More Precious than Gold
All Gold is Pure Gold
Gold has a long history with mankind. It has been used to make jewelry since 4000 B.C. It is often mentioned in the Old Testament in reference to the adorning of the temple. It is the main item in pirates’ booty, it has recently been used to treat cancer, and it is believed by some to be found in a pot at the end of the rainbow. The Bible says that gold paves the heavenly streets, so apparently, gold will even play a part in our eternal existence! Gold is probably the most recognizable element on the Periodic Table of Elements (number 79) and is considered to be pure when it is at least 99.99%, or 24 karats. All gold, even when it is extracted from the earth in its most basic form, is recognizable as the element called gold, and is 100% pure. Any impurities that are found with the gold are not gold. The gold may contain other substances, but it simply needs to have those impurities removed. Nevertheless, the value of gold is based on its purity. All gold is pure in and of itself, but when it is mixed with something that is not gold, it is designated as impure.
A New Heart and a Mind Being Renewed
When we came to the Cross of Jesus, we were found sinful, lost, and separated from God: “They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts” (Eph. 4:18). Both our hearts and minds were lost in a hopeless and fallen state. However, Christ “took our sins away” and we became the “righteousness of God in Him”. We died with Christ and rose with Him to “walk in a new way of life.” As we walked out of the tomb “in Christ,” we emerged as “new creations.” We became “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” because “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Pet. 2:9, 2 Tim. 1:9, Isa. 43:25, 2 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 2:20, Rom. 6:4, 2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 3:10, Ezk. 36:26).
Through Jesus, our hearts were not just declared 99.99% pure, but 100% pure!
The Holy Spirit declared through the prophet of old, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezk. 36:26, NIV). We receive this heart transplant in Christ when we entered into His grace and were saved, and were made holy in Him, sanctified through His death.
But our minds are continually coming into the realization of who and what we are in Christ. Even though there was some transformation that took place within our minds at salvation, it was not a completed work, but rather the beginning of a lifelong journey, having our minds renewed through the purification of our faith. So although we possess the holiness of God in our inner man, we contain impurities in our beliefs. It is not our hearts (who we are in Christ) that need any further purification, but rather what we believe (our faith).
We are hagios
The New Testament Greek word translated “sanctified” is the word hagios. Hagios means to have been made holy and set apart for God’s purpose. It is the same word used for the term “Holy”, as in Holy Spirit. It is also the word that is translated “saint.” When the Apostle Paul writes to the “saints in Corinth,” he is calling them the “holy ones” in Corinth. “…To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” (1 Cor. 1:2).
The atoning sacrifice made through Christ’s death sanctified us, making us pure. The writer of Hebrews says, “…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” and “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10, 14).
Because we are in Christ, we are holy, or pure, in Him. However, just as with gold, there are impurities that are present with us that God wants to remove. These impurities do not make up any part of who we are, but they are found in our beliefs. The good news is that we are not our beliefs. We believe what we believe, but what we believe is not who we are in Christ. In Him, we are made pure, perfect, and complete. If what we believe is not true and pure, it is not of God and will need to be refined like gold. This takes time and involves a process. In the meantime, we can rest in the finished work of Christ. We can trust that God is refining our faith and making it pure, so it lines up with the reality of who we are in Christ.
The outcome of God’s refinement is mind renewal, which leads to transformation. When a believer experiences transformation, he will effortlessly manifest the fruit of the Spirit as he allows Christ to live His life through him. The fruit of the Spirit is the Spirit’s fruit, not our own. We need not labor to produce the fruit of the Spirit. We will become loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The fruit of the Spirit is a natural and expected outcome of a refined faith and a renewed mind.
The fruit of the Spirit is not a list of things to try to do. Instead, it is a description of who we are in Christ. When Christ is free to live His life in and through us, we will not need to try and “do the fruit.” We will “be the fruit” since it will no longer be “… I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20). If His fruit is not evident, we need to find out what it is we believe that is hindering us from experiencing it.
God desires that our faith be made pure, even purer than gold refined by fire. To the degree that our faith is pure we will experience the manifestation of Christ’s life in and through us. God is bringing this about so that “…the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1Pet. 1:7)
The Spirit’s Transformation is Maintenance-free
The transformation that the Spirit brings requires nothing on our part to bring it about or to sustain it. It is completely a work of God. If there are areas of our lives where we find we must expend energy in order to live in the truth and we are laboring, trying to produce the fruit of the Spirit, then there is something amiss. Remember, the fruit is the Lord’s and cannot be accomplished through our own personal effort. We can try to act like Jesus, but only the Spirit can conform us to His image.
Some people strive daily to walk in a victory that has already been secured for them in Christ. John the Apostle says it succinctly when he declares, “For whoever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John. 5:4). Faith is knowing the truth with absolute certainty, with assurance and conviction: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
Knowing the truth in this way is not something we attain by trying harder to believe. Faith, or heart belief, is granted by God to the believer as a gift. The Apostle Paul continually prayed for the Ephesian church: “… may [God] give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:17-19). Our role in this process is to position ourselves where we are able to receive His truth and freedom. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).