Transformed thinking. We will not make any progress towards this mighty thing called Christian ethics without transformed thoughts. The moral standards listed below can only be achieved by the transforming effect of a renewed mind (Romans 12:2), which is holy and pleasing to God. We are exhorted to think sensibly and therefore act sensibly. It is not ourselves we represent nor even defend, but Jesus Christ of Nazareth. How will we live our lives so that we make Him known? We allow ourselves to be trained by His moral code for one thing. His Word is efficacious. Read through these commands, inviting the Spirit to teach you what obedience toward these goals will look like in your life and then be in agreement. Let’s mold our lives toward these ends with joyful anticipation of making Him known. You can do it.
Love must be without hypocrisy.
Detest evil; cling to what is good.
Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
Be in agreement with one another.
Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.
Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
Thank you, Lord, for Your Spirit that leads, counsels, and teaches me in all truth. I desire to meditate on Your word and be transformed. Amen.
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from human nature. Matthew 16:23
Jesus turned, most likely confronting Peter face to face. A few moments earlier, Jesus had called him a rock upon which He would build His church. Now he calls Peter a different kind of “rock,” a “stumbling block” or an “obstacle.” Satan’s method offered Jesus kingship without suffering (Matthew 4:8-10), now Jesus finds Peter speaking the same way.
Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus told him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.”
Jesus recognized the unholy source behind Peter’s temptation. The notion of a suffering Messiah was misunderstood by Peter so that he became a stumbling block to Jesus (Expositors Bible Commentary). Peter did not have in mind God’s thoughts but thoughts originating from the human nature. The sort of beliefs that persistently desire not to havesuffering in mind. Peter did not, however, have exclusively human thoughts. He also had God’s divine thoughts because revelation was given to him (Matthew 16:13-17). Here, however, he has switched sides, aligning himself not only with men but with Satan.
He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah,you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:13, 15-17
Peter’s quick change in allegiance is a persuasive learning lesson for us. Peter indeed had God’s thoughts in his mind and God’s desires in his heart when Jesus asked him, “Who do you say I am?” but as soon as another opportunity presented itself to apply this divinely revealed truth, he instead reverted to his old human nature. Rather than allowing the Spirit to continue to reveal wisdom and knowledge to him, he yielded to his carnal nature and rebuked Jesus, creating a stumbling block for Him.
Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan.” Things that do not bring God glory and are against His purposes are to be put behind us. They are to be put out of our sight so that our vision is faith, not doubt. Fears that tempt us to opt for self-preservation and that violate God’s commands are stumbling blocks in our lives and the lives of others. Carnal obstacles laid before God’s will, work, and glory must intentionally ‘be put behind us’ so that the provoking snare of carnality and its temptations do not prevail.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
The armor of God enables us to put all of our human nature ‘behind us’ and to stand in full assurance of who we are IN Christ. The pride of our hearts must be brought low and put behind us as well as any of the world’s and Satan’s temptations. Satan desires to hinder the redemption of mankind and to give deadly advice regarding our abilities and worth. We are to make no agreements with his will, work, or any of his unholy ways. Carnal advice that says we are to favor ourselves over God will, work, and glory is to ‘get behind us.’ We are instructed that if we are to follow Christ, we are to deny ourselves (Romans 12:1); therefore, we are to renounce our own will and substitute it for the will of God. If we are not standing on guard, pride and self-confidence will slither its way into our hearts as soon as we make agreements with the lies of the world and with Satan.
Thank you, Lord, for bringing us into your truth. Help us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. I desire to meditate on Your word and to be taught by the Spirit You sent to help me. I am eager to take my failures, my fears, and anything else that has the audacity to hiss about my unworthiness and put them behind me. I take my stand in the fullness of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. HE is altogether worthy. Amen.
Where can wisdom be found, and where is understanding located? Job 28:12
Job describes man’s skill in digging for precious metals and jewels. Yet in all his drilling ability, he has been unable to unearth true wisdom. Earthly wisdom consists of envy and selfish ambition, which produces disorder and every kind of evil (James 3:15, 16). God is the giver of the wisdom believer’s seek. It is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy (James 3:17).
