Purgatory

20 10 2012
Note to reader:
 
1Th 5:23 KJV  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
We see in this scripture that we consist of body, soul and spirit. When we receive Christ, our spirit and His spirit are joined together – 1 Cor 6:17. We are made perfect in spirit the moment Christ is birthed in us. Our bodies will only be made perfect at the manifestation of the Presence of Jesus Christ – 2 Thes 2:1-8. Our soul however which consists of the mind, will and emotions still needs work and needs to be renewed – Eph 4:23. The soul is filled with selfish desires and motives which come from our “life” prior to Christ. These sinful patterns that are so deeply entrenched in our souls need to be purged, before we will become or rather be made into effective vessels through which our Lord Jesus Christ will manifest His Life. This purging of the soul, is the topic of this post.
 

I remember how beautiful life seemed the days and months following Christ’s birth in my spirit. The sky was bluer, the grass was greener and beauty was everywhere I looked. Life was good!

This amazing period immediately following receiving Christ is often referred to affectionately as the “honeymoon stage.” It is a time where Christ romanced me just as a new bridegroom does his new bride. Then gradually the “honeymoon” experience faded away and our relationship, or at least my perception of it, became stagnant. I was not so infatuated with Him anymore and I was no longer content with being His “stay at home” bride. I also wanted to be successful and have my own career so to speak. My soul was unfulfilled, and I began to seek “spiritual success”. I fervently “worked” for my Groom, preaching and proclaiming His Kingdom. I threw myself into the work, with no or very little success. In fact it seemed that the harder I tried, the less success I had. Failure after failure, heartache after heartache, disappointment after disappointment followed.  I was betrayed and despised by the “institution” of organized church. As a family we lost everything, including hope. This dream marriage had turned into a nightmare and I didn’t know which way to turn. It felt like I was imprisoned in a pitch dark steel box with no way of escape. This period was the most difficult time of my life, and it continued for four ecscruitiatingly long years. It really felt like my Groom has deserted me and left me in a hot dry arid lifeless wilderness to die. I did not know what hell was like, but it felt pretty close to me.

During this time, I questioned God. I was extremely frustrated and synical about everything calling itself Christian. My soul was under tremendous assault by an invisible relentless enemy. Onslaught after onslaught continued as wave after wave of turmoil crashed over me. My soul lamented like David, “Lord, Lord why have you forsaken me?”

“The Lord is a consuming fire” held new meaning to me. He was consuming my soul. Every selfish desire and impure motive was being devoured by Him, and He was relentless.

Pro 25:4  Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the refiner.

Dan 11:35  And many of those who understand shall stumble, to refine and purge them, and to make white, to the time of the end.

Zec 13:9  …… and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, It is My people; and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.

These scriptures are clear that Lord will purge our souls in this lifetime, unlike the Catholic religion, who believe that “Purgatory” is the condition of purification or temporary punishment by which those who die in a state of grace are believed to be made ready for Heaven.  Every difficult circumstance and situation in this lifetime, God will use as a “purgatory experience” – Col 1:16; Rom 8:28.

St John of the Cross wrote: “God is light and He acts upon the soul which He purges and prepares for perfect union with it in the same way as fire, acting upon wood, first of all begins to dry it, by driving out its moisture and causing it to shed the water which it contains within itself. Then it begins to make it black, dark and unsightly, and even to give forth a bad odour, and, as it dries it little by little, it brings out and drives away all the dark and unsightly accidents which are contrary to the nature of the fire. And, finally, it begins to kindle it externally and give it heat, and at last transforms it into itself and makes it as beautiful as fire. In this respect, the wood has neither passivity nor activity of its own, save for its weight, which is greater, and its substance, which is denser, than that of fire, for it has in itself the properties and activities of fire. Thus it is dry and it dries; it is hot and it heats; it is bright and gives brightness; and it is much lighter than before. All these properties and effects are caused in it by the fire.”

God as The Consuming Fire, will not destroy us in the refining process. He will however consume all forms of darkness residing in the deep recesses of our souls, for God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. As His vessels containing the very life of God, we will be purged, and this purgation is not to be found after physical death, but it is to be experienced by every Christ filled person here on this earth. This is why Paul rejoiced in his afflictions:

Rom 5:3-5 MKJV  And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience,  (4)  and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.  (5)  And hope does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.

1Co 3:10-15 MKJV  According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let every man be careful how he builds on it.  (11)  For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, who is Jesus Christ.  (12)  And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble,  (13)  each one’s work shall be revealed. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try each one’s work as to what kind it is.  (14)  If anyone’s work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward.  (15)  If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

Our prayer

That our dross may be taken from us rather than that we should be withdrawn from the crucible. We are ready to melt under the fierceness of the flame. Still, this is Thy way, and Thy way is the best. Sustain us under the trial and complete the process of our purifying, and we will be Thine forever and ever.

 

 


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