Sunday, February 3, 2013

Changed in the Fire

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. – Buckminster Fuller

In order to have the nature of something be untainted, it has to be new.  Satan’s goal is to take a godly person and add in impurity.  He knows the principle stated in Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. “  Leaven spreads throughout the dough in the kneading and baking process.  It doesn’t take much.  And God gives us an answer to the problem.

1 Corinthians 5:7 (KJV)  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Get rid of the sin and the temptation of sin.  The untainted loaf is considered new.  It bakes up fresh and ready to be appreciated and loved.  That almost sounds too easy, doesn’t it.  But consider how the same thing is described in Proverbs, talking about silver.

Proverbs 25:4 (KJV)  Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.

Dross is all the material imperfections in the silver.  Think about the refining process.  The silver is heated over the fire till it becomes a molten liquid.  Silver is a heavier material than the dross.  So, as the silver liquefies, the imperfections rise to the surface, where the refiner can skim them off.

Those two illustrations that God gives us show us a very interesting principle.  It begins with something Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

When we accept the gift of salvation, God sees us as being just like His Son.  Perfect, untainted, pure.  But our experience is something different from that.  We still see all the faults in the original, tainted package.  And we recognize that the way we were isn’t any good.  We may try to fix that ourselves – trying to create the self help “new you”.  But look at what Paul suggests in Galatians.

Galatians 6:15 (KJV)  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Not only is our leavened or unrefined state below par, but our attempts to change that by ourselves is insufficient.  That sounds like a pretty dismal diagnosis, doesn’t it?  But that’s exactly why we need to go into the oven.  The trials are necessary to bake us into something spiritually consumable and refine out the impurities so that we fully shine as silver ought to.  Anyone who says that believers don’t need trials, or should be immune from them, misses this principle.  A plea bargain deal doesn’t complete the process.

If we think about the three Jewish boys going into the furnace in the book of Daniel, they went into the oven, were protected by the fourth man’s presence (Jesus), they came out unscathed with no signs they were ever in the fire.  Look at the whole picture.
  1. Leavened bread is unusable in the temple and impure silver isn’t ready to become beautiful jewelry.
  2. When we accept the gift of salvation that Christ gave us on the cross, God already sees the finished product from the Finished Work, because He sees His Son.
  3. Our own experience is still imperfect.  Like everything else, we see ourselves “through a glass darkly”.  The imperfection is still visible to us.
  4. 1 Peter tells us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: “.  That fiery oven of trials is normal and necessary to bring us to the point where we are fully useful and usable by God.
  5. Like the the three Hebrew boys, when our focus is on Jesus instead of ourselves, we go through the fire undamaged, there are no signs we’ve been in a fire, and we become a testimony to the rest of the world.

That’s powerful.  We may not always like the fire, but we can use it to be more what God intended us to be.  To become Buckminster Fuller’s new model, making our old man obsolete.  How does that change your thoughts on what you’re experiencing, right now?

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