talking about here Berean Gal. I could not “work in church” for many years because of my job. I had to work when all that stuff was going on. I was looked down upon by the leadership because of that. When I was a Deacon I missed nearly every Deacon’s meeting because I was working. This made me somehow not nearly as “good a Deacon” as those that came to every meeting. Well, I felt the guilt trip I assure you. It was during that time that our pastor preached the do-do sermons like you wouldn’t believe as well. I find it interesting that it was during that same time that I was also not very complete in my understanding of theology nor the atonement, et cetera. It wasn’t until I came out from under all of that and dug into Theology myself, guided by the Holy Spirit to λογίζεσθε· (think on these things). This is how we mature and are truly transformed (Romans 12:2).

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  8. This was so good, Mike, thank you!
    I can relate to a lot of it and see how it is so easy to get caught up in serving that it becomes your god, your definition of what being a Christian means and your guide for judging other’s spiritual growth.
    There was not even a united women’s fellowship in our old church-as the different groups competed with each other at “serving” and did not get along. I was doing a lot of busy work and had a lot of things assigned to me to do. I noticed there was very little or no speaking of the gospel by those in charge of these service outreach endeavors. What is the point if you are not going to open your mouth and share the good news.
    As you said, the Lord will do the transformation in us as we renew our minds in the word, keeping Christ and His cross in view and looking upon Him and His beauty.

    God bless you!

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  9. Dear Mike,

    Rarely do I find a book really filled with the glorious Truths of Scripture, but I have to say “Christian Behavior by John Bunyan”; compiled and edited into modern english by Jon Cardwell has exceeded my expectations.
    It gives godly insight into “how” a Christian should handle good works.

    “Now, then, if God will, to prevent failure in this matter, I will submit to you what it is for a work to be rightly good. First, A good work must have the Word of God as its authority. Second, It must , as mentioned before, flow from faith. Third, It must be both rightly timed and rightly placed. Fourth, It must be done willingly, cheerfully, &etc.” pg.20

    Then it goes on to further explain these points using Scripture to guide.
    What a blessing it has been!

    Thanks for your wonderfully edifying post Mike! May God continue to richly bless you with wisdom, discernment and brotherly love to continue to encourage the saints.
    In the everlasting lovingkindness of Jesus, Charisse

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  10. Charisse, Jon Cardwell is a good brother in the Lord and Bunyan is one of my heros in the faith. He has recommended that book to me but I haven’t read it yet. Thanks Charrise!

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