now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. i warn you, as i warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [galatians 5:19-21]
our God is a consuming fire. [heb 12:29]
that’s why paul is adamant that this beloved church consider well the character of God. he longs for them to be near to God, to know his love, to understand his holiness, and to be satisfied in his glory. but in this life long battle of flesh vs. Spirit, he knows temptation is strong, and that the enemy is crouching right outside the door. we would also do well to consider the character of God.
when we are taken over by the desires of the flesh and choose to walk in rebellion to God’s design, instead of being filled with gratitude for his design, we are building up in ourselves things that will be consumed by the fire of God’s holiness. this list in galatians of insults to the majesty of God’s glory will burn away, or be removed by shaking, as the writer of hebrews puts it. and only that which cannot be shaken will remain.
for the unbeliever, the one who trusts in his own wisdom for life, love, and the mirage of happiness, the consuming fire of God’s holiness will leave nothing. all of the works, all of the achievements, all of the sin and rebellion, will be burned. God’s holiness and justice are not something to be trifled with. he will not give his glory to another. [isa 48:11] and his glory is also their only hope. brothers and sisters, the world is in desperate need of hope!
but for the believer, the one who clings to Jesus Christ as the covering for his sin, the consuming fire of God’s holiness will bring refinement. we will be purified, transformed from one degree of glory to the next, into something that looks more like the image of Christ. [2 cor 3:18] this is a painful and beautiful process, because our flesh grows weaker, the Spirit seems more prominent, the worldly desires seem to fade and our desire to know Christ grows strong, and eternity starts to feel more and more like home. and on that day, the remaining dross will be shaken, will be burned up, and we will see Jesus with unveiled face. these are promises of a loving Father that wants his children to know unending joy in Him!
so today, before the Holy God of the universe, ask him to reveal to you the things that need to be burned away in his refining fire. let him consume you and be filled with his goodness! he longs for your satisfaction! he works for your joy! you were created to glorify and enjoy him forever, unhindered by the desires of your flesh, given freedom by the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. so live in the freedom of Christ! to him be the glory forever!
~ arwen eastman