Nowadays, we have skills in ‘digging’ for distractions. To be relatable in the current culture, almost everyone seems to need a smartphone. As a result, the amount of distractions available is mind-boggling. My daughter mentioned she felt there had already been so much dazzle experienced on smartphones that now the electronic fascination is shifting to vehicles. If you have watched car ads these days, her opinion is probably right. We recently needed repairs done on one of our cars, so we were supplied with a 2019 rental. The car had so many electronic gadgets we could hardly keep our fingers still. Reflecting on it, I can see what a draw electronics are and how much of our time is spent learning, talking, playing, and even discussing their abilities. The tools can certainly be helpful, but it will take tremendous resolve to keep them in their place. Lord, we need your help to not be caught by the glittering lure of distraction. We desire Your pure wisdom and understanding.
A friend of mine shared a quote someone made regarding how they felt a satanic lullaby was lulling the American church, and she could feel herself being put to sleep. I thought about this as I was getting out of that decked out rental car and realized how easily that has become the American reality. We must work at it if we intend not to be lulled into an electronic slumber. Living in this cocooning technological age will require a persistent resolve on our part to keep it in check if we desire to not sit idly by as our spiritual health declines because of the gluttany of distraction.
Let’s not forget marketing’s impact in its attempt to suggest worldly wisdom and understanding. My daughter and I found a program we enjoy watching from the ’50s called, What’s My Line. The commercial that runs during the program describes a product based on what it does (even though it is still quite humorous), not the emotion it supposedly produces if you use it as we see in our current commercials. Lord, we desire Your wisdom and understanding so we can discern when the world’s objects are molding our emotions. I understand why the person holds the opinion that Americans are being lulled into a spiritual slumber. We allow our emotions to be treated like marionettes and accept our smartphone as our new buddy. Where are these things considered our primary source of wisdom and understanding these days?
Job’s illustration indicated that true wisdom and understanding will not be found by human science or mere investigation. Man has shown his skill and wisdom by penetrating the earth, cutting through rocks, closing up gushing fountains, and locating treasures that had been buried for generations. Yet all this did not enable him to fully explain the operations of the divine government. Even today, true wisdom and understanding will be found in the Word of God so we must put our energies toward this endeavor.
Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
Let’s be fully aware that unless we are diligent in seeking after the things of God, we will be lulled to sleep by the dazzling components of this electronic age, all the while becoming weaker in spirit and service. Let’s shake ourselves from any spiritual slumber so we can also awaken others. Help us, Lord, to not lack diligence. Help us Lord to be fervent in spirit for we desire Your wisdom and understanding. Amen.
The Enemy’s aim? Stealing…Killing…and Destroying John 10:10
Beloved, you ARE who God says you are. Your spiritual identity is not diminished by the power of your circumstances, your past behavior, or your rank in the world. Agree with the Word of God and make NO agreements with the enemy, the world, or your carnal inclinations when they deviate from His proclaimed and magnificent truth.
Have we become so influenced by the world that we are now suffering from an identity crisis? If we do not know who we are IN Christ and primarily seek worldly objectives during our private life, then when we gather together we will not harmonize as well with each other because while apart we were striving for different goals. Recently, the evangelist Angus Buchan spoke about revival and how it must begin within the hearts of each individual. The Lord initiates revival; therefore it will always be according to His purposes and His timing. However, we can choose to participate with His purposes by making certain our heart is in full agreement with his Word of truth in every way we know possible. Do you read the Word and verbally agree with what it has to say, especially about your identity in Him?
As believers, we must not seek after carnal inclinations and worldly uncertainties because they are our primary focal point and leave God’s promises in the periphery. Instead, we want to powerfully come together in the harmony of one accord, because our individual pursuits have been primarily focused on striving for the faith of the gospel. Standing firm in our identity in Christ and striving side by side for the faith of the gospel will make us even stronger as a unified church and we will be able to stand firm in the face of opposition.
