Mark 9: 49
“For everyone will be seasoned with fire…….”
Jesus is speaking here in the context of offense in the verses that come before. In essence, telling his followers not to offend others and that if anything in their life causes them to sin, cut it off, pluck it out and so on! Better to be maimed than for the entire body to be thrown into hell.
This is not a post about hell, but it’s about the commitment Jesus has taken up to conform us into His image (Romans 8:29). This is the main objective of the Holy Spirit AND our salvation by the way.
I’ve wrestled with this message and concept for years out of responsibility as to not impart some false doctrine. But the scripture and my life bear witness to the fact that Jesus uses the fire of trial and tribulation to forge us into His image. Some things in our life cannot be removed unless they are burned out! Just like iron is placed in the fire to forge it into a tool or weapon, so are we put in the fire as to make us pliable for molding.
It’s not a comfortable truth or one we talk about often, but the scripture bears it out and especially in Jesus’ statement above. He goes on to say in this verse,
“….and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.”
Romans 12:1 calls us living sacrifices and Jesus said if we lose our salt, how then are we any good (Matthew 5:13). Salt, as we know it, is for taste and preservation. But have you ever gotten salt in your eyes, swimming in the ocean? It stings. It cleanses. It works to bring out the natural flavor that is in meat. Somehow it cuts through to affect the object it comes in contact with.
These two elements, fire and salt, work to cleanse, to purify. And these are the elements that are used by God to make us into the people He desires.
I’ve been through many trials in my life and each has made me a different person after than before I entered them. But for many years I fought through them instead of surrender to them. In coming to realize that at times God, not the devil, may have sent the storm, I’ve learned when to fight and when to surrender. And both have their divine purpose. There are times when I should have fought when instead I surrendered and vice versa. But as I’ve grown in experience, I’ve been able to discern sooner which stance to take in the middle of the storm.
Both are necessary for victory!
I’m a “kicker” and a “screamer” when trials begin! I come out swinging and fighting! Mostly because I’m being challenged, hurting or experiencing a ton of discomfort and I don’t like it! At all! However, over the years, I’ve learned to get still and listen at the onset of trials. I’m a “feeler” too and I don’t apologize for it, because the Lord made me sensitive for what He’s called me to do, but yep, as we all know our feelings can lead us wrong. Especially if we live from our insecurities instead of the truth of God’s Word.
Feelings are necessary because they’re a signal to us that something is wrong, but they can lead us to wrong conclusions and that’s why it’s important to get still and listen to God. When I find myself fighting in a trial especially in a prolonged one, after a while I’ve begun to ask God if I’m fighting with Him or against Him. “Lord, if this trail is for the perfecting of my soul, how can I partner with you?” If you’re found fighting against God, you’re in for a lo-ong trial. But if you learn to surrender to the work He wants to accomplish in it, you’ll experience more peace even if all hell is breaking loose.
That’s just a side note. The point I want to make is that sometimes God is the initiator of the trial because He’s after making something out of us! Or He allows it. I’m not talking about “temptation”. Even James tell us that God does not tempt any man, but trials and tribulations are a different matter. In many places in scripture, it’s confirmed that trails are for our good and our perfection (James 1:1-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Peter 5:10, Romans 5: 3-4) just to name a few.
After many years of struggling in my faith to discern whether God or Satan was behind my turmoil I began to dig into the Bible to find the answers to those questions and, no doubt, the devil is behind all the destruction we see in the hearts of men via disease, murders, and calamity, but I found that God is in charge of me making it to the finish line (Hebrews 12:2). And He is committed to finishing that work at all costs. God is not concerned with my discomfort and even pain in trials because He is capable of keeping me. He does care, but it doesn’t concern him. His concern is that He finishes what He started in me for my good and His glory!
When Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked for you to sift you,” in Luke 22:31, who did Satan have to ask? God, of course. When the sons of God in Job presented themselves before God, who initiated the conversation with Satan about Job? God did! Look, I know these are not popular subjects, but if we’re going to grow up and walk in the truth then we need to start bringing these conversations to the table.
Yes, Satan is our enemy! Yes, he is the one who brings calamity and disease, but he is not in charge! He had to ASK Jesus for Peter! He had to get permission from God for Job (Job 1:6-8). He can do nothing that God does not allow. God was in charge of Pharoah’s responses to Moses to display his glory through Pharoah’s hard-heartedness (Romans 9:17). The enemies of Isreal were under God’s charge for the destruction of Jerusalem when the nation of Isreal was led into Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 25:9). God is large and in charge make no mistake and that brings me great comfort and security in my trials. To know that He is in charge in them and will work all things for my good, makes me trust Him completely and lean into His greatness for my deliverance.
I give no credence to the devil in my trials because I know they are working in me for a purpose and will ultimately strengthen and settle me according to God’s will. He has given us power over all the power of the enemy and nothing will harm us, no weapon formed against us will prosper. He didn’t say they wouldn’t come, but they have no power to harm or prosper against us. In this, I can rejoice.
When we read the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 we see trials of death and torture that our forefathers of the faith endured, and all of them gladly faced their tormentors in full assurance of faith that if this had come to them, they knew that God was working a far greater purpose in it and promised to keep them in the midst of their suffering! It was not easy and in many situations, it appeared that God was off duty, but surely God was near and working.
I can’t say this for every situation you encounter, I just know what I’ve seen from the scripture and what God has said about Himself that He is working out a far greater weight of glory in all that we endure.
2 Corinthians 4:17
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,”
2 Corinthians 4: 8-12
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.”
When we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, our life becomes His. We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) and do not belong to ourselves any longer (Galatians 2:20). Jesus knew this when He came to this earth. That’s how He could say, “My time has not yet come” (John 7: 6-8) and “You would have no power unless it was given to you from above (John 19:11).” He knew God was in charge of every twist and turn His life would take. He belonged to His Father and whatever His lot was in this earth, it was God’s to command and He surrendered to all of it. Even death on a cross. How much less His disciples? If Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5: 7-8) would not His disciples do as well?
These are things that I ponder in my life and walk with Christ.
Let Christ be glorified in all!