We are all born with the same malady. Love for God and affection for Christ are not natural to us. Before we can love God, something must happen to us. Our hearts of stone must be changed into hearts of flesh, hearts that pulsate with new life and new affection for God. When one speaks of being “born again,”he is speaking of his change of heart.
When God quickens us from spiritual death, when He regenerates us by His Holy Spirit, He does radical surgery on our hearts. He turns the stone into living tissue. To be converted is to gain a new disposition, a new inclination, a new bent to our hearts. Where formerly we were hostile, cold, or indifferent to God, now we are warmly attracted to Him.
To be a Christian is to be a new person. We have undergone a transformation that is rooted in the heart.
The more we know of God, the greater is our capacity to love Him. The more we love Him, the greater is our capacity to obey Him. Our new affection, however, must be made to grow. We are called to love God with our whole hearts. The new heart of flesh must be nurtured. It must be fed by the Word of God. If we neglect our new hearts, they too can undergo a kind of hardening. They will not revert once more to a total heart of stone, but they can get a bit leathery.
The new heart is the creation of the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit is working within us to yield His fruit. As our hearts are more inclined to God, so the fruit of His Spirit is multiplied in our lives. Unregenerate people can perform external acts of righteousness, but no man with a heart of stone can yield the authentic fruit of the Spirit.
Our sanctification is a matter of the heart. It is a process that flows from intimate fellowship with God. Jesus summarized the matter by showing the link between love and law: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
The more you know God, the greater is your capacity to love Him. How well do you know Him? Your obedience or lack thereof reflects the answer to this question.
Passages for Further Study