If we do not stand confident in who were are in Christ, then we will fall for worldly alternatives. We will wander aimlessly through valleys as if we had no direction, searching for answers from the world and ignoring the Book that holds the answers. Confusion will encamp around us relentlessly offering remedial advice to prop up self, not seeing the self-prop is a snare. The problem with this wandering is there is no direction. With no direction, there will be no goals, and with no goals, there are no victories.
If the enemy’s objective is to cause an identity crisis among God’s created people, one way he can do that is by stealing the promises of God from us, killing our resolve to stand firm, and destroying our love, joy, and peace we have in the Lord. However, NONE of this can happen unless we allow it. It is our responsibility to guard these things as the treasure they are. Let’s be confident of who we are IN Christ and make this our living reality so that when we gather together we stand even stronger than when we stand alone. Amen.
Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:2
Perhaps most days, the majority of us take our health for granted. Similar to the sun, we expect health to continually make its daily appearance. We are thankful for both, but one, as well as the other, can be easily presumed.
I am thankful that I am rarely sick, but when I do get sick, it always reminds me of how grateful I am for health. During sick days I frequently tell the Lord how grateful I am for my past health and how I regret the days I took it for granted.
One day while sick I was reading and paused to agree with 2 Corinthians 5:2. We indeed groan in this body while we are ill and long for the days of health! I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me that the ‘groaning’ went beyond what my mere memory could recollect concerning past feelings of health; it was indeed much more profound. I agreed with God’s Spirit that the ‘groaning’ was not just for the return of my health as I could remember it, but for the perfect restoration I would receive at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The real ‘groaning’ was not for the return of imperfect health but for a magnificent perfect health. My spirit longed to “put on the dwelling from heaven.” Oh, how we limit our thinking when we think only of what our senses reveal to us as truth.
The Spirit teaches us not to be satisfied with mere temporal things but instead to prefer eternal things. Yes Lord, come and restore our health so that we can live out our days ministering to you, but may we have an even greater longing to put on our dwelling from heaven. Don’t settle for “groaning” as a way to return to the status quo. Allow your spirit to be in agreement with the Spirit of God and “groan” for the unseen things to be more real to your heart than what you senses are currently able to reveal.
Agree with the Word and count your trials as joy (James 1:2) because most times it is during these trials that the Lord will reveal a newness to you that you may not have otherwise known. Thank you, Lord, for your perfect ways.
Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. Matthew 6:16
Perhaps the first question that comes to mind is, “How can a hypocrite fast?” “Isn’t fasting for the one authentically searching?” Sad-faced, somber, gloomy, downcast, sullen; it all amounts to how someone desires to appear before man. Or even worse, because the fast is resented in the heart. My question is, why on earth would someone look gloomy when they are seeking God? Do they think He will not be found? Is it because it is too hard of a work?
A hypocrite is someone who claims standards or beliefs to which his behavior does not conform. As a Believer, we claim the promise that when we seek Him, we will find him (Jeremiah 29:13, Deut. 4:29, Luke 11:9)! As a bold believer seeking the spiritual reward found in a fast, it should be done with a heart of joy which results in a happy countenance! There is no place for gloom. There is no place for sad-faced believers acting as if they were enduring some strenuous pursuit that required more than they desired to give.
When fasting, we deny our hand the ability to fulfill our need for nourishment. Instead, we are promised that if we ‘hunger and thirst’ for righteousness that we will be filled (Matthew 5:6). Believer, let’s resolve not to follow the example of the hypocrite but instead possess a joyful face and a heart full of anticipation that the Lord will indeed ‘fill’ us! Seek Him in his Word, and you will find a feast. This will require the transforming effect of receiving Jesus as the Treasure that he is; faith that sees his truth, beauty, and worth as that which far exceeds anything you can provide for yourself. With this truth thumping in your heart, there will be no hint of that hypocrite gloom. No indeed! There will be hope! And this Hope DOES NOT DISAPPOINT (Romans 5:5)!
