The process of refining brings out the beauty of the metal that is hidden by the impurities.
Hmmm. Lets see, what does this mean. It isn’t the title of a new documentary about alleged government cover-ups. It isn’t a song about some nonsensical subject. It isn’t about a new dish to eat or place to go. Fahrenheit 1763.474 isn’t about any of those things. It IS about sanctification. It IS about how we get progressively more like Christ. And, by the way, it IS the melting point of silver. What??! What does the melting point of silver have to do with the progressive sanctification of believers? And what does this have to do with the previous article about trials? Confused yet? Good. Let me explain.
The human condition is an interesting one. On one hand we see ourselves as independent,
self-sufficient individuals. On the other hand we seek the approval of others.
This paradox is one of the most vexing confronting those who study human behavior.
As Christians we seek approval. Sometimes this means we will compromise how we behave or believe. Sometimes we change ourselves in order to get the approval of others. Still other times we will do things we have great reservations about in order to be approved by others. In fact, there is probably no limit to which we will go in order to be accepted and approved of by others.
We also fear the converse: we fear being rejected or disapproved. This is best seen in our relationship with God. Most often Christians mistake trying to curry favor with God for serving God.We desperately seek His approval and try like crazy not to be rejected or disapproved by Him. This is a monumental mistake that leads people to do many weird and sometimes wicked things. We treat God like a mere human with whom we may curry favor with empty words, powerless actions, and vain flattery. We insult God and His holiness and power. We spit in His face by substituting our weak and vain actions for His wonderful and matchless grace.
If we belong to God – if we have accepted Christ’s sacrifice as the only work that can save us from the flames of hell – we must never fear we will be rejected or disapproved by God.
How do I know this? Well, the answer is quite simple: the Bible tells me so!
In James 1, the word that is translated “testing” is the word dokimion. It comes from the word dokimazo. So, you may wonder, what does that have to do with the title of this article. Well my inquisitive friend, I have an answer for you! The term dokimazo was used in the Septuagint and other literature for the refining process of silver and gold. The idea was to heat up the silver (or gold) so it 1) melts and 2) releases the impurities that were part of the metal.
This process had two consequences. These consequences have a direct bearing on our progressive sanctification AND the use of the term dokimazo in sections referring to our trials. The first consequence of the refining process of either silver or gold is that as the impurities trapped in the metal are released due to the heat the metal is experiencing, that metal becomes more pure. That goes to reason doesn’t it? The fewer impurities, the purer the metal. Which brings me to the second consequence of the refining process. When a metal becomes purer, it reflects its true nature and beauty better. Have you ever seen pure gold? Or pure silver? Pretty impressive, right? The process of refining brings out the beauty of the metal that is hidden by the impurities.
The process is rather straightforward. Lets look at silver. You would take a bunch of it throw it in a pot of some kind and start a fire under the pot. The fire would be fanned and its heat output would rise until the silver melted. Silver melts at 1763.474 degrees Fahrenheit. Ahh, the title makes sense now! Once the silver melted, some of the impurities that were trapped in it would bubble to the top. These impurities are commonly referred to as the “dross”. Then the heat is increased and more impurities come out. This is repeated until the metal releases no more impurities.
How does this relate to our sanctification? Quite simply this IS the process we undergo in order to be more like Christ.
God places heat under us.
He heats us up until the initial impurities bubble up. He removes those impurities. Instead of leaving us there, He turns the heat up again. More impurities come out. He does this again and again until there are no more impurities bubbling to the surface. When does that happen? Why go through all this if we are still surrounded by sinful mankind? Well, not to be cruel, I will post that article next Monday. Until then, think about how you are viewing the trials you are experiencing. Some will say that severe trials are an indication that God is judging you and is a sign of your rebellion against Him. But I don’t think so. God refines those that are His. Those of us who belong to Him can expect to have progressively more heat applied to our lives so that more impurities come out.