The Purifying Word

Some ignore, well, that is too harsh. Some people don’t think about (how’s that?) what James wrote in this letter:

“If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless.

I took that from the Names of God Bible. But, The Living Bible puts an interesting slant on it:

“Anyone who says he is a Christian but doesn’t control his sharp tongue is just fooling himself, and his religion isn’t worth much.”

Then again, Eugene Peterson’s version found in The Message says:

“Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air.”

But no matter which version you use, the same thing applies. We need to control our tongue! No, I am not talking about grabbing hold of your tongue and holding it with your fingers. James was referring to the way you talk, the words you use. Are you rude to others? Are you quite proficient in the use of profanity? Are you more critical to others, than complimentary? These are the things we need to me conscious of.

Seriously, do you ever regret the words you have spoken: words of pride, dishonesty, envy, gossip, or anger. Although you can seek to restore bruised relationships through repentance and forgiveness, spoken words can never be retrieved. Once they are spoken, you cannot take them back.

Scripture warns us,

Do not let unwholesome (you know, foul, profane, worthless, vulgar) words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech that is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear you speak (Ephesians 4:29)

Well, Isaiah discovered an excellent example of how we can heal they way we speak to others. As he grew closer to the Lord, he became bold enough to ask for a vision of Yahweh’s Holiness. When the Lord opened his eyes he said, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1). Wow! Now don’t be confused, that does indeed apply to guarding the words that you speak!

You see, anyone who wants to live a life that pleases the Lord, they must continually go into His presence until he obtains a vision of God’s holiness. All healing, all true blessings, all victories begin at His throne. That is where we see God in all of His holiness!

Once Isaiah was in Yahweh’s Holy presence, he became deeply convicted of having unclean lips: “Then I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’” (6:5).

As I have discussed many times,you can see this happening in the Song of Solomon, as the maiden is brought into her Lord’s chambers. The awesome presence of God very quickly reveals everything that is not of him as blackness. “I am black,” (Song 1:5) she cries as she is brought to the light of God. Not black with deliberate disobedience and sin, because she has already been bought and cleansed from the past. In order to have been brought this far into their relationship, she had to have put aside everything that was knowingly wrong in her life.

The Spirit of God will deal deeply with anyone who makes the confession of the maiden that they “will run after you.” He will reveal everything in their heart and life that is contrary to the mind of God. If the believer is obedient at every point, then the moment comes when the light breaks in and in the King’s chambers the redeemed one cries, “I am black!” Not, as I already said, with the sins that have been put away, but black in herself, in her humanity, in all her accursed inheritance from the first Adam.

Before, she only thought about the blackness of sin. Now she sees that beauty as a creature is corrupted. All of her natural endowments and gifts are corruption. She cries, “I was left alone, gazing at this overwhelming vision; I had no strength left, my face turned pale and I was helpless” (Daniel. 10:8). “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself” (Job 42:5-6), “I am undone, I am ruined, I am unclean” (Isaiah 6:5).

When this self-abhorrence is real and deep, then you will not hesitate to acknowledge it. Many people want the self-life dealt with in secret and are not willing to be as honest before others as they are before God. Some even refuse to be fully open before their God. This pride has to be broken before deliverance can come. Even our spiritually religious appearances must be surrendered so that we can be brought into a life of transparent reality before both God and man.

My wife has a marvelous gift that allows her to see beyond the words people speak. She is able to see inside the motives and truth in what people say to her. Okay, granted, I call it a marvelous gift — but it can also be very disconcerting when you are the patient under the knife of the exam — unable to hide from her probing eyes. This is not something she does deliberately, or even consciously — she doesn’t even see it as all that “special.” But the insight she has is very amazing and the more marvelous because of her innocence in using the gift.

