Facing sin is painful. God never promised sanctification would be easy. In fact, through his prophets He said the opposite:
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. – Malachi 3:2-4, ESV
This isn’t the only place in Scripture where the Word mentions refining us by fire. The words in Malachi is an Old Testament reference targeting the priesthood and the old system before the coming of Christ. However, keep in mind that we are referred to as a priesthood of believers in the New Testament. Also, we find a parallel message in 1 Peter 1. Therefore, these verses apply to Christians today.
God talks about preparing us by being like refining fire and fullers’ soap. If you aren’t familiar with a fuller, a fuller is a person who cleansed wool so it could be used. In ancient times a person did so by stepping on the wool. The wool was immersed in a weak acid. This acid was fuller’s soap. The wool would be scoured of impurities. So here God is saying the process of making us clean involves the metaphorical equivalent of a high enough temperature to break away the impurities or an acid to scour away the dirt and grime. Neither is a soft, easy, gentle process.
If we want revival, I mean genuinely desire it, we must expect for God to act as He described here. We must deal with that sin in order to be closer with Him. Our sins put up a barrier between us and Him. Scripture makes this point clearly. Therefore, if we want to hold on to sin, we choose to maintain the barrier in opposition to Him (more sin). God wants to break it down. He wants to remove the impurity that is disobedience to Him. He prepares us by telling us it won’t be an easy, pleasant process. But it is necessary.
Are you willing to face the refiner’s fire and the fuller’s soap? Do you want God to search you and reveal to you that which He finds impure and unclean? It’s the only way to build your relationship with Him. Doing the outwardly visible activities, like showing up for church or proclaiming your faith on social media, isn’t the same as getting right with Him. Those don’t work if you don’t want to deal with the sin in your life. I want to draw closer to God. I want the barriers I have erected torn down, even knowing it will be painful. I know that the closer I draw to God, the more I will delight in Him. I want that more than I want any sin.