Refine My Heart

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.

Psalm 66:10

I am amazed at how faithful God is to refine my heart, making me more and more into His image for His glory. Have you ever had a time when you seem to face the same sin or struggle over and over? I know I do with myself, and I can also see it while disciplining my children. Discouragement can creep into my thoughts as I wonder why I choose the wrong action again and again. Sometimes I find myself in the bathroom with a child discussing the same sin issue as yesterday and the week before, almost as if it won’t go away.

Malachi 3:3 says the He is a Refiner’s Fire, purifying and refining us that we may bring gifts of righteousness to Him. He is a consuming fire, and Scripture reminds us that only when the dross is removed from the silver can the vessel be shaped.

refining my heart

Refining silver requires several steps. First the ore is broken.  The Gospel is clear: we offer nothing for our salvation, and we contribute nothing to our great need for rescue from our sin. We need the breaking open by His hand so that Christ alone can save us.

A crucible, a place where concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change and development, heats these pieces of ore. High heat separates the silver from all the other matter mixed with it. Proverbs 17:3 says The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts. The Holy Spirit works within our hearts, convicting and bringing up to the surface the waste, the sin, the flesh I wrestle, in order to remove them and cleanse me from my unrighteousness. His hands patiently skim this next round of selfishness or impatience off the top all the while seeking to clarify my heart that I can reflect Him more and more.

Silver becomes more and more malleable and flexible as the dross is removed. My heart bends more towards His as He refines. The artist can fashion beauty as the waste is removed.

my response

How much do I dread the dross? How often do I avoid or try to cover up the very thing God desires to draw to the top in order to remove?  I seek every opportunity to recirculate it through or push it back to the bottom so that no one else could see or so it doesn’t reflect on me. But God wants to work in these very areas that shame wants to hide. He desires to eradicate the flesh that He may be glorified. 

Even in parenting my children, as I watch the Spirit refine and work to remove the sin, the waste, the dross in their lives, I squirm. I worry that I am responsible, that perhaps their struggles are my fault. I want to step in between His hand and them and buffer or mend. As my daughter wisely stated, “Perhaps God is at work in our character in ways only He can.” 

Only He knows the exact plan for each of us. Thankfully He knows the vessel He desires to create and continues to refine. He will work in our lives that we may know and love Him more.

Conviction

Sometimes I can see it immediately, the blackness, the thickness of it, the wedge it places within my heart – the absolute movement away from the truth in order to answer the pull and tug of my flesh. I can see the curtain drop in order to allow my pride or my selfishness to justify my actions. I know my choices are sinful and yet these desires draw me in. I long for forgiveness for the sin I see.

photo credit: noah kimsey

But there are other times when my flesh fools me. The filmy gauze that covers my heart is almost invisible to me – the inspection within that checks my motives cannot see the lies I embrace. Until the Spirit blows across. The flutter of heart deceit, the lifting of a corner of pride, or the push for self preservation becomes visible for a moment. Often I am surprised to see the hidden motivations of flesh and the self-worship that spring forth.

Conviction comes with both and conviction only comes through the Holy Spirit. He is perpetually at work within me turning my heart from the idolatry of self to the worship of God alone.

Repentance must follow the conviction. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can confess our sins and be cleansed. Spurgeon says, “We must confess the guilt as well as the fact of sin. It is useless to conceal it, for it is well known to God; it is beneficial to us to own it, for a full confession softens and humbles the heart. We must as far as possible unveil the secrets of the soul, dig up the hidden treasure of Achan, and by weight and measure bring out our sins.” Confession of sin is not merely saying something was done. “To confess sin, then, means to say the same thing about it that God says about it,” Wiersbe clarifies.

2 sides of forgiveness of sin

Cleansing is 2 sided. We have the judicial side or what I’ve always thought of as positional forgiveness. As a believer I am forgiven for all sins, past present and future. That will never change.

But the other side is personal.  My relationship minute to minute with Christ depends on my level of pursuing light or my comfort with the dark. Matthew 5:3 addresses this when Jesus talks about being poor in spirit. If I live my life understanding my need for salvation and forgiveness and if I mourn (Matthew 5:4) over my sin then I am continually listening to the Holy Spirit as He brings conviction. I am surrendering and confessing so that I stay in right relationship, staying in step with the Spirit.

His truth in forgiveness

The joy of right relationship with Him leads me to proclaim who He is. I worship unreservedly because I know He sees all of me. I serve wholeheartedly because I know how much I have been given. My identity does not contend with the flesh uncovered. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I am secure ~ secure to walk with Him, to repent before Him, to realign with His truth, and to rejoice in His salvation.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, nut now you have received mercy. ~1 Peter 2:9-10

Where do you find yourself struggling with your sin?

Do you seek His forgiveness, listening to His conviction?

Do you walk triumphantly, confident of who you are in Christ?