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Is there a barrier to spiritual Where is the transformation that we as Christian leaders long

transformation in the for? Why aren’t we seeing the ministry results of Jesus—at
Monadnock Region? least not to the extent we know is possible? It’s certainly not
for lack of trying.

As a former pastor, and now writer, I am aware of the

frustration of not seeing the fruit that we long for. We try
another 40–Day focus or a new small group study. Or we get
back to “preaching the basics.” We pray for revival and a
greater move of God in our midst; but nothing produces
substantial, lasting change, despite how purpose-driven we’re
trying to be.

But what if the reason we’re not seeing the change we desire
is because the message that was seared into us from early on,
buoyed up by popular Christian books we’ve read, and then
reinforced in seminary, isn’t really rooted in Scripture? What
if what we think is the Gospel is actually a corruption of it?
A pseudo-gospel?

In good conscience, could we move forward without taking a

serious look at that question? I’m suggesting that a
significant barrier to our people’s transformation is because
of the distorted gospel we were taught, and are passing on.
After all, we can only give to our people what we ourselves
have received. I’m not implying blame here; but I am
suggesting that the ‘gospel’ that’s been handed down to us is
actually a weakened and damaging version of the real thing—
yet it sounds holy and masquerades as truth.

Here’s the distorted ‘gospel:’

• You [Christian] are still ‘prone to wander.’

• You are just as sinful after becoming a Christian as
before becoming one.
• You don’t really love God, so we must pressure you
to conform to his will, and coax you into serving
more faithfully.
Every generation throughout Church history has to deal with
corruptions of the Gospel. It was true for Luther and the
Reformers. It will be true for us. Our generation has lost the
“I will give you a new heart…” heart of the Gospel. We missed the renovating work of Jesus
NO LONGER PRONE TO WANDER – How Sin-Management Undermines Transformation , by Jim Robbins.
that he
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. For books, hasand
videos already accomplished
podcasts at the most fundamental
–Ezekiel 36:26
level—the level of the heart [our true self].
How the Bible describes the heart: The Christian’s heart is thoroughly good and noble … now.
We once were ‘prone to wander,’ our hearts were deceitfully
wicked and incapable of loving or relating well; but no more!
Salvation is the rescuing of the heart—the navigational center
of a person. At conversion … not at some point in the future.

Acting like Jesus while missing the point

It’s even possible to act like Jesus, yet live outside of his
power. Pursuing good Christian behaviors can soon collapse
into behavior-management. It’s not about managing people’s
behavior [even things like serving, tithing, praying and
You received a new heart when you said commitment]. It’s about the supernatural power residing in
‘yes’ to Jesus. the redeemed person’s new heart. When a Christian lives
from that new and pure heart, good Christian behavior
doesn’t have to be reinforced. They already want to live like

The offer of the Gospel is a new heart: A thoroughly good,

radiant, and supernaturally–pure heart. A heart [or self] that
now wants what God wants, despite any competing desires or

“There stood his heart’s desire, Getting our people to return to God
huge and real, the golden Lion, with all their heart
Aslan himself…” This is Jesus’ mission: “I will give you a new heart and put a
new spirit in you …” (Ezek. 36:26) The prophet Jeremiah
– Chronicles of Narnia voices the mission of Jesus as well: “I will give them a heart to
know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I
will be their God, for they will return to me with all their
heart.” (Jer. 24: 7). The history of God’s people has sadly
demonstrated that it is not possible for us to return to God
with all our heart if that heart doesn’t want to return to God.
This is why he says, “I will give them a heart to know me …”

God must give us back the heart we lost at the Fall so that we
may return to him. To return to God with a new heart is to
return to the life we most truly desire. The Christian now
wants God more than anything—in spite of his contrary
actions, doubts, or false convictions—for he now has a heart
for God. He may be choosing old convictions and habits that
deny his new desires, yet external behaviors can no longer
dictate the internal realities: He is a new creature with a
rescued and redeemed heart.

