Jeremiah 48 tells us that destructions are determined upon the Gentile nation of Moab. Its cities were to be made desolate. Its armies would be slaughtered and destroyed. Verse 11 tells us why:
Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees. and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither had he gone into captivity; therefore, his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.
One thing that you must declare concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ: it changes people. What you were before you met Christ is not what you are after you have met Him. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).
There is something radically wrong with the person who claims to know Jesus Christ and has not had any changes in his life - who still walks after and according to the things of the flesh and minds the things of the flesh - because Jesus Christ will change your life. You cannot be the same person after you have met Him if you have truly experienced His power in your life.
One of the sad testimonies of the Church is that many of the people who attend church, take the name of Christian, and say their prayers faithfully have never had the change in their lives that Christ effects in a man.
The basic difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the non-Christian is ruled by his flesh and by his fleshly desires. In talking about our pre-Christ experience, Paul the Apostle said:
In times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works among the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had our manner of life in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh (Ephesians 2:2-3).
A person who hasn't met Jesus Christ is a person whose life is dominated by his flesh and fleshly desires. A person who has come to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a person who knows and acknowledges the supremacy of the Holy Spirit and lives according to the Spirit. The Bible tells us, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14).
It's possible to call Jesus "Lord." It's possible to have all the religious vernacular, go to church, sit and listen to the messages, but never be touched in the deeper area of your life. You may have the head knowledge. You may have the spiritual jargon down pat. But if it hasn't come into the area of your life where it affects your will - your religion is vain.
God's refining process is based on love! He won't let us stay settled in the dregs of the flesh. He has something better for us than the empty, fruitless life we often seek.
If you're not being led by the Spirit of God, you're not a son of God. You're still mastered and dominated by your flesh and still living after the flesh. The Bible declares that the mind of the flesh is sin and death, but the mind of the Spirit is life, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:6).
You can't go out all week sowing wild oats, then come to church on Sunday and pray that they'll never grow. "Oh, God, kill all the seeds I've sowed this week! Don't let them grow." That can't happen. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). If you're living to the flesh and sowing to the flesh, of the flesh you're going to reap corruption.
Jesus was crucified for making this declaration. He asserted the supremacy of the spiritual over the material. The people couldn't handle it, and they finally put Him to death. Yet it's true. When Jesus Christ comes into your life He changes you from the old flesh-ruled life to the Spirit-ruled life.
Jesus said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself" (Matthew 16:24). That's the very first step. You've got to deny the old life, the old flesh, the desires of the flesh. Deny "himself" is the very first thing. Many people have come to Jesus Christ in theory, but they haven't yet come to Him in practice. They're saying, "Lord, Lord," but they're not obedient to the will of the Father.
The second thing the Gospel of Jesus Christ does to a person is purification. The Bible says that we are pure even as He is pure (I John 3:3). God is going to work in your life to purify you. God wants to bring you into purity. This purifying work is explained in Jeremiah 48:11, where he is describing the process by which wine is made. Jeremiah said that Moab had been at ease from his youth, had settled on his lees, and had never been poured from vessel to vessel. This was his problem. Moab had never been disturbed.
When they were making wine, the people would pour the juice into a vessel. They would allow it to set in that vessel until it fermented. The sediment, known as lees or dregs, would settle to the bottom of the vessel. Once the dregs settled, they would carefully pour the wine out of that vessel into another vessel, so that the settling process might again take place. As the dregs sank to the bottom, the wine makers would pour the liquid back into another vessel. Back and forth from vessel to vessel, each time being careful not to pour out the dregs. They were coming to a pure, clear product of the vine. This was their method of making excellent wine.
If the people didn't pour the wine from vessel to vessel but allowed it to set too long in the collected dregs, the fermented juice would begin to develop the taste of the dregs. The wine would become bitter. Then it would begin to get the smell of the dregs, a rotten smell. It would also begin to take on the color of the dregs. It's tragic when Christians get settled in the things of the flesh, the flesh walk, the flesh life. At one time in their Christian walks they were shocked that people could do such evil things of the flesh. They'd say, "I would never do that!" After a while, you find them doing the same things and becoming settled in them.
This impurity actually begins to permeate your whole life. Your life begins to be colored by the flesh. Your life begins to smell of the things of the flesh. Your life begins to just taste of the things of the flesh. Rather than bringing spiritual refreshment, all you're talking about is the latest chatter of what's happening here, what's happening there, this new movie, that new fashion. Your mind is caught up in the things of the flesh. In reality, you become no more than a heathen. Jesus said that you shouldn't be taking thought about what to eat, what to drink, or what to wear. He said, "For after all these things do the Gentiles [the heathen] seek" (Matthew 6:31-32).
If your life gets caught up in that trip - what shall we eat, what shall we wear, what new thing to buy, always interested in the adornment of your body, buying clothes and keeping up with the fashions, or always in the eating and drinking crowd, seeking to delight yourself in the fancy foods, a gourmet - you're no better off than the heathen. These things occupy their minds. They live after the flesh.
