Many men work hard for spiritual cleansing.
Some stoke the fire. Some bring large stones to place in the fire. Once the stones are hot, still other men remove them from the fire and pour water over them to create a great storehouse of steam.
They bathe in the steam they have created, hoping their work will achieve the desired ends of eliminating both sweat and negativity from their bodies and surroundings.
To them, this is a holy fire where they must labor intensely for spiritual cleansing.
As soon as they begin to call on spirits to come and honor their work, one man rises to leave. He has a Spirit dwelling in him that he did not work for. The Spirit in Him is greater than the spirits that are in the world.
He walks a mile to a friend’s house where he knows there are others who have the same Holy Spirit dwelling in them. None of them have worked for spiritual cleansing or to achieve this indwelling Spirit of God. Instead, they have been consumed.
God, a consuming fire, has completely incinerated who they used to be and remade them as brand new creations.
They didn’t work to earn this. They were simply persuaded that the Living God was the Only God, and they believed His promises.
All of their work and accomplishment was consumed by His holiness and love. His indwelling is no cleansing, but instead complete consumption. They did not mind the pain it cost because it also consumed their alcoholism, their sexual deviancy, their hatred, their selfishness, their pride- every impurity.
Back at the holy fire, it is late, and the workers are tired. If it rains or snows, their work must wait. If they grow ill, their work must wait. Even tonight, when the work was done thoroughly and well, they leave wondering if it was enough. As soon as they encounter negativity, the urge to work is on them again, relentlessly driving them like a horseman with whip and spur. Every false religion serves these non-gods.
The spirits they have called mock them, at first seeming powerful and friendly, but with growing appetites which demand more and more. The fire burns, but it has not cleansed for good. It is like a high that wears off, leaving them longing for the next hit, a higher high.
Those who have been consumed by the Consuming Fire know how easy it is to fall into the trap of trying to work for spiritual cleansing. They’ve read Romans. And Galatians. And James.
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
If we’ve been consumed by Jesus Christ, we no longer need to work to earn cleansing.
“Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” which no rain, or snow, or illness can negate. He has done all the work on our behalf so that we may rest in His peace.