Some Christian traditions are strong on the theme of inward transformation, which is a good theme. But for God to transform us, He first has to forgive us, because sin is the barrier between Him and us. God wants to forgive us. For God to forgive us, He needed a basis for forgiveness. God in His integrity can't just say, "Oh well, don't worry about it", and hand-wave our sins. That's why Jesus Christ died -- to give God a full and valid ground to say to someone, "I forgive you." And that is the connection between the death of Christ and inward transformation. Christ's death eradicates the guilt-barrier between man and God, so that God's Spirit can enter a man and begin to radically transform him for the better.
Jack is the teaching elder of Ironworks Pike Community Church. He is a graduate of Columbia Biblical Seminary http://www.ciu.edu.