“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:20-21
I see this passage in two lights this morning. In the first I see the reality that many times throughout scripture when God desired to use Israel He could not because of sin, rebellion, or complacency in the Kings, priest, governors, and so on. Though He wanted to move through them, He could not do so because it would endorse their actions as acceptable by Him and misrepresent His character. God is Holy, therefor can He only endorse a people that demonstrate who He is to the world and in doing so become a light in the darkness and a beacon on a hill.
So then God would have to purge his people of these impurities through the fires of affliction and trial. Through seasons of being pressed by their enemies, through wildernesses, through times of desperation, dependency, oppression, rebuke, wrath, correction, crying out, and coddling He would slowly work these weaknesses to the surface and skim them away until He had a people that were pure, holy, devoted, and faithful that He could use for His glory.
He does this even to this day in ministries that He desires to use. He cannot endorse with the power of heaven, that which does not rightly represent Heaven. Therefor does He take them through trials, battles, and wildernesses until the vessels of dishonor have been purged and the ministry is refined that He might use it to the fullest of His glory.
“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” – Malachi 3:3
The second light in which I see this truth applied is in the life of the individual believer. Despite what a preacher might have told you at salvation, Jesus never promised that the journey would be easy, only that the destination would be worth whatever it cost you to get there. Not unlike the Israelites in the wilderness, the journey was full of trial but those that made it through entered the Promise pure, even though they lost some vessels of dishonor along the way.
Likewise each of us carries some junk with us from the Spiritual Egypt (our old life that we were delivered from) and we can’t take that stuff into the Promise Land so the hardships and attacks of the wilderness come to prod us to decide what is most valuable to us that we might be willing to discard the vessels of dishonor that we are still hauling with us from Egypt. There are things that will keep us from the promise God has for us, but if you will be willing to simply purge yourself of those things, then the vessels of honor that are fit for the masters use can enter into promise and be used by Him to the fullest.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” – Isaiah 48:10-11
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” – 1 Peter 1:6-7