“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them …. For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Corinthians 5:19, 21).
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26).
Those who turn to God based on what He has done for us through Jesus Christ are forgiven their sins and reconciled to their Creator. Through faith in Christ, we go from being on bad terms with God to being on good terms. But this only comes through Jesus, our Redeemer, Mediator and Advocate with God (see: Galatians 3:13; I Timothy 2:3-6; I John 2:1-2).
Messy projects of transformation
We can begin to experience restoration to the image of God because of what God has done for us in Christ. When we put faith in Christ as our Savior, God begins His work of transforming us to His image. This transformation reaches completion at the resurrection when God will “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).
Transformation in this life will be a messy project. It will be a mixture of victories and failures; good days and bad days. We will always have to confess that even “when I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21).
Although new believers commonly look for changes in their circumstances, God is far more concerned about changing character than circumstances. The changes God makes are thorough — affecting every part of our being—our thoughts, attitudes, values and actions.
Under the gracious and compelling influences of God’s Spirit, spiritual transformation impacts our intellect (as we use our minds to explore God’s truth); our wills (as we increasingly yield to God’s authority), and our emotions (as we cultivate godly affections and repudiate evil desires.
“For the Christian, the path of connectedness to God involves the development of a Christlike mind, will, affections (or emotions), character, relationships and actions. When any of these capacities is undernourished, our spiritual growth will be stunted” (Bruce Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul).
God transforms our character at a deep level and sometimes these changes are painful (Hebrews 12:1-11). But even in our struggles, we must remain confident of God’s unfailing love. God’s love is the only thing that remains unchanged in the difficulties of this life (Romans 8:18,35-39; II Corinthians 4:16-18).