“For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 – ISV).
We remembered last week that we are no longer living by obedience to the law of God, the knowledge of good and evil, the way mankind in Adam was tricked to live in the Garden of Eden. No, we now live by faith, i.e., simply doing what God, by His Spirit in our hearts, tells us to do, with no holes to punch, lists to check, or levers to pull.
The above verse is one of the clearest verses in the Bible to tell us the way He does so—by changing our desires, our “want tos.” The old, Adamic way of living by making “righteous, biblical choices,” is over. Now, we, like four-year-old little children, simply put our hand in our daddy’s and follow Him, doing just what He tells us to do. We can’t imagine wanting to do anything else, because we are the most important thing in the world to Daddy. It never crosses our minds to do something else. He has captured our hearts with His love!
So, how do we know what He is telling us to do? Chances are good it won’t be in an audible voice others can hear. Probably no question is asked more often by sincere Christians than, “What does God want me to do in this situation?”
It is not at all a stretch to realize that following our Father is really “doing what we want to do.” Is that not exactly what Philippians 2:13, quoted above, says? According to that verse, He is at work in our hearts giving us: 1.) the desire and 2.) the ability to do His will. Do you really believe that? That is what ‘living by faith” is—simply believing what God says is really and truly, in real life, true! But Is He really changing my “want tos” to coincide with His?
“Aye, there’s the rub!” Can I trust my Heavenly Father to be actually responsible for my conduct and make me genuinely want to follow His will, or is this a gigantic, divine sting operation? Is God just waiting, baiting me with promises like this, and then just waiting until I willfully sin (because I wanted to!), and then He says to me, “Gotcha, you evil sinner!”? l
How will He react when I purposely sin like this, as I know I surely will? I am so addicted to the fruit of trying to do good and not bad, and then failing, I can’t shake it. “Living by faith” (actually believing what God says in Philippians 2:13 about changing my want-tos) is just religious words to many Christians. Trying to be “good” and not “bad” is so natural to the flesh in which we live we can’t even think in another context.
So, when I do sin, does He shake His finger under my nose and rebuke me for sinning? No, He does not. He simply says, “I love you, and I promise you that I, the omnipotent, creator God, am at work on that sin in your life. Because of the cross, I am no longer a God of judgment, sin is now completely irrelevant to Me because I died for it, and it does not affect your relationship with Me in any way. Yes, there may be severe earthly consequences of that sin, but absolutely nothing happens to our relationship. I have nothing but love for you! Trust me. I gotcha!”
In the final analysis, it is this kind of love that captures our hearts, and many of us have never seen this on earth, in action, so we can’t even imagine a love like that. Our fathers were designed by God to be a model of His relationship with us, but few of us get that privilege. What if I had an earthly father who did not model God for me?
What if he was unreliable and I could not trust what he said? What if he was primarily concerned with himself and his own pleasure, and he was irresponsible and was not involved in my life on a regular basis, so I knew he really didn’t love me? What if He lost his temper and shouted at me when I screwed up? What if he never complimented me, and I felt like I could never please him? What if I grew up with a father like that who was crippled by his own unbelief?
If that is true of you, then you are handicapped, as our earthly fathers were designed by God to show us, in living color, what He is like. But know for sure that God is at work right now, showing you in other ways what He Himself is like as your Eternal Father. Having read this posting this far is proof that this is true for you, and God has you in His sights and is tracking you down until He pins you in a corner, steps on your neck with His love and says, “I gotcha!”
I want to conclude with a single word in 1 Corinthians 13:5, describing the only irresistible force in the Universe—the agape love that God is said in the Bible to have for us. I have quoted this before, and it underscores beautifully how God feels specifically about you and your sin today, right now. The word is translated “easily provoked” in the NKJV but the AMPC brings out the full Greek meaning beautifully: “It (love) takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”
This means that God, because of the cross, takes no account of the vile, evil acts that are done and the blasphemies uttered against Him daily in the world; He remains actively at work in all our lives, paying no attention to any of that but only loving us with a love that literally seeks nothing in return. Eventually that love will win, and we, like little four-year-old’s, will eagerly do anything Daddy tells us to do. He truly has worked within us to conform our desires to His, and we follow Him by doing exactly what we want. We cannot imagine doing anything else!