To Will And To Do
Posted on 03/04/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
Good morning and welcome. Let's start this morning by laying aside everything else, and taking a little while to seek the presence of the Lord together, communing with the Holy Spirit and drawing closer to God.
Let's all stand to our feet and open this service with prayer.
Lord God, thank you for your love for us, for your mercy, for convicting us of our sins, and then for forgiving us when we turn from them and ask for forgiveness.
Thank you for your sweet Holy Spirit who is here with us today. Move in our midst, Spirit of God, pointing us to Jesus, working in our hearts, revealing the Word of God to us, and bringing us into the Holy of Holies.
Lord, we bring before you the public prayer requests from the last few days.
We pray for Vincent, and thank you that you are honoring his request for you to touch his heart and give him a fresh start each day as your child. Thank you for his desire to always give you the glory, as you continue to renew his heart day by day. We pray for his nephew Lee who is in the hospital, and is not expected to live long because of diabetic complications. You are the author of life, and you have come to bring us life in great abundance. We pray that you pour out your life upon Lee in great abundance. We speak to Lee's body, and command this diabetes to bow its knee to the name of Jesus. We speak life to Lee's body, health, and total healing. In Jesus name, Lee, be healed!
We pray for Marla's best friend Meike. You see her sorrow and the weariness of her life. You see the mental battles she faces every day. But you are not the author of the spirit of fear and confusion, but of love, power, and a sound mind. You promised us the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. You promised that you will keep us at perfect if our minds are stayed upon you. So we pray for a fresh wind of your Holy Spirit to blow in Meike's life. Reveal Jesus to her, and bring her into a fresh, new walk with him. Replace her dark depression with the joy of your Salvation, and may she never walk in darkness again.
We pray for Cyndi's friend Robert who had a heart attack, and for his daughter Lydia, a doctor running a low cost christian clinic and a mother of three small children. Bring healing to Robert, and bring strength to Lydia as she handles all her responsibilities. May Jesus be exalted in their family and in this situation.
And now Lord, bless each one here with a heart that seeks after you, with ears that listen for and hear your voice, and with eyes that long to see your face.
And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Please remain standing, and click-touch the pulpit for a notecard. And let's give God glory and honor and praise!
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
THE ONLY PLACE
Bring me into your presence
and into your courts
Into your throne room
where night and day
the angels are singing
they're singing your praise
Holy, Holy Holy are you Lord!
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almight,
who was and is and is to come
You alone are worthy to receive
glory and honor and power and majesty
And in your presence is the
only place I want to be
Thank you Lord for drawing us into your presence, so we can have precious fellowship with you.
As we look into your Word, accept this as continued worship, as we seek to honor you in and through our lives.
You may be seated.
Let's turn together to Philippians chapter two, and read together starting with verse one.
1 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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 of His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,
15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
16 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 title of today's message is "To Will and to Do."
This chapter begins by telling us to have the same attitude Jesus had. And if we were to stop right here, we'd have our work cut out for us. We could spend the rest of our lives working on our attitudes, and if left to ourselves, all of us would die having never made Christ's attitude our own.
And yet it does not stop there. Rather, this passage goes on to tell us that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It says we are supposed to do everything without complaint or dispute. We are to become blameless, shining as lights in the world, holding firmly the Word of Life.
And right in the middle of all this, we read these words:
"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Whether we're reading First Peter 1:16 which says, "Be holy, for I (God) am holy," or we're reading Matthew 5:48 which says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect;" Whatever Scripture tells us to do that we think is impossible or out of reach, we can remember this truth which is at the center of each one:
"It is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
There are three parts of this verse I'd like for us to talk about today.
And the first one is this: "It is God."
Let's keep in mind the verse before this ends with "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
And since "it is God" begins with "FOR it is God," we could word the sentence like this:
"You need to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Why? I'll tell you why: it's because it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure, and without this work, you cannot have the attitude of Christ, you cannot do all things without complaint or dispute, you cannot be blameless lights in this wicked generation, and you cannot be the people I have called you to be."
So what does God's working in us have to do with our working out our own salvation with fear and trembling? Doesn't this sound like two opposing ideas stuck into the same sentence?
Are we being told first that we are to do these things ourselves, and then being told that it's God who does these things in us?
Those of you here today who have struggled with issues like I have, who have been bound by sin like I have, or who have fought seemingly unwinnable battles with thoughts, attitudes, or actions, you may have wondered if there's really any way to overcome, to make a lasting change, to truly and permenently break free.
And yet you have a desire. You have an intent. You long to do that which pleases God, and be free from that which displeases him.
And I'm sure you've noticed that the more time you spend reading God's Word, praying, and worshiping him, the more you desire to please him.
Well, I submit to you today that this truth is being presented to us in this passage.
Let's take a look at a few of the words used here to make this a little more clear.
"Work out your own salvation..."
The words "work out" mean "to perform, to accomplish, to achieve". Does this mean we are to perform works that save us? Remember in the same sentence we're told it's God who works in us to will and to do, and that Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast."
So what does this mean to "work out, perform, accomplish, and achieve our own salvation with fear and trembling?"
I submit to you today that this is not telling us we're supposed to or even are able to earn salvation by good works. Instead, this ties into the rest of the sentence, "It is God who works in you to will and to do," and gives us instruction on how to see that work of God manifest in our lives.
But before we see how this is so, let's look at a few more words in this sentence.
"It is God who works..." The word "works" here means "to display one's activity, show one's self operative." God displays his activity in us and shows himself operative in our lives by giving us the desire to please him.
"...to will and to do..." Interestingly enough, the word "do" is the same word as "works". It is the Greek word "energeo" (en-erg-eh'-o), which means "to display one's activity, show one's self operative." So our doing of God's good pleasure is the same word as his working in our lives. But we'll talk about this a little later.
