Everyone will be salted with fire. Mark 9 verse 49.
On the surface, this verse might seem difficult to understand. Remember, Jesus said it in the context of talking about hell, punishment and consequences. Again, on the surface, the verse looks like it could be talking about divine vengeance. Would you want the creator of the Universe to personally salt you with fire? Flavor you, sprinkle you, season you through and through, preserve you with fire? It sounds agonizing.
And yet I researched the verse in several place. The most agreeable answer I found was from, of all places, yahoo.com. It said “These are some references of God cleansing us in this way… removing the dead, evil and unwanted things in our lives. I’ve always like the story of how gold and silver is purified. It is heated into a liquid. The dross and impurities then floats to the top surface and are skimmed off. You know it is pure when you can see your reflection in it. God wants to see His reflection in us.”
Yahoo then went on to quote a number of verses to support this concept. Look them up: Matthew 3:11, Luke 12:49, 1 Cor 3:13-15, Hebrews 12:29, and 1 Peter 1:7. As I said, look them up; I believe they support the author’s position.
Jesus fully intends to salt us with fire to purify us from the uncleanness we embrace when we embrace our sins. Have you ever tried to consciously turn from real temptations? I know in my own experience how tough it is. The rewards feel so much better than the sins, but the sins can be so tempting, so deceptively alluring and so foolishly comforting and difficult to reconcile. In a way, resisting their temptations is refining, and it sometimes feels like evil is hurling fire against my soul. Yet Jesus is still at work, battling for me and encouraging me to resist every time for just one more moment.
In those moments, He is refining me. Little by little, He builds up my confidence and my integrity and it is a refining thing. Resisting the alcohol, the lies, the tobacco, the flesh, the arrogance: living past these things sometimes feels like I’m being melted down while the slag of my sins is being skimmed away. What’s left is the spice of life, the very essence of Jesus wanting to live His life through mine. He wants to see Himself shining through my eyes, my actions, my words because He can then reach others and build them up as well. It’s a love thing, rescuing gold from tarnish and wreckage.
You are golden as well. Underneath your pet sins shines pure gold, waiting to be refined.
These kinds of translations make sense in the context of this entire chapter of Mark, especially in the context of the verse that comes after this one; read up on it and we’ll chat tomorrow. For now, let it be enough to know that God refines us every day. If something is challenging you, if something bothers you, if something is pitted against you, if something is testing and hurting you and putting you through a wringer, take heart in knowing that, through these unpleasant tests, God Immanuel is with you, working on you, refining you to make you better than you were before. That’s easy to understand and easy to eventually see.
Lord, forgive me, refine me, filter out the dross of my life, and remake me to shine for You.
Read Mark 9, verses 42-50.