Monday, September 12, 2011

Proverbs 25:4-5 commentary; removing the dross from the silver

4 ¶ Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. 5 Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.

A dictionary will define dross as waste or impure matter. The Bible will define it further as something that is impure in that it is mixed with baser things.

Psalm 119:119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.

Ezekiel 22:18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.

The word, “finer” is used only once in the Bible. It is the person who processes, refines, and purifies something. As these verses, in their literal sense, refer to a king of Israel’s duty, he must remove the wicked from his presence, even from his kingdom and his throne will be established in righteousness.

Christ will remove the wicked from among those claiming to be His people just as a finer would heat up silver to remove the dross, the waste and impurity, from it. At His physical return to earth He will separate the nations, evil from the good, as in Matthew 25. In Matthew 13, at the end of the millennium, all of those who falsely proclaimed to obey Him but, in fact, rebelled with the kings of the earth when Satan is loosed for a bit from his imprisonment will be cast into everlasting fire. Now, no matter when you believe these events will happen, as I am not intending to get into an argument on this subject here the point remains the same and this is a valuable lesson for us Christians.

Part of the purification process, part of our sanctification process, is to remove the impure from the pure in our lives. We have several ways to accomplish that. Some of you will make an effort every day to live right and will by force of your own intentions, your own will, attempt to live as you think Christ would have you live. Others, who have given up on their own will, will submerge themselves in God’s written words in His Bible and plead with God to change them as He sees fit.

The Bible is a finer, heating you up and challenging you, burning away the impurities and the mixtures that take away from what it is God wants you to be. Like a piece of granite the sculpture uses, God will chip away at things about you He has no use for until He has made something meet for use. Like the mast builder He will add things that He wants you to have. I am not talking about using the Bible as a book of rules or advice, which has its place. I am talking about God speaking to you through His words in this Book. As you read the lists of names in 1st Chronicles God will deal with something in your heart, not in audible words, but in a way that finds you changed once you’re done.

Yes, we read the Bible for God’s clear moral standard. Yes, we read the Bible to understand God’s ways and His purposes. Yes, there is history, science, and ethics taught in the Bible. We can learn from it in many ways. However, that isn’t part of the purification process. This lifelong process goes on as God’s word; read, heard, and preached are permitted to work inside of you in a way that you have no control over. All you can do is submit to its authority over your lives. God’s Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith, practice, AND doctrine.

How much of your faith is polluted by your own will, your own self empowerment, your own carnal imagination and how much is directed by an omnipotent and omniscient God? How many of you have faith in your faith more than you have faith in Christ? How many of you declare yourselves as Christians because of an act of will on your part rather than submission to the truth of the God who created you?

We have impurities in our hearts and God uses the Bible as the finer who will burn. Yes, God uses our circumstances to purge us from things that we hold onto that are not of God or, good things that we have placed in between us and God. Many a young mother has been forced to look up when God took her baby from her. Many a young man has been made to look to the heavens when his dreams for his life were shattered by a disease or condition. But, without the Bible’s clear direction, taught by the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, these circumstances would be just a test of our strength to hold onto our own faith in ourselves to withstand adversity.

As we grow in faith God uses His word to remove the impurities from our lives like the finer uses fire to remove the dross from the silver. There are so many verses in the Bible that deal with things that He does not want in our lives and things that He does want that it is staggering to read them all.

Our love of money and wealth is in the way of our relationship with Christ.

Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Your own will can’t drive out this lust. You’ll just wrap it up in a pretty package with a bow and say you are seeking wealth to glorify God. Reading the Bible over and over will disabuse you of that notion.

Our love of what attracted Eve to the forbidden fruit is in the way of our relationship with Christ. Let’s compare the passage in Genesis with the admonition in 1 John.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

1John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

You will not, of your own accord, remove these impurities from the silver that is your faith. You’ll make excuses. You’ll lie. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a Christian say they were not doing something ungodly that they clearly were doing. And they believed their own lie. They’d say they weren’t gossiping while they gossiped. They’d say they weren’t placing themselves as an ideal example when they were. They’d say they were a wicked sinner, a piece of dirt, when every action and every word that came from them showed they didn’t believe that one bit.

The Bible will change you. Beyond the Bible study, beyond the memorization of a verse or two, beyond these necessary things, if you submit to God’s word, God will remove sin from your heart. Will you cease from sin? Not on this earth you won’t. Will you be perfected and complete? Not yet. But, God will change you through His words in His Book. If your changes don’t come directly from the divine hand of a Holy God then they are purely humanistic drivel, the success or failure of which is based on your human will.

Won’t you let God fine you? Won’t you let Christ change you? Won’t your deny yourself and submit yourself to God through His words? You have Christ in your heart. The Word (Capital W) of God by which all things were created and by which all things are sustained. Now let His words (small W) into your heart, soul, and mind to change you into a vessel meet for the Master’s purpose. The King of all creation will remove that which has no value from your life and make you useful for His purpose.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

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