It is hard to admit: I need cleaning, and badly. It isn’t just dirty fingernails after working in the barn, or the messed up hair after being out in the wind. I am usually presentable most of the time, but there is still plenty of grime in every aspect of my being, primarily invisible and internal.
Refining is a painful process whether by complete melt down by fire or a thorough scrubbing by soap. Malachi addresses this and John Piper on www.desiringgod.org helps me understand why this must hurt:
“We were created in the image of God with the potential to reverence God and trust him and obey him and glorify him, but we were born in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us. We are shot through with the impurity of rebellion and unbelief, and we fall short of God’s glory again and again.
You can prove this to yourself in many ways. For example, you can notice how readily your heart inclines to those things that will show your strengths to other people, and how resistant your heart is to communion with God in solitude.
So we are impure by nature and by practice. But God will have no alloys in heaven. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ And yet he will have someone in heaven. He will have a redeemed people. His banquet hall will be full. And therefore he must be a refiner’s fire. If he were only a forest fire, heaven would be empty. If he were only an incinerating fire, heaven would be empty. And if he were no fire, heaven would be empty.”