And finally, "good pleasure" is simply his will and his desire, that which pleases him.
So God shows himself active in our lives by giving us the desire and then empowering the operation of that which is his will and his desire, that which pleases him.
Now that we have that foundation in place, let's look a bit more deeply at what it means to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for this is inseperably connected with God's work in us to desire and perform that which pleases him.
Psalm 111:10 tells us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."
So with the fear of the Lord, we find wisdom. Wisdom to avoid traps the enemy has set to ensnare us. Wisdom to run away from temptation instead of dancing with it. Wisdom to run to the presence of God when our own carnal desires are at war with our spirit. And indeed, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of this wisdom.
Proverbs 16:6 tells us, "In mercy and truth, atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil."
We see here that the way to depart from evil is to have the fear of the Lord, for by the fear of the Lord, one departs from evil. It would stand to reason that if it's by the fear of the Lord that we depart from evil, then without the fear of the Lord, we do not have power over sin.
So does the fear of the Lord give us power over sin the same way the fear of a speeding train keep us off the tracks? Or is that only part of its power?
Let's take a look at Isaiah 66:2 which says, "This is the one upon whom I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."
Remember our passage for today tells us that it is God's showing himself active in our lives by which we have the desire and power to perform that which pleases him. And he looks upon us when we fear him and tremble at his Word. If he did not look upon us, we could not expect him to be working in our lives.
But when we, through meditation upon his awesome greatness, through reading his Word, and through asking in prayer, begin to have a Godly fear of the Lord, and as we seek after him with an awe and reverence for the awesome God he is, then he will draw near to us in ways we haven't previously experienced, and he will manifest in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.
And herein lies the secret, which can be summed up like this: When we humble ourselves, and seek the presence of the Lord, coming before him with the realization of how awesome he is and how righteous and just he is, knowing that he is completely holy and we are wicked and twisted compared to him; when we seek salvation from sin with fear and trembling, God will begin to manifest himself in our lives to work in us a greater desire to please him, and the power to perform that desire in a way that performs his will and pleases him.
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
So the first point is that "It is God who works in you." Seek after God with fear and trembling, realizing you cannot do this in your own strength, and he will begin to change you from the inside out.
The second part of today's passage is this: "It is God who works in you to will."
Do you have a desire to do what's right? Do you wish you could stop yeilding to your fleshly, carnal nature and instead live a righteous, holy life that pleases God and furthers his kingdom?
That desire did not come from you. That desire came from God, for "it is God who works in you to will."
The desire to please the Spirit and the desire to please the flesh rest upon opposite ends of a scale.
The more we please the flesh, the stronger and weightier it becomes; and the more it tips the scales of our will, the more we yield to it.
And yet we see that as we seek salvation from sin with fear and trembling, God manifests himself in our lives by building up the desire in us to please the Spirit rather than the flesh. And as those Godly desires become stronger, or weightier, than the desire to please the flesh, we find ourselves doing what is right at times we used to do what is wrong.
If a person's desire to smoke cigarettes is greater than their desire to live longer, heathier lives, not smell like an ash tray, and to be good stewards of the body God has commissioned them to take care of, then they will continue to smoke even if they have a desire to quit.
When, however, a person's desire to be free from cigarettes is stronger than that person's desire to smoke, they can then win the battle. They may previously have desperately wanted to be free, but their desire for that cigarette was at least as strong.
So the first thing we see God doing in this passage, the first way in which he manifests his presence in us, is to increase and intensify our desire to do what's right.
Do you want to stop doing those things that have you bound? Do you want to be more Godly, more holy, to live according to the righteousness of God?
This desire is simply the fruit of the Holy Spirit living inside you. It is God who is working in you to desire to do his will.
And if God is working in you to desire to do his will, that means he hasn't abandoned you. He hasn't left you. He hasn't forgotten about you. He hasn't given up on you.
Instead, he is actively working in you, creating the desire in you to walk closer with him by putting aside anything that would come between you and him, between you and holiness, between you and his will for your life.
But he doesn't stop there. There is still a third part to today's passage, without which this process is incomplete.
And this third and final part is this: "It is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
God doesn't only work in us to desire to do what's right. He completes this work by bringing his presence and your God-given desires to fruition in your life, demonstrated by right actions.
So take heart and rejoice! "being confident of this very thing," as Philippians 1:6 says, "that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
We tend to think that if we haven't overcome yet, we never will. If we've been trapped by this carnal way of acting or reacting for our whole lives, then we just won't ever break free.
And yet the fact that you desire to do what's right is proof that God is working in you, and the desire to do what's right is only half of the work. The other half of the work is that you DO what is right. And "he who began a good work in you will complete it." Just keep working out this salvation from sin, seeking God with fear and trembling, walking humbly and faithfully with him.
And when you do your part, no matter how large or small that may seem to you, then God will do his part, and you will never be the same.
The ministry team can come to the altar now.
I hope the Holy Spirit has spoken to you today through the Word, and I hope you've been encouraged that you're not alone in this struggle, and you're not destined to failure but to victory, as he who began this work of Godly desire in you will be faithful to complete this work, bringing that desire to manifestation in the way you think, speak, and act.
This altar is open, and I invite you to come to the front for a time of prayer and seeking God. Let's enter together into his presence, kneeling or lifting our hands in surrender and worship.
And as you move toward God, he will move toward you.
When you're finished with your time of seeking, feel free to make your way to the fellowship room on your left where we'll all meet in awhile.
If you need prayer or ministry, please instant message one of the ministry team.
Come to this altar, and may God bless you with a greater fear of the Lord, and with his manifest presence in your life, as he works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.