God is at Work in You
Last week Paul called us to have the humility of Christ, to put off selfishness and practice the humility that Christ displayed by coming to earth and submitting to the humiliation of the cross. Because He was willing to humble Himself and suffer this way, God exalted Him above all others. One day everyone will accept the truth that He is Lord. I recommend you not wait to trust Him in this way.
As we continue to look at this letter of Paul to the church at Philippi, I hope you are continuing to read it over and pray about what God is saying to you.
This morning I want to pick up in verse 12, reading from the New International Version.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. NIV
You might notice that verses 12 and 13 tell us to work out our salvation and at the same time it is God who works in us. This is not a contradiction. It is not telling us that we are saved by our works. The Greek that Paul was using here had two different words for work here.
The first one that he used to tell us to work out our salvation is a word that could be translated “do work fully” or “perform”. Another way to say it is “be fully engaged in the life that comes as a result of salvation”. The Living Bible, which I usually do not care for, puts it this way:
“Do the good things that result from being saved.”
Continue to be fully engaged in your salvation for it is God who is active in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
We are to be fully engaged in the Christian life. We are to take full advantage of what God is doing within us. You might say we are to fully co-operate with God as he changes our will and helps us to act according to His plan for us.
God will take the Ten Commandments we have been studying about in Vacation Bible School and help us to choose, to will, to obey them. This is the kind of life that glorifies God. We are to live like people who have the Spirit of God living in them to guide them and help them to be what HE created them to be. This is what the Christian life is all about. It is a life of cooperation with God.
Look at verse 14 to 16 again:
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life …
We are to fully engage, or do all we can to cooperate with the the work that God is doing in us to change us in to willing followers of God. We are to do so without complaining and arguing.
Do you remember Jacob back in Genesis? His named was changed to Israel because He wrestled with the Lord. I think all followers of God wrestle with Him sometimes. We struggle and strive to get to where He wants us to be. It is God in us that gives us the courage to keep on. We are called to surrender to Him and we do, but sometimes it takes us a little time to get there.
It may be a decision to take up a new work, or to confess something to someone we have offended in some way. It may be to change the way we think about food, or sex, or any number of things.
As God's servants, we need to cease striving and know that He is God. He is Lord. Surrender to Him.
Paul says to do so without complaining and arguing so that we may be blameless and pure. The word pure means to be without guile, or sincere. It comes from a Greek word meaning to be unmixed, or simple. God told us in the Ten Commandments not to lie. It has to do with this, it is being honest and sincere.
We all have the flesh that leads us away from this sincerity of purpose; this oneness of purpose, or this unmixed purpose. We have to continue to deny the self life and put on Christ. We make that decision once, but then we live out that decision every day. Every decision we make is a decision to do what God is calling us to do, to live the life that He is leading us to live.
We are to live as children of God in this crooked and depraved world.
Here is the contrast between God's people and others. We are doing our best to live by the Spirit and do what He calls us to do. The world is crooked and depraved. The world's view of things is warped. They do not see things clearly. They have no idea that God wants to be part of their lives, to live within them. He wants to have a relationship with them. He wants to love them like they have never been loved before.
They distort the truth and deceive themselves into believing whatever they need to believe to make it through each day. Some live for pleasure. Others just want to be in control. Many are so wrapped up in judging others they constantly take God's place by telling everyone else what they are doing wrong.
We all need to be loved and appreciated. When we come to Christ, He gives us that freely. We do not have to work for it. It is a free gift.
When we do not know that truth, or do not understand it, we are always living to look good to others so they, or so God, will accept us and love us. We spend our lives on this treadmill.
Paul is calling the Philippians, and God, through Paul, is calling us to give it up, to surrender to the love and grace of God. He wants to work in our lives to help us live according to His plan for us, to live with His presence, His truth filling us and guiding us and being what we need.
When we accept that He loves us, we can then begin to live out, to fully engage in this life of hope and peace and love. We can work out our salvation as we cooperate with what God wants to do in and through us.
As immature Christians, we often fall back into the world's way of looking at things. Our views are then warped and distorted by the desires of the flesh that we are to lay down. When we spend all our time filling our thoughts with the world's way of looking at things, we begin to take on that perspective. We begin grumbling and complaining that life is hard and unfair.
We who have accepted Christ are to live as if we are loved by the only one that really matters. We are to live this way because this is the truth. God loves everyone in the world this way, but most of us do not really believe it. We continue to struggle with our failures and insecurities, our doubts and our fears. We listen to the enemy of our souls, the world, the flesh and the devil and believe the lie that God just wants to condemn us and forsake us. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Yes, He insists on being Lord. Because that is reality and He knows that if we do not accept this truth, then we are still living with blinders on. We are still living out the result of our rebellion against the only truth that really matters. The truth of the God who created us to have fellowship with Him. He calls us to trust Him and accept His love so that we can love Him and love others.
Anything less than this is continuing to live with the warped and distorted thinking of those who refuse to accept His love and grace.
This is what Jesus came to declare to us. This is what He came to prove to us.
You may never have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Or perhaps you have taken that initial step, but you have not understood until now that God is calling you to work out, to live out all that it means to be saved. He wants you to listen as He leads you each day.
Have you surrendered to the truth of God's love and grace? If not come and kneel before Him today and surrender to His great love.
Maybe you are a father today, who has been living a life that is based on what you think and believe, instead of the humble life of one surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.
Maybe you are a wife who needs help accepting the help of God to trust God enough to submit to the leadership of your husband.
Maybe you are a child who has not given the proper respect and love to your parents. The fifth commandment tells us to honor our parents even if we do not agree with them. Trust God to lead you as you commit yourself to give them the honor they are due. Trust God to help you see how to do that and at the same time to live with God as the Lord of your life.
God is at work within you, to help you know He loves you and leads you. Co-operate with Him so that you can enjoy the fullness of the relationship with Him.
Whatever God wants of you today, surrender to His Love and Lordship. Cease Striving and know that He is God. He is working in you.