by Mike Ratliff
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.Philippians 2:12-13 (LSB)
God is Sovereign. He has not surrendered any of His sovereignty to any of His creatures, and that includes Man. My Pastor has been preaching through the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis for that last several weeks. It is obvious to all that God was in complete control of all of those things that happened to Joseph that culminated in his becoming Prime Minister of Egypt during one of the worst famines to ever hit that area. Joseph didn’t just happen to be found by a man who knew that the sons of Jacob had moved to Dothan. Joseph didn’t just happen to come upon his brothers. The caravan of traders didn’t just happen to come by as Joseph’s brothers decided to sell him into slavery. Potiphar, the Captain of Pharaoh’s Guard, didn’t just happen to buy Joseph. It also didn’t just happen that Joseph ended up in prison with the King’s prisoners for a crime he didn’t commit.
God is in control. He is on the throne. If you are in Christ then bless God because He chose you and saved you making you a new creation. In that regeneration Christians are changed from the inside out. We are Justified by Faith, but we are Sanctified by working out what God works into our hearts. We are not left to fend for ourselves in a spiritual wasteland. Instead, God does His good work in our hearts to change us to conform to the image of His Son. How does that work? Please read the following devotional by Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest.
by Oswald Chambers
Your will agrees with God, but in your flesh there is a nature that renders you powerless to do what you know you ought to do. When the Lord initially comes in contact with our conscience, the first thing our conscience does is awaken our will, and our will always agrees with God. Yet you say, “But I don’t know if my will is in agreement with God.” Look to Jesus and you will find that your will and your conscience are in agreement with Him every time. What causes you to say “I will not obey” is something less deep and penetrating than your will. It is perversity or stubbornness, and they are never in agreement with God. The most profound thing in a person is his will, not sin.
The will is the essential element in God’s creation of human beings— sin is a perverse nature which entered into people. In someone who has been born again, the source of the will is Almighty God. “. . . for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” With focused attention and great care, you have to “work out” what God “works in” you— not work to accomplish or earn “your own salvation,” but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord. As you do this, you do not bring an opposing will up against God’s will— God’s will is your will. Your natural choices will be in accordance with God’s will, and living this life will be as natural as breathing. Stubbornness is an unintelligent barrier, refusing enlightenment and blocking its flow. The only thing to do with this barrier of stubbornness is to blow it up with “dynamite,” and the “dynamite” is obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Do I believe that Almighty God is the Source of my will? God not only expects me to do His will, but He is in me to do it.
Some of you are “free-willers.” Most of you are not, as I am not. I am convinced that my regeneration included my will. God used that to bring me to total surrender to my Lord Jesus Christ in Faith by His wonderful Grace. All who have been saved by God are also recipients of this grace and His good work in their hearts to sanctify them. How are you doing in your sanctification?
Soli Deo Gloria
I believe, at least at this time as further learning may change this belief, that we all have free will though not as many people suppose. I believe we have free will, however, our will is limited and governed by our nature. As an unbeliever our will is governed by our inherent unbelief. This is why we cannot come to Christ and salvation unless and until we are regenerated by God. When we are regenerated, our nature — and thus our will — changes and becomes inherently in line with God’s will. Thus we will not resist, do not want to resist, and as a result cannot resist God’s call on our life.