There are two situations where being a Reformer presents a problem to me in particular, and to you in general. The first is this, the Reformer cannot take a day off. Reformation, while ultimately dependent upon God, is nevertheless hard work for the Reformer. The second, which is the point of this post, is that the work for the Reformer begins in the dark dungeon of his own heart. And anyone who has looked deep into his own heart recognizes why I call it a 'dark dungeon'.
The heart, my friends, is the place where Reformation and Revival must begin. A deep, steady, penetrating look into the heart is a fearful thing. Partly because we know what will be found there, and partly because we don't know what else will be found there.
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5)Now, this look into the heart must not be by ourselves alone. There is too much of a tendency towards self-justification in us. No, we must look into the hearts with the Creator of the heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. (Psa 26:2)Thankfully, God's searching of our hearts is accompanied by God's grace, otherwise we would be consumed. Read the rest of what the writer of Hebrews tells us..
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psa 139:23-24)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:12-16)As God searches our hearts through the medium of His Word, we are sustained by the grace of God that comes to us through Christ's work as High Priest. Since He has been tempted as a man, overcome that temptation perfectly, and offered Himself as the supreme sacrifice for our sins, we may come before Him in repentance. We may humbly ask Him for the grace that we need to help us in our deficiencies.
Now, all this looking and searching has a purpose...Repentance. Repentance is the first step in the path of Reformation. In fact, Repentance may very well be Reformation in it's essence. When we are engaged in the work of Reformation, what is it that we are doing? We are teaching people to turn from one manner of life/worship/work to another manner of life/worship/work. In this teaching, repentance is implicit. Repentance is the command of God to turn from sin to Christ. Turning to Christ is turning to Him in faith, of which James says;
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (Jam 2:26)And Paul tells us;
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10)So turning from sin to Christ in faith is, in a sense, turning from sin to good works.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Tit 2:11-14)So, Reformation must begin in the heart. And until we are willing to strive for Reformation in our own hearts, our efforts at Reformation in the Church at large will be meaningless. We would do well to remember the words of Christ in this respect;
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Mat 7:3-5)
When the work of Reformation begins in our own hearts, then we may be able to see clearly the need for Reformation in the Church.
Search Me, O God
by J. Edwin Orr
Search me, O God, And know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, Know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.
I praise Thee, Lord, For cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy Word, And make me pure within.
Fill me with fire where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy Name.
Lord, take my life, And make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, My passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord in me abide.
O Holy Ghost, Revival comes from Thee;
Send a revival, Start the work in me.
Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need;
For blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.