As a little girl in the mid-sixties, one of my favorite things was collecting and trading marbles with my friends. Marbles were the most beautiful objects to me. I loved the feel as they rolled in my hands and the sound of hard glass clicking together. My collection consisted mostly of cat eyes. Also in my collection were steelies—actual ball bearings we used as shooters. I was always on the look-out for puries—the clear, colored marbles you can see through. They were most beautiful, I thought, so I would trade my steelies and cat eyes for puries. Mostly, boys were my friends and, predictably, they wanted my steelies. I wanted their puries.
I see relationship with God in marbles. Steelies and puries describe the state of our hearts toward God at any given moment. How steely our hearts can be toward God and His ways even though God commands that we be holy because He is holy. (Leviticus 11:44-45) He tells us to consecrate ourselves, which means to set ourselves apart for holy, precious purposes. To be pure, without defect, is God’s requirement.
Holiness should not become unholiness—ever. Puries do not become steelies. Puries mix in the bag but they do not change into steelies. If we claim to be saved by the blood of Jesus must have holiness as our goal. Instead, too many professing Christians compromise with the unholy world, thinking we can live in sin without consequence.
Who of us hungers for holiness today? Who of us trembles at the recognition of our sinfulness, our need of a Savior? Who bends the knees of our legs as well as our hearts to God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, asking Holy Spirit to search and cleanse our hearts? Rather, we like to buddy-up to God, believing we can have the best of heaven and hell simultaneously. Have we traded the fear of God for a culturally-made, casual God? Casual about sin, casual about holiness, casual about commitment. A.W. Tozer said, “We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.”
Though we know in our heads that God hates sin, we justify and excuse. It’s the norm these days, we say. And we want to be bell curve, exact center of the crowd. Today, we hate the notion of God who punishes sin. We have replaced Him in our hearts with an idol called Self, regardless of what we call ourselves. Christian?
In our age, it appears that puries HAVE turned into steelies. Steelie marbles call the shots. Hearts once soft toward God and reverent have become hard as steel, justifying unholy attitudes and lifestyles in direct opposition to God’s command that we be holy—set apart for His purposes, not our ungodly desires. We excuse and justify ourselves today blaming the increasingly wicked culture in which we live. True, our culture has become more godless. Many cultures in the past have done the same. Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind. Biblical history proves that God did not dismiss the growing wickedness of that age. His judgment was sure and swift. Do we think God changes? Do we think we will escape His judgment today? Tozer wrote:
God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. . . God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. . . Every wrathful judgment in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.
Jesus came for one reason—to destroy the power of sin and reclaim His entire creation. If we claim to know and follow Jesus, we should NEVER accept sin in our lives because our holy God does not. God has imparted His holiness to us through the blood of the Lamb! We must stay close to and under the shield of Christ’s blood sacrifice or we are Christians in word only and run the risk of Christ saying He never knew us when we face Him one day. (Matthew 7:21-23) The horror of the possibility should drop us to our knees praying for God’s forgiveness and cleansing.
Repent! Many before us have cried this double syllable word. Repent! Prepare the way for the Lord. Do we forget that Jesus is coming back? Do we ignore the signs of our times?
Repent! Turn around and run back to God! “I am coming soon!” Jesus says three times in the last chapter of the Bible. I do not want to be caught off-guard. I want Him to return and find me a purie, purified by His blood, not a steelie, deceived by Satan, living in sin. Every day, while I wait to meet Jesus face-to-face, I want a soft heart that seeks not only forgiveness but cleansing.
Will we ever be perfect this side of heaven? No. But that fact should not cause us to take His grace lightly and say, “Sin today, for tomorrow I’ll ask forgiveness.” Forgiveness and cleansing are inextricably joined.
This life is fleeting—a wisp in time. Jesus alone saves. Jesus alone purifies. We have a choice as to whether or not we cooperate. Do we want His true life or not?
In the marble game of life, God wants puries, people who seek to be as He is–holy. Truth is, life is not a child’s game. Anyone want to trade their steelies for puries? Ask Jesus. He loves to make One Way trades.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Psalm 51:10-13