“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
I sincerely apologize for taking so long to conclude the study of the book of Ephesians, chapter 4. There were things which occurred in life that I had no control over, that for some time, took my focus away from completing this. However, everything I write on this blog is normally Holy Spirit led, so this post should be no different. I simply was not feeling led to finish the study until tonight. You are probably scratching your head a bit, as you notice I didn’t begin this study with the final verses from Ephesians 4. There is good reason, I promise. Let us break it down:
Ephesians 4:29-32 reads:
“29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Tonight I was finally urged to finish this as I listened to a sermon from my church away from home in Thomaston, GA. The sermon entitled “The Process of Refining Our Faith” was given by Rev. Brian McCarthy at Mountain View Baptist Church on August 17, 2014. (You can listen to it here) I had actually been led to revisit 1 Peter this week in my reading – the reason unbeknownst to me. I love how God will lead you somewhere only to reveal the reason why, later and unexpectedly. This is much like our walk…He does so many unexpected things in our lives. Whether we want him to or ask him to, is beside the point. He just does…because He knows what’s best for us. For He loved us first…and knows us best! (Thank goodness!)
If you read the above verses from 1 Peter, then read the four verses from Ephesians 4 (irony haha) you will see a correlation between the two. The verses in Ephesians talk about what to beware of as we begin your walk with the Lord; reminding us to be pure and godly in all that comes forth from our mind into the ears/sight/hearts of others.
We are instructed not to do things that may grieve the Holy Spirit. The subject of grieving the Holy Spirit is deep and profound, yet I’m not led to stay there for this instance. (For a deep understanding of it, read Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on the subject.) Basically, it is defined as behaviors that are not pleasing to God therefore you sense His disdain through the Holy Spirit’s presence. It’s heavy and you feel it…often people feel they are grieving over something, or are in self-conflict. We are sealed by the cross thus it is not becoming of anyone, in Christ, to behave in ways that are not Christ-like.
We are urged to put aside all things which may cause us to be in sin and regardless of what others do to us, we again are to emulate Christ-like behaviors for His sake, and ours, for because of Him we are forgiven.
Now, in 1 Peter 1, verses 6 and 7, we see that even after we have been walking for a while, these very same things are both expected of us and to happen to us. Now that we have learned what being Christ-like should resemble, we are then refined even further and the bar of expectation to remain as such, is raised. This is how we learn to stay in the fold and not back-slide. (Back-sliding is when you fall into sin, even if it’s momentarily because you made a wrong choice.) There are layers to our walk. Rev. McCarthy likened it to the process of making a biscuit…that we have to wade through making it to get to the beautiful finished product. He goes on to explain how verse 7 is the full purpose and prize of our walk; what all the trials and all the refinement purpose for: “…might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” To be PRESENTABLE (in PURITY and FULL GRACE) to the King.
Wow, merely the thought…that I (that is a screaming capital “I”) might ever reach that stage of maturity in my walk, that I could EVER resemble anything true and graceful enough to be worthy of being presented to my Lord…melts my heart! THIS thought should be our goal…to be worthy and presentable, without blemish, before our Lord. That is the entire point of allowing God to strip us clean of all our past, present and future sin…the full purpose of sanctification! If we do not allow God to refine us, there really is no point in any of this because we will not be deemed presentable. Sorry to inform all whom think they can still be mean, spiteful, lying, fornicating, drunken, sinners and still see His face…that is not in alignment with scripture. These verses, from two different perspective and discussing two different stages of our walk, are proof of this.
He did not pull you from the miry clay so you could just sit in it without changing your heart or your steps! This is not a sermon, I’m not preaching…I’m pointing out the obvious instances in the Word of God that tie our walks together. Refinement. (Recognize, Rebuke, Repent and take Responsibility…that is how you are forgiven in His eyes and the eyes of man.)
This ends the study on Ephesians Chapter 4. If you missed or would like to revisit the first three please do.
Thank you Lord Jesus for taking the bitter cup and bearing all the weight of our sin, on the cross! It is by your stripes we are healed…by which we are redeemed. Forever grateful…Amen!