Cultures throughout the millennia have valued purity in one way or another. Precious metals such as gold or silver have always carried more value depending on their degree of overall purity. As such, gold and silver are refined in the smelter's heat to bring greater value to their owner. The purification process may go through several refinements until that state of 99.9% purity is obtained. However, no matter how much refining might be done to precious metals such as gold or silver, there is nothing on this earth that can be made 100% pure. Likewise, honey is refined by heat and gives off a translucent glow when under the refiners fire. Yet, even though this sweet product might be advertised as "pure honey", it will always possess traces of unrefined substances that are impossible to extract during the purification process.
In this beatitude, Jesus knew that his audience understood the difference between the pure and impure. Undoubtedly, many in this crowd either worked as smelters or they knew relatives that worked with metals such as copper, bronze, silver, and gold. They understood the painstaking criticality of heating the furnaces to just the right temperature and the art of not over-heating the molten metals. An inexperienced smelter might ruin a batch of precious metal by not applying the right amount of heat at the critical moment. However, the artisan metallurgist knew the precise moment to remove the liquefied batch from the oven. In so doing, he ensured a purity that only the experienced could render.
Throughout the Old Testament, God has spoken through His prophets regarding the refiner's fire and His desire to purify a people that would walk after His own heart. In Malachi 3:2-3 the prophet states: But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Through this scripture and many others (see also Psalm 66:10; Jeremiah 9:7; Daniel 12:10; Zechariah 13:9), we see that God is the purifier, not us. We have no power within to purify ourselves, no more than the gold or silver has the ability to purify itself. We, like the crude ore that is mined from the earth, must submit ourselves to God, allowing Him to "smelt" us in the Furnaces of His Desire. Personal purity, or sanctification if you like, comes in no other way than by obeying God in every instance of our lives and granting Him total permission to form us according to His will. Unfortunately, most flinch or cringe under this type of "burning" from the Lord. Beloved, God will always come as a fire when He desires to make us His own. Many wish to experience His Holy Ghost fire as He manifests Himself in signs and wonders -- divine healings, prophetic words, et al. However, to experience His supernatural outpouring of signs and wonders through the fire of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, one must first experience the fire of His Divine Furnaces. It cheapens God in our day and time when men and women pray over souls for a baptism of fire in their lives, when they themselves have not first experienced a baptism of obedience! They are trying to impart to others the very Spirit they themselves are yet to receive, and it's all because of their carnal knowledge and love of this world (II Timothy 3:5). To the degree that a man or a woman has emptied themselves of their own self-serving ways, is to the degree that God can come in with His Holy "Flame Thrower" and bring this man or woman to their knees in repentance for their sinful disobedience. Then, God will have purified vessels that He can send anywhere in this world -- under any circumstances -- knowing that these will never waver in the face of the Flesh, the World, or the Devil. They have become Christ's ambassadors, filled with a Holy Ghost unction born in the Furnaces of Obedience to the Lord.
Most believe that the Lord, like the inexperienced smelter, will ruin them if they totally submit to the Holy Fire of His love. They may not say that in words, but they say it in their actions. Otherwise, there would be many more who would give themselves unreservedly to the Holy Smelter of our hearts. Most believe, by their actions, that God could never love us the way that He claims. For if we really understood that He loved us with a love that was eternal and infinite as He is, then we would trust Him to immerse us time and time again into the Fire of His Holy Desire until we came out that purified vessel of honor. Beloved, without a doubt, we will all be glorified someday and will be pure as we stand before His throne and see Him face to face. However, there is so much of heaven that we can live here on this earth. Purity of heart is not just for the "sweet by and by". It is to be embraced NOW, as we submit to the Flames of His Love. Do you desire to see Him? It should be the most normal thing for a Christian to experience on this earth. For as we give ourselves to the Master Purifier, He will allow us to see Him as we never thought possible in this lifetime. And, oh, what sweetness that will provoke for a lifetime of seeing Him both now and in the age to come! Glory be to God for His gracious Gift of Burning. May we embrace it with a trust and a love that can only come from Him!
Heavenly Father, Lover of our souls ... take us this day and have your way with us. Help us not shrink from your fire, for only from Your Furnace of Love comes true life that is pure. As we are refined by Your love, may we see You in all Your fullness. Oh Father, thank you for your Son who has shown us the way. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,