Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Obedience: key to holy living

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-13

Obedience is a key component, a necessary element of our practical sanctification. We cannot live holy Christian lives if we will not obey God and His Word as He directs us in it. Paul knew the Philippian church. He had been with that church from its earliest moments. And he knew it was a church that obeyed the truth. He encourages them to stay at the work of holiness.

And holy living is work. God enables us to do it. But we must work at it. It is not easy work. But it is also not impossible. God has given us the scriptures to tell us what holy living looks like. He has filled us with His Holy Spirit to enable us to do the things that He asks of us. Holiness is not just a possibility; it is an actuality. It is expected of us. It defines us. Christians are distinct and different. We live out the new redemption we have in Christ.

So there is this element of sanctification that falls on each Christian's shoulders. It is not a salvific working FOR salvation. It is a visible working OUT of the salvation we already have in Christ. And it is right to expect that Christians would live differently from non-Christians. Paul assumed so. He instructed believers to be that kind of Christ-follower in this world. The expectation should always be there for us to worship God by working out our salvation with healthy respect, in obedience to God's Word, by the enabling of His Holy Spirit, as God helps us to obey and follow Him.

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