“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Romans 8:29
Last week, I said, the pornographic formation many of us have received throughout our lives needs to experience a re-formation and be replaced with the healing words of God. According to Psalm 119:9-11, this re-formation takes place through consistent memorization of the Scriptures. The problem, however, is that we have often made memorizing God’s word primarily fact recitation, rather than focusing on heart transformation. The heart is where God wants to do his work because the heart is where our deepest desires are.
However, as we seek to be re-formed by God’s word, what are we being re-formed into? Well, it’s not actually a what, but a who. Paul says in Romans 8, all who love God will be conformed into the image of his Son. Being conformed to Jesus Christ is the end goal for every Christian. This is why John says in his Gospel that eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ (Jn 17:3). This is not the kind of knowing you experience when you read a celebrity’s wikipedia page, but rather it is the kind of knowing that a husband and wife share with each other: one that is so personal and intimate, that it cannot be shared with anyone else. Just as all things become shared in a marriage, so Christ will share all that he is with his bride. Therefore, it can be said that all that is said of Christ will also be said of the Christian, for we have become a “fellow heir with Christ.” Believers will share in the inheritance reserved for Christ.
Lest we fall into the sin of the Pharisees, who knew all of the Scriptures, but missed the fact that Jesus was the point and end of the Scriptures, we need to ask ourselves: how does memorizing God’s word conform us to Jesus Christ? How does a life soaked in the Scriptures form our desires into Jesus’ desires?
In the Old Testament, God sent prophets to bring his message to his people. Whether it was through Moses, as he told Pharaoh to let his people go, or through Amos, to proclaim judgment on those who had not cared for the poor, God used human words to accomplish his purposes. In the New Testament, however, God became man and is both the prophet and the Word. John says in his Gospel,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [….] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
This Word, Jesus Christ, came with a message of grace and truth, but he was also the message itself. He embodied what it meant for a human to obey the whole Law without sin. He was the only one in history that did not need a re-formation, because he was and is God incarnate.
John goes on to say in John 1:4-5, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” As we memorize and meditate on the Scriptures, we are encountering the Word himself and are being drawn into his life. As we are drawn into his life, we are given life that is actually a light that cannot be overcome by the darkness of our past formation, even if our past was a pornographic formation. The more we are formed into the One who needs no re-formation, the more we will find that our desires will begin to change into his desires.
Ultimately, our desires will only be re-formed by Jesus, who first desired us. Apart from Jesus becoming man, so that he could bring us back into fellowship with the Triune God, we do not have eyes to see that our desires are warped and are in need of being re-formed. The Lord said in Jeremiah 17:9-10,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
As much as we think that we know our own hearts, we must always remember that only the Lord knows the depths of our hearts. Only he knows our deepest desires and therefore, only he can do the re-formation needed by the power of the Spirit.
“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!” Psalm 139:23-24
Matt Maher, The Invocation.