Our daughters enjoyed some gymnastics when they were growing up. The balance beam looked pretty easy from a distance, but when you try to walk, turn and tumble on that narrow beam, balance is a real challenge! No wonder there are mats are around it.
Our perspective on the abundant Christian living requires balance too. What is our part? What is God’s part? Philippians 2:12,13 describes both parts in balance:
“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.,
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
At the new birth (conversion) we were saved from the penalty of sin; this is a completed salvation in believers (John 3:3; Titus 3:5,6). But here Paul exhorts us to give evidence of this by progressive deliverance from the power of sin. The former relates to one’s spirit, the latter relates to one’s soul and behavior. We should balance this responsibility for spiritual growth with the assurance that “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The Presence of God
Notice that the presence of God is assured to the true believer in Christ. “For it is God who works in you. . .”(Phil. 2:13). This refers to the personal sealing by the Holy Spirit when we become children of God. “In Him (Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:12,13). Thankfully, this seal is placed upon the believer by the authority of the Captain of our Salvation. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). “The Day of Redemption” anticipates Christ’s Second Coming when we will be blessed with a glorified body (Rom. 8:23).
The Power of God
Notice also the assurance of the power of God. “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” In the sixth century B.C., the prophet Zechariah assured the remnant who had returned to Israel from Babylonian captivity that God would provide the power to rebuild the temple.
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the LORD of hosts.
‘Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” ‘ ” (Zech. 4:6,7).
And though Paul was imprisoned and in danger of martyrdom, he could affirm, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
How wonderful that the Spirit of God can incline our heart to desire God’s will. This is a blessing because God’s will is “good, acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Instead of longing to do what’s right without adequate strength to do it, God empowers us to work according to His good pleasure. As we walk in the Spirit with God’s grace as our supply, we discover that “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
But, sometimes we may feel that God’s directives are heavy. Perhaps we have taking on more that God intends, or we’re trying to do His will in our own resources. Or maybe our religious service is an effort to earn God’s acceptance. Yet, obedience is not burdensome when we respond gratefully to the One who has accepted us in the Beloved One (Eph. 1:6).
Evan Hopkins wrote of the joy God’s enabling presence.
“It is God who is working in you. It is not a mere religious influence, but a person–the Lord Himself. He is in you. He has come into the center of your being and taken possession of you, both to will and to work. This does not mean that you cease to exist, or that your personality is at an end. No, you are just the same responsible person you always were. But you give way to Him who is the true owner of your whole being. He now takes the place you yourself once occupied. You were once the center, but Christ is now your Center, and you can say, ‘He liveth in me‘. The ‘I’ or ‘me’ still exists, but the living Lord is in the center of ‘me’. Let that be true of us, and we can see how the power needed for the working is sufficient and continuous, because it is not ours, but His.”
Let’s keep our Christian walk in balance, fulfilling our responsibilities with God’s presence and power to prompt, guide, and enable us.
Our Father, We thank You for sealing us with Your Holy Spirit unto the Day of Redemption. We depend upon Your spiritual ministry in our hearts. Incline us to desire Your best as we trust Your power to accomplish Your work through us. In Christ’s mighty name, amen.
Copyright by John Woodward, 1999 3rd edition. Biblical quotations are from The New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson). Permission is granted to reprint this article when credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com.