NO LONGER PRONE TO WANDER – How Sin-Management Undermines Transformation , by Jim Robbins.

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“I do not recall the heart ever being Is this a new teaching?
addressed [in church] except to say
that no good thing dwells in the
heart of man.” Centuries ago, Martin Luther declared the reality of the new
heart: “For faith through the merit of Christ obtaineth the Holy
—Ruth Montgomery. Commented on Spirit, which Spirit doth make us new hearts, doth exhilarate us,
The Good and Noble Heart Facebook page.
doth excite and enflame our heart, that it may do those things
willingly which the law of love commandeth.”

Notice that the renovation of our inner being or heart enables

us to do what we could not before: we can now follow the
command of love willingly—without spiritual pressure or
strong-arming. Church leaders no longer need to beat the
commitment drum week after week to get God’s people to act.

Sermon–series, driven by a need to fill volunteer slots and stir

up the crowds, aren’t necessary. When we draw attention to
the new desires of a believer’s good heart, we no longer need
to coax and cajole, for the new-hearted soul wants to serve!

We now start with the assumption that the redeemed person

wants to follow God. What the law commands, the good heart
now wants!

Andrew Murray, eighteenth-century pastor and author and

"For God is not merely mending, first president of the YMCA, recognized that the central
not simply restoring a status quo.
promise of the New Covenant “is a heart delighting in God’s
Redeemed humanity is to be
something more glorious than law…” Therefore, it is a lie when the believer is told that he
unfallen humanity." doesn’t love God enough or want to do his will.

–C.S. Lewis Though love is clearly demonstrated in action, it is unhelpful

and quite harmful to live from an on-going assumption that “I
don’t love God enough.” It is disheartening and dismisses the
new internal reality—a heart that now has the very love of
Jesus for his Father residing within!

God, in fact, has given us his own goodness: a purity that is

natural to him may now be natural to us. The Eighteenth–
century preacher, Jonathan Edwards, reminded us that God
regenerates our hearts, so that we share in the divine
goodness of God: “The first effect of the power of God in the
heart in regeneration, is to give the heart a divine taste or
What we’re talking about is the sense; … to cause it to have a relish of the loveliness and
doctrine of regeneration. How sweetness of the supreme excellency of the divine nature.”
could we have missed it?
His heart is now your heart. That’s your union with him.

NO LONGER PRONE TO WANDER – How Sin-Management Undermines Transformation , by Jim Robbins.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. For books, videos and podcasts visit:
Not an outer garment
We have been made internally radiant with a new purity and
wholeness. We have not simply put on a robe or outer
garment of righteousness—a layer of goodness covering up a
horrible mess. Rather, we have been made the righteousness
of Christ, at the deepest level of human personality.

Nor is our new goodness only something that exists “in the
Heavenlies”— distant and removed from our current life—as
if our real self was seated at the right hand of God, with no
contact or connection with life here on earth. No, our true
nature is now good and noble. That person who is now
seated with Christ is the same person reading this e-book. In
this life…now. That’s how practical this theology is.

Discipleship is learning to live from a good and noble heart.

Expecting to sin
“I expected to sin regularly!” A friend of mine told me how the message coming from the
pulpit had actually led him in the wrong direction—away
from God’s work in him. He said:

As I look back at my years as a Christian, I am sorry to say

that now I see clearly that I have been actually held back in
my Christian walk, because I have been receiving the
message that my heart is still bad, still wicked.

As a result, my expectations for the "abundant life" of which

Jesus spoke, have been nil! Because of what was said on
Sunday mornings, I expected to sin regularly!

What other conclusion can you draw if the persistent message

from the Church is: “You’re far more likely to sin than to be
like Jesus.”?

The new focus of preaching— new appetites

"God became man to turn creatures With the Christian’s new heart came new appetites, new
into sons; not simply to produce desires and motivations. Our job as teachers and leaders is to
better men of the old kind but to nourish and affirm those new appetites, assuming they are
produce a new kind of man."
there below the surface, despite outward appearances.
– C. S. Lewis That’s where God’s focus is.

