1 Peter 4:12-14, Job 23:10, Prov 17:3
When I say the word fire, what does it bring to your mind? When I say what does the word fire make you think about biblically? The Bible uses fire as a symbol of judgment, all we have to do is to look at the back of the Book and see how the beast and the false prophet and the devil and death and hell are all cast into the Lake of Fire. Fire is a symbol of the power of God. (Elijah and Mt. Carmel). It is used of conviction
Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. It is also a symbol of the purification process.
Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.
If someone were to offer you a wheelbarrow full of gold ore, or a brick of gold, which one would you take? I am going for the brick because it has already been refined to its maximum worth and usefulness. One thing that God does not want is for us to excessively caught up in fining pots and refining furnaces. He is not so concerned that we have an understanding of metallurgy or the worth of precious metals. He is most concerned with the heart, and that is what we need to be concerned with too. The basic gist of our three texts tonight is this—what the refiner can do with silver and gold, the Lord can do to the heart. Let me quote on of the Beatitudes.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Lets put it in words that line up with our text tonight. Blessed is the heart that has been put through the refiners fire. The pure heart has nothing else mixed in. If we could take the heart of the average believer and let society examine it, we might see something like this. We would see the likes and dislikes, the affections and the abominations. Baseball fan, lover of Chinese food, a family man, oh look, he fears the Lord, and attends church too. In order for that heart to be pure the things that are mixed in must be drawn out. If it is not purified, then it is possible for the things of God, eternal, weighty matters, to become incidental and insignificant. When we do come across a pure heart, we can only come to one conclusion—the Refiner has been at work. I don’t think I understand why I need to be purified tonight. Let me sum it up with three words. The world, flesh, devil.
1 John 2:15-16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Fleshly appetites. This stuff gets on us, and we need to be purified.
The Devil wants our focus to be on something other than the God of heaven.
Listen up. We in our very best spiritual state, in a time when we are closest to the Lord, when we are being led by the Spirit like never before…still have fleshly lusts that must be dealt with, wicked thoughts that must be brought into captivity, and egos that must be diminished…even we are at our very best. We need to be refined.
Thinking about our various texts tonight, what is the major difference between the metals and the man? The metals have no resistance to the fire, they just go through it. We on the other hand, are often guilty of kicking and screaming all the way. I used to watch Indy car racing. Alcohol fire. They wanted no part of the fire. Even when I am freezing, I never have the desire to jump into the fireplace.
Lets look at it like this. We are Christians who desire to be what God wants us to be, we will ask God to search our hearts, and to make us clean…but Lord…please skip the fire. We are much more apt to even ask God to send someone else through the fire, when it may be us who needed it all along.
Let’s consider the story of Job as God puts him through the fiery trials. Have you not read your Bible Pastor? Satan is the one that tried Job. Well yes and no. Satan was allowed by God to try Job within the Lord’s boundaries. First it was his possessions and some key people. That didn’t cause Job to waver so then it was his body but not his life. Job still did not sin with his lips. So Job goes through this horrible ordeal, but through it all he sees a sovereign God who knows what He is doing and Job could say things like.
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. I may not be able to make any sense of this, but I know when all is said and done, and God has finished His work, I will come out of this purer than when I went in.
Now, let me ask you a question. From your point of view, did Job need it? Consider the words that were said of him—eschewed evil, upright, feared God, perfect. To the untrained eye, it would appear that Job did not need the refining. Turns out he needed it. Job spends about 36 chapters defending himself to his so called friends, then we come to chapter 40, and the refiner himself asks Job a question (40:1-4). Job’s answer—I am vile. In relation to his friends and family? No in relation to a holy righteous God. When we come to our time of trial and testing or we see someone else going through it we will say in our heart why me? Why them? They love you, and are faithful, in church, burden for the lost, and their kids are in line, etc.
God’s answer would be something like this—I am the Refiner and I know what I am doing. He knows how hot, and how long to apply the fire, and He knows how draw off that which reduces our usefulness and value in His kingdom In other words, He knows how to bring us to His expected end.
Romans 8:28-29 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
2 Cor 4:8-17. The weight of the refined gold is going to be far less than that raw ore, but it is going to far far greater in value, especially eternal value.