In the same verse, Jesus says the hypocrite makes their countenance unappealingto others. Does this unpleasantness translate as such an arduous chore that it keeps others from desiring to fast? Not only have they made fasting unappealing, but the Lord gives an assurance that their reward would only be temporal.
Not only are we expected to fast (Matthew 6:17), but God rewards fasting (v16)! Lord, may our light appear like the dawn, and may our recovery come quickly as Your Word says! May Your righteousness go before us and may Your glory be our rear guard! Lord, when we call you will answer, and when we cry out, You will say, ‘Here I am.’ (Isaiah 58:8-9) What a fantastic promise. Instruct your heart to be full of expectancy during your fast. The Lord blesses us. Amen.
Greetings fellow sojourners! I have attached an article that I pray blesses you. I do not know the person’s ministry but I like his encouragement for those in spiritually dry seasons. The points articulated in the essay provide good advice to ponder. Perhaps it is written with pastors in mind but consider how the counsel might assist your own life. Lord help us to not allow a spiritually dry season to become fertile ground for sin! Believer, let’s not only pray for our own dry seasons but also for our leaders. May this empower you to keep returning to the fountain of living water, particularly when you are feeling parched.
In His grace,
Here is the article in its entirety:
Every Christian—and every pastor—has spiritually dry seasons. These moments range from mildly annoying to living in a pre-Aslan Narnia where it’s “always winter but never Christmas.” Some pastors are embarrassed by this experience, which further complicates the matter. What follows includes things I have done—or, things I wish I’d done—in response to my own dry seasons. I hope it will edify and encourage you.
1. Invite other voices to speak to you.
This seems like a no-brainer but it may be the most difficult step of them all. Tell someone that you are struggling. Don’t stay silent and save face. This leaves you abandoned, under an ever-increasing sense of loneliness and insecurity.
The impulse to save face is particularly difficult when dealing with those close to you. However, giving into it robs you of the opportunity to lead even as you’re walking openly and honestly through difficulty. It also robs those close to you of the opportunity to love you by carrying you for a while. If I could have one mulligan in ministry (“one” is of course rhetorical, as my ongoing Mooney mulligan list is absolutely daunting!) it would be to entrust myself as weak to those close to me rather than deciding to push through sadness alone. When I didn’t do this, I became cruel, defensive, fearful, and distrusting, all of which I covered with a thin veil of confidence. I devastated at least one relationship that I miss to this day, and I’m sure I wounded others beyond repair.
Finally, saving face turns dry seasons into fertile ground for sin. Think about it. You tell your members that dry seasons are a normal aspect of any relationship, including their relationship with Christ. However, by denying your own dry season, you perceive yourself to be above the norm. And so you become safely insulated by your own facade of abnormally strong spirituality. Your make-believe piety is safe from every external perception. This isn’t safe. It’s not safe from your own flesh and the enemy, who will gladly use it to steadily eat away at your soul.
Brother-pastors, trust me. Saving face is worth none of the hype it promises. Tell someone you’re struggling, and after telling others, let them do what you have equipped them to do—namely, the work of the ministry. Listen to their voices rather than your own.
2. Tell your wife and your other elders.
In a dry season, your voice is perhaps the last one you need to listen to on a regular basis. As I mentioned, you need outside voices from those who love you. In particular, dry-season pastors should share their struggles with their wife and their other elders.
Don’t neglect your wife! Robust complementarianism doesn’t require an approach to your wife as if she cannot handle your weakness. In fact, the opposite should be true. If you don’t believe this, you may need to read a different article. She’s your equal, and at times your spiritual superior. Can you imagine being stranded during a tornado and finding yourself physically incapable of moving yourself to safety? You’d be foolish to refuse her help. She’s there for you, and you both should know one another better than anyone else.
Brother-pastor, share your darkness with your wife. After all, she probably already knows that you’re in a bad spot—and she can probably tell you why, at least in part. She wants to help more than others, and is probably more capable of helping than others. Let her be your guiding voice. Let her direct you back to the core elements that you consistently tell others to pursue.
