Hope’s Purifying Work
Bible Reading: 1 John 3:1-5
I got a haircut a few days ago. The beautician at the beauty shop did a great job, especially considering what she had to work with! I was reading the other day about the “beauty shop visit” of Queen Esther who was being prepared to see King Ahasuerus. Her makeover lasted twelve months, and involved “beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments!” Holy Makeover! But then again one’s got to be ready before going to see the King!
We are so blessed to be called the children of God (1 John 3:1)! But as long as we are in this world we are out of place. The day is coming when we will be presented to Jesus, Our King! “What we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
This confident expectation of seeing Jesus, now works to motivate and instruct us towards holiness. Jesus spoke of his preparatory work regarding his church this way: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). How much time and effort is directed towards preparing a bride for her wedding day? Jesus is even now working to prepare his bride, the church, for her presentation to him. So, the church works towards this purpose, even as its members exercise their gifts that they “might grow up in every way into him” (Ephesians 4:15).
Salvation is in three tenses. The believer has been justified (past tense), is being sanctified (present tense), and will be glorified (future tense). How wonderful this sanctifying work of Jesus, whereby he takes us from where we were, dead in our trespasses and sins, and works to transform us into Christlikeness! It is the ultimate of makeovers. It is a work of the Spirit, as he mediates the presence of Christ to us, in us, and through us. Through the renewing of our minds, and as we put off sin and put on Christlikeness, he works to transform us “from one degree of glory to another” (Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 3:18). The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change us (John 17:17). “The Word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword” and is able to discern “the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16). Those who hope in him pay attention to the Word–hearing it, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, meditating upon it, doing it–that the Spirit might work a powerful, transforming change in us!
People pursue earthly hopes, like fame and fortune, with an amazing degree of effort and determination. How much more should the certain hope of seeing Jesus work to motivate the believer in the pursuit of holiness! All three members of the Triune God have worked and are working towards that goal in our lives! We’ve been saved to that purpose. The Spirit of God now works within us, towards that end. We’ve been well-provisioned–in the Word, in prayer, and in the fellowship of believers–that we might be purified as we look to our glorious union with Christ! There’s no more virtuous purpose! We do well to pursue it with renewed Spirit-led enthusiasm!
John Angell James, “the very contemplation of heaven, in which hope indulges—has a transforming power…Oh, the unworthiness that is in me! Not only the sins I have committed and still commit, but the evil nature, the unworthiness in me, all these things which I have to mortify. There is so much to be done, and time is uncertain. We do not have a moment to spare or to waste. We may find ourselves with Him, facing Him, at any moment!”
What You are Looking for will Determine What you are Living For
Heavenly Father. How incredibly blessed we are to be called Your children! We once were children of wrath, but now we are objects of Your love. We were once lost in sin, but now we’ve been forgiven and empowered by the Spirit to walk in newness of life. You’ve availed to us everything needful that we might put off sin and put on Christlikeness. Forgive us for our inattentiveness to Your rich provisions. Though we don’t now know what we shall be, the day is coming when we will, having been glorious transformed to be like You! May this present hope in our future destiny work to motivate us in the pursuit of holiness, that we might be pure even as You are pure. Amen.