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The Power of Want: Working Out Our Salvation, Part 3

by | Sep 16, 2023 | Christian Example, Desire, New Life, Provision, Sanctification, Working Out Our Salvation

Digging up weeds in my lawn is not one of my favourite activities. As a result, I have one of the weedier yards in the neighbourhood.

Cleaning house is also not my favourite activity. In fact, I would be perfectly happy if I could afford a maid service. Then my house would stay clean and I wouldn’t have to do it. Interestingly, unlike my yard where I simply cut the weeds down with the lawnmower, my house is usually reasonably clean.

What makes the difference?

The answer to that question is simple: I desire a clean house, where I could care less about the weeds in my lawn.

Thus, our desire do something becomes a prerequisite for our doing it!

In the first two parts of this series, we have been looking at Philippians 2:12b-13: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.” (NASB). We came to understand that this refers to our new life in Christ, and it means we need to be serious about carrying on to the goal of being good examples of Christ. But just how are we supposed to accomplish such an impossible-sounding task?

When I take a look at my life, I see lots of things that could be more Christ-like. There are some that I set to work on right away. There are other things, however, that I know aren’t beneficial to my walk with the Lord; but somehow I harbour a strange lack of desire to work on those areas. There is also a third set of behaviours I see in my life. These are the ones that I desire with all my heart to remove; but somehow, in the heat of the problem, I suddenly don’t see the need to get rid of them. Take unforgiveness as an example. In the heat of the moment, someone does something that isn’t right, and I feel the need to teach the offender a lesson through my anger. I find myself turning and clinging to the very thing that moments before I would have done anything to do away with: I find that I don’t even want to forgive…

Anyone care to guess which of these three categories of my old life habits no longer ever show their ugly heads?

It is the first category, of course: The ones I desire to be rid of. The reason I have so many recurring problems is the same reason my house is clean and my lawn has weeds: I simply don’t have the desire to rise above those sins! 

And herein lies our first problem: Without the desire in our hearts, we will never succeed.

Good news, friends! God will never ask us to do something that is impossible. Therefore we can rest assured that if God wants us to be serious about becoming more and more like Christ, He will give us everything we need to accomplish this. Including the volition. And that’s exactly what Philippians 2:13 means: for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure.” (NASB)

You see God knows how deeply rooted our sinful natures are. God also knows how contrary His kingdom principles are as compared to the values of the world. God wants us to practice Kingdom principles in all aspects of our lives. He realizes, however, that the first step is for us to want this, and He has promised to work that desire into our spirits!

This is big. Really big. Instead of praying for God to help us overcome temptation and then getting down on ourselves when we find ourselves kind of liking the sin, we can pray for God to put the desire in our hearts to live by Jesus’ example!

I’ve been praying this now for a few days. Yesterday, I once again gave in to the temptation to get angry at someone. That someone did wrong, and they showed absolutely no remorse. They needed to be corrected, not forgiven, and I set out to show them, through my anger, that they were wrong. I wish I could say this was a new pattern for me; but it is a road I am quite used to travelling. This time was different, however. God reminded me that I was simply lacking the desire in my heart to forgive. He reminded me that He could give me that desire, if I would let Him. Instead of praying that God would give me the power to forgive, as is my usual prayer in these situations, my pray became, “God, give me the desire in my heart to forgive!” And He came through. I found myself beginning to loath my anger, and as such, it was so much easier to let go and forgive…

Friends, the first step to doing anything — be it cleaning house, digging up weeds, or working towards following Jesus’ example at all times — is to have the desire in our hearts to do so! Whatever it is that God is working in your heart to change, to weed out of your spirit and replace with Kingdom principles, whatever it is, He will also give you the desire in your heart — even in the moment itself — to do so. All you have to do is ask!

But if desire is only the first — albeit vitally important — step, what comes after this? I mean, desire alone won’t clean my house, pull my weeds, or change my heart; so then what? Join us on Saturday for the final part of this series: “Working Out Our Salvation, Part 4: Working for His Good Pleasure!”

In His love,

Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Moderator, Associate Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries

(To access the entire “Working Out Our Salvation” mini-series, please click here!)