In Christian terms, what does it mean to be reformed? Is it out with the old and in with the new? Does it mean a changed life, a changed attitude…a changed outlook on things? Yes times four! In Christian terms, reformation means a reforming of the self by the work of the Holy Spirit, shedding worldliness for godliness and unrighteousness for righteousness.
It the goal of any person who surrenders their old life to Christ. For those who seek redemption there comes a want to warrant it. Martin Luther knew this well. His greatest wish was to shed his sinful self so that he might gain holiness.
Unfortunately, Martin started out doing this in the wrong way. Because of the guilt he had built up over past sin, most of it very minor, he would punish himself on Christ’s behalf. He would whip himself, starve himself, and berate himself over and over again. He was trying to reform himself through the law, what he was missing was God’s pure mercy.
It was in the midst of Luther’s spiritual turmoil that he would read the words that would change his life forever, from Romans 3: 21-26, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
In his longsuffering, Luther had dismissed the promises of God listed within this text. Upon reading it again, his eyes were opened to God’s gift of eternal grace despite His shortcomings. He had missed what the Savior’s sacrifice really meant, justification by His blood. He had forsaken God’s message of complete and total forgiveness.
After reading the words of Romans 3 and others, Luther started the reformation process in his own life that would lead to a movement.
All of those who believe have already begun the reformation process. Romans 6:23 reminds us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” At one time we stood condemned with only death to greet us, but, because of Christ, we have been reformed into a new creation with eyes set on eternal life.
Hebrews 9:22 gave us instruction on the law saying, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Because of Christ’s blood atonement on the cross we have been reformed from sinner to saint, from condemned to redeemed.
Now, as believers, we wait for the promise of resurrection which will bring to completion the reformation process. “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).
Where are you in your own reformation process? Have you surrendered to the Holy Spirit so that He might work reformation within you, or are you stubborn in your attempts to let the world be a part of your formation. Our Lord waits for you to be willing because he has already made you to be able. Trust in Him to mold you into the person He created you to be. Let Him form you into something very special indeed. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for working in our hearts to mold us into something that looks for better things to come. Forgive us for our resistance and the times we thought we could do the work of reformation apart from You. Amen.