08 9377 3283 gerson@sdarm.org.au

The Change of Heart at Conversion by Catherine Robles

The topic really inspired me and I hope that what I’ve found will also inspire you. I’ll also like to say that its not comprehensive. This whole subject is so broad and deep and the more that you go into it the more you realize how deep it is, and you cannot in the time that you have justify what you can give. But I just hope that from the statements presented, that it will give you a picture and encourage you to dig deeper yourselves as we go and look at what happens at conversion. On the actual program, it says here, “The Change of Heart at Conversion.” So we’re looking at what happens, and what stays, what changes and what stays? What remains after we’re converted?

So i just want to come from the angle of Romans 8:7, if we turn to Romans 8:7, this is the hopeless condition that every single one of us is in from the time that we come into the world. It says there, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God and neither indeed can be.” What is enmity? Opposition, its conflict, its almost looks like enemy or variance and there’s hatred between the two. This is who we are. This is who we are against God. We hate God. And sometimes its almost like a bit of an alcoholics’ anonymous type of thing, and you have to admit where you’re at first to be able to really come to a realization of what we need. But then, this is who we are, but this is one of the most beautiful verses in the whole Bible which is Genesis 3:15. We can read there, it says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman…” who is thee? Who’s thee? So, Satan, the serpent, the devil. And the woman, which was Eve. “And between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

So we read that we actually have no enmity, and now somehow or another through whatever process we’re going to find out – enmity is going to be placed between us and Satan. Because originally we love Satan and we hate God.

So the thought question is: is placing enmity between us and Satan, an easy job? Just on the side line here. When Christ performed miracles while here on earth. What do you think, you know he performed various types of miracles? What are some of the greatest miracles that he performed? Bringing death to life (Lazarus). That was the ultimate, that wasn’t it, that was one thing they weren’t sure he could do, but then when he did that that really produced wonder in the crowd.

Let’s go to Evangelism page 289. Irrespective of all these miracles that Christ performed when he was here, “The conversion of the human soul is of no little consequence. It is the greatest miracle performed by divine power.” Its the greatest, it stands at the top. And that’s the miracle, like we don’t have Christ physically among us today, we can’t see His miracles, there are miracles that happen in Christ’s name as we speak, but this miracle is something that is happening and can happen for every single one of us. And its simple a miracle. There is no, its nothing that’s tangible. You can’t actually produce something to change the heart. Its only the miracle that’s performed by Divine Power.

So now we’re going to go to what changes, and what happens when I’m converted. We’ve been learning throughout the camp about faith. And this is where it all stems from. From faith. The heart has grasped faith and this produces…what does this produce? For those of you, some of us were brought up in the church and so sometimes the difference in lifestyle is not so stark. However, there is still that change from death unto life.

Let’s look now at what the SOP expands on this about what changes when we’re covenverted. So remember, there was anger, there was love for somethign all-consuming that wasn’t necessary God’s plan for life, there was temper. And this is from Acts of the Apostles, page 273. “The refining influence of the grace of God changes the natural disposition of man.” What is the natural disposition? Its the whole bundle isn’t? Just from reading the Spirit of Prophecy. I have just pulled out a few off there. A few points of what we naturally like to do. Heaven is not desirable to us. There’s no desire for the carnal heart for heaven. No interest whatsoever. And I’m sure you see that don’t you in young people who haven’t given their heart to the Lord. There’s no desire. Selfishness is natural to us. Self to take over and to be the ruling power. There’s no desire for the word of God. For what would you be reading God’s Word? And then of course there’s Romans 8:7 and Matthew 15:19 which talks about what comes naturally out of our hearts, which is “murders, adultery, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies”. And what’s interesting is that even though we can say I haven’t murdered anyone or committed adultery, its still there. Its right there and at the right opportunity the carnal heart will produce its results.

Jacques was talking about modified behaviours, you know the society condemms that type of behaviour, but in the right environment, it would all come out. We love Satan and his ways, although unconsciously. We might not love Satan in the pitch-fork, you know scary type of way, but we love his ways, and when he comes across in a very nice way. And we love sin. That’s our natural disposition.

From Desire of Ages, says, “The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether.” Its not just you know, a bit of a renovation. Christ is not renovating our hearts and souls. He is completely transforming it into a new nature. And how does it happen? It describes in this statement how this happens, Its says, “Enmity against Satan is not natural…” because we love Satan, “… it is implanted by the grace of God.” So again, from what we’ve been learning at the camp. Its a power outside of ourselves that is planted inside the heart that then grows, its completely separate from us but it becomes part of us. Its implanted by the grace of God. “When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought.” And that miracle is just as powerful as the greatest miracle that has ever been performed.

