711 Good Behavior Does Not Equal Dispositional Change

1 When God works to save man, it is not to adorn man with good behavior—the purpose of God’s work is to transform people’s dispositions, to make them reborn into new people. Thus, God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of man all serve to change his disposition so that he may achieve absolute submission and devotion to God, and come to worship Him normally. This is the aim of God’s work.

2 Behaving well is not the same as submitting to 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 upon true knowledge of God or upon the truth, much less do they rest upon guidance from the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is directed by the Holy Spirit, this is not an expression of the life, much less is it the same as knowing God.

3 No matter how good a person’s behavior is, it does not prove that they have submitted to God or that they put the truth into practice. Behavioral changes are but a momentary illusion; they are but manifestations of zealousness. They cannot be counted as expressions 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 essential problems, and doctrine cannot stand in for the truth.

Adapted from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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