“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
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GOD’S CHILDREN AND THE SEAL OF THEIR GENUINENESS
(Vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor)
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: «The Lord knows those who are His,» and, «Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (Gr.: injustice or unrighteousness).» But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses (purges–purifies) himself from the latter (NKJV+NIV) (these), he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2Tim.2:19-21).
The role of the Church is to evangelize non-believers to take refuge in Christ to be saved from Hell, but also exhort believers to do God’s will in everything, so that they become people of blessings to others and to present themselves perfect before Christ’s Judgment Seat (Col.1:22; 2Cor.5:10). The present article is focused basically on the second point. I consider, therefore, necessary to examine verses 2Tim.2:19-21, which explain that we must, first of all, become “vessels for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”.
In 2Ti.2:19, the apostle Paul speaks in a picturesque and impressive way about the “solid foundation” of Christianity. The Bible says: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Cor.3:11). Elsewhere the apostle says: “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph.2:20). So, the foundation is Jesus Christ, on whom are built the church of God and the hopes of His people, as it is written in Isa.28: 16: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: «Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily” (or will not be ashamed or confused – according to other NT versions)”.
The meaning of the verses under study
The word “foundation” – in the context of the passage under study – as it can be drawn from the previous verses, is none else than the truth of the resurrection of believers. Certain believers, however, without denying the resurrection of the dead, had corrupted the true doctrine. The fact of the resurrection of Christ and of the dead remains as proclaimed by the Bible. Concerning the resurrection, it is written: “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty (vain) and your faith is also empty (vain). Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ,……… And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile (vain); you are still in your sins!” (1Cor.15:14-17). The proof of the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to be found in the following verse: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED” (Rom.10:9). No one can be saved unless he believes in his heart that “God has raised Him from the dead”. That is why the resurrection is the solid foundation of the Christian faith. The replacement of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, by another disciple took place for only one reason: to “become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Ac.1:22). The resurrection is the proof of our justification, as Paul the apostle wrote that Christ “… was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom.4:25). It remains, therefore, as a “solid foundation” upon which a seal exists, bearing two inscriptions:
- “The Lord knows those who are His,” and,
- “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (Injustice or unrighteousness).
This seal means, in other Biblical terms:
- “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (Joh.10:14), and
- “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1Pe.1:15). Or, more emphatically, “… he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Re.22:11).
This study is divided into two parts in which will be examined the two inscriptions on the seal:
THE FIRST INSCRIPTION ON THE SEAL
The meaning of the inscription:
“The Lord knows those who are His,” expresses the assurance and comfort that the Lord knows well those He owns. It also means, by extension, that of those that the Father has given Jesus, He has lost none but the son of perdition (John 17:12). It also says, in an indirect way, that the Lord also knows those who are not His… As regards those who are His, He does not only know them, but he also recommends and manifests to other people’s consciences. He renders them an epistle known and read by all men (2Cor.3:2).
God’s foreknowledge, predestination, calling and glorification
Since when does God know those who belong to Him? The answer is clear in the Bible: “before the foundation of the world”, that they should be holy and without blame before Him in love! (Eph.1:4). Those who He foreknew before the foundation of the world, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son! Moreover, He also called them, justified them and glorified them (Rom.8:29-30). And now, let us see…
The comfort of the first inscription
The Lord Jesus knows perfectly well those who are His and He will not lose them. It is here that the blessedness of eternal salvation and security lie, not on the foot of works, but upon the unchangeable will of God. It is, at the same time, a fearful inscription, showing that no one can deceive God. Though the faith of some persons may be overthrown, the foundation of God stands sure. God’s elect are led by the Spirit and the Spirit leads them unto all truth. God’s elect are sealed and a seal is affixed to all His elect to distinguish those who belong to Him and render them firm and authentic.
