A third fundamental truth of Spiritual Formation is that everyone’s heart is shaped by something, and we need to be aware of who or what is shaping our inner world.
Our hearts begin to take shape from the moment we are born. That invisible center of our lives is formed by our families, friends, experiences, and society. Even people who grow up in loving, Christlike homes have internalized a great many things from a society that lives in opposition to the Kingdom of God. For that reason, we not only need to be spiritually formed, but spiritually transformed!
Perhaps that’s what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words in Romans 12:2:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
While Paul uses the language of conform and transform to describe the need for spiritual change, Dallas Willard uses the term renovation:
“The greatest need you and I have—the greatest need of collective humanity—is renovation of our heart. That spiritual place within us from which outlook, choices, and actions come has been formed by a world away from God. Now it must be transformed. Indeed, the only hope of humanity lies in the fact that, as our spiritual dimension has been formed, so it also can be transformed.” Renovation of the Heart, p. 14
Every Renovation Starts with Demolition.
When you renovate a home, you start by tearing down all of the old stuff that needs to be replaced. You can’t put in new cabinets or appliances without first starting the tough, dirty work of breaking things down and throwing them away.
In the same way, many Christians are in need of some serious spiritual demolition—a clearing out of worldly ideas, values, and priorities. Only then will there be room for God to breathe new life into the hearts, and to change them from the inside out.
When David was confronted by the prophet of God about his sinful affair with Bathsheba, he was cut to the heart. He wrote the words of Psalm 51–words of confession and repentance–in response to his affair. Listen for the way he asks God for a new heart, a restored heard–a renovated heart:
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (NIV)
The question we should ask ourselves is this: Are we ready to let God renovate our hearts?