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The reformation of your soul and life

October 6, 2008

by Rev. Martin Schoenfeld, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

At the end of this month, we will be celebrating Reformation Sunday. This is always a special time of the year, when we remember and praise God that He used men like Dr. Martin Luther to reform the church from many of the false teachings that existed.

The greatest false teaching that was addressed was the incorrect understanding of how we are saved. This has had a profound effect on each one of us. Therefore, I thought I would use this occasion to consider with you not the reformation of the church as a whole, but the reformation of your own soul and life.

In Ephesians 2:1, God tells us, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” When God tells us that we were dead in our sins, He is telling us that we were hopelessly lost.

A person who is dead is unable to do anything for themselves. So it was in our spiritual lives. We could not lift a finger in order to save ourselves. We were hopelessly lost in our sin.

There are many Bible verses that make this very clear to us: see Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:20, and Ephesians 2:8-9. If it were not for the grace of God, we would have been eternally lost, doomed to suffer in the torments of hell with no hope of escape.

But, thanks be to God that He changed us! He sent His Son, Jesus, into this world in order to redeem us, lost and condemned creatures.

Jesus did this by living a perfect life in our place. He delivered us by suffering the wrath of God for our sins upon the cross. He overcame our spiritually dead and sinful condition by rising from the dead on the third day. God has reformed our souls.

Ephesians 2:4 puts it this way: “But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

God made us alive. He has caused us to believe in Jesus for our life and salvation. God has reformed our souls from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ Jesus.

This is completely the work of God. There is nothing that we could contribute to our salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes that very clear to us: “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Since we have been made alive in Christ, we as Christians can now live new lives. We need no longer walk in the sinful ways of the world. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

God now uses us to go forth and do good works. We do these good works not in order to earn salvation, but rather because we already have it.

Through baptism, the Christian is now dead to sin, but alive in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Our lives have been reformed. We need no longer follow in the sinful paths of our fallen nature, rather we can now go forth and live godly lives to the praise and honor of our Savior.

Instead of walking in the ways of the sinful world, we now walk as men and women of faith. Instead of spending the evening watching mindless TV or surfing the Internet, we spend time reading the Bible. Instead of being so wrapped up in ourselves, we now pay attention to our spouse, our children, and others.

Instead of having our sole focus in life be upon pursuing the things of this world, we live our lives with a renewed purpose and direction. Instead of using God’s name as a curse word or speaking negatively about Christ and His church, we now speak positively about Jesus and use our conversations to glorify God and His church.

Instead of sleeping in on Sunday morning or doing other things, we spend the morning in worship, praising God. Instead of selfishly hoarding and spending money only on ourselves, we now use it to finance God’s mission on this earth. The Lord God is daily at work reforming our souls.

God has changed us from being dead in sin to being alive through faith in Jesus. He has changed us from lost sinners who would only follow the paths of this immoral world to be a godly people to walk in His ways in all aspects of our lives.

God has reformed our lives. On this Reformation Sunday, and every day throughout the year, may we give our praise to the Lord God, who has reformed our souls and our lives to be more like His.

It is my prayer that you would continue to allow God to reform your life to be in conformity to His Word, and that you would give daily thanks to God for reforming your soul and your life. May God make it be so in the heart of every believer.