Monday, November 30, 2015

Malach 3:1-7b: Christ's Purifying Fire and Cleansing Soap

KEY TEXT: Mal 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

KEY THOT: The “messenger of the covenant” (Jesus Christ) will come to us as fire and soap. The fire purifies by separating the dross from the metal (gold or silver) and the soap cleanses with the water by removing resulting dross from the metal. Christ came to bring not just a baptism of water but also a baptism of fire (Holy Spirit): “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt 3:11-12). We need this two-fold work of Messenger in every believer: the burning fire of the Holy Spirit to surface the dross of our sinful flesh and the atoning soap of Christ's sacrifice to remove the dross that has been surfaced through the cleansing power of our confession.

When we are filled with the Spirit, the holy fire within causes the sinful dross to rise to the surface into our consciousness. Many believers experience this new “surfacing” of the dross of sins immediately after they have received the blessing of the Spirit of fire. Some are discouraged thinking that the baptism of fire will “purge” their sins by making them disappear. But the purpose of the baptism of fire is to surface and expose the works of our sinful flesh in us, so that we may be cleansed through confession. Only then can we make progress towards Christ-like maturity, bearing the fruit of the Spirit: 
  • “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Gal 5:16-23).

We need the purifying fire of the Spirit to expose the sinful flesh in us by causing its works to rise to the surface. Once the sins are surfaced, then the cleansing soap of Christ’s forgiveness can remove them. But apart from the fire of the Spirit burning within us, the sinful flesh will remain hidden from our consciousness and therefore not repented.

We need to walk by the Spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit fill us by daily surrendering of our lives to Him and asking Him to fill us afresh. As His fire starts burning, He may put us in situation to expose the works of our sinful flesh which we may not be aware are present. So, when our sins are surfaced and exposed, we then need to be cleansed through confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Father, fill us with Your Spirit that the divine Fire might burn deep within us to surface the works of our sinful flesh hidden from our consciousness. Come Holy Spirit, let the fire burn within me today. Amen.

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