In John’s Gospel ch. 17, our Lord Jesus Christ, praying to His Father, repeats seven times the phrase, “those that you gave me” asking Him for their protection and eternal security. Jesus prays to His Father to keep them from evil and the evil one. He also tells His Father that He kept all those that the Father “gave” Him and that none of them is lost, but the son of perdition. Consequently, both Jesus Christ and His Father, keep the believers! We have, therefore, an absolute assurance about our security. God knows our heart! And it must be clearly stated that the Father does not “give” “false gifts” or hypocrites to His Son! (See also Joh.6:37-47)
What do the words “assurance” and “security” mean? Do they mean that all the warnings and admonitions of the Bible, for example “watch”, “take heed” etc. are given in vain? By no means! Warnings are valid for everybody, but mainly for those who play with sin. The Church is not in danger only from false prophets, erroneous doctrines and/or interpretations, but she is in great danger from people who make her go to sleep by saying “peace, peace”, while there is neither security nor peace (Jer.6: 14;8:11). Yes, from people who always comfort their hearers without giving them holy warnings to spare them from Hell! Such workers please people and make them “feel good”… If you do not warn your children and your brothers and sisters against dangers, you do not love them.
Main characteristics of True Christians
Though it is true that God knows in an absolute way those who are His, He has given us the possibility, up to a certain measure, to “… discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” (Mal.3:18). Let us see some of the main qualities of those who belong to Jesus Christ:
- Those who believe in their heart that Jesus Christ was “born of the virgin Mary” and that “God has raised Christ from the dead”;
- Those who confess that Christ has come in the flesh and that is the true God (1Jo.4:3);
- Those who are born again (Joh.3:5) and bear fruits worthy of repentance (Mt.3: 8; Lu.3:8);
- Those who love Him with all their heart, soul, strength and mind (Mark 12:37; Lu.10:27);
- Those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt.6:33);
- Those who humble themselves, repent and confess their sin;
- Those who, straightforwardly, ask for forgiveness and accept the punishment of their sin or the reaping of their sinful sowing or God’s chastisement (Lev.26: 41; Lu.23:41);
- Those who abide in His word (Joh.8:31) and have the Word of God as their exclusive guide for speaking, teaching and conduct;
- Those in whose heart God has put his laws in their spirit and has written them in their heart (Heb.8:10);
- Those who have a forgiving spirit (Mt.6:12) and are faithful in what is least (Lu.16:10);
- Those who know Christ’s voice, who are led by the Spirit of God (Rom.8:14), who take up their cross and follow Him (Joh.10:4) and have destroyed the bridges back to the world;
- Those who have been born of God do not sin, for His seed remains in them and they cannot sin, because they have been born of God (1Jo.3:9);
- Those who serve Him (Mal.3:18) and keep themselves so that the wicked one does not touch them (1Jo.5:18).
In other words, those who have accepted to become what the Lord wants them to become!
The good ground
Let me elaborate a bit more on the point of genuineness: In the Parable of the Sower – which we cannot examine now, in detail – it was only the good ground, the fourth category of people that yielded fruit! For the first two categories, the picture is clear right from the beginning: they are lost! BUT what about the people of the third category (in Mt.13:22), comprising people who receive the seed among the thorns, who hear the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and they become unfruitful? What does the word “choke” mean? What is the consequence of one who becomes unfruitful? Has this statement of the Lord anything to do with another similar statement of the Lord, which says: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt.7: 19; Mt.3:10 and Lu.3:9) or with “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (Joh.15:2)? Where can we classify them? To those who are saved or to those who are lost? Judge for yourselves!
How difficult it is, however, to discern those who belong to the two middle categories! First, those who receive the Word with gladness, but have no root in themselves, and endure only for a time. John the apostle says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1Jo.2:19). The former type of man goes out and the latter stands, he remains. Why? Because right from the beginning he had good and sincere intentions! This is the reason why God adopted him and assumed the responsibility to protect him and take care of him so that his faith should not fail! Second, those who hear the Word, but the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word and the word becomes unfruitful. Both of them resemble for a time with the plants on the good ground! The knowledge or the historical belief of the holy things exists, but the true spiritual experience and the fruit are missing! The people of the third category may remain up to the end of their lives within their local congregations for different reasons, but materialism or worldly cares choke the word of God in their heart and they remain, in reality, unfruitful. They may participate in the worship, lift and clap their hands, speak in tongues, may have an active life in the church and even be elders and deacons! What is going to happen to these two categories, when God is not in their heart?
