In the Refiner's Fire - Part 1

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

When a person trusts Jesus Christ for salvation, he or she can no longer be subject to God’s wrath or punishment. God pronounces them innocent of sin due to Christ’s death on their behalf. They will never be condemned (Romans 8:1) nor judged because they have passed from death to life (John 5:24). Each Christian should take supreme comfort in this truth.

Nevertheless, we often face circumstances and pain that feels like judgment or God’s displeasure. Young Christians in particular are vulnerable to this feeling. They set out to live for God, and then run into opposition or resistance. When these pressures mount, they wrongly conclude, “God must not love me”, or “God must be angry with me.” In thinking this, they have yet to discover the biblical teaching on chastisement. The central verses come from Hebrews 12:5-11, but the verses above also teach a refinement process that God uses to make us more like Christ.

We must first learn that God’s discipline does not equal punishment. God will punish the world for its iniquities, but believers will be spared that fate because of their relationship with Christ. When God brings His child under the rod, so to speak, He acts from pure motives. He wants that child to steer clear from harmful ways and submit to His Fatherly care. If a father claims to love his child yet allows the child to play in the street, we cannot conclude he loves that child very much. God desires our holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and whatever leads us there, God will use.

Secondly, God uses affliction to get our attention. When life runs smoothly, we soon develop a smugness about our faith. God secures our attention through discipline, which sometimes is quite painful. Through this unpleasant time, we grow closer to God and thank Him for His loving care and concern.

Tomorrow we will consider some other benefits of chastisement, but remember that God demonstrates His Fatherly love in a number of ways, but always in faithfulness. Do we walk worthy of that great call upon our life (Ephesians 4:1)?

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