06 - God Is Working In You 2008
12“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Though works don’t save us, works confirm that we have been saved!
First, we are to cooperate with God’s working in us.
Work means “to be engaged in or with. To cooperate with. To work together with.”
Paul is telling us that we are to cooperate and work with God in our process of maturing.
And of course, the great Apostle practiced what he preached!
“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles…”—1 Cor. 15:10
How do we cooperate with God?
Obedience. When we obey the promptings of His Spirit and the clear directives of His Word, we are also cooperating with His will.
“But we do [strongly and earnestly] desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity [all the way through] in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of [your] hope until the end…”—Heb. 6:11
5For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and Christian love.”
And we are to do this with fear and trembling; with deep reverence and fear.
Where do we find the strength to do this?
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Working in this verse is the word energeo, from which we get the word “energy”. Paul is saying that God is within us by His Spirit, energizing us in two ways: to will something, and to work toward something.
First, God places within His children a divine “wanna do.” One of the great evidences of the Spirit of God living within someone’s heart is a change in their desires, in their motivations.
God literally places within us a supernatural desire, energizing us to please Him, to do what is right, to live a clean, holy life.
In Paul’s own spiritual growth process, he testified about this:
“…yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.”—1 Cor. 15:10
The second thing God’s energizing Spirit accomplishes in us is the ability to obey those desires, to work them out into action, to live our lives accordingly.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him, for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
The phrase “for His good pleasure” is taken from a word meaning “His good planning.”
This passage is telling us that God is Providentially at work to produce whatever good comes out of our lives.
Next, Paul encourages us not to:
Muddy the waters along the way
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing…
Complaining is from a word meaning “to murmur.” And 1st Cor. 10:10 tells us that murmuring brought ruin to the lives of God’s people.
“Nor discontentedly complain (murmur) as some of them did--and were put out of the way entirely by the destroyer (death).”
Someone once quipped that “the only difference between a rut and a grave is the timing.”
Murmuring, complaining, faultfinding will put you in a rut faster than any single thing.
Our Apostle of joy refused to allow himself to go there!
Disputing means to involve yourself in useless debates that lead to nothing but arguments.
“…that you may become blameless and harmless…
Harmless is from a word meaning “Without the slightest catch or hook.”
Without a horn, like a steer that can gore you. To the best of your ability you are not causing others to stumble.
“…children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
Without fault refers to being without a blemish, like a bodily sore. There is no open sore of sin in your life.
Crooked comes from the Greek word scolias, from which we get the word scoliosis or curvature of the spine. It means bent unnaturally and describes our generation.
Perverse actually means “thoroughly bent” like a bent wagon wheel that makes the entire wagon drive roughly and unbalanced. The Bible says that the generations of our world are thoroughly bent, twisted, and depraved.
When Peter was preaching at Pentecost, he said,
“Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”—Acts 2:40
“…among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Lights from a word meaning not only to shine but to make things around you that are in the dark come to light, to make them appear, to reveal them.
“It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible.”—Eph. 5:13
“…holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain…”
The Day of Christ refers to the judgment of believer’s works.
Paul is saying that he looks forward to the day of Christ when not only he, but all of those he nurtured in Jesus will receive their rewards. His prayer is, “Lord, please don’t let me have labored in vain.”
Give diligence to the work of grace begun in you. Cooperate with God by responding to His grace.
Don’t live a life of murmuring or arguing.
Shine in such a way that those in the dark can see you.
Keep hope alive knowing that a day of rewards is coming soon!