“Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water” (Isaiah 1.22 NIV).
Most of the time, water is used as a positive symbol in the Bible–being used as a metaphor for God’s Spirit (Isaiah 44.3). However, in the verse above water has a negative connotation because of the context in which it is being used. In the Bible, God relates many spiritual truths to us via metaphors. But we can’t always pin a certain symbol in a singular way. For example, Jesus is the Lion of Judah, but the devil is also described as a roaring lion.
Jesus: “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals’” (Revelation 5.5 NIV).
Devil: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5.8 NIV).
The difference between the capital “L” and the lowercase “l” is the difference between good and evil and life and death. Therefore, just like anything, we must read the context that encases the symbol in order to make the accurate inferences. Isaiah uses the process of purifying silver and the process of watering down wine as metaphors for what is happening to the Children of God. They’ve stopped allowing God to work in their lives; and instead, they have begun to work in their own efforts to manufacture only what God can accomplish.
Silver is purified in the fires to burn off the dross–the foreign materials in raw silver that need to be removed. God does work in our hearts and minds, cleansing us when we are open to His work in our lives. But we must be receptive to His hand.
Wine can be watered down in order to produce larger amounts; however, the wine will no longer have the quality of its original nature. Humans can water down what God’s doing in their lives when they try to reproduce yesterday’s revelations, making them counterfeits of today’s fresh words.
As we stop relying on God and staying yielded to His authority, two things will begin to occur. First, our unconfessed sin will cause havoc in our natural lives. Supernally, we are saved by grace and have been cleansed and purified by the Blood of Jesus Christ. But in the natural our unconfessed sin will litter our hearts and minds like month-old, forgotten trash. Because of Jesus’ Finished Work on the Cross, we will not be judged by our sin, but we will be judged by the vine-rooted works that our vapor-lives have produced (John 15.5, James 4.14 & Matthew 25.23). The dross we allow to build up will greatly hamper our achievement of God’s best design and path for our lives that have been written in scrolls before we were born (Revelation 20.12).
Moreover, when we are clouded by unconfessed sin, we won’t be able to receive God’s fresh revelation every day. We are vessels and are designed to be filled with God’s special purposes (2 Timothy 2.21). If we can’t attain the outpour of the Holy Spirit, we will begin to water down what little of His revelation we have gained by adding in our own human-centered imaginings and efforts. In essence, we will dilute God’s anointing and power with weak counterfeits that lack power to save and transform lives. We may seem charismatic and sanctified at first, but eventually the wine will run thin, and all that will be left is our own fanciful proclamations and actions.
Yet, as long as we seek God daily and remain in fellowship with Him, we can trust that He will renew our hearts and minds. We will never be perfect, but God makes up for our imperfections with His grace (2 Corinthians 12.9). He cares about us and loves us, and He wants to have a relationship with us now and in heaven. He knows we are all flawed, and He will go out of His way (even dying on a cross) to help us live to our highest potential in Christ (Romans 5.8). He will never let go of His hand of relationship with us once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but the hand of fellowship is up to us (John 10.28 & 1 John 1.6). Let us hold tightly to the Lord, trusting that He will purify us and give us a fresh revelation each new day (Ephesians 1.17).
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4.23-24 NLT).