Where would you rather be:
* In Sodom and Gomorrah, indulging the pleasures of the flesh, the seductions of the world, and the lies of the devil (only to be INCINERATED by fire and brimstone hurled down from heaven by the holy and righteous God because of your blatant sin and rebellion), OR
* In the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, strolling around in the hottest furnace ever, chatting with Jesus, and perhaps enjoying smores? (And do you remember how tongues of fire descended on the believers at Pentecost?)
Yeah, me too. I like smores, and I love Jesus. When the fires of affliction come into our lives, and they will (loss of a loved one, major health issues, fired from a job, financial distress, etc.), are we willing to surrender our lives to Christ, repent of all of our sins, and receive His grace, peace, and joy (thus enabling us to move on with our lives)?
Or do we fight it and become bitter that God would allow this to happen to us? God is an all-consuming fire, and refines His people like silver in the refiner’s fire. He burns away all the dross of self so we can be filled with the Holy Spirit, carry out His work on earth, and become a pure and spotless bride when we go to heaven.
Those who fight it may be rejecting the refiner’s fire and unwilling to die to self. Because they believe they received a raw deal (and life is often not fair), they will never forget, forgive, or repent. Their bitterness eats away at their soul like cancer in the body. (Bitterness toward another is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die.) So as we grow older, we can become bitter or better. And bitterness exacts a terrible price – our soul.
When they step into eternity and stand before the Lord to give an account for their lives, they will be sent to the Lake of Fire, for there is no sin allowed in heaven, including those who have embraced sin and unrepentance in their hearts. Repentance after we cross the line into eternity is not accepted; it is too late. So hard as it often is, it is better to embrace the refining fires of affliction, die to self, and become clean spiritually, than reject them and end up in the Lake of Fire. We are all going through the fire, and sooner is better than later.
So let us go forth with the love and truth of Christ, helping others to endure the afflictions of life, and discover meaning and purpose in their lives in spite of their trials and temptations.
To God be the glory