Lesson 12 -- third quarter 2003
August 17, 2003
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications
Purified and refined!
All around us sin increases and becomes bolder. Every day we come under more and magnified attacks from Satan, self, and the world. The world in which we live displays its "lostness" and degeneration more openly and blatantly. This generation grows increasingly comfortable with lust and immorality, with materialism and covetousness, with pride and self-assurance, with disobedience and rebellion. And God's people, living among such filth, inevitably become contaminated and soiled by it all.
It seems like every day I struggle with some of these common sins and attractions of the world. They draw me. They smudge me. They begin to guide my thinking and influence my values. My flesh thrives on them and my mind can actually get to enjoying them. That is worrisome. No, it is frightening! At times it is even disheartening and depressing. What can be done for me? (Keep reading; this is for you also!)
"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify...and purge them as gold and silver" (Malachi 3:3). This morning I am personally blessed with the promise and assurance that God will purify me, cleaning me from the stains and smudges of sin's filth. Not only that, He will also refine me, restoring my values and thoughts to those which are His own. That gives me hope!
"Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:2). While it is gloriously true that God is the purifier, it is also true that He will not do that work in my life unless I ask Him to. Then He will gladly come and (with great vigor and expertise) He will wash me through and through. Isn't that wonderful! But now grab a hold of another verse in this Psalm -- "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (51:10). Oh my! There's that assurance again: If I ask Him, He will refine, restore, and renew me so that the sin about me becomes less effective in staining me in the first place. Praise the Lord!
"Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word...that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27). The love of Jesus for us led Him to sacrifice Himself for our cleansing and sanctification. Notice, though, that one of the ways in which He accomplishes this is with His Word. Thus, if I would be without the blemishing stains of sin and if I would be holy in my thoughts, values, and actions, I must make His Word an integral part of my life. Thank God for the Bible!
There you have it, my friend. We don't need better self-control and improved self-discipline. Our own efforts at cleaning up our lives will fail. We need God's purifying and refining. Better self-control and improved self-discipline will result from God's cleansing work in our lives, but those two wonderful character traits will not produce effective cleansing in God's eyes.
All this reminds me again of one of God's great promises to His besieged people: "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). As we note and bemoan the increase and expansion of sin, let's also remember that grace out-increases and out-expands sin! I thank the Lord that "by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:10). May we together purpose to live humbly before Him who gives grace to the humble.
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