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The Christian's Obedience, Part 4 (Sermon Recap)

Gospel Partnership Series


In our most recent sermon we took a fourth look at Philippians 2:12-13 and reflected on the reality of verse 13: "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13 ESV). Our pursuit of obedience as set forth in Philippians 2:12 is dependent on God's powerful transforming work in us. Without His transforming work in our hearts, we would not bear the fruit of obedience.

God's powerful transforming work in His people begins in the miracle of regeneration: "even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5 ESV). When we are thus converted by the power of God's grace, our hearts experience a fundamental turnaround: before our hearts were inclined away from the Lord, but now we want to know Him and follow Him. 

After God regenerates a sinner, He continues His powerful transforming work in that sinner-turned-saint throughout the entirety of his or her life. God did not design our initial transformation to result in instantaneous perfection. Instead, the Father's plan is for His regenerated people to experience a lifetime of growth in character and conduct, which will then culminate in our resurrection and glorification. God is the One who brings about our increasing obedience as He works in our hearts.

First, God works in us "to will... for his good pleasure." This means that God purifies our desires and dispositions so that we truly want to walk in His ways. As God purifies our will, we actually want to obey Him. Second, God works in us "to work for his good pleasure." This means that God empowers us with holy determination, spiritual muscle, and persevering zeal that presses through to action. As God powers our work, we actually do obey Him. In these two ways, God's work in us makes our obedience an actual reality.

The truth of Philippians 2:13 should lead us to humility and prayer. It should lead us to humility because we realize that a healthy spiritual life – having godly desires, and then implementing those godly desires in actual obedience – is radically dependent on God's work in our hearts. This humility should then lead us to pray, asking the Father to continually transform our hearts. For example: "Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways." (Psalm 119:36)

We do not want to be a counterfeit production that attempts to live the Christian on our own, without God's transforming grace within our hearts. And we do not want to be a group self-production that makes a great show of religiosity but doesn't have the power of true godliness (2 Timothy 3:5). Instead, we want to be swept up into God's purpose and power. We want to be a faithful people whose faithfulness, holiness, and love is made deep and real and visible because God is at work in us. We want to be a Holy Spirit production, eager to do all that He is purifying us and powering us to do!

You can read or listen to the whole sermon here.