According to the dictionary, “When you refine something, you make it better. Whether it’s sugar or an essay, refining it requires fixing its flaws. You may think you created a masterpiece on the first try. But there’s always room to refine. More than just working out the kinks, refining something means you’re going to fine tune it, hone it to perfection, and make it more precise. In scientific terms, to refine something means to reduce it down to a pure state.” If there is always room for further refinement we might say that making something perfect will be impossible. We might make something better but can we ever really make it perfect?

This seems to be true in the refining process of people. Jeremiah speaks of refining people as if they were metal in Jeremiah 6:29-30. He writes, “The bellows blow fiercely; the lead is consumed by the fire; in vain the refining goes on, for the wicked are not removed.  Rejected silver they are called, for the Lord has rejected them.” It’s impossible for man to “refine” himself to the perfect standard that God demands according to Jesus’ comment in Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Paul addresses man’s inability to attain to perfection also in Romans 3:23 when he says, “All have fallen short of the glory of God.”

In our own religious efforts we attempt at times to refine ourselves. I think we know we will never be perfect but we can go from “lead” to “silver” maybe even if we fall short of “pure gold.” When the disciples heard Jesus’ exchange with the rich young ruler who was unable or unwilling to give up everything he had to follow Jesus, the disciples were confused. They understood that exchange with the rich young ruler to be a call to perfection. If we’re honest with ourselves, like the Apostles were at that moment, we know we’ll never achieve perfection. We’ve already failed too many times! In Luke 18:26-27, he tells us, “Those who heard this asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus said, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’” No, the refining process will never make us perfect. Refinement won’t make us perfect.  Rehabilitation won’t make us perfect! Only trusting in Christ can we measure up to God’s standard. In Romans 3:22, Paul explains this truth. He answers the question, “how can we achieve the high standard of perfection of righteousness?” He says it is “…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”