Consider these insightful words:
As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so its by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this or that bad habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart.....
"The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely--because he is required to do so--will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right--because right doing is pleasing to God"
We do not become Christians by overcoming sin. We overcome sin by becoming Christians. And we become Christians by coming to Christ. We must first turn to the cross and receive the new heart before we suppose we are any match for sin. As we comprehend the amazing love of Christ as revealed at Calvary, the old selfish heart will die and the new heart of love will come to life. The hard spirit of stubbornness will give way to a new spirit that inclines toward the Lord with delight.
Receiving the new heart is not some kind of mystical transplant. It simply means a change of motivation. God created Adam with a heart that was governed by the supreme motivation of love to God and love to others. When Adam sinned there was a fundamental change that took place in his nature--selfishness took the place of love. Selfishness became the governing force in his decision making.
When we embrace the revelation of God's love displayed at the cross, selfishness is conquered and the original motivation of love is restored to the heart. This is what it means to be born again. In fact, this is the only real way to become a Christian.
(Can you become a real Christian? Oh, yes, we all can through the love and power of God, we can do anything He asks us to do. I'm so glad to know this vital truth about salvation. Aren't you? Grandma Joan)