NO LONGER PRONE TO WANDER – How Sin-Management Undermines Transformation , by Jim Robbins.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. For books, videos and podcasts visit:
“I think I always felt that there was Old Covenant Preaching vs. New Covenant Preaching
a standard that I needed to attain,
like working to be on the honor
role at school. I needed to keep
working, trying harder to get to a Old Covenant Message New Covenant Message
certain level. I also think at times
there was a sense of being judged.
I was looked at and judged based “How to Avoid Temptation” “Gratifying Your New Purity”
on my actions, good or bad. I now
realize that I have a "good" heart!”
“You No Longer Want That…
—Doug Gale. Commented on
The Good and Noble Heart Page on
“The Seven Deadly Sins” Getting to Your Deeper

“Learning to Relate from Your

“Becoming a Better _____” New Heart”

“Just Do It” “Released from Pressure”

“Seduced by Desire” “Exploring Your New Appetites”

It’s not about sin-management.

For the believer, sin is not a heart-problem: It is a flesh
problem; and your flesh is no longer the real you. Even Paul
says this is Romans 7:17, 20. He admits his struggle with sin,
but says that the source of that sin is no longer himself, but
rather, an alien force within him—residing in his ‘flesh.’ He
makes a distinction between his true nature [that no longer
sins] and the flesh, which still opposes him.
Though a Christian can still sin, it is no longer what she most
deeply wants, nor her true heart. Paul states decidedly that
we are “controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit.”
In other words, sin is no longer the dominant force in your
life. You are firmly under a new and liberating influence.
Therefore, our job as Christian leaders is not to help people
manage their sin or get it under control [though there may be
times where sin has to be gently, and with humility, exposed];
but the far greater emphasis is on exposing the new goodness
Our new obsession…
in our brothers and sisters in Christ.

NO LONGER PRONE TO WANDER – How Sin-Management Undermines Transformation , by Jim Robbins.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. For books, videos and podcasts visit:
Exhortation without Regeneration
It’s natural for pastors and teachers to urge people to become
more like Christ. Surely it is good and right for us to be like
Jesus, doing the things he did, having the same ruling
passions he does. However, you can’t possibly reproduce the
works of Jesus without living from a fundamentally
transformed self. Heart equals self. The Christian is a new

You cannot also reproduce the works of Jesus or even live

You can’t preach change while from the vitality of Christ if you don’t know that you are a
ignoring the power source for fundamentally–transformed person. This is where most
that change. Christians are today: they simply don’t know they’ve already
been substantially changed (or “regenerated”).
The new heart is the power source,
always being called out and
strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Most preaching today amounts to exhortation without
regeneration: teaching that pressures Christians to be more
holy, yet dismisses or is unaware of a substantial holiness
already residing in the Christian: It’s trying to coax a holiness
into being that’s already there and simply needs to be
nourished and called forth.

This new goodness within the believer’s heart is exactly

where God focuses his attention: not on the behavior, and
not on the sin. If he does expose sin, it is only with the patient
goal of restoring the person to a deeper awareness of their
God-given goodness—so that they can choose that, and not
their false idols.

Relating differently The ‘in-Christ’ life is this: learning to walk in a new-hearted

relationship with God and those around us.
Imagine how this new dynamic …………………………………………………………………………………………..
would affect relationships within
the congregation: people pursuing
Let’s at least have a dialogue about this. It’s too weighty to
the God-given goodness in their ignore, and your leadership in the community is too
Christian sisters and brothers, important.
rather than pettiness, politics, and
backbiting. Jim Robbins
Imagine the blessed effect on
marriages, parenting, and Peterborough, NH
ministry teams:
“Despite your actions, I know
your heart is good and true. I
will join God in celebrating your
new purity and aliveness.”

NO LONGER PRONE TO WANDER – How Sin-Management Undermines Transformation , by Jim Robbins.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. For books, videos and podcasts visit: