“So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.”
Not only does God take the initiative by pursuing a love relationship with us, but He also initiates the invitation for us to be involved with Him in His work.
God doesn’t consult us before He begins His work, yet He invites us to be partakers in it. Therefore, to be rightly oriented to God, we need a God-centered life. In Genesis we read how God accomplished His purposes through Abraham rather than a record of Abraham’s walk with God. The focus is always God and what He is doing.
The big negative about sin is it interferes with the God-controlled life and where He wants to express Himself through us and leaves us in a self-controlled life that has no spiritual effectiveness. So, we need to deny self and return to a God-controlled life in which God can accomplish through us His purposes. To live a God-controlled life, we must focus on God’s purposes, not our own plans.
Whenever God starts to do something in the world, He takes the initiative to come and talk to someone.
Gen. 6:5-8—God was about to destroy the world by a flood when He came to Noah.
Gen. 18:16-21—When God prepared to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, He came to tell Abraham about it.
Exodus 3—God came to Moses when He wanted to deliver Israel.
Judges 6:11-16—God came to Gideon when He was about to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites.
Acts 9:1-16—God came to Saul (later called Paul) on the road to Damascus when He was ready to let the Gospel He made known to the Gentiles.
Without a doubt the most important function in each situation was not what the individual wanted to do for God but what God was about to do. Who delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, God or Moses? God did but chose to bring Moses into a relationship with Himself so that He, God, could use Moses to deliver Israel.
God desires His people to follow His ways. He created us. He knows us. He knows our world and He knows the past, present, and future. God’s ways will always be the best and right. Read Psalm 81:10-14 where God gently warns His people that if they refuse to submit, He will allow them to do their own thing. At first that looks like “freedom,” but from painful experience we know it’s a recipe for disaster.
Now note Eph. 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God has a plan, a purpose, and a future for you and me. Let us also be aware that is through faith and patience that we inherit what has been promised–vision, plans, and purposes. The source of patience is having God’s vision, because that gives us God’s true and proper inspiration. Moses endured, not because of his devotion to his principles of what was right, not because of his sense of duty to God, but because he had a vision of God. “…He endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27).
A person who has the vision and purposes of God in his heart is not devoted to a cause or issue. He is devoted to God Himself. You are devoted to God Himself. You always know when the vision and purposes are of God because of the inspiration that comes with it. So, we come full circle. For it is God who is effectively at work in you, energizing you, and creating in you the power and desire. God is waiting and wanting to fulfill His purpose in us and through us for others, to His glory, power, and splendor.