Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mine and Not Mine

To live for God we need to trust in His power. The great enemy to this is depending on ourselves. It is not enough to recognize everything depends on the power of God. If we are not on guard against it, we find self-reliance continually trying to worm its way back into our life. Sometimes its greatest ally is our believing we have the thing settled, making us unprepared for the next attack.

We need to start by remembering that we are saved by Christ's work for us, accomplished without our aid (1 Peter 1:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). We are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) who receive this by putting our faith in Christ (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 3:9). Even this is the result of God's working in us to bring us to Himself (John 6:44; Acts 16:14; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Now I am convinced that God specifically chooses who will be saved (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:29,30), but no matter what you believe on that, it is important to realize that a work of God is necessary in our lives for us to come to Him. Scripture also says that we are changed by the power of God working in us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:10). Again, we are required to respond (Romans 12:1,2; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18), but this response requires God's work, which is necessary for us to change (John 15:5; Romans 7:14; 8:8).

Now some take the attitude that God saves us and then leaves us on our own to live for Him. But we can also believe there is something we need to do to get God to start working in us. And that this thing, no matter how small, will depend entirely on us. We can end up on the treadmill of trying harder and harder to get it to work (I have been there). Also, it is important to remember that we are still in process and have not yet arrived in our quest to follow God (Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 12:1,2; 1 Timothy 4:7,8). For if we believe we have reached some plateau of holiness, even if we believe it is wholly God's work, we will begin to consider that it belongs to us. And whether we believe we have reached this level at salvation itself or as a second experience, we will have to continually convince ourselves that we have attained it; if not, our faith will take a nosedive. Therefore, while we need to be confident of God's working in us, we need to also realize that we are still imperfect people who have not yet arrived (2 Corinthians 3:5,6; 4:7; 1 John 1:8-10). But more than that, we need to turn away from ourselves and focus on Christ. I believe that C. S. Lewis was right in concluding that true humility is not a matter of putting ourselves down, but of focusing on something other than ourselves, on God and other people (1 Corinthians 4:3-5; Romans 12:3; 14:4).

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