Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Preservation of the Soul

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil
(Proverbs 2:10-12).
Last week Keith and I tore the siding off of a 30 year old passenger rail car. The car, build for fair weather railroading, spent many years in outdoor storage. Our goal was to make the car weather proof so that it can be operated year round on a short piece of track between Diamond Springs and El Dorado.

Keith’s main concern was the soundness of the structure. To inspect the car’s condition, we ripped the siding from the frame and inspected the studs and cross pieces for damage from dry rot. Then the carpenter on the project replaced the rotten studs.

The next step was probably the most important one. Keith and I painted a healthy layer of copper sulfate over the exposed frame of the car. This preservation will guard the structure from bacteria, insects and water (thus keeping it sound) for years to come.

God uses a similar process with us. Like the Pharisees, who appeared religious on the outside, but were full of “dead man’s bones” on the inside (Matthew 23:23-29), we need deep healing. If someone doesn’t peel the outer layers of skin away and replace these bones with clean ones, we die.

God takes the man who has an outward appearance of health, but who’s sick with sin on the inside. Like the passenger rail car, we need God to heal us from our sinful lives. God says in His word that no one in immune from this healing process for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God has called all men and women to Himself to repent (Matthew 9:12-13). He provides a way for sick sinners to be healed.

He calls us to hear the word (Romans 10:17); to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 10:10; Hebrews 11:1-3, 6); to turn from our sin and lead a new life (Luke 13:13; Acts 2:38); to confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:19); and to submit to His will in baptism (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21).

But God’s healing doesn’t end after you come out of the water. Like the first Christians in Jerusalem, you now belong to a group of people who speak the truth, who become your family and who gives when you have need (Acts 2:42-46). And you develop a keen sense of your need for God’s preservative.

The last element of God’s healing is maybe the most important. Once saved, we need we need a preservative that will keep you well until death. I’ve already illustrated the importance of preserving the rail car. Without a preservative, the car will deteriorate under the stress of rail operation and the constant assault from the elements.

We are faced with daily assaults from the evil one. Friends entice you (Proverbs 1:10-19). Temptations threaten to overwhelm to the point of sin (James 1:13-15). And the worries of life entangle us to the choking point (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 8:14).

The wise preacher Solomon said long ago that wisdom would preserve our soul. Not the wisdom of the world, for Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7a).

So often scripture tells us that we can only be preserved through God’s wisdom. Christians are people who continually study God’s word. To be preserved you must “incline your ear” and “apply your heart” and “cry out” for God’s wisdom. That means we seek after God’s preserving power if we seek God just like a rich man seeks gold and silver. Remember God is the source of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-9).

Let me leave you with this thought: The aim is to know the scriptures so that we can live a life pleasing to God, able to “discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). Do you need wisdom? Ask in faith. God gives liberally to the one who asks without doubting (James 1:5-6).

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy your insights. I am currently going through a time where God is stripping away my outer layer and removing dead wood. I am only making it through faith in Him, and His strength for each step each day. But I do believe that this is a time of God preserving me and making me more like He wants me to be.