Summary: To work our your Sanctification You Must 1) Understand Your Example 2) You Are Loved 3)Obedience 4)Personal Responsibilities & Resources 5)The Consequences of Sin
How are you coming thus far in 2010 in terms of your new year’s resolutions? Author, innovation consultant, and speaker Stephen Shapiro, with the help of Opinion Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey, offers the following interesting statistics concerning New Year’s resolutions:
• Forty-five percent of (North) Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; seventeen percent infrequently set resolutions; thirty-eight percent never set resolutions
• Eight percent are always successful in achieving their resolutions; nineteen percent achieve their resolutions every other year; forty-nine percent have infrequent success; twenty-four percent (one in four) never succeed and have failed on every resolution every year.
• Forty-seven percent set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
• Thirty-eight percent set resolutions related to weight
• Thirty-four percent set resolutions related to money
• Thirty-one percent set resolutions related to relationships
• The younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions (thirty-nine percent of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year, while less than fifteen percent of those over fifty achieve their resolutions every year or every other year)
• The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set New Year’s resolutions (this is especially true for those who set money-related resolutions: forty-one percent are not happy; thirty-four percent are moderately happy; twenty-five percent are happy)
• There is actually no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success (people who achieve their resolutions every year are no happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them) (http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/weekly/09-12-21/7122109.html)
Last week we talked about having a fresh start in terms of focusing on the goal of Christlikness. We saw how it required 1) Proper Awareness, 2) Maximum Effort, 3) Focused Concentration, 4) Proper Motivation, 5) Recognition and 6) Conformity.
In Philippians, Paul focuses on achieving this Christlikeness in terms of the believer’s role in sanctification. Some misguided interpreters completely misread this exhortation, as if it said, “work for your salvation,” “work at your salvation,” or “work up your salvation.” But both in the immediate context of this letter and the broader context of the New Testament, none of those interpretations is correct. Paul is not speaking of attaining salvation by human effort or goodness, but of living out the inner transformation that God has graciously granted (Eph. 2:8-9).
As Paul emphasizes in verse 13 of Philippians 2, salvation is from God. But in verse 12 he focuses on the responsibility of believers to live lives that are consistent with the divine gift of salvation. Because “we live by the Spirit,” that is, have the divine life of Christ within us, we should “also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).
Everything in life requires energy. It takes energy to walk and to work. It takes energy to think and to meditate. It takes energy to obey and to worship God.
The point of the present verse is that it takes spiritual energy to grow as a Christian, to live a life that is holy, fruitful, and pleasing to the Lord. The main verb in this verse, katergazomai (work out), specifically calls for the constant energy and effort necessary to finish a task. In 2:12, Paul’s lists five elements to work our sanctification: 1) Their Example; 2) Their Being Loved; 3) Their Obedience; 4) Their Personal Responsibilities & Resources; and 5) The Consequences of their Sin.
1) Understand Your Example. (Philippians 2:12a)
Philippians 2:12a Therefore/So then
Therefore/So then translates the Greek particle hôste, which was used to draw a conclusion from a preceding statement. Here it refers back to the example of Jesus Christ, whose perfect model of humility, submission, and obedience was described in verses 5–8. In His incarnation, Jesus did not cling to His equality with God the Father, but voluntarily set aside His divine rights and prerogatives. Taking the form of a humble bond-servant, He was obedient to His heavenly Father, even to the point of dying on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. It is also true that this obedient action of the Son of God placed Him in the role of a servant to the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest realities of the Incarnation was the fact that what Jesus did He did in the Spirit’s power (Luke 4:1, 14, 18; 5:17; Acts 10:38; cf. Matt. 12:18, 28–32).
Please turn to 1 John 2
What does it truly mean to say that we are Christians?, that we know God, we are in Christ, and He abides with us? To say that Christ is our example is to implicitly acknowledge that God is working in us through His Holy Spirit. This is an objective reality that can be seen in obedience to His commands:
1 John 2:3-6 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (ESV)