Religion is about reformation. Reform the world. Reform your actions. Reform your appearance.
Easter is about resurrection. The dead coming back to life. Jesus doesn’t want to help us reform our old life. He wants to kill it. Then give us new life instead.
The old life is marked and marred by a constant struggle by our Self to have its own way and do its own will. The old life is permeated by moral failure. We try, but we can’t even live up to our own meager standards, much less God’s. Sometimes that failure (which God calls sin) is a conscious choice. Often it is an ingrained habit. It may have even become an addiction. The result is damage to ourselves , pain to others, and separation from our God.
The good news of Easter is that through the Crucifixion Jesus has broken the stranglehold Sin has over us, and through the Resurrection He has demonstrated His power over death. His offer to us is one of hope. Not a cheap, simple, self-help hope. Not a reformation project, but a complete tear-down and rebuilding project. He offers us death and resurrection. By allowing Him to kill our old self, He is then able to create a new life in us that has the ability to say no to sin (moral failure) and is able to follow Him in doing good .
This offer is given to every person, but each one of us has to personally accept it. We must recognize our failures, and earnestly desire to be rid of them. We must accept his forgiveness for our sin. We must acknowledge that he has the right to direct our life.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)