To many reading this article, the following Latin phrase may mean little to you, Coram Deo, interpreted, “before the face of God”. This was a phrase often spoken by Reformers of the 16th century which emphasized that all of life was to be lived as though you were before God every moment of the day. Since Sunday is Reformation Day, we will spend some time on this idea of living out our lives in similar fashion, as before God, and why this can even be possible. The reason why we can live for God in a consecrated fashion begins with forgiveness.
Martin Luther discovered the truth of forgiveness when he understood that it is granted by God freely by faith. It was in his later years at the monastery, that the Biblical passage from Romans 1:17, the “righteous shall live by faith” had resonated in his heart and mind, the newly discovered doctrine, only new in the sense that Luther never understood it before. It was only afterwards that Luther became a Christian. From there, his studies into Sacred Scripture led him to the position that salvation is a gift of God and none can earn it. Of course, the religious order in which he was part of opposed him. Luther learned that salvation was granted by God through Christ’s sacrifice and received by faith that hearts are truly changed. Before his salvation, he only knew about God but never truly realized what saving faith was all about, and that living for God without saving faith was impossible.
Luther was earnest and determined in his newfound faith. He would live life as though he was before God each moment of the day. Living before the face of God was not something that originated with Luther either since many had done so before Luther. Calvin, Knox and others knew about going through life with the awareness of being in God’s presence. In a sense, He was!
Even before the period of the Reformation, this idea of living your life day in and day out as though you were in God’s very presence, originated in Bible times. Many figures are named, but a couple of them that come to mind are the prophets Elijah and Isaiah. Elijah said, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before who I stand.” This was spoken by him despite having to face hostile forces seeking his demise; still, Elijah remained fixed on his LORD. Another instance was that of Isaiah who was overwhelmed when God came before him. Isaiah could only repeat how amazingly holy God is; three times he called Him holy in succession!
Many more similar instances are given in Scripture, but the challenge for us today is to live as though God is ever before us, like some of the courageous and conviction-filled figures we have seen from the past. But to do so, you must first ask yourself if you truly know the forgiveness of God? If not, then consider your state of sinfulness, and the plight of Luther and the condition he was in before realizing his own need to experience salvation by faith and the forgiveness of God. You must also follow the same path. It is entirely by the grace of God that this is even possible.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17