The fire of God appears throughout the Bible to declare His awesome presence, sometimes burning sacrificial offerings, sometimes confirming His unique holiness, but most often it comes to destroy all that’s incompatible with that holiness. We need to be aware that, though full of grace and truth, Jesus has come also to bring this same challenging aspect of God’s holy purpose for mankind, ‘I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled’ (Luke 12:49).
God’s desire for our lives is fruitfulness, a reflection of His holy character here on earth. Any branches of a tree that consistently bear bad fruit are cut away and burnt, to avoid perpetuating the condition. So it must be, Jesus says, for our individual lives.
We’re pleased to hear that Jesus has come to baptise His followers in the Holy Spirit, but we often fail to recognise that John the Baptist warned that this experience would also come with God’s fire, to burn up the chaff, the unfruitful characteristics of our lives. This warning of a consuming fire is not to threaten us, but rather to ensure that we’re fully aware that God’s judgment inevitably comes to us at some point. The good news is that judgment has been overruled by divine mercy, provided we truly acknowledge the saving and cleansing work of Jesus.
We may sometimes experience an intense and revelatory passion for God burning in our hearts, just as the disciples did on the road to Emmaus. However, this isn’t a manifestation of the consuming fire that John the Baptist mentioned. We should be careful in calling for God’s fire to come, for its likely purpose won’t be to just give us an exciting experience, but to test and purify our hearts, preparing us to be part of the holy bride of Christ. ‘Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work’ (1 Corinthians 3:14).
Prayer: Father, thank You for divine fire that cleanses the life of man. Thank You that, through Jesus, I’m saved from destruction and able to walk in Your holiness. Amen.
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