REFORMATION OR TRANSFORMATION
We are being hindered from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. I Thess. 2:16
Paul knew. Unless the Gentiles heard the words of Jesus Christ, they would have absolutely no chance of leading a different life. They would be trapped in a cycle of sin that would lead to death and ultimate separation from God. “Filling up the measure of their sins” means that they would keep walking in the paths of corruption that would cause them to suffer utter futility. Only God can rescue a man or woman from such a desperate journey.
Two things are true from this verse.
- Satan does everything possible to keep the Word of Christ from bringing people to a point of saving faith. He will throw up every obstacle. If a person, far from Christ, encounters someone who loves them enough to tell them about Jesus, Satan will tamper with their ears. He will skew their perception of what they are hearing so that the message is unpalatable. There will be minefields in their understanding, stumbling blocks that will encourage them to choose what is safe rather than step out on faith. Satan makes sure of that. All the more reason for any who share the Gospel to do warfare before opening their mouth. Taking a stand against the deceiver insures that they will be able to hear the truth without demonic interference.
- Without Christ, they are in bondage to sin. Have you ever known anyone who vowed to change, but no matter how sincere the desire, they kept falling back into the same sinful ways? One addicted to alcohol, without Christ, can usually stay sober for only a brief time. One who is self-centered, without Christ, can only pretend to be altruistic. Eventually, his true colors show again. One who needs to control others in order to feel safe reigns himself in only temporarily. Let enough stress come his way and his need to have things under his control will emerge again. When he begins to act out again, it will be even more destructive to his relationships.
Reformation of behavior is possible without Christ, but it is only behavior modification. Reformation of heart, true heart change, is only possible when Jesus becomes more important than the things which men allow to rule them.
May I never be satisfied with resolutions for better behavior. You promise to change my heart so that I never have to act again. Save me from performance. Amen