The Consuming Fire

fire“The God who lives in us if we allow him, is not necessarily always gentle: he can be wind and fire and a whole lot of other things. He can give us strength, but he can also show us our weakness! He will ‘increase our faith,’ but frequently not in the way we want or expect. He will show us, as we can bear it, more and more truth, but he will shatter our illusions without scruple, perhaps especially illusions about ourselves. He will give us moments of wonderful perception, but will also allow us to endure terrifying darkness. His dealings with us are not some optional religious game; he is in deadly earnest and he is intent on ‘bringing many sons to glory.’ He is indeed all goodness and light but he will show no more compunction towards the evil things that we have allowed to grow in our hearts than a human surgeon would to a malignant growth. The men of old were hardly exaggerating when they said, ‘Our God is a consuming fire.’ “ ~ J.B. Phillips, Ring of Truth, 48.

God is eager to see us made right, and He is passionate to eliminate that in us which is wicked. Our judgments of what things are right and wicked are themselves one of the things that God must sanctify. But when we permit those flames of fire to painfully purify and reorder our inner lives–even at the level of our central judgments about what is right and wrong, where we are justified and condemned–then we have truly begun the stumbling process of walking by faith in the light of God.

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