Repent, for the Kingdom of the Heavens Has Drawn Near
Week 10 --- John the Baptist
Friday --- Scripture Reading: Matt. 13:22; 1 Pet. 1:9; 4:12-13
“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7)
Yesterday, we saw that the Lord came to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Let us now take a look at the importance of the action of fire in our Christian experience.
Peter’s first epistle shows us what the presence of fire produces in our Christian life; it is for the salvation of our soul: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). Verse 9 presents the result of this process: “…receiving the end your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
These verses compare the difficulty of dealing with our soul-life to that of removing impurities from gold. Just as gold is purified through fire, only the fire of the Holy Spirit can eradicate the impurities in our soul, thus saving it.
To illustrate this better, I will use the experience of a certain brother. As he fell gravely ill some time ago, he had fellowship with the Lord; enlightened by the divine light, he realized that he had to confess failures so he could truly follow the Lord. He saw that even as a Christian, he still had things of the old man within him. After confessing his mistakes before the Lord, his health was restored. His illness recurred over two times, and he repented even more thoroughly from his living. This shows us that even as we go through situations that are difficult and of great suffering and confess our shortcomings before the Lord, there are still impurities in us, in our soul, which are not easily eliminated.
In the parable of the sower, in Matthew 13, part of the seeds fell among thorns—which represent the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches—which choke the word of God sown in the heart, and make it unfruitful (v. 22). Through experience, today we understand that not only must we uproot the thorns, but we also need to burn them so they will not grow again. This means that as we deny our soul-life in these things, we must allow the purifying fire of the Spirit to burn the impurities we have within.
Physical sufferings caused by illnesses, accidents, and other things, frighten us and cause us to repent for a variety of things such as sins and mistakes committed in the past. Nevertheless, they do not necessarily change our person or conduct. We know that many people go through this kind of suffering, yet remain the same. On the other hand, the inner burning by the fire of the Spirit causes us to repent of what we are and produces a transformation in our person; this is the salvation of the soul (1 Pet. 4:12-13).
This is the reason behind our insistence in the matter of denying ourselves to follow the Lord, allowing the fire of the Holy Spirit to purify us from our impurities.
Purified by fire!
How can you allow the fire of the Spirit to burn the impurities in your being?