But she doesn’t need to be the only one you tell. You should also share your struggles with your fellow pastors (if you have them).
On multiple occasions, one of my fellow elders has come to my office to read and pray with me. The Word of God is the primary voice you want to hear during dry times. During these times, he reads a chapter or so to me, and then prays with me and for me. He doesn’t take a long time. The Scriptures do the work. Even a glancing blow from the life-giving Word of God does damage to the dry times. It provides a source of unparalleled encouragement.
The Word of God and the gospel-shaped wisdom of those closest to you offer much help during dry times. But that’s not all.
3. Meditate on the psalms of lament; sing songs of comfort.
Don’t neglect music during dry times—particularly the Bible’s songs or psalms of lament.
One sings a lament to confront reality even when there’s no tangible evidence that you will win the battle. “Why so downcast O my soul? Put your hope in God!” (Ps. 43:5) To sing a lament is to sing of pain and suffering; to cry out about the seeming absence of God.
But laments are certainly not the only type of song to listen to and sing. Any good music that provokes you to dwell on and even feel gospel realities is helpful. Some of my favorites hymns are “Be Still My Soul,” “And Can it Be,” “He Will Hold Me Fast,” and “I Asked the Lord.” I also love Bach’s solo cello pieces, Bill Evans’ “You Must Believe in Spring,” and Chick Corea’s album Alive. Each provokes me toward helpful and fruitful mindsets.
On a related note, dry seasons are horrible times to listen to the wrong music. By wrong music, I simply mean music that will push you away from love for Christ and others by pushing you toward loving yourself more than you should. Due to music’s capacity to throw you back in time, you might begin to focus on opportunities missed; you might be tempted to recollect old lovers, old grudges, old lifestyles, and old habits. Music can take you to old places and recraft old times. It can even manipulate your depraved imagination to turn those seasons into something different than they were. This is not helpful to say the least. While you may listen to all types of music without incident throughout most of life, dry seasons require more discernment.
A Brief Word on Authenticity
I remember a well-meaning brother telling me in an early dry season, “Bro! You gotta fake it ’til you make it!” I still love that guy but that was and is a wrongheaded way to view a dry season. A genuine pursuit of Christ regardless of feelings is not tantamount to disingenuous motives or actions. Dry seasons shouldn’t encourage you to fake affection, but rather to demonstrate genuinely mature affection by pursuing Christ in daily, mundane, and even seemingly fruitless ways. These habits will shape your heart so that when the dryness itself dries up, you will not be the same. By God’s grace, you will be more mature, marked by a steadiness and depth that wasn’t there before.
Brother-pastor, I hope you will not waste your spiritually dry seasons.
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:6-8
When you ask him…..be sure your faith is in God alone. No wavering, no half-heartedness. Faith believes God answers prayer. Believers, we must resolve not to waver, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). He who gave us promises to pray will not now deny what He has already promised. Abide in Him and allow His words to abide in you (John 15:7) so that your loyalty is not divided between God and the world. Did you notice that the wavering person is not only unstable in their prayer life but in everything they do?
“The possibilities of prayer are the possibilities of faith. Prayer and faith are Siamese twins. One heart animates them both. Faith is always praying. Prayer is always believing. Faith must have a tongue by which it can speak. Prayer is the tongue of faith. Faith must receive. Prayer is the hand of faith stretched out to receive. Prayer must rise and soar. Faith must give prayer the wings to fly and soar. Prayer must have an audience with God. Faith opens the door, and access and audience are given. Prayer asks. Faith lays its hand on the thing asked for.” (E.M. Bounds on Prayer)
It pleases God when we obey his Word, and we will discover that it also strengthens us. Jotham strengthenedhimself because he did not waver in obeying the Lord his God (2 Chronicles 27:6). Abraham did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God (Romans 4:20).