It says in Ezekiel there, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Saviour, working to rescue souls.” It says there “when one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will.” I think some of you may have watched the videos of Christian Berdhal, but in talking about the parts of our brain. The frontal lobe and the prefrontal cortex. Christian Berdhal talks heavily on this. Because in the prefrontal cortex and the frontal lobe is where our decisions are made. Its our reactions to emotions from other parts of the brain. Its where our will is kept, right in the front there and its actually quiet a large part of our brain. It goes to almost a third of the brain.

This idea that I have been looking into, its not concrete. Its not a definite thing, but I’ve been trying to understand it in terms of the limbic system, which we know governs our emotions. Its where our passions are generated. Its where our appetites, our memories and our pleasure centres are all combined there in the limbic system. And its not to put the brain in boxes, because of course everything works together. And you can’t really sort of, you know, separate them. But the limbic system is known to be that part of the brain, it’s got the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the hippocampus which are all different parts of the brain, which rule these types of things.

And when Adam and Eve fell, what happened, and I can’t find the statement. I found the statement a long time ago and I shared it a Sydney conference.  But I haven’t been able to find it. Since this is the closest I’ve been able to find, but what happened was, we were controlled by our will, the divine nature was part of us controlling and when Adam fell, its switched. Then our lower nature was the controlling power. And so, it says here, this is the closest I can find, “One of the most deplorable effects of the original apostasy was the loss of man’s power of self-control. Only as this power is regained, can there be real progress.” And it says again there, one of the deplorable effects, similar statement, was the “loss of man’s power to govern his own heart”.

So the governing part of your brain, was not in control anymore, in fact it was the passions, it was the wants the desires, the pleasures, that was what governed the man. And we’re tied down to that, until the transforming power of Christ comes in and puts it back into its right. That really amazed me because it shows the change in the brain that happened in the fall and what Christ gives us the power to do. He puts everything back into the right perspective, gives you the power over your own self again. Through Christ, through Christ actually taking over your will and your governing power. Your decision making.

There’s another statement here, it says, “In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the Divine Spirit.” Now this is going to be showing another thing that changes when we are born again. It says, “This will lead to watchfulness. It will purify the heart and renew the mind, and give us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us willing obedience to all His requirements.” So it enlarges our capacity for knowing God. Whereas before this is implanted in the heart is not there. We sort of have a very, I’m assuming that’s why God has so much mercy, because we’re these frail people who have these very limited capacity for understanding and knowing God and that’s why He just places all these things in front of our path. But when His power is implanted in our hearts, our capacity for knowing and loving God increases. He gives us a new one.

What else is changed? “When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife.” There’s a complete shift. Why are these put away? Why are sinful things put away with the new heart? Because the change has taken place hasn’t it? Because we no longer love it. Why would you put something away that you love? If you enjoy what you’re doing and if you enjoy sin, you’d have no desire to put it away. When it talked about Christ being here on earth, He hated sin. And that hatred, which is what He promised in Genesis He puts into us. So that we actually hate sin, so that we can put it away. To describe the Christian life as dragging your feet, trying to put away all these bad habits, when in heart you actually love them and you’re just trying to put them away because that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s a miserable existence. But Christ puts the hatred inside so that we actually see the sin as it is and put it away because we hate it. That’s the only way that it can be put away and that’s the power that Christ has in us.

Of course there are some things in our life that we might not know is sin. So therefore, as we journey on, there are times where we need to actually have that realization and then the same thing happens. That hatred, it comes out. Taken of course, filled with something else. We don’t take away without putting back. It says, “joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one see the hand that lifts the burden, or behold the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes, when by faith, the soul surrenders itself to God.”

Going back to what we’ve learned. Its faith that does it. The belief in God that He can do something over and above ourselves. When we reach and surrender for that, that’s when the power comes. Then that power “which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.”

So previous to receiving the implantation of the divine nature an that power, we don’t like the Word. We don’t enjoy reading the Bible. But this statement talks about how now the Word of God is enjoyable. And as we continue to read the word what does it do? It destroys it. It ahs the power in and of itself to destroy that continuously. It is a continual destroying. As I was reading what I found out was that even though our natures are put to death, without that power, its still a choice to have that power in us every day. We don’t choose that power, then we’re who are we ruled by? We can choose or not choose.

Sr. White was writing to her children saying that, the more you don’t read the Bible the less you want to read it. So its only as we read the Bible, we receive the Word, we receive the power into our hearts, then our desire of the Word grows. And as its doing that its destroying our natural earthly nature. And imparting a new life. And again it says, “love takes the place of hatred and the heart receives the divine similitude.

