Time to reform my inner life, that is to form again into what it should be. I may look OK on the outside but that’s only because I can prop it up and build quick facades so that no one notices what’s behind. It’s time to work on the inner man. That means I might start to look like a “construction zone.” Like my body has been in tatters and I am now starting to exercise and make it stronger, healthier, my spiritual disciplines are in tatters too and I need to begin to exercise it and make it stronger, healthier. Just like the goal for my physical reformation is stamina, strength, and flexibility I could describe the goal for my spiritual being in the same way but that would be superficial and ignore the most important thing. Jesus is the focus of spiritual reformation; Christ-likeness is the goal.
What does Christ-likeness look like? I think it looks like obedience on the outside. But that is not what it is on the inside. Obedience is the manifestation, what you see as a result, not what causes Christ-likeness. Obedience simply makes me look like the scribes and the Pharisees.
Matthew 5:20 (NKJV)
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
So, what does Christ-likeness look like on the inside? It looks like thoughts, affections, choices, rest, peace, desire, love and all that. But still, it is not the source. The Holy Spirit of God is the source and it is His work. That’s called grace. Grace is not so much like resting in a tub of warm water; it is more like standing under an invigorating waterfall. Grace is not so much what God has done for me but more what God is doing for me and continues to do for me. Piper calls that Future Grace.
So although I am to do all things He has commanded me, I must not forget that He is master over everything in heaven and He will be with me every step of the way. So when I decide to do a command He is right there with me and He has all the resources under his power.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.