When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are a new creation. However, our sin nature still exists. We then spend the remainder of our days asking the Holy Spirit to burn off more and more of our sin nature and take full possession of us. The refining processes we go through are to slowly grow us more into Christ’s likeness and to fill us with the fruits of his Holy Spirit.
The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but with me because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master. I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am really not the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am. Who will free me from this life dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is. In my mind I really want to obey God’s law but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us, love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. (25) If we are living now by the Holy Spirit let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our goal.
As Christians, we desire to fellowship with God and to be pleasing in His sight. We long to love Him more and more and to serve Him with all of our hearts. We know that God despises sin, so we must turn from sin and turn to things that honor God. How can we do that? Only by clinging to God as though He were a life raft in the middle of a raging sea! We must be immersed in God’s word and we spend time with Him. We must be filling our minds with godly things and surrounding ourselves with godly people. Are we supposed to go out into the world to reach the lost? You bet! However, we also need our sisters in Christ to encourage us and hold us accountable. We must be ever growing in wisdom and knowledge so that we understand the things of God.
I hope you notice something very important. We have an active part to play in our spiritual growth. We must be willing to let God work in our lives in any way He desires and we must obey. Take note: only those who seriously seek God will truly find what they are looking for. Lukewarm Christianity will get us nowhere and keep us thirsty for more.
God desires to refine us like purest gold. As a result, sometimes He’ll shine His light into our lives and let us see our sinful nature. Sometimes He will allow circumstances in our lives to become not so pleasant. There are many ways that can God can grow us and purify us. Even suffering is a means God will sometimes allow. Notice that I didn’t say cause, merely allow. There are many ways He can use to transform us into His image.
*It is critical not to enter into condemnation when God brings our muck to the surface. He does not bring anything up to condemn us. He reveals so that He can lead us to repentance and into deeper healing. Below is a prayer that, I believe, the Lord taught me to pray.
“God I praise you for revealing to me the boulders in my flesh that must be cleared away for your mansion to be built. Thank you that you have not chosen to make my body a summer home or a vacation residence. Thank you that you have made it home. Thank you for desiring to make it a grand palace, a mansion, a luxurious residence. Thank you for scrubbing it clean. Thank you for filling it with the finest gifts, all very useful and usable. Thank you for choosing me. Please do in me whatever is necessary to make your home the finest it can be. Do whatever is necessary in me, so that you have free access to every room in your house. I give myself to you. Be the ruler of this house.”
Here are just a few scripture passages that discuss God’s refining process in general.
I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them, I will say, “These are my people,” and they will say, “This is our God.”
I have refined you, but not the way silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.
But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes. He will sit and judge like a refiner of silver, watching closely as the dross is burned away. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold or silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.