If we are relying on our own efforts to be transformed into the image of Christ we are in false doctrine. Turning over a new leaf is not sanctification. Rather sanctification is both a now experience as in we are made perfect in Christ because of the work of our Lord in the atoning sacrifice of his body and shed blood and also an ongoing transformation experience. Some Christians today are following new age self help principles and adding the name of Jesus to these humanistic self efforts.
The historic protestant reformation not only opposed the abuse of power in the church and idolatry but also the works orientated gospel. It is very important to understand that if you are trying to win God’s approval by behavior that is self exalting, self abasing, and self initiated then you have fallen from grace and are not going to be included in the elect who have been given eternal life. Let us take a look at what the bible says about being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. (growing in his character)
Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God THROUGH JESUS CHRIST THE LORD. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:13-25
First of all we need to acknowledge our inability to perform. When we do this then God will come on the scene and assist us with HIS POWER and not our own ability to live a life that pleases God. For all human endeavors have self orientated motives and are not acceptable to God. In fact they are what scriptures call DEAD WORKS! Dead works, then, are works of the flesh (man made)but godly works are wrought by the Holy Spirit through yielded vessels.
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (See: 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
So then transformation in A WORK OF GOD wrought by his (dumanis)power if we really belong to Jesus. Those going about in the flesh trying to subdue the flesh are false brethren who operate in a false spirit and preach a false humanist gospel.
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” But from these he repented when he turned from self to Christ, and, casting away all confidence in legal righteousness, he could exclaim: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.Philippians 3:4-6