Renovation of the Heart

Putting on the Character of Christ

Dallas Willard

The 20th anniversary edition includes a Foreword by John Mark Comer, an Afterword by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, a 2005 interview with Dallas about the book, and a Scripture index provided by Jan Johnson.

Available in hardcover and paperback (, Barnes & Noble,, ebook (Kindle, Nook) and audio (CD, Audible, download) formats. Note: The audio book is read by Dallas!

Also available in Chinese, Dutch, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Spain), Swedish, and in the U.K.

(Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002) 269 pp., ISBN: 1576832961. U.K. edition, slightly modified (Inter-Varsity Press), 2002.
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Take on the character of Christ through the transformation of your spirit.

We aren’t born again to stay the way we are. But how many times have we looked around us in dismay at the lack of spiritual maturity in fellow believers? It is evident in the rising rate of divorces among Christian couples. We find it in the high percentages of Christians, even pastors, who regularly view pornography. And we face it each time a well-known leader in the Christian community is found in sexual sin or handling finances dishonestly. Perhaps you have struggled with your own character issues for years, even decades, to little avail.

There’s good news. You CAN experience significant growth in your Christian walk, shed sinful habits, and take on the character of Christ. In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard calls it “the transformation of the spirit”—a divine process that “brings every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God”. As we become apprentices of Jesus our spirits are transformed.

But just what is this transformation? Dr. Willard explains that its ideal end is when “all of the essential parts of the human self are effectively organized around God, as they are restored and sustained by him. Spiritual transformation in Christ is the process leading to that ideal end, and its result is love of God with all of the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and of the neighbor as oneself.”

Although you may acknowledge this as the ideal, you may still wonder: “How do I get there”? Renovation of the Heart is a realistic guide to discipleship and the real challenges of Christian formation that helps to answer that inquiry. It lays a foundation for understanding the ruin and restoration of humanity, by discussing human nature and its components, how they operate, and how they are renewed. It describes common misunderstandings about our human nature, and the discipleship process. Most importantly, it outlines the general pattern of personal transformation—not as a formula, but as a systematic process that we have the responsibility to undertake as intentional apprentices of Jesus. Only then will our transformation be accomplished, through interaction with the grace of God in Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual treasures stored in the body of Christ.


Received Christianity Today’s 2003 Book Award in the category of Spirituality, and The Association of Logos Bookstores’ 2003 Book Award in the Christian Living category

“Once again we are in debt to this modern master of spiritual life. For all who are tired of formulas and clichés, for all who are frustrated by the failure of systems and revolutions, Dallas Willard’s explanation of the cultivation of the heart is fresh, practical, and timely.”

Os Guinness, author of The Journey

“From the pen of one of today’s most insightful spiritual instructors, Renovation of the Heart is a book that must be read by all who care deeply about the life of discipleship unto Jesus. Rooted in a deep, yet clear and understandable analysis of the human person, powerful guidance for discipleship sprouts forth on every page.”

J.P. Moreland, rofessor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; author of Love Your God With All Your Mind

“No one has thought more carefully than Dallas Willard about the human personality and how it can be transformed into Christlikeness. I give my highest recommendation to *Renovation of the Heart.” Read further comments along with two sample suggestions of ways to practice the themes discussed in Renovation of the Heart in Renovare’s October 2002 issue of Perspectives.

Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline

Renovation of the Heart is a realistic guide to discipleship and the real challenge of Christian formation. For all would-be apprentices of Jesus, Renovation of the Heart is for you. Its aim is to help you find and fully live in the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

Gary Moon, author of Homesick for Eden: A Soul's Journey to Joy


Dutch, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, English, Chinese


Hardcover, Paperback, Audio CD, Audible, Kindle, Nook, MP3 Download



1.  Introducing Spiritual Formation: The "Beyond Within" and the Way of Jesus
2.  The Heart in the System of Human Life  
3.  The Radical Evil in the Ruined Soul 
4.  Radical Goodness Restored to the Soul  
5.  Spiritual Change: The Reliable Pattern


6. Transforming the Mind 1: Spiritual Formation and the Thought Life  
7. Transforming the Mind 2: Spiritual Formation and Our Feelings
8. Transforming the Will (Heart or Spirit) and Character
9. Transforming the Body  
10. Transforming Our Social Dimension
11. Transforming the Soul  
12. The Children of Light and the Light of the World 13. Spiritual Formation in the Local Congregation


Additional Renovation Resources

Renovation of the Heart 13-Session Video Curriculum

Let Dallas Willard, John Ortberg and Larry Crabb help you process through each chapter of Renovation of the Heart in this small group curriculum. This 13-part study can be used for adult Sunday School or Bible Study groups of any size. 

Each 20 minute video segment lets us listen-in as Dallas teaches on the human personality and how it can be transformed into Christlikeness. He then participates in a brief 3-way conversation with John and Larry that will begin a discussion to be continued among the members of your class or study group.

An exceptional set of Leader and Participant Guides, written by Gary W. Moon, accompany the videos. The Participant Guide includes Central Truths and Exercises for each subject, followed by discussion questions on the video lecture, video conversation and the original book. Each chapter closes with a Bible Study and Transforming Exercises for our thoughts, emotions, will, behavior and social interactions.

Participants do not need to have read the book and are not required to read it because all the key concepts are discussed in the video in detail.

You can watch it free and download the Leaders Guide at The complete curriculum, including DVDs and student guides, is also available for purchase through LifeSprings.

Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice: Experiments in Spiritual Transformation

Jan Johnson presents us with 61 devotional readings which guide us in applying the teachings of Renovation of the Heart in our daily living. Think of this as a lab manual to help with the most important renovation project we'll ever get to work on—our hearts. Jan's creative ideas and daily experiments will help move us all further along the path to becoming like Christ.

An Interactive Student Edition of Renovation of the Heart

Ideally formatted for High School and College ages, this interactive book by pastor and author Randy Frazee provides opportunities for students to discuss ways to put on the character of Christ and live as He would live in their place.

Revolution of Character: Discovering Christ's Pattern for Spiritual Transformation

Don Simpson's accessible distillation of Renovation of the Heart can be read as a devotional book for personal study and prayer or on retreat. Suggestions for meditation and response appear at the end of each chapter.

Also available in Traditional Chinese and in the UK.

Join us in Celebrating the 20th Anniversary


Jan Johnson has good advice for us about ways we can apply the Renovation of the Heart material in our own lives in this Renovaré Podcast interview by Nathan Foster. Hear some fun stories about her work with Dallas along the way.



John Ortberg led a morning devotional series based on Renovation of the Heart during the first 5 months of 2022. The first session is posted here, and you can see the entire playlist and sign up to participate in John's future morning devotions on YouTube.



Renovaré's Carolyn Arends guides a conversation with Jane Willard, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson and Gary Moon in this 90-minute Renovaré Bookclub webinar. The groups shares memories of Dallas and his teaching in Renovation of the Heart, along with recommendations about to read apply the material.

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