RIVERSIDE CHURCH

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2011 Bolton Rd NW Suite 100

Atlanta GA 30318

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The Malleable Soul

January 26, 2017

 

You won’t use a lump of clay as an instrument for drinking, would you?

 

Of course, you wouldn’t; a simple lump of clay can’t carry liquid. What you would do is to take that lump of clay, mold it into a shape capable of carrying liquid, and put it into an oven, where the heat of the flames will harden it into cup used for drinking (I’m simplifying the process. Surely there are more steps involved). Only when the piece of clay is transformed into a different form can it be used for the potter’s purposes.

 

God does something similar to our souls as a potter does to a piece of clay: He changes and transforms it so that we could serve whatever purpose He wills for us.

 

On Sunday, Mike gave a sermon where he told us a story of how he was more motivated to evangelize in college than at the workplace. He then mentioned how we Christians must steer clear from anything distracting us from God, to not use Him as an “accessory”, and to take our faith seriously.

 

But how is this related to the Christian soul going through a transformation? Well, Mike’s sermon appears to point toward the need for daily spiritual growth and renewal (which is what spiritual transformation is); if we are to be strong in our faith, we must do as James 4:7-8 says: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” In other words, we should be transformed in spirit by drawing towards God and resisting Satan; this transformation will strengthen our soul and enrich our walk with God.

 

Although the scripture from James 4:7-8 is good advice, not all people can follow it; only those of us who are “born again” can grow in spirit. Let me elaborate: since we humans are born of “flesh” and not of “spirit”, our soul doesn’t start out as a lump of clay which is soft and malleable, but that which is hard and brittle. In order for God to transform us, he must give us a new nature of “spirit”, which will replace our old nature of “flesh” (this is similar to wetting your fingers and rubbing them on a dry lump of clay in order to make it soft).

 

After God gives us a new nature, the process of “sanctification” (which is the process of becoming “Christ-like”) can begin; this is like being molded by the Holy Spirit so we can be of God’s use, and we must ask for this every day with prayer. We could also aid this process by following His word (as I mentioned in my last article: His word makes our soul stronger, while sinning makes our soul weaker), and even going through trials can make us stronger, granted we learn from them. So, when we combine these three things together (prayer, following His word, and learning from trials), we should have no doubt that God is transforming our souls.

 

This is a lifelong process, and we won’t become a “finished product” until death/resurrection (this is “glorification”: when we are finally pure and removed from sin, physically and mentally), however we can slip up and halt this process if we get lazy and succumb to worldly temptations (Despite having natures of “spirit”, we still have “fleshly” bodies which can come into conflict with our souls.) and become an “enemy of God” by becoming a “friend of the world (James 4:4); we are not impervious to Satan’s influence, who rules this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), so we must always take James 4:8 to heart and “draw near to God”.

 

Hence, until we become glorified as a “finished product”, we must always resist the world and keep the hope of being molded by God.

 

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