God’s Work and The Believer’s Obedience
By Arthur J Licursi
A 2-Part Series
Part 1 - Two Satanic Lies:
Below I address two insidious religious lies. All lies are of the Devil, “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan works most effectively through Bible preachers and teachers of lying deceptions in order to hinder the maturing of the “called,” and delay the consummation of the eternal plan of God.
- Satanic Lie #1 to note is how Philippians 2:13 is misinterpreted by some believers in a way that misleads them into thinking they can be ‘passive in their walk.’ They wrongly suppose and rest in the False Belief that that ‘Christ in them will spontaneously Impose Upon Them ‘the Willing and Doing of His Will in their daily walk.’ As we proceed this will be further addressed.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
I’ve heard it said of some believers, that because “Christ is in you” (Col. 1:27) … “When you get out of bed in the morning it is Christ getting out of bed” and “When you go to work it is Christ going to work,” etc. … as if ‘We are Christ in ALL that We Do.’ I’ve actually heard it said to the effect that “We are Christ in our form.” They support the idea, by drawing upon and using out-of-context scriptures.
- Satanic Lie #2 is falsehood that usually accompanying Lie #1. These same folks are heard to say; “At salvation ‘Christ came IN and ‘Satan went OUT.’” They say believers no longer have the ‘sin nature’ in the flesh, ignoring Paul’s clear reference to “Sin In The Flesh” (Rom. 8:3b, below).
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned Sin In The Flesh: Romans 8:3.
At the Cross, the source of Sin, the Devil, was “condemned” but he remains active as ‘the God of this world,’ his Sin-nature remains in the corruptible human flesh of all humans – both saved or lost.
It is important that I rebut these grave Satanic lies that can mislead and lull believers into ‘passivity,’ never recognizing the enemy within and the power of Christ to overcome the works of “sin in the flesh.”
Just consider the power of this deception these folks are under. Even while the Devils’ own Sin-spirit nature remains in your flesh … You Think It Is Gone. Think of the advantage this gives “the powers of darkness” and the further deceptions that will to be foisted upon such believers.
Now note again our key text with another verse that tell us the work of God continues unto the Rapture.
13 For it is God Which Worketh In You both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath BEGUN A Good Work In You will perform it until ‘the day of Jesus Christ’ [at the Rapture]: Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
Now compare our Philippian 2:13 text with the corrupt misunderstanding of the believer whose ‘soul’ is lulled into ‘passivity,’ due to the false belief that ‘God does it ALL For Them’ and that ‘the Sin-Nature in man’s flesh has Departed.’ The deceived ‘passive believer’ misreads Philippians 2:13 to say;
““God does the Willing and Working INSTEAD of ME.”
- Philippians 2:12-13 actually tells us ‘God is Working In You (working upon our Soul) UP TO THE POINT OF ACTION, which is to be CHOSEN BY and of the BELIEVER’S FREE WILL.’
- By contrast, the Satanically deceived Passive Believer has the wrong-headed idea that God is actually “WILLING” INSTEAD of the believer, and “DOING” INSTEAD of the believer.
This wrong interpretation gives ground for the Believer to NOT Exercise His Own Free Will, relying upon the wrong conclusion that “Christ in me Wills and Does ALL INSTEAD of Me.”
Note that Jesus prayed to the Father, “Thy will be done” – but He did not have a Passive Will. Rather, “He Offered Himself” as a sacrifice for all men (Heb. 7:27). By contrast, the deceived Christian ‘Accepts all things as being OF God’s Will’ foolishly expecting God Will Do It All.’ We as grace believers today are led by the His Spirit to exercise our Free WILL to CHOOSE and DO rightly.
Our heavenly Father does not want us to assume that He will ‘carry us about’ as a baby. He’s fed us ‘milk to meat,’ we have His Word for us to “walk in,” and be “led.’ He does not ‘lead us by the hand.’ Our Father has provided words that explain His designed method for our ‘walk, and growth.’ Yet those believers who live by the “carnal mind” have Willed to NOT avail themselves of God’s education if them in His ways. Our ‘milk to meat’ learned ‘walk’ is essential to bringing forth godly honor and glory unto Him, as we are members of “His Body,” to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).
Many ignorantly say, “Where is God?” in their troubles. They don’t yet realize the undesirable events suffered in their lives are most often according to Their Own Rebellious Sowing to Bad Decisions and then Reaping the Consequences thereof. We need to ‘Will and Do’ rightly … according to the known will of God for our daily living, as found in the Scriptures, particularly as taught us in Paul’s epistles The truth to be emphasized is that God Never “Wills” For The Believer. The believer is responsible for his own choices, actions, and their consequences.
