We need the Holy Spirit and fire. The spirit of reformation is a spirit of burning (Matthew 3:11). We need this to purify our sins against God and towards others (Isaiah 4:3-4).
Christ’s Church is like silver that is full of dross and needs refined. When the Lord has burned away the filthy dross of His church (Isaiah 4:5) she becomes a glory or a praise in the earth. Yet she must go through the fire of affliction and trial first (Zechariah 13:9) to come out as pure refined gold.
The Scottish minister George Gillespie lived during a time of reformation. The following helpful teaching is extracted and updated from one of his sermons. He shows us the real nature of spiritual reformation. Outward change is not enough. There must be deep inward refining.
he is like a refiner’s fire…he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (Malachi 3:2-3)
The best silver that comes out of the earth has dross in it. It needs the refiner’s fire. The best of God’s children have the dross of remaining indwelling sin that needs to be purged away. This is what made Paul say: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest…I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He did not want to be like reprobate silver which is not refined but cast away. There are also sinful pollutions of the world that attach to us (James 1:27). We need purifying from them.
Purified in Your Trials
Our afflictions are trials which are used to refine us (Psalm 66:10,12; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Afflictions often go along with faithfulness to Christ or come after a time of reforming the Church (Luke 12:49, 51). The reformations in Judah soon faced opposition from enemies (2 Chronicles 32:1; 14:9; 20:1).
During the most thorough reformation in Judah God still threatened punishments (Zephaniah 1:2-17). This was because there was a lack of real and personal reformation. God is a wise refiner. He will not take the silver out of the fire until the dross is removed (Ezekiel 15:7; 22:19-20).
These trials are a refining, not a consuming fire. A remnant will be brought out of the fire as gold (Zechariah 13:9; Zephaniah 3:12-13). The Lord is gracious and merciful even if we are not as purified from the fire as we should be (Isaiah 48:9-11).
Purified From Your Sins
This refining must involve putting our sins to death (Galatians 5:24). We must be willing to have our sins put to death. We must not only take Christ as our righteousness and life, we must also take Him as a refiner’s fire. It is painful to go through this refining fire and lose the sins to which we are attached. We have nothing to lose except our dross.
Christ is both the refiner and the refiner’s fire. You will be refined by Him and in Him. You only deceive yourself if you think you can be refined in any other way. The blood of Jesus not only cleanses us from guilt but purges our consciences (Hebrews 9:14). Putting our sins to death (Galatians 5:24) is possible for all who are Christ’s through His strength.