I love fire – the bigger, the better! I’ve started grass fires, wood fires and on a few occasions became concerned that they might be out of control. Others shared that concern, some times, long before I did. House fires, barn fires, etc have gained my attention. Science class was more exciting the days we were permitted to carefully use the lab. Even my welding class with the oxy acetylene welding flame quickened my pulse.
Scientists tell us …
“Color tells us about the temperature of a candle flame. The inner core of the candle flame is light blue, with a temperature of around 1670 K (1400 °C). That is the hottest part of the flame. The color inside the flame becomes yellow, orange, and finally red. The further you reach from the center of the flame, the lower the temperature will be. The red portion is around 1070 K (800 °C).” (Webexhibits – Causes of Color website)
I love the spiritual principle illustrated in fire. Did you pick it up? “The further you reach from the centre of the flame, the lower the temperature will be.” Remember that when you read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire;
do not treat prophecies with contempt.
Hold on to the good.
Avoid every kind of evil.”
In five commands written in four sentences Paul spurs on the Thessalonian Christ followers to complete devotion. Remember, the New Testament wasn’t completed when he penned these words. A variety of people claimed to be ‘speaking for God’ and the spiritual gift desperately needed was discernment. Today, with a completed canon of 66 books of the Bible, strange teaching still raises its ugly head and spreads like wildfire through movies, fictional novels (e.g. The Shack) and a variety of websites and conferences.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; Do not quench the Holy Spirit. As He prompts obedience and presses the holiness of God upon your life, don’t ignore such prompting. Don’t sin by neglecting to do the will of God, the key focus of the Spirit’s ministry.
do not treat prophecies with contempt. Prophets spoke truth to encourage, strengthen and comfort (1 Corinthians 14). It would easy for the Christians to think they were simply expressing their own opinion and ignore the teaching God wanted them to obey. Those of us who preach and seek to ‘speak the very words of God’ (I Peter 4) get push back from some who don’t like the plain meaning and application of the text. Paul is warning the Christians that they cannot disregard that which the Spirit of God has directed to be spoken.
But how could they know the truth? Does everyone who claims to ‘speak for God’ need to be heeded with blind devotion? It’s been awhile since I read the story of Jonestown, where Jim Jones, an American ordained Disciples of Christ pastor led his ‘followers’ to a mass-suicide. Jones was a voracious leader as a child and tackled the writings of Stalin, Marx, Gandhi and Hitler. Those who followed him lacked discernment and yielded unflinchingly to his destructive leadership. He serves as a warning, as do so many other ‘religious renegades.’
But challenges the Thessalonians, as he challenges us.
Test everything. Anyone that doesn’t permit questioning should be questioned! Healthy churches are rooted in the Scriptures, and like the Bereans of Acts 17, ‘search the Scriptures DAILY’ to see if what they are being taught lines up with God’s inspired, inerrant truth.
Hold on to the good. Don’t loosen your grip on good teaching. Good teaching combined with good obedience leads to good results. In Titus 1:1, in his introductory comments to his co-worker, Paul reminds this leader that “the knowledge of the truth leads to godliness.” Now that’s worth gripping. Knowing the truth and obeying the truth leads to transformation by the One who is ‘the Way, the TRUTH, and the life…’ and reflects the Spirit of TRUTH’s focus.
Avoid every kind of evil. Just like poison, evil comes in all sizes, shapes and colours.
Years ago, in between ministry positions, I was required to take some training on dangerous chemicals. I was a truck driver at the time, and was mandated to know what various symbols meant. What was flammable? What was explosive? I learned at least the rudimentary principles for safety purposes.
We need spiritual training that parallels what I experienced. Evil is enticing, but those who yield to its pull will be entrapped. It is so much easier to avoid the evil prior to being entrapped. I am grateful to the biblically-centred counselors I’ve met who urged me, and others, to pray “…lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…”
So what colour is your devotion to Jesus Christ? The further you move away from Him, the quicker your devotion dies.
Teach me to love Thee as thine angels love,
One holy passion, filling all my frame.
The baptism of the heav’n descended dove
My heart an altar and THY LOVE the FLAME! Amen!