Read Ezekiel 22-23 at Bible Gateway.
The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you.’” Eze 22:17-22
When silver ore is taken out of the earth, the silver metal is bonded with the rock, which is made up of lots of other elements and compounds. In order to get the silver by itself, the silver ore has to be smelted, a chemical process carried out at high heat (usually involving a furnace) that unlocks the bonds between the silver and everything else. That everything else is the dross.
When we are born again, our spirits are recreated in newness of life. This is redemption. Our legal status is changed, from guilty deserving of death, to not guilty. This is salvation or justification. However, our souls, our thinking patterns, our emotions, remain a mixture of true and false, pure and impure. Thus the many exhortations in the New Testament to put on the new man, renew our minds, wash with the water of the word. This lifelong process is sanctification.
The first step in purification, in sanctification, is instruction. We have to learn what is right and wrong, so we can repent of what is wrong, and do what is right. This is the reason the LORD gave His Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. All it is, is instruction in righteousness and sin, so that we would know the definition, the difference between the two. One of the charges the LORD brings against the priests in this chapter, is that they did not distinguish nor teach the people the difference between clean and unclean. God wants His priests, His prophets to teach His people Torah and what the distinctions are. Why? So that they can adjust their behavior and change their ways, voluntarily.
A wise man listens to instruction and correction. It is much better to change our ways through instruction, because it is easier for us! When we will not change our ways by instruction, then we have chosen the harder way: we have chosen to have our ways changed for us by consequences for sin. The LORD never begins with consequences — He always begins with instruction. Consequences are harder and much more painful to go through. But it will get the job done.
The more stubborn we are, the hotter the fire of trials and consequences has to be in order to break those bonds between our silver and our dross. So not every fiery trial that comes upon us in this life comes upon us because the evil one is messing with us. If there is deeply embedded dross in our lives, the LORD will often allow trials, and even ordain trials in order to refine and purify us.
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the silversmith. Pro 25:4
He can use us as a fit vessel for Him, as we allow Him to purify the dross from our lives.
Therefore the Lord says,
The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel,
“Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries,
And take vengeance on My enemies.
I will turn My hand against you,
And thoroughly purge away your dross,
And take away all your alloy.” Isa 1:24-25
You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love Your testimonies. Psa 119:119
He must remove wickedness and sin from His people, because at the end of days, He has ordained that the wicked of the earth will be purged from the earth by a judgment of fire like dross. He does not want His loved ones among them!
LORD, the next time a fiery trial comes upon me, help me remember to ask You to guide me and lead me through it, with a soft heart toward You, to have whatever dross that is in me purged from me!