Their activism and worshiping habits do not constitute fruitfulness. The prophet Isaiah says, “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God” (Isa.58:2) And the prophet Ezekiel completes this image saying, “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (Eze.33:32). They see and hear, but do not want to understand with their heart and return and be healed (Isa.6:10). They resemble gullible women who always learn and are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2Tim.3:6-7).
Thanks to God, however, none of these belong beforehand to a certain category… Thanks to God’s mercy and grace, their situation is not irreversible, if they repent! None of these are “predestined”. If they discern their situation, they can cleanse themselves from every sin through repentance and faith in the blood of Jesus and they may become, as we read in the verses under examination, “vessels for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”! This is the reason why the words of God exhort those whose spiritual condition is at stake and have forgotten that they were cleansed from their old sins, to repent… The apostle Peter exhorts such Christians to be diligent to make their call and election sure… (2Pe.1:8-10) This is the reason why there is a call from God for a…
Complete surrender of heart to God’s will
The Bible says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom.12:1-2). So, for those who have not yet presented their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is their reasonable service there will be no progressive transformation by the renewing of their mind; their service to God will never be reasonable but will remain unreasonable! If one does not conform to these instructions, what is going to be the impact on his salvation because of his disobedience? I do not know, only God knows! There is, however, one thing that I do know: It is very dangerous to resist God’s will and exhortations! God is a consuming fire! I would like to close this point of Christian genuineness by referring to a condition put forward by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that is:
No cross, no discipleship
Does it suffice to belong to a Christian nation or be written on his identity card or to lift up his hand when there is a call from the pulpit to be considered as a Christian? Those who call such people, Christians base their argument on the verse: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (1Joh.5:1), as well as to certain other verses such as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47. Very simple! It may be true, but it may not be true! However, what does that verse imply? In Matthew 16:24 we read: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Also in Mrk.8:34 and Lu.9:23 with slight changes). In Lu.14:26-27 we read twice: “… And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.” The last expression is very clear: No cross, no discipleship! Also, the Lord Jesus said: “And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me” (Mat.10:38). One cannot be His disciple unless he denies himself and takes up his cross. Sin must not have any more any place. Priorities must be radically changed. He dies to sin and he dies to self. Does that mean that it is possible not to be a disciple and be, at the same time, a true Christian? Can that be called a normal Christian life? Are these two conditions compatible? Is it possible to be a true Christian without a pure heart and a contrite spirit (Ps.34: 18; 51:17), without a loyal heart and a willing mind? (1Ch.28:9). Only true Christians, whose heart is humble, completely oriented to God and who live for God and His will are or can become true worshipers. Is it ever possible to become a true worshiper without adopting the spirit of the prodigal son who said: “… Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son”? (Lu.15:21). I am afraid that there are certain “Christians” who do not worship God but worship worship time, especially when the music is intensely rhythmic! Only God knows their heart!
I will vomit you out of my mouth
What about lukewarm Christians? Such people will be spewed out of God’s mouth, according to Re.3:14-19! “… So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth………” (Re.3:14-19) What does the expression, “I will vomit you out of My mouth” mean? Does it mean salvation, security and assurance or REJECTION? What is going to happen if he does not become zealous and does not repent? Let us see now…
God’s inner work in His elect
God has given his elect one heart and one way that they may fear God forever. God has made an everlasting covenant with them, that He will not turn away from doing them good and that He will put His fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Him (Jer.32:39-41). The LORD, their God, has circumcised their heart and the heart of their descendants, to love the LORD their God with all their heart and with all their soul, that they may live (De.30:6). God recommends His elect to the conscience of men (2Cor.4:2 and 2Cor.5:11). God has promised them that they will be given the possibility to discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves Him not (Mal.3:18).
Conclusion: “The Lord knows those who are His”. He blesses them and His children “are known by their fruit” (Mt.12:33 and Lu.6:44). One of the best proofs of true spiritual fruit is the genuineness of our faith when it is tested by fire of affliction and is found to praise, honor, and glory (1Pe.1:6-7). Now let us examine…
THE SECOND INSCRIPTION ON THE SEAL
The second engraving declares the duty of believers: “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity (Gr.: injustice or unrighteousness).” Those who knew God or better are known by God (Joh.10:14) are called to depart from all iniquity, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Cor.7:1; also Ps.34: 14; 3:2; Eph.5: 4; 5:11; 1Pe.1:15-16; Isa.52:11). Depart from iniquity is a proof of genuineness!
