I have really enjoyed this series we are in. If you haven’t been following you might want to check out at least the first post here. In Romans 5 Paul talks about how the free gift of Jesus is so much greater than the fall of Adam. When you look at the original language you discover that there are actually two gifts Paul is describing. The first gift is Jesus on the cross and the other is His resurrected Spirit (Holy Spirit) in us. You need the first to want the second. This series is an attempt to give some insight into what the gifts look like to us. So today how about some water and fire (or fiya!)
When I was around 10 years old I had a wart on the palm side of my pinky finger. It was so embarrassing and I was very conscious of it. It really didn’t belong on my finger. I didn’t know where it came from. I speculated on the validity of the “handling frogs theory” since of course as a boy I handled frogs. I considered the “transmission of the infirmity by touching another carrier theory” since, well as a boy I had other friends that likely had the same issue and I accidentally made contact with the disgusting disfigurement. I considered the merits of a “curse” or a “punishment” or maybe even “genetics” as the root cause of such an abomination. I never could determine where it came from or how I got it but nevertheless it was a part of me that didn’t belong, yuck!
So I did what every intelligent and wise 10-year-old would do…I asked my mom to fix it. You know the voice. “Mommy please fix this, I really need it gone, I will do anything to make it go away.” This position of desperation gave me new resolve to undergo any suggested remedy. There was the “chew it off method.” Don’t be too grossed out it is just skin and little boys are known for gross behavior anyway. There was the “cut it off method” which didn’t get much attention since the thought of actually applying a sharp instrument to my own body on purpose would produce a fainting reaction. There was the “pharmaceutical method” which included compound X and lotion Y followed by salve Z. That didn’t work either even when I was diligent, disciplined and followed all the rules of application (there are many). No matter how hard I tried I could not get the sucker off my finger. Now I was ready for extreme measures…external intervention.
My mom suggested the doctor. Now of course the idea of going to the doctor willingly was so far outside my comfort zone I considered running away from home instead. Doctors are scary and have sharp stuff lying around and poke you and give you medicine and always smell funny. Why would anyone willingly submit to such certain torture? Desperation requires desperate acts. I had to get over my fear of the doctor which was a matter of discussing the legitimacy of the practitioner, the intentions under the smock and the possible implications of future servitude in the form of follow-up visits. Once I had the endorsement of my mother, recommendations from other patients and a close inspection of the facilities by myself I was ready for the procedure.
The way they removed warts when I was 10 may be different from today, I don’t know. Back then you sat on the edge of the examining room table and positioned yourself to receive whatever was coming. The nurse and my mom held my arm while the doctor declared the classic “this may hurt a little.” He took a really long cue-tip and plunged it into this smoking metal container. Later I found out this was liquid nitrogen. He took this nitrogen soaked cue-tip thing and touched it to my wart. Now I was so mesmerized by the vapors and coolness of the event that I wasn’t expecting what happened next. That really cold cue-tip was like FIRE on my hand. It hurt all the way down to my bones. Wow! Then it was done. There was a moment of elation as the FIRE stopped and the peace returned.
About 3 days later the wart fell off. No drama. No fanfare. No ceremony. It just turned black and peeled off like a scab. My finger was pink and rosy with brand new looking skin under where the wart was. It was like I never had the stupid thing anyway.
Now maybe you know where this is going but I suggest that we all need the FIRE of God to get rid of our warts. You may be a little puzzled since, of course you have been told that the FIRE of God is all hell in brimstone stuff. That is where religion and the devil has so distorted the truth about God. This is what John said about Jesus:
Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (AMP)
The water of mercy prepares us for the fire of God. Jesus on the cross is our righteousness. We are redeemed by His substitution. We are free from sin, guilt, condemnation and shame. This is the baptism into repentance (changing our minds). We are baptized into a new understanding. This is your born again experience. This is your change of identity from sinner to saint. Now God comes and is prepared to bring the fire through His Spirit.
Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ….5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)
The love of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit reminds us and confirms in us the love that God has for us. Our righteousness keeps away the lies of potential punishment and judgment. The goodness of God reveals the character of God. When you have those things you are “soaked in His mercy.” There should be no fear of fire. His fire is His burning love. We all need it. Check out the next verse in Matthew:
Matt 3:12 His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out. (AMP)
Chaff is a part of wheat plant that is left once the good stuff is pulled out. In ancient times the wheat was separated from the chaff by threshing. This was tossing the whole wheat plant into the air and when it hit the ground the chaff would break off. Repeated tossing would separate the chaff from the wheat. In this verse God says He consumes the chaff with a fire that can’t be put out. The fire is His love. The chaff is your warts. The wheat kernel is your identity in Christ. The fire isn’t punishment. It is relief. It isn’t something you do. It is something that is done to you. The all-consuming fire is the infinite love of God. “Unquenchable” means this chaff is consumed completely and will never return.
The fire of God is going to the doctor and getting a procedure done. Well, it is way more awesome than that but you get the idea. We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. We need to be immersed in His mercy and plunged into His fiery love. We need the power of His presence to clean out the old stuff and make shiny the new stuff. We need the fire of God to refine out the dross and leave the precious gold. We need the fire of God to remove the stuff the enemy has put on us and in us. We need the fire of God to get rid of lies and hurts and hang-ups and dysfunction and disappointment and all that junk. That junk is our chaff. That is our warts. This is why we need the love of God on us, in us and around us. We need to be pickled (another word for baptism) in the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. You may think that the gift of “forgiveness of sins” (Jesus on the cross) is enough. I emphatically implore you to consider otherwise. “Jesus on the cross” prepares us for “Jesus resurrected.” We need His resurrection. We need His presence in us. We need the fiery baptism of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise you will continue to have warts that no matter what you do they just wont go away. Your effort is not better than gnawing on a disgusting unwanted skin mutation. God’s fire removes it as if it were never part of you.