January 6, 2017
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We are looking at Holy Habits – forming them in our lives to better please our Lord! And we base our study on Philippians 2:12 through 16:
…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. Do all things
without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and
harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and
perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, hold-
ing fast the word of life….
In the last blog, we worked backwards from verse 16, covering “…holding forth the word of life…;” “…shine[ing] as lights in the world…;” and living “…in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation….” Let’s go on…
• Philippians 2:15 – “…that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault….” The last part of this portion of verse 15 has to do with our standing before God! Before we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we are not children of God! When we open our hearts and lives to the Lord, He sends His Holy Spirit to permanently dwell withing us. As Paul writes in Romans 8:9, “…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” But John reminds us in John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” And, as children of God, we are without fault before the Father, because we are “…accepted in the Beloved [Son].” (Ephesians 1:6). We wear Christ’s very own righteousness as a robe (see Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5; II Corinthians 5:21), and stand before God as if we had never sinned!
Blameless and harmless I believe has to do with how we are perceived by others! We need to be like Demetrius in III John 1:12: “Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.” If we are like Demetrius, we will be fulfilling what is written in I Peter 2:12 (God’s Word to the Nations):
Live decent lives among unbelievers. Then, although they ridicule you as
if you were doing wrong while they are watching you do good things, they
will praise God on the day He comes to help you. (See also Matthew 5:16).
• Philippians 2:14 – “Do all things without murmuring and disputing….” These two actions – murmuring and disputing – mark much of the interaction between those who are unsaved. Disputing is up-front, out-and-out disagreement! Murmuring is behind-the-scenes, somewhat quiet complaining! And sometimes the ‘quiet’ murmuring can do more damage than the more vocal disputing! It is gossiping about others, quietly spreading falsehoods that sound like truths. But both murmuring and disputing can eventually lead to open conflict and even wars!
The Christian is to be different in all things! Paul tells us in Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We are to be like Jesus – this One who describes Himself in Matthew 11:29 as “…gentle and lowly in heart….” And remember the prophetic description of Him in Isaiah 42:2 and 3: “He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.” Do not be known as one who engages in murmuring and disputing!
• Philippians 2:12 and 13 – “…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.” I have written about this before, especially in a blog called A Little Help Here, Please (March 13, 2013), and I encourage you to read that! So I will be brief about it here. But this is very important – a key to living out the Christian life!
Some of us have a natural personality that tends toward murmuring and disputing when interacting with others. And some have developed the murmuring and disputing habit, whether or not they naturally tend toward that trait. This is where the idea of Holy Habits comes in – such as daily Bible reading and study, extended prayer times, regular participation in church, generous giving, being a strong witness! As said in Monday’s blog, “Studies have shown that to develop a new habit, you repeat the actions of that habit for 30 days.” But it is not easy to develop a new habit! Sometimes we don’t even want to try, because we are comfortable with things as they are! Still, we are told that we are to become more and more like Jesus as we grow in our Christian life (see Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:12-16). So “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling….” Quoting Nike’s trademarked slogan, “Just Do It!” But how? What if I don’t even want to do it?
That’s where the second part of this Scripture comes in – verse 13: “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” He works in us by the Holy Spirit! And He works in us to do…His good pleasure! But even if I don’t want to do His good pleasure, He also works in us to will…His good pleasure! In other words, God gives us the want to as well as the do it! But since God is a Gentleman who does not force His will upon us (see Revelation 3:20). He will only work His will in us if invited! Concerning the habits that needed to be changed in my life (addiction, time management, handling finances, anger, etc.), even if I didn’t have the will to change things, I would confess my lack to God and ask Him to work in me, giving me the will to do what He wanted me to do! Once He gives you the ‘want to’ it is relatively easy to accomplish the task, since now you really want to do it!
So, Christian, study Philippians 2:12 through 16! Then apply the truths therein to your life to develop Holy Habits – all with God’s help!