Will what God is willing in you.
Published November 12th, 2017
In our previous study on Philippians 2:12-13, we saw that Paul wanted the Philippian Christians to continue obeying, not only in his presence, but more in his absence. In this piece, I want to look more closely at the next thing he says. “...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13) First I want us all to see that the verb “to work” is used three times here. Twice it is with an adverb, we have “work out,” and then “work in.” Lastly it is used with a preposition in “to work for.” If we combine them into a single sentence we could say that the Philippians were to work out what God was working in , for his good pleasure. Some of you can probably remember a time when you were trying to be a Christian but you hadn’t been given a new heart yet. You were trying to obey God but the Holy Spirit had not taken up residence in your body yet (1 Corinthians 6:19). You were trying to work out all sorts of good things while there was nothing good within (John 14:17) . You knew what you needed to do to be holy but you didn’t have the will to do it (1 Peter 1:16). You didn’t choose to obey God because you didn’t prefer to obey God. Someone could tell you to prefer God above everything else but you would not do it because it would go against your nature to do it. In your fallen state, you were not able to not sin (Romans 14:23). Therefore, you were not able to do the will of God. When we are born in the flesh, our mind is set on the flesh and is hostile to God (Romans 8:7). We prefer ourselves above God. This idolatry of preferring the created over the Creator is the soil of our heart from which a thousand plants crop up and produce bad fruit (Romans 1:25). We will only to sin, and in that sense, our will is not free. When Jesus comes to dwell inside of us by his Spirit, our corrupt nature is changed (Titus 3:5). We are liberated from the captivity of our sinful nature (Romans 6:18). We are made willing and able to obey God. God gives us new desires to do what he wants us to do. This is called being led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). We now will to suppress any remaining sinful desires because we prefer to obey God and we value his glory above our own. This is what it looks like to work out what God is working in. When we become a Christian and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we are given new desires because the Holy Spirit gives us a new will (Ezekiel 36:26). This is how God causes us to obey him. (Ezekiel 36:27). The moment we are made new, boom! We will to love God, his Word, and his people. We will to obey God because God is willing in us that we obey him. More on that in my next post.