“To have a new heart is to have a new mind…” which is the frontal lobe, which has been, its the will, the deciding factor. “…new purposes,” because now we’re looking ahead, we have new purposes, there’s things that we wanted to do previously, now we want to do other things. There’s “new motives” The reason we do things is different now, to the reason we would do things before. And there is a “daily, hourly dying to selfishness and pride.”

And I thought this was interesting as well. I’m not going to read the whole thing, actually I will. “To be pardoned in the way that Christ pardons, is not only to be forgiven, but to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. The Lord says, “A new heart will I give unto thee.” The image of Christ is to be stamped upon the very mind, heart, and soul. The apostle says, “But we have the mind of Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 2:16). Without the transforming process which can come alone through divine power, the original propensities to sin are left in the heart in all their strength, to forge new chains, to impose a slavery that can never be broken by human power. But men can never enter heaven with their old tastes, inclinations, idols, ideas, and theories. Heaven would be no place of joy to them; for everything would be in collision with their tastes, appetites, and inclinations, and painfully opposed to their natural and cultivated traits of character.” 3SM 190.2

So there is a change there. And that’s’ delving now into the work sanctification, which we’ll have a look at later. But initially, there’s that who natural disposition, inclination of a man which is change through the power of Christ in our lives. That’s just again referring to the sins which he once loved he now hates. Complete opposites.

This is a little where Sr. White is talking in very simple terms about conversion. She says, “now God wants His converting power to come in this occasion.” And we can take this to be on this occasion now as well. “there are some who come to our meetings and they’ll sit all through the meetings, they have bourne a few words of testimony now and then, then they have gone home and have done just exactly the same as if not worse then before. Why? Because they had not the new heart. What is the new heart? It is the new mind. What is the mind? It is the will. Where is your will? It is either on Satan’s side or Christ’s side. And now it is up to you. Will you put your will today on Christ’s side of the question? That is the new heart. It is the new will, a new mind, a new heart will I give thee, then let us begin right here.”

I think that we can take that for ourselves as well. Because we’ve had a beautiful camp, we’ve had lovely meeting which have been very inspiring. But if we don’t go home and then practically apply that it would have been of no use to us.

It says here, “for the selfish heart of sin, He gives the new heart of love. He changes the heart and produces an entire revolution in the soul. He brings light out of darkness. Love out of enmity and holiness out of impurity.” That promise in Genesis 3:15, has been fulfilled in the conversion of the soul: that He places enmity against Satan.

So now, what remains? If this change has taken place in our hearts? What is still left? He has changed our natural dispositions. Given us hatred for sin, and I’ll go through the list at the end. But what stays? I thought this was interesting. It says, when human beings receive “holy flesh”, they will not remain on the earth, but will be taken to heaven. So that’s talking about the change of our body. “While sin is forgiven and we have the new heart, its results are not now wholly removed.” So our bodies, our minds, have been used to being controlled by self. We have, they’ve been the instruments of unrighteousness. And the results will not be completely removed until we receive a new body. It says, “it is at His coming that Christ is to change our vile body that it might be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

So those particular things are different for every person. We’ll go into the next quote about what remains. So its talking in the first section about when the Spirit of God comes in and controls the mind and the heart. I’m going to read from the second bullet point there. “But because this experience is his, the Christian is not therefore to fold his hands, content with that which has been accomplished for him”.

So far, Christ has implanted the power into our hearts. Christ has given us a new mind. By faith we have received that and agreed with God. He’s given us hatred for sin, he’s given us love for God. That has been given us entirely from Him. It wasn’t ourselves that did it. But what is there for us to do now? It says, “he who has determined to enter the spiritual kingdom will find that all the powers and passions of the unregenerate nature.” The way I understand that is, nature has been changed, but there’s still the powers and passions of his former nature still used to being used. “Backed by the forces of the kingdom of darkness, they are arrayed against him. Each day, he must renew his consecration…” So each day, we’re receiving the new heart, receiving the power from Christ, “and do battle.”

So the born again experience is just the beginning, as we were learning last night and yesterday. its an experience that then puts us into the journey of battle. It says, old habits, so Christ doesn’t propose to change our habits at conversion for us. This is a work that now we are to do together with Christ. “Old habits, hereditary tendencies to wrong, will strive for the mastery. And against these, he is to be ever on guard, striving in Christ’s strength for victory.” So we have habits of evil and how long do they say it takes to break a habit? 30 days I think.

But habits have a strong hold on us don’t’ they? We don’t even have to think about them. We just automatically do these things. And its these things that are still there, but through the grace of God we can overcome. So they’re still there after conversion but Christ can give us the victory over these old habits. And that’s the daily battle that we have to do. This battle will be continuing. But what the hope is here, is that those old habits, those weaknesses, through the grace of God and through the battle, can actually be made our strengths. Its not something that cannot be overcome.

