Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

3 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. (See also I Peter 2:5.)

Matthew 3:11b He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Mark 9:49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (See also Romans 15:16.)

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


MEMORY VERSE: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. . . . —Titus 3:5-6


CENTRAL THOUGHT: In prophecy, in John the Baptist’s testimony of Christ, in Christ’s own words, and in the witness of the apostles Peter and Paul, we are assured of a refining, cleansing and renewing of our sinful nature into the nature of Christ, which takes place by the Holy Spirit’s coming and indwelling. This refining, cleansing, and renewing by the Spirit takes place in conjunction with the cleansing and sanctifying power of the blood of Christ and the Word of God.




Malachi 3:2 “Who may abide?” and “Who shall stand?”: Who can endure, sustain or contain; or hold one’s ground? These are questions like unto Psalm 130:3 and Joel 2:11.

Matthew 3:12 “Fan”: a winnowing fork or shovel, for throwing up the grain which had been trampled out on the threshing floor, so that the chaff might be blown away by the wind. “Throughly”: to perfectly and thoroughly cleanse; literally, to purge back-and-forth, all the way across. “His floor”: “The threshing-floor was an open space, or area, in the field, usually on an elevated part of the land. It had no covering or walls. It was a space of ground 30 or 40 paces in diameter, and made smooth by rolling it or treading it hard. A high place was selected for the purpose of keeping it dry, and for the convenience of winnowing the grain by the wind. The grain was usually trodden out by oxen. Sometimes it was beaten with flails . . . sometimes with a sharp threshing instrument, made to roll over the grain and to cut the straw at the same time.”—Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Mark 9:49 “Salted with fire” refers to the baptism of the Holy Ghost which was represented by both salt and fire, because of the purifying grace and the refining process of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:2 “Renewing”: completing a process; a complete change of heart and life; to make fresh and new.




As we noted in a previous lesson, Malachi gives a prophecy of John the Baptist, who would herald the Messiah. The Messiah was the One who would administer the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The passage gives a clear picture of what the Spirit would do: He would cleanse the “priests” so they could make an acceptable offering in righteousness. Since born-again believers are now “kings and priests” (Rev. 1:6; 5:10) unto God, and offer up spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5), they must then be purged by the “soap” and refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

John the Baptist referred to fire when he spoke of Christ baptizing with the Holy Spirit. He also used the picture of a threshing floor where the grain was threshed—separating the grain kernels from the chaff and straw. The grain was then winnowed, a process which blew away the lighter-weight chaff. The chaff was then burned.

Mark records Jesus as saying that the sacrifices would be salted with salt and with fire, again referring to the purging and purifying process of the Holy Spirit. (In the context He was referring to the self-denial required of His disciples.)

What was the visible sign which was placed upon the heads of the disciples when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost? It was tongues, or flames, of fire, in keeping with the prophecies and promises; a symbol of the refining fire purifying their hearts.

Soon after the Holy Spirit was given, Peter was commissioned by God to go visit Cornelius, a Gentile, and preach the gospel of Christ’s death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Ghost (Acts 10). Cornelius, his family, and household staff were indeed “ripe unto harvest”; they quickly believed and presented themselves on the altar of sacrifice, and were filled with with the Holy Spirit. Peter was testifying to the rest of the disciples later of the entire experience, and convinced them that the Holy Spirit was not just given to purify the Jewish believers, but also the Gentiles, who through faith now inherited the Spirit of promise.

Later, Paul exhorted and entreated the Roman believers, who had, many of them, been prostitutes and devotees at pagan altars, to now yield their bodies on the altar of sacrifice to God, unto holiness and not to the filthiness and uncleanness of the flesh. The renewing of the mind of which he spoke cannot be accomplished any other way than by the Holy Spirit, as the passage in Titus states.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




  1. Cleansing Process: To what did Malachi compare the Holy Spirit?
  2. Fulfillment : Who are now the “sons of Levi,” or priests, mentioned by Malachi?
  3. Salt and Fire: Explain how both were used in a purification process.
  4. Renewing: What must take place in the believer so this may be accomplished by the Holy Spirit?




As we have searched this collection of prophecies, promises and testimonies, is it not clear that when the Holy Spirit comes into the heart, He accomplishes a cleansing and purification? The next questions, then—and they are very important ones, because here is where there has been so much confusion in the religious world, even to the splitting up of groups and congregations who disagree on this one issue—are, WHAT does the Holy Spirit cleanse or purify? Does He remove “something” instantaneously? Is there an ongoing process of cleansing? It is important that we rightly divide the Word of truth here, because to define the process using unsound arguments or to make extreme claims of what the process will accomplish will confuse and discourage souls, causing them to doubt the possibility or validity of the teaching. Further doubt has been caused down through the years by people who professed the experience but lived carnal, ungodly lives. Consider: there are difficulties in explanation of other Bible doctrines, such as the Trinity, but that is no reason to discard the doctrines entirely.

When you combine the types and shadows of the tabernacle and the Canaan land, with the concepts of the refining and purging fire, I believe it helps to clarify what takes place. There is an initial “crossing the Jordan into Canaan,” while there is also an ongoing warfare to rid the land of its enemies. There is an entrance into the Holiest, by the blood of Jesus, but there is also a continual offering upon the golden altar. There is a fire that fills the soul of the believer and consumes the dross and chaff of carnality, “the old man” of selfishness, as the believer is crucified with Christ and dies in complete surrender, taking up “his cross” and denying self. But there is still humanity that must constantly yield to God’s design, a will that must continually surrender, and flesh that must be kept under. So, again and again, every day and all the way to the end of the journey, we need to seek for that renewing and RE-filling of the Holy Spirit, as the disciples did in Acts 4:31, always seeking with faith and confidence for what God has promised to give in His good pleasure.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




I believe that the area in which we, as Christians, too often fall short, is that of the “Pentecostal fullness” – the refining, sanctifying, dross-purging, love- inducing, power-enduing fullness of the Spirit. Too often our focus becomes diverted too much to the cares of this mortal life and there is not enough self- denial, sacrificing and fervency in prayer for the Spirit to work in and through us to the extent that He would like. Thus, without even realizing it, sometimes we quench the Spirit, and consequently we experience a spiritual power shortage. When this happens we can be sure that the fullness of the Spirit is lacking in us. It is then time to apply the “fix” to the problem! We need a “fresh anointing” and a “new touch of fire on our souls.” A renewal of the consecration we made when we first presented our body a living sacrifice to God will restore the anointing, the fire, and the power.

Please read also Luke 11:9-13. How wonderful that God has made a way, and wills that we, who are inherently evil by nature (Ephesians 2:2-3), can “have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7) – the indwelling of His own Almighty presence through His Spirit. Thus our whole spirit, soul, and body can be “sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:16) and renewed in His own image. Truly, the excellency of the power is all of God, and not of us.

“Let the great Refiner throughly purge us, Purify our hearts like as by fire; While for all the sanctifying fullness Here our waiting, longing hearts aspire.

“Send a new touch of fire on our souls, Lord, send it now, Lord, send it now, Lord;

Touch our lips today with the living coals [Isaiah 6:6-8], Send a new touch of fire on our souls.”

—Mrs. C. H. Morris, Reformation Glory #73, 1923

—Bro. Harlan Sorrell