1018 Good Behavior Does Not Equal Dispositional Change
1 When God works to save man, it is not to adorn man with good behavior—God’s work is in order to change people’s dispositions, to make them reborn into new people. Thus, God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of man are all in order to change his disposition, so that he may achieve absolute obedience and faithfulness to God, and the normal worship of God. This is the aim of God’s work.
2 Behaving well is not the same as obeying God, much less does it equal being compatible with Christ. Changes in behavior are based on doctrine, and born of fervor—they are not based on the true knowledge of God, or upon the truth, much less do they rest on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is directed by the Holy Spirit, this is not the expression of the life, much less is it the same as knowing God.
3 No matter how good a person’s behavior, it does not prove that they obey God, or that they put the truth into practice. Behavioral changes are a momentary illusion, they are the manifestation of zealousness, and they are not the expression of the life. People can behave well, but that does not necessarily mean they are possessed of the truth. People’s fervor can only make them abide by doctrine and follow regulation; people who are without the truth have no way of resolving substantive problems, and doctrine cannot stand in for the truth.
Adapted from “The Difference Between
External Changes and Changes in Disposition”
in Records of Christ’s Talks