Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our God is a Consuming Fire

I saw a headline the other day that read, “Zoo Keeper Mauled by White Tigers.” The story reminded me of how many times in life we take things for granted. I imagine this zoo keeper, accustomed to entering the tigers’ domain, had gradually become careless in their presence.
Likewise, we as Christians can also become careless about God’s holiness and the need to reverence Him in our lives. We have examples in Scripture that teach us this very lesson.
“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)
This vivid account reminds us that we serve a holy God who is to be approached with reverential fear. Bringing God down to our level and assuming we can take His commands lightly can have terrifying consequences.
Quoting from Deuteronomy, the writer of Hebrews tells us that “our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28) This passage shows us that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament is the same: God still abhors sin and will not tolerate it. The man who presumes on God’s grace by neglecting God’s prescription for a holy and upright life will find that the fire that once would have consumed his sin, will instead consume him.
Personally, I don’t ever want to count the blood of my Savior as a common thing, thereby trampling underfoot the grace of God. Every time I come into His presence, I want to regard Him as holy. I want to come in sincerity of heart with my sins properly covered in the blood. Therefore, I must always come before Him in genuine repentance and I must strive to maintain a daily walk that increasingly reflects His holiness.
I wonder how many professing Christians today have considered the reality that God is an all-consuming fire. When I look at the sin that is rampant in the Church, I shudder at the lack of reverence for God. We have made sin something that God overlooks with “a wink and a nod” because of the precious blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is indeed precious, and that is precisely why its power should never be misinterpreted as a license to continue in a sinful lifestyle. Do we dare to treat the blood of Jesus as a common thing and insult the spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29) I pray it would never be so!
An overemphasis on God’s grace is the primary reason many lose sight of His Holiness. Over the years I have encountered many professing Christians who carelessly presume upon God’s grace. They seem to think that somehow, in the end, He will just ignore their continued sinful lifestyles.
They have forgotten the God of Nadab and Abihu, those priestly sons who were consumed by His holy fire; they ignore the account of Ananias and Sapphira who dropped dead because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11).
Much as we might like to try, in order to have things our way, we can’t make a God of our own choosing. God’s attributes haven’t changed and His principles remain the same. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). It would be a tragic miscalculation to ignore the clear admonition of Scripture that we worship a Holy God and that every aspect of our lives should be ordered accordingly.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)

By Jeff Colón

Jeff Colón is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He has served as the campus pastor and residential program director since 1996, and is the Executive Director at Pure Life Ministries.

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