Paul does not tell us God causes the events of our lives but rather that He uses “All Things” to “the good.” 28 And we know that All Things Work Together For Good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28), more on this later. The negative things teach us. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13 (K
The mistaken teachers of “Christ Does It All In and through believer, even Without the believer’s Willing Participation” fails to consider the context of Philippians 2:13. Note that verse 12 flat out tells us there is a “Work” of Obedience for the grace believer ‘TO DO’ in their daily lives. This is not a Law in order to be saved or stay saved, but rather to operate our lives righteously as ‘pleasing to the Lord.’
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh IN YOU both [for YOU] to Will and [YOU] To Do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
Many Christians I’ve met are confused about knowing The Lord’s Will for them in this or that matter. Many still superstitiously and religiously look for ‘signs’ or a special ‘feeling’ or ‘word’ from someone to tell them what they should do. This only opens them to more Devilish deceptions. Such folly is dangerous and reveals that they do not yet know the Pauline Scriptures concerning the walk of the grace believing members of “the body of Christ,” nor are they aware of the dangers of Satanic deception among us.
- They do not realize that God has Already Revealed His Overarching WILL for all of us as intelligized grace believers as found in the Scriptures and particularly in the words of Paul’s epistles that reveal God’s ‘eternal plan and purpose.’ We as grace believers ought to know “the word of truth” for us “rightly divided.”
- Paul also explains that we are Fully Liberated and Empowered by Christ’s finished Cross-work and His resurrection life in us … so that we can individually know and live in obedience unto righteousness. Then, knowing both His eternal will, plan, and purpose, and His expectation of us as seen in Paul’s epistles… HE ENTRUSTS US To Live It Out Our Daily Lives Accordingly. Paul’s epistles address the details of virtually every situation of life … for our learning and for our life-application.
The LORD TRUSTS US TO DECIDE HOW TO APPLY These Pauline Truths To The Details Of Our Lives. We are in training for reigning with Him “eternal in the heavens” (cf. 2Tim. 2:12, 2Cor. 5:1b). We have Christ’s indwelling resurrection life in our spirit to inform our soul and empower us in living the Christian life. We have been given the Lord’s Wisdom for us … through Paul … for us to apply. We have been beseeched and INSTRUCTED by Paul to “OBEY.” This alone proves that Christ in us does NOT automatically ‘Take Over Our Lives or ‘Operate Our Life for Us.’ Paul says our part is to “yield” our Wills and our ‘body members’ unto His standard as “instruments of righteousness.”
13 Neither [don’t] yield ye your members [body members] as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and [yield] your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:13 (KJV)
Part 2 – Distinguishing Christ’s Work and Our Work
13 Neither [don’t] ‘yield’ ye your [body] members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but ‘yield’ yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:13 (KJV)
The word “yield” in Romans 6:13 (above) implies that genuine believers face a decision and that they should Know the Indwelling Lord’s Will for them. But due to false teaching, some believers have the erroneous idea that ‘GOD Lives His will through the Believers… automatically.’ They believe this is because Christ Indwells Believers.
15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? … 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit [with Him]. 1Cor. 6:15-17 (KJV)
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, The Hope of Glory [the ‘expression of His life’]: Colossians 1:27 (KJV)
It’s true, but they have a mistaken understanding of His work. Christ’s “Spirit of life” does dwells in our “spirit of man,” but expects the Cooperation of Our ‘Regenerated Spirit’ and ‘Soul’… with its Renewed Mind, Will, to rule our Body. We must ‘choose’ whether or not to walk win union with Him.
16 This I say then, Walk in [union with] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
25 If [Since we live [have life] in the Spirit, let us also walk in [union with] the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 (KJV)
Christ’s ‘Spirit is located in our spirit as the core of our new creation being, yet remaining as a separate entity from our ‘spirit’ and ‘soul-self’ as seen by this verse; 16The [Holy] Spirit [of Christ] itself beareth witness with OUR Spirit [‘of man,’ Zech. 12:1] Rom. 8:16. Thus. the truth of Christ’s Spirit of life indwelling the believer’s spirit is the most important truth. Yet there are those who see it mistakenly. They say “Christ In You live His will through the believer Spontaneously” as if Christ takes over or usurps the believers whole being. This idea is an example of mixing ‘error’ (Satan’s lies) with some degree of Bible truth. Such error ‘leavens’ or corrupts the truth.
The mistaken concept of “Christ in you does it ALL in the believer” is disproven as follows;
- Paul wrote of the “Spirit of life in Christ” in the believer’s “spirit of man,” being ‘one spirit,’ yet;
Christ resurrected “Spirit of life” was deposited into our “spirit of man” making us “one spirit” with Him (1Cor. 6:17). ‘One’ here is in the sense of oneness in function and purpose. “The Spirit” of Christ is the proper director of our tripart being… including “Spirit, Soul and Body” (1Thes. 5:23).
- They also neglect the matter of the Free-Will of the Believer’s Soul
The Lord works IN believers began with salvation until the Rapture. Christ’s Spirit works in us believers, teaching us and leading us in His ways as conveyed through His written word. This is confirmed by the believer’s innate desire to please the Lord. Paul, our “Apostle to the Gentiles.” (Rom. 11:13), gives us the detailed framework of our ‘walk in Christ.’ As His genuinely regenerated offspring, we have the innate desire to please the Lord, as representative of His nature working within our spirit.
