29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NASB)
Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera….
The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon itself over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword.
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am nowhere near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ.
Early in my walk I heard a sermon which was titled, “Are you picking fruit or pulling roots?” The fruit the preacher was talking about were things like anger, bitterness, cynicism, and many other negative things that our hearts produce. I sat in that pew struggling big time as it seemed he was talking about me. Before God saved me I was a cynical, bitter person much of the time. After I was saved I found that I was better, but there were times when that negativity seemed to rise up in me when my circumstances took a turn I did not want. The sermon I was listening to described the process of not reacting to the fruit, but going after the roots. What he didn’t tell me is that over 36 years later I would still be doing this. What are the roots of bitterness and cynicism?