27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!— Daniel 3:27 NLT
Shadrach, Meschah and Abednego had refused to bow to the ninety foot statue of Nebuchadnezzar. They, instead, chose to remain faithful to their God. They told the king that whether God chose to deliver them or not, they would always remain faithful. For their faithfulness, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that burned so hot, the soldiers throwing them into the furnace were killed. Rather quickly, Nebuchadnezzar learned that his plan to destroy the three men did not work. God joined them in the furnace and delivered them so completely that their clothes did not even have the smell of smoke on them. An amazing miracle! So, amazing that even the king gave the praise to the God of these three men. He also quickly promoted them to a higher position in the government. They were saved from the fire because they had more work to do here on earth. Contrast this to the deaths of the apostles whom God chose to deliver in a totally different way. He allowed them to die and to come on home to heaven. Their work here on earth was finished. I wonder which of the two methods of deliverance the three men in the furnace would have chosen, if the decision had been left up to them. Paul might have wondered the same thing.
The Greek word “sozo” that is translated as “whole” here in this verse appears over one hundred and ten times in the KJV. It is sometimes translated as heal, save, or rescue. If translated properly, it means to deliver out of danger and into safety. The biblical meaning is that God is rescuing us from the power of sin and into His divine safety. When Jesus healed people, the crowd saw the external effects of that healing, but Jesus was actually saying to each of those He healed: “You are made whole”. It was more than a physical healing, it was a complete healing of soul, mind and body. Notice that the word has two aspects. First, it moves you out of danger. This would be the physical healing. But the people still died at a later date, so they were not freed from physical death. Secondly, it moved you to a place of divine safety. The recipients of sozo were not left in limbo. The divine safety was forever. God doesn’t always heal the physically sick. Ask Paul. Those that are truly repentant and call upon the name of Jesus are always delivered from sin and into divine safety. In the resurrection, we will all be made completely whole.
15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”–1 Peter 1:15,16 (NLT)
22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.–Eph. 4:22-24 (NLT)
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit sets up a residence in our hearts. God has sent His Spirit to “lead us into all truth”. There are some things (and those things are different for all of us) from which we are immediately delivered. We could make a long list of those things: smoking, drinking, overeating, gossiping, lying, bitterness, hatred and we could go on and on. And those instant deliveries should encourage us to continue on in the faith. But none of us are instantly delivered from all our erroneous ways and habits. It is a daily process of being led by God’s Spirit and learning more of the truth. As we study God’s Word, we find more things that we need to allow God to change so that we can be transformed into His image. We all still sin, but we have to stay on guard and not let satan bring us down with guilt. We must repent. That means more than turning away from the sin, it means we turn to something else. Each time we empty a spot in our heart, we must allow God’s Spirit to fill it with something new. Pay close attention to Paul’s instructions in verse 24, “clothe yourself with the new self”. When we put off the old, we should be careful to put on the “new”. The “new” will guard us against the fiery darts of our enemy.
6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.—Romans 7:6 NASB