All those who name the name of Christ must depart or turn away from iniquity, from doctrinal iniquity, error or heresy and from all iniquity of attitude. It also means that all believers should depart from iniquitous men, from men, whether of bad principles or practices, or both, and have no fellowship with them. However, whether we get rid of iniquitous men or not, if we do not depart from iniquity personally, we will reap the consequences of our sin and will be useless for the Church of God! If the name of Christ is called upon us, we must depart from all iniquity, or else He will disown us and will say on the Great Day, “… Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity” (Mt.7:23).
The first thing to do now is to examine and understand what injustice or unrighteousness means. Injustice means lack of justice or of honesty. The Bible says that, “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death” (1Jo.5:17). All sin, however, is, generally speaking, an injustice or better an act of injustice either against God or against man or against both. So, unjust or unrighteous is he who commits injustice or unrighteousness. All men are sinners, but Biblically speaking unjust or unrighteous is he who abides in acts of injustice or acts of unrighteousness. A man who committed a sin, but has repented from his sin and has rejected it is not to be considered as unjust or unrighteous. Injustices can be committed to God and / or toward men. Let us now examine the case of injustice against God…
The lack of trust towards God’s love and truthfulness
In reality, injustice towards God is, but the lack of trust or faith towards Him. “… he that does not believe God (that is in His words) has made him a liar…” He dishonors God! He commits an act of injustice concerning His veracity, His goodness and His love for man! Unbelief in God is equal to injustice and faith or trust to Him is equal to justice. On the contrary, faith in God’s commandments or promises and trust in His character are imputed as justice. If we believe in His words, then we do an act of justice and we honor Him! This is the spirit of the words of the Bible: “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen.15:6). In addition, we do justice by telling the truth to God and to ourselves about our sins and by admitting our sinful nature. Let us examine now some…
Examples of injustices against our fellow men
As such, we could mention some of the following basic ones: lack of respect and honor to our parents, murder, adultery, stealing and lies or false witnessing (Ex.20:1-17). To these basic ones, we could add the following:
- To judge unjustly and show secretly or openly partiality (De.24: 17; Ps.82: 2; Job 13:10; Le.19: 15; Jas.2:4). Diverse weights and measures are an abomination to the Lord (Pr.20:10);
- To pervert the truth and call evil good and good evil…! (Isa.5:20);
- Accept accusations with pleasure against other people, denominations, churches or elders;
- To doubt the truthfulness of honest men;
- Not to open our mouth for the speechless and not warn those who are heading to perdition (Pr.31:8);
- To remove freedom of speech and prohibit any true dialogue leading to the truth and to transparency;
- To live selfishly, being interested in our own interest and/or in our own dignity before men;
- To act arbitrarily in our family, in our church, in our job, in our service;
- To commit an injustice to someone or to a minority on behalf of many or of the majority, unless the person suffering the injustice accepts it on behalf of others as did our Lord…
Conclusion: If a Christian and much more a Christian worker leads a life which is not worthy of the Gospel and his high Christian calling and sins, his sins cannot be “burned”, in other words, be forgiven, and him be saved as through fire (1Cor.3:15), unless his sins are confessed and rejected. Only erroneous teaching and useless Church activities can be burned. Sins must be confessed and wholeheartedly rejected in order to be forgiven. If a Christian tells lies or exaggerates things or minimizes things or makes doubtful compromises; if he makes promises privately or publicly and does not keep them (Ps.15:4); if he acts like a diplomat rather than as a Christian; if he thinks one thing, says another thing and does another thing (Ps.17:3); if he is not a man of principles and values but a man of opportunities; if he beats with his tongue his fellow men (Mt.24:49) and has a tendency to accuse; if he does not resist to bloodshed, striving against sin; if he is after a dishonest gain; if he lords over those entrusted to him by God (1Pet.5:3); if he finds or invents ways to excuse or justify himself; if he attributes the responsibility of his own bad behavior to other peoples’ faults (e.g. You made me sin), etc. And what is going to happen if an unrepentant spirit possesses him? That man is not going to have his sins “burned” and he be saved as through fire. Christ “… will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt.24:51). If, however, that man confesses his sins and rejects them, it is OK!
