As with all of the previous distinguishing signs of a true work of God, sign seven consists of another effect of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer, imparting His character to the soul, and giving true spiritual understanding—He transforms our nature. Moreover, the sense that views, comprehends, and loves the beauty of God’s holiness remains forever, as do all of the effects that flow from this sense. Thus, by this divine work in salvation, the nature of the soul is changed forever.
As we have seen, religious affections have many natural causes. Yet, natural things cannot alter the nature of soul and produce the gracious affections that accompany salvation. Affections may be elevated for a good many reasons, but only God can change our nature. God, alone, can give us a new heart.  Therefore, the religious affections generated by natural and temporary things, apart from saving faith in Christ, give no sure evidence of God’s saving work.
Moreover, the non-saving acts of the Holy Spirit to convict the conscience or give unbelievers a greater view of God’s perfections, including His judgment against sin, do not change the soul. Unbelievers subject to these common works of the Spirit remain spiritually dead and blind to the beauty of the holiness God and divine things until the Spirit takes up residence in the heart. And when He does, He transforms us.
The Holy Spirit indwells and changes our nature at the point of saving faith in Christ.
Scripture representations of conversion do strongly imply and signify a change of nature: such as ‘being born again; becoming new creatures; rising from the dead; being renewed in the spirit of the mind, dying to sin, and living to righteousness; putting off the old man, and putting on the new man; a being ingrafted into a new stock; a having a divine seed implanted in the heart; a being made partakers of the divine nature,’ etc. 
Salvation includes the new sense that sees and loves the beauty of God’s holiness and hates the ugliness of sin. The believer turns from a love of darkness to a heart of love that seeks the honor of God in thought, word, and deed.
Conversion is a great and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to God. A man may be restrained from sin, before he is converted; but when he is converted, he is not only restrained from sin, his very heart and nature is turned from it unto holiness: so that thenceforward he becomes a holy person, and an enemy to sin. 
And the change is permanent. During the Awakening, some viewed the temporary nature of their experience as evidence of its divine origin. When the affections departed and they were “left wholly without any life or sense, or anything beyond what they had before,” they concluded the episode must have been from God.
But, regardless of the visions, imaginations, and Scripture texts that may have come to mind, or the extraordinary nature of one’s experience, testimony, and seemingly supernatural origin and intensity of religious affections, if the heart eventually returns to its previous love and pursuit of moral darkness, all are vain if the nature has not been permanently changed.
If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a while, if it be not abiding, but he afterwards returns…to be much as he used to be; it appears to be no change of nature, for nature is an abiding thing. A swine that is of a filthy nature may be washed, but the swinish nature remains; and a dove that is of a cleanly nature may be defiled, but its cleanly nature remains.” 
Again, at the moment of saving faith in Christ, the moment we are completely justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us forever, giving a new nature, and producing in and though us His holy character.
In giving us the Holy Spirit, God gives us new life in Christ. But while the change in us is profound and lasting, sinless purity awaits in the life to come. “Conversion does not entirely root out the natural temper; those sins which a man by his natural constitution was most inclined to before his conversion, he may be most apt to fall into still.” Nonetheless, “conversion will make a great alteration even with respect to these sins. Though grace, while imperfect, does not root out an evil natural temper, yet it is of great power…to correct it.” 
Growth in godliness continues until perfection in heaven. As we increase in the knowledge and love of God’s infinite excellence, we are transformed into Christ’s spiritual image as we diligently pursue Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Indeed, as Christ tells us: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Up next: True religious affections produce the demeanor of Christ.
 BT, 267; Yale, 340.
 BT, 267; Yale, 340-1.
 BT, 268; Yale, 341.
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