Thursday, October 16, 2008

Holiness Incinerates Flesh

1 Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 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. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.”

Malachi 3:1-4


Malachi is foreshadowing the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus. Most people believed that when Christ, the Messiah of Israel came he would bring peace, independence and prosperity with him. We see in Acts that many people rise up claiming to be this expected savior only to be killed and forgotten because their movements were form man and not form God. People had the wrong expectations of what Christ would accomplish. Verse 1 presents Him as the “messenger of the covenant in whom you delight.” But then the very next verse says, “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.”

Jesus was going to bring peace and prosperity but not in the way that everyone expected. To the sinner, which includes everybody, he will be like a fire or fuller’s soap. Fire burned away dross until the pure metal was left. Fullers soap was the soap that people would use to clean their linens and then people would lay them out on rocks and beat them with reeds. Either illustration would be seen as painful and opposite of what they were expecting. But this indeed marked Jesus’ ministry. He openly mocked the false teachers and Pharisees and he repeatedly told people that suffering accompanied following Him. Like pressure on coal makes diamonds; suffering on repentant sinners creates character.

He ends this paragraph by saying that the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord. This happens only after suffering produced character and right hearts. Right action without the right heart is gross the Lord.


People often believe that Jesus is there to be our healer, our comfort, our strength and our provider. While all this is true He also came to confront flesh.

I am often guilty of this kind of thinking. I love what Christ offers but I don’t like the road that I have to take to get there. Christ’s holiness is an affront to my flesh. But too often I compare myself to other people to make myself feel good. Instead of comparing myself to Christ and His holiness I compare myself to other sinners.

The Bible talks about the fact that in the presence of Holiness flesh will burn away. Even Moses could not look at the face of God. He was only allowed to look at his back. But we as Christians do not allow the Holiness of God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit inside of us to burn away our flesh. We let our flesh sit and mingle. We hold onto our desires to be first, to have much and to be made much of. Instead of killing our flesh in the face of God’s holiness.

I have to do this. Especially in ministry, if we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to do this than our enemy will definitely capitalize. We have to get away from the idea that following Jesus is an easy road. That He wants as we are and that it’s ok to stay that way. We need to let Jesus confront and destroy our sin not just save us from it.

The apostles were daily performing miracles and people sought them out. It is really easy to get prideful in this situation. We see them before Jesus’ death asking which one will be the first in Heaven. Thus the suffering kept them humble by killing their pride and forcing them to rely on the Spirit and Jesus.


Dear God,
Please kill my sin and build in me an increasing hatred for it. Help me to feel the weight of sin that Jesus had to bear.

In Jesus name Amen