The root of sin
If we examine carefully the root of particular sins, in general, we will find out that the sins we have just mentioned and many others are due, in reality, to unbelief or lack of faith.
Let me mention a couple of examples:
- He who tells a lie, he tells that lie in order to protect himself physically or protect his dignity from the consequences of a bad act or to cover a previous lie. He takes refuge in a lie and tries to hide himself behind a lie. Why? If he believed that God would honor his truthfulness and would find ways to protect him, he would have not told that lie. Therefore, lies are the product of unbelief.
- Someone commits a theft. Why? In order to cover a true need or an imaginary need or to satisfy his love for money or his covetousness. If he believed that God loves him and that He would – no doubt – take care of all his needs and that He would not leave him or abandon him, would he stretch out his hand to take something that did not belong to him? Therefore, thefts are the product of unbelief. Let us see now which are the…
Practical consequences of faith and obedience
The first practical consequence of true salvation is to move away from sin and the second one is to keep moving away from sin! “… For this is the will of God, your sanctification……… For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1Th.4:2-8). The third practical consequence is that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Ac.5:32), fulfills their holy desires for their spiritual progress and their usefulness, which become manifest! Man in order to progress spiritually in justice and bring fruit in sanctification, he must keep being converted to God with all his heart by presenting himself to God as a living sacrifice as it is written in the New Law of God. Yes, to progress spiritually by a ‘once-and-for-all’ surrender to God and by a constant everyday renewing of their mind! And elsewhere God says: “… now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness…” (Rom.6:19-23). When this condition is fulfilled and keeps being fulfilled, then man, and only then, becomes “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”. So, apart from salvation, God makes His elect useful in God’s work.
Religious or church activities are good and commendable but what counts before God is not what we do for God but what we do with God and especially what we are for God. Is it ever possible for God to take into consideration what we do while we live in sin? Or when there is a sin, which is not confessed and abandoned or when you know that your brother has justifiably something against you? The Bible says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? …” (1Cor.6:9) and that “… unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.5:20). Now, let us examine the expression…
Vessels for honor and vessels for dishonor and their erroneous interpretation
Verse 20, speaks about vessels “for honor and some for dishonor”. The first thing that must be said is that true believers are earthen vessels whether they glitter as gold and silver or not and that have the divine treasure within them so that the excellence of the power is of God and not of them (2Cor.4:7). In addition, it must be said that God, the divine potter, has power over the clay, in His sovereignty, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor! The word “dishonor” does not mean “rejection” but fitness for certain commonplace kind of use. It does not mean «uselessness».
Many are those who understand this verse as meaning purification of the church. No doubt, it can be applied to the purification of the Church from errorists or of bad workers but it mainly refers to personal purification: “if anyone cleanses (purges–purifies) HIMSELF”. It does not say, “Cleanses or purifies the Church” but “if anyone cleanses HIMSELF”. That man must depart from any kind of iniquity. Then and only then, can he become a vessel of honor! Of course, if a church is dishonored by people who are errorists and who lead a sinful life or live in disorder and the Church is tainted with pernicious, damnable errors relating to the doctrine of faith and is purged from such people, there is no doubt that that church will become sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work, yea, meet for the Master’s use… God will honor that Church… This principle is also valid for States and Governments… Let us examine this point carefully:
A) Vessels for honor: In a great house, says Paul, comparing the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of truth (1Tim.3:15), with a great house, there is a variety of vessels of different matter and for different uses, some of great value for honorable uses and some of smaller value for non-honorable, for meaner everyday uses. The word “vessels” corresponds to us “believers”. Some vessels are of gold or silver or porcelain or crystal, which are intended to be used in receptions or banquets and some of clay or wood or plastic for everyday common use. If the Prime Minister or the King of this country pays a visit to you, you will not use plastic dishes or cups but the best and more precious vessels that you possess in order to serve and honor him. So, there are believers in local churches, who are comparable to gold and silver for their excellence. There are plenty of talents, gifts and abilities, with diplomas and doctorates in sciences or in theology, with cleverness, with eloquence, with knowledge of many languages, may be with a lot of money and of noble origin! They glitter like silver or gold and their presence in the church bestows the church fame and glance. If these persons have the necessary purity, both of doctrine and of life as well as of solidity they are truly “vessels” of gold and silver, designed for honorable service and to the honor of Christ! BUT what should we say about them if, in spite of all their talents, gifts, diplomas, etc. their doctrine and/or life or attitudes are not pure or worthy to be praised? What if they claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit but the things that grieve the Spirit do not grieve them? They cannot, IN REALITY, serve the Lord in spite of their talents, gifts, activities etc. “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me” (Ps.101:6).