It's tragic when Christians settle down in these kinds of dregs so much that their lives are colored by it. You can't have a spiritual conversation with them. They're so interested in some new thing they purchased last week - "Wait till you see it!" It's all a flesh trip. Settling in the dregs of the flesh, they are colored, they are scented, they are tasting of the things of the flesh. It is a flesh life, not the life of the Spirit. God wants to purify us. God wants to clean out those dregs. God has something better for you than that empty, fruitless life of the flesh. You need to experience the purifying effect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
It's tragic that many people who have spent their entire lives in church or under its influence, attending very regularly, are still spiritually "babes in Christ." Paul calls them "carnal" (I Corinthians 3:1-4). They've never developed in their spiritual walk. They've been at ease. They've settled into the dregs. They haven't been poured from vessel to vessel.
The third thing the Gospel of Jesus Christ does is deliverance. The power of Jesus Christ can set you free from the power of the flesh. Some of you today have become slaves to your fleshly desires. It's amazing what a strong grip and hold it can get on your life. The very first time you tried it, it was just for a kick. You were just searching for a little diversion.
We have many people in our church who are alcoholics. How little did they realize the power it would get on their lives, the grip it would hold over them. Thank God they know. They know better than to take again that first drink. They've experienced the delivering power of Jesus Christ. Having been delivered from the entanglements of the world, don't be so foolish as to go back and be entangled again with that yoke of bondage.
Unless we're poured from vessel to vessel, our lives begin to "smell" of the things which we have settled into!
We have many drug addicts. Maybe the first time they took a pill was to ease the appetite a bit. Maybe it was to alleviate some pain or to calm their nerves. But the drug began to get a hold of them until, finally, they came under the power of that substance, unable to free themselves. They found themselves bound in that drug. How little did so many realize, when they took that first fix, the hell it was leading them into.
They know now. Thank God for the power of Jesus Christ to deliver us from the bondage of corruption in which we found ourselves through our own folly and foolishness. The power of Jesus Christ can and does deliver man from the bondage of sin and death.
Today, maybe you find yourself entangled in a situation where you never thought you'd be. Maybe today you find yourself caught up in an adulterous situation. It started off so innocently, just as a little flirtation. Now, you're all involved. You never intended to be, but you opened the door to the flesh, and it took over. Now that situation is mastering your life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ can set you free. He can deliver you. Maybe you're hooked on drugs, or maybe you can't stop drinking. You've come to the place where you need that shot when you get home in the evening. Then, worse, you need it when you get up in the morning.
Maybe you have been bound by some desire or lust that has overwhelmed you and made you its victim. Moab was in this sad condition, because it had been at ease. Moab never had any problem, never was in captivity, never knew what it was all about. It grew up rather sheltered and protected. It settled into this condition as a result of no waves, no stirring. Moab had never been poured from vessel to vessel.
But, you know, God loves you. If you come to that place in your Christian experience where you start to relax and settle down into the dregs of the flesh, God's love won't allow you to get by with it. God will upset your position. Maybe someone who is very dear to us, someone we've come to rely upon, is suddenly taken away. "Oh, God, why is he gone? What are you doing, Lord?" He's now pouring you from vessel to vessel.
Maybe the boss suddenly says, "Hey, we're going to transfer you to Spokane."
"Spokane?" you say. "I don't know anybody in Spokane! All my friends are here. My children are in school here." A total uprooting - new friends, new associates, new environment, new schools. You cry out, "What are you doing God?" He's causing you to trust and rely upon Him. God is going to strip you of whatever has created your ease. Maybe it's your retirement, maybe it's your possessions, maybe it's your bank account. You've settled at ease in these things, your lees. But God doesn't want you to be dominated by your flesh. God will deliver you from the bondage of corruption.
God uses disturbances. They are the tools of God to bring us to Himself, to take away our trust and our reliance in other things. He doesn't want us to have job security, social security or security in man, government, bank accounts, or ourselves. He wants us to find our total security in Him. And so He pours us from vessel to vessel.
"For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).
Maybe this knowledge has disturbed some of you. Praise the Lord! You see, He wants to shake you up from that little smugness and ease in the flesh that you've fallen into, the trap of trying to find the answer in the things of the flesh.
We have been created for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). He can't enjoy us when we smell of the flesh. He can't enjoy us when we taste of the flesh. It is only as we walk in the Spirit, as we live in the Spirit, as we move in the Spirit, that we become what God would have us be - a pure product that He can enjoy.
A Time of Change
You go to work. The foreman walks up to you and says, "I don't know what's wrong, but here's your termination notice." You think, "Termination? What do you mean 'termination'? I've got house payments, car payments, and television payments. What do you mean termination? Oh, God! What are You doing?"
He's got you're attention now. He's pouring you from vessel to vessel. You see, you began to rely on and find security in your job. You were settling down into the dregs. You weren't walking after the Lord. You weren't searching after the Spirit.
God doesn't want you to smell of the flesh. So, God pours you into another vessel. God will not let you get entangled in the things of the flesh. If you start doing it, if you start meddling, if you start giving over to the things of the flesh, your day is coming. God is going to pour you from vessel to vessel to purify you.
And, suddenly, there you are. You're brought into a new relationship with God - being refined and purified through these disturbances that He brings into our lives.