Submit or Be Burned

No, this is not a “turn or burn” post. I’m straight up talking to Christians today.

A few months ago, God told me that the Church, meaning the individuals who make up the Body of Christ, has two choices: Submit to the fire of the Holy Ghost or be burned up by the fires of tribulation.

Not surprisingly, I was in no hurry to share these words publicly. They could be taken in several different ways, and I’ve been talking to God about what He meant by them. I do think there is an element of us having to submit to the Holy Spirit if we don’t want to miss the Rapture and be burned by The Tribulation, but I believe this warning is more immediate in nature.

I’ve been doing some intense Bible study lately, working my way through several Old and New Testament books, and see more clearly than ever the truth Jesus spoke when, in John 16:33, He said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” That’s the New King James. In the New Living Translation (NLT) it’s, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”

We like to think that when you accept Jesus as your Savior life becomes a walk in the park. Consequently, we’re sometimes surprised when things don’t go the way we want them to, when we pray and our prayers aren’t answered like we would choose to have them to be answered, or when others in the body of Christ hurt us whether intentionally or on accident. We don’t want tribulation, trials, or sorrows. But you know what? 1 Peter 1:6-7a (NLT) says, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” (emphasis mine) So your godly reaction to the trials is the proof of your faith.

I know there is also the stance that says if things are going badly for you it’s because you’ve sinned. Now, before I go any further let me say we can, through our sin, open doors that invite the devil in. I did that very thing once while driving. My husband and I were arguing, and I was so angry with him that I couldn’t have heard the voice of God if He’d been sitting beside me yelling out a warning. As a result, we were in a potentially deadly accident. My sinful anger opened the door but thank God His grace brought us all through it alive. Having said that, no, the fact that you’re going through “It” does not necessarily mean you’ve sinned. As I quoted above, Jesus said we WILL have tribulation in this world.

Yes, it’s clear in the Old Testament that Israel’s sin brought on God’s judgement repeatedly. But here’s the thing, it’s also clear that the judgement was to serve a purpose: It was to draw God’s people back to HIm. In Ezekiel alone we see the phrase, “Then they will know that I Am the Lord,” 54 times!

Throughout Scripture we see that it is the fire, the trials and tribulations, that purifies us. Walking through the fires of tribulation with our focus on God, actively choosing to submit to Him and His Spirit, burns off the things that don’t belong. For illustration, the bonds that held Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego burned off when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. They were in the fire, but they were in the very best company (Jesus) and were walking around freely. And to top it all off, they didn’t even smell of smoke when they walked out.

It is going through the fire that strengthens us, building our faith and enlarging our testimony. That sounds counterintuitive but think about a metalsmith forging a sword. The heat and the pounding of the hammer are both necessary to turn a simple length of metal into a warrior’s blade. If the metal could talk, would it choose to be treated so? Maybe, if it had a vision of what it was destined to become.

So, understanding that fire is necessary for spiritual growth, there are a few things we need to consider. First, just like Israel had the choice to move on into the Promised Land or spend forty years walking in circles in the desert, we have a choice. When going through trials we can either actively submit to the Holy Spirit in the midst of those trials, doing what God tells us when God tells us to do it, so that we can learn, grow, and be purified and strengthened by them, or we can lean on our own strength and not only be burned up but face having to go through the same fire again. We’ve all seen this happen. That’s why there’s the saying that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting to get a different result.

And then there’s this, which is the point I believe God was getting to: Although trials are a natural part of this life, they don’t have to be a necessary part of our growth. Yes, I mean some trials can be avoided, IF.

“Submit to the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

Do you remember from when you were a child, or if you have children, how some things are learned the hard way and others by paying attention? One child learns not to touch the hot stove because he ignores his father’s warning and gets burned. Another child doesn’t need to touch the stove to grasp the concept because he pays attention to what Dad says. For him, the physical fire isn’t necessary for growth because he understands and submits to His father’s instruction. He avoids the fire because he obeys.

The Holy Spirit, if we submit to His will, can bring us through the fires of our lives uninjured just as surely as those three Hebrew boys were brought through their fire, but that’s not all. If we submit to the fire of the Holy Spirit, obeying God’s will and doing what He tells us instead of having to learn through hard experiences, we can grow without trials and troubles. I would much rather grow this way!

Also, do you remember what I said about the blade being willing to go through the “torture” if it had a vision of what it was destined to become? The Holy Spirit can give us that vision. My pastor says often that it’s not what you are today that has the devil attacking you; it’s what he knows you have the potential to become. It is a sad thing when the devil has a more powerful vision for your life than you do! Ask for that vision; it will carry you through anything!

Not so sure about that? Jesus dreaded the Cross. In the garden, He begged God to find another way to save us from our sin. Nonetheless, He submitted, and in Hebrews 12:2 we see the vision He had, how He focused on what really mattered. “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.”

And I think I’m going to leave it right here: Submit to the fire of the Holy Spirit or be burned up by the fires of tribulation.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Check me if you still doubt. Here are a few verses to get you started.
Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2, John 16:33, Romans 5:3-4, Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Hebrews 12:11, James 1:2-4, James 1:12, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Peter 5:10

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