Tuesday, May 3, 2011
God is a Consuming Fire
Do you ever think about the idea of God being a consuming fire in your life?
It is a beautiful and powerful picture -- just the idea of God's Spirit completely consuming mine, and burning away everything that isn't pleasing to Him.
I know that when the Bible talks about God being a consuming fire, it is almost always referring to God's judgment; but even so, I often think about God's Spirit as a consuming fire in my own life. As I grow closer to Him, His Spirit consumes mine....not consume as in destroy, but consume as in His Spirit completely taking over mine, burning away the dross, and refining me into the person that He wants me to be. Basically, transforming me into His image.
I think this is such an encouraging truth, as there are so many things that I (and I know many of us) struggle with on a daily basis....so many things that can become strongholds in our lives -- fears, addictions, things that are holding us back spiritually. In Genesis 4:7, God tells Cain:
If you do not do well, sin lies at the door, and it's desire is for you, but you must rule over it
That's why we need the consuming fire of the Lord to burn all of the sin and impurity from our lives. As we grow closer to Him, His Spirit begins to refine us, and all of the impurities and strongholds in our lives start to be consumed.
I think about the person I am now, as compared to how I used to be. I think about all of the things that defined me before I met Jesus -- insecurity, drug addiction, depression, loneliness. This was who I was, and all of these things were a part of me. Before silver is refined, it contains a lot of impurities. Before it is burned, these impurities are actually a part of the silver's molecular make-up, but as it is refines, the impurities burn away. They were once in the silver, but they become separated from it.
This is a lot how I see God's Spirit working in us -- He takes things that were once a part of us, strongholds that kept us in bondage, and the consuming fire of His Spirit burns them away, refining and beautifying us.
Zech. 17:9 And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
As His Spirit continues to consume mine, I am able to walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. All of things that used to hold me captive, and that I used to struggle with, God continues to consume those things in my life....all of the sin and insecurities and fears. I just want God to completely consume all of those things, and just overwhelm my spirit with His. This correlates perfectly with the idea of being transformed into His image.
There is a story about a woman who wanted to watch the process of refining silver, so she asked a silversmith if she could observe him as he carried on the process. He told her yes. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's the easy part -- when I see my image reflected in it."
Going through the refining process can be very painful. It's always painful when things that used to define us are taken away. It doesn't even have to be a habit or an addiction -- It can be friends, or things that you enjoyed, but were holding you back spiritually. It's really a whole shift in identity, which that can be painful. Even so, it makes us stronger, and brings us even closer to God.