God justifies, sanctifies and glorifies the believer ... so what is our responsibility?

The last year has been one glorious journey in seeing my relationship with Christ become intimate. As I am not currently in a ministry position, I am taking the time to prep sermons just in case the Lord journeys me back into church leadership. I have decided to study Philippians for sermon prep and for my personal growth. I am only 2 days in into Philippians and am having a sweet time in the first 6 verses of Philippians. Today, I am both persuaded and being persuaded that Christ is not only the author and finisher of our faith, but He is the one who brings fruit. It is Christ that accomplishes the middle process.

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian once said in his sermons through Colossians, "why do we as followers of Christ try to earn the right to keep our salvation when we never earned it in the first place?" (okay he might have said it differently but the thought is along the same line). Many of us (including me for many years), live in a way that we believe that we must make God happy or He will drop the hammer (or smack us on the back of the head). We fear losing the grace (favor) that God has given us and live within a set of rules that are self imposed (I can't watch that, Christians would never do that, how can I work there, I can't spend my money there and the thoughts go on and on). Many of us think that if we sin, God is either done with us or that He will bring such hard things in our lives that we will never see the light of day (okay that's a little much, but it is the line of thought that we act out).

If God is the one who gives us salvation, it is God who not only starts it but also brings its results (sanctification) and God completes it. Then why do we act as if it is up to us? Now before you head down the "Shawn is telling us we don't have to be obedient and can do anything we want", let me say  "obedience is a result of being God's child" and yes you can do whatever you want when you are delighting in the Lord.

Philippians 1:6, Paul is both convinced and being convince that not only did God begin the work in the Philippians (Salvation), but He will complete it (Glorification). It was up to God to cleanse you and it is up to God to finish the work in your heart and life that He began. Oh, "what about the middle of all of that stuff" you ask? Thanks for asking and here is your answer. The Greek word that Paul uses for "having begun" means that God not only (once and for all) did the work but that He participates in the results. He brings the fruit of the labor He began and He will finish it. It is God that grows us and it is God who brings fruit through us. It is God who starts the work, does the work and finishes the work.

So what is our responsibility in being "in Christ"? Can I just go and do anything I want, even if that means God said no to it? Can I go on living whatever way I was living before I became "In Christ"?

Our responsibility is to ABIDE "in Christ"! Our first job or calling is to be intimate with Jesus and be with Him. The overflow of our relationship with Him is obedience, because He lives His life obediently through us. The first and most important thing I am suppose to think about and do is pursue Him! "Everything God will accomplish through us will be done in our intimacy with Him"(thanks Paul Gotthardt).

So what happens if I don't feel like being good or I fail in sin? Well, first let me remind you are not acting like who you are when you sin. When you sin or don't feel like being good, you are living the life that has already been crucified. Maybe you need to spend some time figuring out who you are and begin to live out those truths. You might have an identity crisis.

Second, you have simply failed to ABIDE "in Christ". For that moment or for those moments of failure in sin, you have not turned your eyes of desire to Jesus and have allowed your flesh to turn your heart to sin. We fight our sin by being with Christ Jesus. We then see the fruit of God come through that time of intimacy. If you are being tempted, run to Jesus! If you are failing in sin, run to Jesus! If you are struggling with the things of God versus the things of this world, run to Jesus! It is that simple. Be God's kid and stay near Him.

By the way, when you sin, He hasn't left you or turned His back on you. You turned your back on Him and maybe it is time to repent (turn around from the sin and turn to God) and turn around!


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