It says, “as we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good.” So we still have some things left over that through the grace of God we need to understand and work against with His power. Its still faith that will do that for us, as we go down this journey and as we hold on and receive that power from Christ.

This is another thing that gets left behind with the new creature. Which I found was really beautiful. It says, “So spiritual is the character of God’s work upon the human heart that receives it that it makes everyone a new creature without destroying or weakening any capability God has given to man.” So even though it has changed us, we are still who we are. Our capabilities are God given talents. Everything remains, but God now uses them. God uses those capabilities; He uses those talents. He doesn’t destroy it. It says, “It purifies every attribute fit for connection with the divine nature. That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, and when man is born from above, a heavenly peace pervades the soul.’

We’ll cap at the end from what I’ve read, what remains and what changes with conversion. But I just wanted to do a couple more statements about what cannot convert us. This is sort of just a side-line, but as I was researching it, I found these statements and I just thought I’d share them with you. What do you think is incapable of converting us that maybe we sometimes think could have a part to play? I’ll read these and that might help.

Evangelism 290, “Accepting new theories and uniting new theories do not bring new light to anyone. Even though the church with which he unites may be established on the true foundation, connection with the church does not take the place of conversion.” So, although we baptize people and connection with the church, that is not the power that has changed them. The power that changes people is from Christ alone.

“To subscribe the name to a church creed is not of the least value to anyone if the heart is not truly changed.” And there was this one which I found as well, which I found really powerful. It says, “there is no power in repentance to change the life.” Where does true repentance comes from? Its a gift. I was reading through the book Faith and Works and it was saying that every single things that we’re given, faith, repentance, it all comes from God. And so we’re just exercising what He’s given us. And so to say that I’ll have to repent first and then I’ll have this power. Or its the repentance that’s going to convert me is actually a false theory. Because repentance doesn’t change your life, it says, “when the helpless soul casts itself upon Christ, then there comes a transformation of character and the Saviour declares a “new heart also will I give you.”

So in conclusion, what changes when we’re converted? We’ve learned our natural disposition changes, enmity towards God, that promise that God gave to Adam and Even is a power that can happen in us. We can have enmity towards Satan now instead of enmity towards God. Our capacity for knowing God enlarges. We now love the Word of God. Our old inclinations can change. Sin becomes hateful to us now, instead of us loving it. We have a new mind, new purposes, new motives and our will is on God’s side.

What remains? Obviously again, this is not all conclusive, all comprehensive, this is from what I’ve been able to find so far. It says, “the results of sin are not wholly removed.” It says, the results of them. Sin is removed, but not the results of sin. Because we’re used to have sin ruling, so little things pop up here and there, our passions are like, “excuse me, I’m used to being in control here.” until Jesus comes, they’re not completely removed. Personal capabilities given to us by God remain. Old habits are there until they are overcome. So at the actual point of conversion, the habits remain and then this is the work of sanctification in our lives. That old habits can be overcome by the grace of God. Hereditary tendencies to wrong remain until they are cut away from the character. And self will remain with us, to be constantly subdued.

All just read this in conclusion. The last statement. And I hope that we really can examined our own hearts to really examine if this power has worked and is continuing to work in our lives, because obviously this is not something that happens years ago, this is every day. This is the power that needs to be working in our lives constantly. It says, “we need to be converted from our faulty lives, to the faith of the gospel. Christ followers have no need to try to shine, if they will be behold constantly the life of Christ, they will be changed in mind and heart into the same image. Then they will shine without any superficial attempt.” So its not our own works, its actually from a power outside of ourselves. “the Lord asks for no display of goodness. In the gift of His Son He has made provision that our inward lives may be imbued with the principles of heaven. It is the appropriation of this provision that will lead to a manifestation of Christ to the world. When the people of God experience the new birth, their honesty, their uprightness, their fidelity, their steadfast principles will unfailingly reveal it. Oh what words were spoken to me, what gentleness was recommended thought the grace abundantly given. The greatest manifestation that men and women can make of the grace and power of Christ is made when the natural man becomes a partaker of the divine nature and through the power that the grace of Christ imparts, overcomes the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

So I’d just like to leave these thing with you, its not a long study today. But I really hope that you’ve been able to receive a blessing in understanding some of these things. And I hope it encourages you to have a look at yourself and have a look at yourself the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, its the power of Christ, the power of Christ to fulfil that promise that He made to Adam and Eve to put enmity in our hearts between us and Satan. And if we find in our hearts that we actually love sin, then we need the power of God to change that so that we actually hate it. Because its not hard you hate something to turn away from it. When you love something, you drag your feet. And so I just pray that this will be the reality in each one of our lives and that we can share this with other people as well.