Once there was a very pretty little pig named Isabelle. Isabelle belonged to Mrs. Lady. Mrs. Lady bathed Isabelle every day and dressed her in frilly dresses. Mrs. Lady and Isabelle took walks together every day. Lady was very proud of Isabelle, her pet pig.
One day when Lady and Isabelle took their walk, they passed some other pigs who were wallowing in a big mud puddle.
That was when the trouble began!
Isabelle yanked her leash right out of Lady's hand and ran as fast as her chubby little legs would go straight for the other pigs and their mud puddle. Isabelle dived right in the middle of the mud puddle!
Lady was horrified! She scolded Isabelle and promptly drug her out of the mud.
Isabelle squealed all the way home. Then Isabelle squeeled some more when Lady started scrubbing all the mud away. Lady scrubbed and scrubbed. Soon Isabelle was her normal pink pig self!
The next day Lady dressed Isabelle in a pretty dress and hat and took her for a walk. As they were walking, they came to a mud puddle ... What do you guess happened?
Isabelle ran as fast as her chubby little legs would carry her straight into the mud puddle. She rolled and splashed in the mud grunting and squealing with great glee!
Of course Lady was horrified. She was mad, too! She really, really scolded Isabelle all the way home!
Lady took Isabelle home and the scrubbing began all over again. This routine went on day after day. Finally Lady was so sad, mad and disgusted with Isabelle that she decided Isabelle would be better off as bacon rather than Lady's pet.
Lady told Isabelle that if she ever jumped into another mud puddle she was going straight to the butcher to be bacon.
Isabelle was sad and scared. She didn't know what to do. In her heart she was a pig, and pigs naturally like mud puddles! No matter how hard Isabelle tried, she knew she just couldn't stay away from mud puddles. Mud puddles are one thing pigs do best.
That night Isabelle dreamed about a beautiful fairy. The fairy asked Isabelle (in the dream), "Isabelle, would you like to change and never want to jump into another mud puddle?"
"O, yes!" Isabelle said to the fairy.
The fairy said, "Isabelle, I can help you. I can give you a heart transplant. I can cut out your pig heart and give you a lamb heart instead. Lambs don't like mud puddles. Lambs like clean green grass."
Isabelle was really scared, but she told the fairy to "go for it"!
The next day Lady and Isabelle went walking one last time.
Lady didn't know it yet, but Isabelle was a different pig. She ran and rolled on the clean green grass. She followed Lady everywhere she went. When they passed some pigs wallowing in a mud puddle, Isabelle didn't even blink. For the first time ever, she had no interest in mud. In fact she wanted to stay as far away as possible from nasty, yukky mud! Isabelle had a new heart! Isabelle looked like a pig on the outside, but she was really a lamb on the inside!
Isabelle and Lady and the fairy are only part of a made-up story. Fairies can't change pig's hearts. Fairies don't do heart transplants except in made-up stories.
BUT Isabelle helps me understand how God looks at my heart.
I am like Isabelle. I like to wallow in the mud of sin. That's just what sinners do, and I am a sinner. I have a heart that "likes" to sin. Trying harder is not the way out of the "sin cycle"!
Only God can change my heart. Only God does heart transplants - cutting out hearts bent to sin. You and I can't stop being sinners any more than Isabelle can stop being a pig.
It's hard to "be good." We all need new hearts. God comes to us and says, "Give me your heart and I will give you a new heart." (Ezekiel 36:26) When God gives us a new heart, then we want to love and obey God. God changes us on the inside!
Just remember: That change is a process not a point action. The good news is that God isn't finished with me yet no matter how much I goof things up! He's in the process of making my heart new.
In Romans 6:1-14 Paul talks about what God thinks:
So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? ... we left the old country of sin behind; ... we entered the new country of grace - a new life in a new land! ...
Could it be any clearer? Our old way was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life - no longer at sin's beck and call! ... When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did.
That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time - remember, you've been raised from the dead! - into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God. (Romans 6:1-14, The Message)
Jesus said, "I am the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)