In realizing the depth of her blackness, the maiden also realizes the changes that have been completed through the righteousness of Christ. This new beauty shows her acceptance in Christ and the transforming effect of grace in her life. “Yes, I am black, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem. Black in myself as the rough, unsightly tents of Kedar” (Song 1:5). Kedar refers to a dark room or chamber, so she is pointing to her dark and un-renewed mind or soul. Paul stated that he counted everything in his physical-life as rubbish, and consequently experienced the righteousness of God. In the same way, the Church or believer is often referred to in the symbolic language of Scripture as the moon. In itself, the moon is dark. There is no light of its own.However, the light it gives off is simply a reflection of the light from the sun. The sun in scripture represents Jesus.

The maiden proclaims that she is “dark like the tents of Kedar” yet is as attractive as the beautiful “curtains of Solomon.” Solomon’s curtains were made of fine linen, which refer to the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8). The maiden has turned to the finished work of her Redeemer, knowing that she is accepted in the Beloved, and covered with His beauty in the eyes of a Holy God.

One with Him, O Lord, There I live, and yet not I;
Christ it is who there adores Thee;
Who more dear, or who more nigh?
All the Father’s heart mine own — Mine — and yet His Son’s alone.
~Author Unknown.

Jesus said, “If any man comes to me, and does not hate his own life . . . he cannot be my disciple.” ~Luke 14:26

Then the maiden cries, “Do not stare at me because I am black, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected. Tell me, you whom I love, where do you feed your flock and where you rest your sheep at midday. For why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your companions?

The king replies, “If you do not know, most beautiful among women, go to the footsteps of the flock. And feed your young goats beside the tents of the shepherds

You see, although the maiden sees that she is black and dark, she also has the hope that God will flood her being with his glory. Isaiah prophesied that “the moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted” (Isaiah 30:26). The darkness of the moon, symbolizing the un-renewed mind of the believer, will be totally transformed and filled with the light of the sun so that it too appears in the image of the sun itself! In fact, it said it would be “like the light of seven full days.” Seven of course referring to spiritual perfection, so this verse confirms that there will be complete light flooding the Church!

Eventually, the maiden began to feel the pain of being misunderstood and misjudged by other children of God. “My mother’s sons were angry with me . . .” (Song 1:6). Whoa! They thought she was one of the most consecrated workers, and couldn’t understand her bitter self-condemnation and her cry that she is black. Didn’t she walk in victory? Wasn’t she used by God? Then what in the world is this sudden exclamation? But you see, they never knew how she had suffered in secret under the increasing conviction of utter failure. They never saw what was passing between her and her Lord. It was true she had laid aside every weight, and had walked in victory up to the light she had. Now — all that she had thought was beautiful, looked black, and all of her consecrated activity was nothing but a hideous, loathsome self.

Don’t even look at me,” she cries, “because the sun has scorched me!” “God is a sun, a consuming fire” — He has scorched me with his terrible holiness. “Woe is me, for I am undone; I have seen the King” (Isaiah 6:5).

The maiden is so conscious of what she is in herself, that she feels as if she had been laid bare to every human eye, as well as the eyes of God. She cannot stand any praise or esteem from those around her. Every desire to be looked up to, or honored, is gone. Her only desire is a deeper abasement so that her Lord alone may be seen.

Okay, so why did the maiden, and Isaiah, cry out, “I am a man of unclean lips”? It was because he had seen the King of Glory! Whenever we are in the very presence of our God, our transgressions become much more obvious, and the sinfulness more repulsive. The light of His holy countenance exposes everything that is unlike Him!

Finally, Isaiah allowed the Lord to touch him and cleanse him with His holy fire.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’” (Isaiah 6:6-7).

My friends, the Word of God is a live coal and the Holy Spirit is its fire! You may not realize it yet, but right now you have been touched by the Holy Spirit through this message and God wants to put His fire to your tongue and to sanctify it. He can do it for you if you will let His Word convict you! He is the only One who can do it. Your part is simply to confess, as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, I am unclean!

This morning, my encouragement if for you to allow this word to go straight to your heart and purge you with its fire. Confess, “Yes, it is me, Lord! I will not let this word pass me by! Purge my lips and my tongue. Cleanse my mouth and my heart!

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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