When you pray, be motivated by God’s Word, His love, and His Spirit. When the fierce winds of trial come, prove just how firmly attached to the Vine you are. Abide in the Lord, allow your faith to boldly pray His promises, and don’t let go of the prayer until you receive from Him. Ask for the wisdom to hang on in prayer while those fierce winds of the trial blow. Never worry, He gives generously and without criticizing.
We have all heard the conversation that goes something like this: “You’re lucky.” And the next person says, “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.” I saw a license with the word ‘blessed’ on the plate recently. Without question, God has blessed us tremendously. However, can we say we are more aware of the greater blessing? Perhaps I am mistaken, but it seems a lot of people are more aware of material and physical blessings than they are of spiritual blessings. I read a section in Ephesians 1:3-14 and paused there because it brought to mind the rich spiritual blessings that are clearly laid out in that passage. It is essential to consider whether we value the nonmaterial, invisible, and imperishable spiritual blessings, the blessings of grace, more than we value material or physical blessing. Let’s check out the blessing of grace that Paul lays out in Ephesians.
God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. (v3) Is it not true that “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places IN Christ” is far greater than just being blessed materially or physically? Sweet things, as soon as we are united to Christ by faith, we possess every spiritual blessing in the heavens. Wow. Thank you, Lord!
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. (v4) What a blessing, indeed!
God loves us and favors us. According to His will, He adopted us through Jesus Christ for Himself. (v5-6) God loves us and deals with us so graciously!
He redeemed us through Christ’s blood; we have forgiveness through the richness of his grace that he lavished on us. (v7-8) Thank you, Lor,d!
He made known to us a sacred secret. (v9-10) Jesus Christ of Nazareth will return to the earth and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
We have received an inheritance in Him. (v11) This inheritance encourages us to look with hope to the time when all true believers will be the Bride of the Lamb. Amen.
We were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when we heard the message of truth and believed in Him. He is the downpayment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (v13,14) Just as in legal matters a seal indicates ownership and security, so it does in divine affairs. Thank you, Lord, for sealing us with Your Holy Spirit!
I can’t say thank you enough Lord for blessing me in every way. Help me become more aware of Your great blessing of grace than I am of any other way I am blessed. Help me to prioritize that in my life. Thank you for spiritual blessings, thank you for allowing me to be holy and blameless in Your sight, thank you for loving me and adopting me, thank you for redeeming me and forgiving me, thank you for allowing me to know the sacred secret, and thank you for my spiritual inheritance. I desire to bear much fruit so that you receive all the glory. It is in the name of Jesus that I thank you, for I am indeed spiritually blessed!
The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
The weight of this sentence is heaviest at the end ~ for they will see God. The pure of heart have a deep and driving desire to see God. The believer may see the Lord through a vision, when he comes again, or when they lay their eyes upon Him in eternity. The pure in heart should continually expect to see God’s character revealed through fellowship in the Word and with the Spirit.
A pure in heart believer will have motives which are unmixed and whose conscience is clean. Are your purposes driven by a heart that desires for God’s glory to be made manifest…come what may? Is your conscience unsettled, or is it at peace? We must welcome the Refiner’s fire, which is fueled by love because we are impure by nature and by practice and thus need this testing. Purity of heart will come by way of the refining fire, and the fire will have two forms. One way will be by the fire of affliction.
“Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
“Count it all joy, my brethren when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord . . . for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives . . . If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children . . . he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness . . . Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:5-10, 14)
The other way is by the fire of intentional self-sacrifice.
“If your right eye causes you to sin pluck it out . . . and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:29-30)
“I discipline my body and bring it under strict control.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
“If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” (Romans 8:13)
The commands God gives believers are certainly not too difficult or beyond our reach (Deut. 30:11). He instructs us to crucify the flesh (Galatians 5:24, Romans 12:1) and not to pattern our life after this culture (Romans 12:2). We are to renovate our mind so that we are able to recognize His perfect will (Romans 12:2). In order to follow God’s commands, it will be our responsibility to welcome the Refiner’s fire and practice self-denial so that the true joy of our life will be found only in eternal things.