Salvation is a matter of the heart
I cannot be transformed into the image of the Son merely by changing my conduct, or by conforming to a certain pattern.
Salvation in Jesus Christ is a thorough and radical affair. The work that Christ does in a soul who truly loves Him is radical and all-encompassing. It penetrates into the secret chambers of the heart, and it judges even thoughts and motives so that something entirely new can grow there. This work involves a totalfrom everything that is corrupted and objectionable to something that is utterly pure and divine. Every honest soul must acknowledge that if such a glorious work is to occur in them, then it takes more than a fleeting interest in being a better person. On the contrary, it takes an inner revolution, a new and purified heart—not just as a one-off occurrence, but many times over throughout life!
God’s work with Job
Despite the fact that Job was an unusually righteous man, he had to be given special treatment if God was going to accomplish a work in him. The tests he had to endure worked an overwhelming crushing in him. Job, as well as his friends, entertained many ideas and opinions about all this, much of which is both true and edifying. Elihu in particular had many good things to say in this connection despite his young age. Nevertheless, what affected Job most was when God Himself spoke to him “out of the whirlwind” right into his heart. His words were so powerful that something transpired deep within Job, which meant he was never the same person afterwards.
God’s message was neither complicated nor difficult to understand. God asked him about two things. He wanted to know where Job was when He fashioned His work of creation, and whether he knew the answer to some mysteries. (Job 38 and 39) Job couldn’t answer any of it. Instead of saying much, Job began to receive light over himself. He put his hand on his mouth and was quiet. Then God spoke again and told him about two animals; the behemoth, “which I made along with you … See now, his strength … and his power …” And Leviathan,“Strength dwells in his neck … on earth there is nothing like him …” Job 40:15-16; Job 41:22,33. Both these animals are exceedingly strong; they neither bow nor give in to anything or anyone. Obviously, God was not concerned about the animals; He was thinking of Job. Therefore, God concluded His message to Job with these significant words: “He beholds every high thing; he is king over all the children of pride.” Job 41:34-34.
Transformation through humility
These words worked powerfully in Job’s heart. Before, he had only heard about God. Now he began to see. The eyes of his heart were enlightened, and he understood who God was and who he was in relation to God. “I know that you can do everything … therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2,6. These truths are so simple. We learn about them in Sunday school—who God is and who I am. Didn’t Job understand this before? Of course he did, in a manner of speaking. He said himself that he had heard about these things and had understood them in part, but the fact was that they had not penetrated so deeply into his heart that they transformed his very being. They had not worked an inner revolution in his life! They had not changed his view of himself, his wife, his friends, situations, trials, and all the circumstances which God in His goodness let him encounter. It took a great crushing under God’s mighty hand before Job’s inner ear could be properly opened to God’s voice and the eyes of his heart enlightened. But when this happened, Job was an entirely new person. We must therefore thank God for all tribulations and challenging circumstances that He sends our way, because salvation is impossible without them.
I cannot be transformed into the image of the Son by changing my conduct or by conforming to a certain pattern of behaviour. On the contrary, I am transformed when I humble myself from the heart under God’s mighty hand, listen to the truth and acknowledge it from my heart, without explanations or excuses. Then God writes His laws and commandments into my heart so thoroughly that I want to obey them wholeheartedly! All transformation occurs in the heart! That is why Jesus said, “First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also,” Matthew 23:26, and: “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.” Matthew 15:18.
This article was first published in the BCC periodical “Hidden Treasures” in March 2014.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.