As to ‘he Will of God,’ the fact is that Christ Works His Will In Us ... Only UP TO THE POINT where;
1) We Must CHOOSE to Agree or Not with what we know of the Lord’s Will for us,
2) Then We Must EXERCISE OUR ‘Free Will’ to ‘DO’ and Serve The Lord by Living In Accord With His already revealed WILL, then having agreed…
3) We then Decide How Best to APPLY HIS WILL to … the details of Our Life.
The Lord expects the Cooperation of believers who have come to understand Christ’s finished Cross-work and His Spirit-empowerment, that we would ‘Exercise Our Selves Unto Godliness’ (cf. 1 Tim. 4:7). We must Choose to live righteously as an act of our Free-Will, ‘To DO’ in accord with what we should have by now learned by the Holy Spirit’s teaching as confirmed in the written word.
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 TEACHING US that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Titus 2:11-12 (KJV)
Consider Philippians 2:12, where Paul instructs the Philippian Christians to “WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION,” meaning they are to PUT THE TRUTH OF YOURR BELIEF INTO PRACTICE. Believers are ‘positionally in Christ’ but not automatically in accord with the Lord ‘dispositionally.’ We need to Express His Life in our actions and attitudes. So, God Is Works … ONLY UP TO THE POINT of OUR deciding how to Righteously EXERCISE our Free-Will in the events of our lives.
This understanding should lead believers to a deep sense of awe and appreciation that we are not Christian robots... that we have been Freed to Live, Willingly choosing to Serve Christ in righteousness. We choose to serve Him because we are constrained by His bands of love (cf. 2Cor 5:14).
In Philippians 2:13 Paul notes the TWO areas God works toward in the life of the grace-age believer.
- First God works in us to Save us and infuse us with His indwelling “Spirit of life.”
- Thereby He works in us to Know WILL, His good pleasure. The work of the Cross equips the Genuine Believer with an innate spirit-desire to ‘want serve the Lord’... but still the ‘Willing Choice to Apply’ His will is of The Believer’s ‘Free Will’ as an individual dependent Soul-Self.
Thus, God works in us That We Might Choose to live and work for “His good pleasure.” Christ’s Spirit in the believer gives us the desire and the strength to live for the Lord. Yet, the Willing Obedience is of The Believer’s Free Will, as an Individual, Soul-Self,’ Dependent upon Christ’s life empowerment.
As seen in Paul’s Galatians 2:20 (below), the Believer Still Exists as An Individual Soul-Self, as ‘Me or I.’ Note the words “Me” and “I” referring to the believer as an Independent Vessel of the LORD.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I [alone], but Christ liveth in ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved ME, and gave himself for ME. Gal. 2:20
The work* of the believer is a common theme in this letter (cf. Philippians 1:6; 2:12, 25, 30; 4:3). Our works or service unto the Lord are for “his good pleasure” involving Our ‘OBEDIENCE’ (cf. Philippians 2:12) according to the Holy Spirit’s grace teaching and the believer’s proper understanding thereof. The believer’s Willing and Choosing must be to ‘Conform to the Lord’s Will.’
In Romans 8:29 we see the course of our being eternally ‘Foreknown’ and Justified (saved) … unto being “conformed to the image of His Son.” It is God’s work in us to save us and then bring us to the culmination of being “conformed to the image of His Son.” – this is God’s ongoing work in the believer.
6 Being confident of this very thing, that He [God] Which Hath Begun a Good Work In You Will perform it [that work He began] Until The Day of Jesus Christ [His appearing at the Rapture]: Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
This continuing work which God began in us, as seen above, indicates that the believer NOT A FINISHED PRODUCT UNTIL the RAPTURE with the Exchange of his “Corruptible” Body for his “Incorruptible” immortal Glorified ‘Spirit-Body,’ like unto Jesus’ resurrection body.
20 For our
conversation [Old English for ‘citizenship’], is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who SHALL CHANGE OUR VILE [CORRUPTIBLE] BODY, that it may Be Fashioned Like Unto His Glorious [Resurrection] Body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Philippians 3:20-21 (KJV)
Thus, Paul clearly instructs the Philippians;
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling [reverential fear]. Philip. 2:12
Thus, “the word of God” for us today, during “the dispensation of the grace of God” needs to be preached and taught. It then needs to be understood, believed, and incorporated into the daily lives of believers. Knowing the truth of the love and work of God on our behalf should constrain our hearts to ‘obey.’
*NOTE: Our “work” is not to earn salvation or to remain saved. That matter was settled at the Cross and secured to us the moment we first believed (cf. Eph. 2:8-9, 1:13). This is not in legalistic ‘obedience to a law,’ rather, these instructive ‘words of Paul,’ are his ‘love commands.’