B) Vessels for dishonor: In local churches there are persons without reputation, obvious talents and gifts, without eloquence, without money, without diplomas, without knowledge of foreign languages of humble origin and situation, without high social position and without fame etc. Some of them are even poor political or economic refugees. They look like vessels made of wood or clay! IF they are pure and love the Lord with all their heart, what are they? Are they not vessels sanctified giving honor to their Heavenly Master, prepared for every good work? However, if such vessels have no pure life and are of bad character, are they useful, meet for the Master’s use? Of course not, unless they purify themselves.
HOW ALL VESSELS CAN BECOME USEFUL FOR THE MASTER
We conclude, therefore, that a believer cannot become a vessel for honor, meet for his Master’s use, unless he purges himself from known sins and from the iniquity of holy things (Ex.28:38). Every vessel must be pure in order to be useful! Notice please, according to Ac.6:3 that even those who serve at the tables have to be of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom… (Ac.6:3) Sanctification in the heart is the only and best preparation for every good work. If the tree is good, then its fruit will be good (Mat.12:33).
Let it be clearly stated that purity either exists or does not exist. Do you put fresh water to drink in a dirty vessel even if it is of gold or silver that glitters? God says “My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.” (Ps.101:6). When the Bible says “he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me” does not mean «sinless perfection» but faithful walk in obedience concerning repentance and faith and trust in God; it means purity, humility, brokenness. In few words, perfect love for the truth and spiritual transparency! God, in return, to all those who put their ways in order shows His salvation (Ps.50:23); and to all those who repent and take out the precious of the vile God makes them as His mouth (Jer.15:19).
So, the secret is PURITY of heart and life! “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Mt.5:8). People who live in disorder and sin, who do not respect others, who judge with partiality, who are full of hidden pride or arrogance, who live in bitterness, with unforgiving spirit, with love of money, with covetousness, with backbiting, with violence, with frivolity, with inconsistency etc., do they have anything to do with purity? People who respect neither themselves nor their promises, people who always say “yes” and almost always do “no” can they be truly used by the Lord? People who are authoritative and act arbitrarily, who do not accept criticism openly or in their heart, who deprive people’s freedom of speech and prohibit all kind of open dialogue, who never pay true attention to what you tell them, can they truly be used by God? People who are man-pleasers and who finally displease everybody and above all their Lord and Savior, can they be used by God? People who fear men but do not fear God, can they truly serve God? “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” (1Cor.7:19) Gold or silver or wood or clay is nothing but cleansing ourselves from all known sin is what matters! Then and only then, we will be useful to our Master! “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Ps.50:23)
ΤΗΕ SOURCE OF PIETY, OF WISDOM AND UTILITY
IF man knows all these things and has not yet put them into practice, this is due to the fact that the fear of God is not in his heart. He does not tremble at God’s Word: He does not fear exceedingly and does not let the Word strongly affect him. He does not live with the fear that he is going to miss Heaven and go to Hell: He is not afraid of the consequences of indifference, of sin and of rebellion! It is only the fear of God that can make people depart from evil. “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil” (Pr.16:6). Have you ever known someone that does not depart from his sin? The fear of God is not in him or in her! He or she has never taken seriously into consideration the moment when he or she will be called to give an account to God. Let him/her pray so that the LORD of hosts be hallowed in his/her conscience and … be his/her fear and let Him be his/her dread (Isa.8:12-13). Let the fear of God become his/her wisdom. Let him/her fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ec.12:13-14). If he/she conforms to God’s will; then when he/she will appear before God, he/she will be full “…with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Php.1:11). Let us not be discouraged because of God’s spiritual exigencies. He Who calls us to a holy life He will do it. Let us tell Him with all our heart: Let your will be done in my life! Amen!