Working Out Your Salvation by the Spirit at Work Within You
Almighty God is not a slacker, nor a sloth. When He made man in His image, God put man to work. Work was not a curse, nor did man toil in vain.
The fall into sin ruined man’s work life. Everything man did was tainted by competition instead of cooperation. Man’s lot remains thorns and thistles. One man labors with prowess, only to be robbed by wicked men and governments. Spurred on by deviant motives, men work for equally sinful ends. There is no rest in eternal hell, either.
The flesh is weak, and its diversity of sins is vast. God is a righteous Judge, and every man is a fink. Just as Adam ratted out Eve, so she squealed on the devil. Nothing escapes God’s omniscience. He knew. He knows.
The plight of man is both simple and complex. It only takes one sin for each soul to be estranged from the Holy God. That sin was provided at conception by Adam, our first father and federal head of humanity. It is a total mess after that one simple event.
The remedy to the plight of man is both simple and complex. Sinners sin in a multitude of ways, and they invent endless ways to justify themselves and their sins before the righteous Judge of the living and the dead. From the deluded perspective of deceived humanity, salvation appears too difficult. Some try to work to be right with God with the hope that God judges on a curved grading scale. The most “devout” wins the prize of eternal life by earnest endeavors. “Surely, God must see my sincerity despite my sins,” is the musing of the twisted religionist.
Others see the impossibility of pleasing God with their failed attempts at obedience, so they resign themselves to sensual licentiousness. The cults of the Stoics and Epicureans are still with us.
In theory, the Evangelical knows he cannot “do” anything to please God. He tells his neighbor to have faith, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Does this Evangelical press his neighbor to fake some semblance of faith by “making a decision” in his hour of decision to follow Jesus? Faking one’s faith is hard work. Play acting the Christian life, in order to be respectable, is a temporary insanity. Fake Christians will return to a life of sin, and they will deny Christ Jesus as Lord. One cannot be what he is not in reality.
True salvation is entirely an act of God. This is true at the beginning right through to the end. The born again, filled with the Spirit of Christ, are walking miracles of God’s amazing grace. Whether one is new to the faith or a mature believer in Jesus, the fact is that God is at work.
It is a travesty for Christians to judge one another for failed performance. In conversion, the sin nature was not removed from one’s body of death. All men work hard at sinning and all men receive the wages for their labors, which is death (Rom 6:23). Without the intervention of God, men are doomed to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Mt 25:46; Rev 20:14–15). They live without hope and without God (Eph 2:12).
The Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He or she has a new life yet in a still dying body. The new life is the product of the presence of God’s Spirit in the soul of the one made alive, spiritually. The Christian life is an abundant life, lived in the wisdom and power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ. This means the Christian’s works, that is, good works are all produced by the Spirit of God, who gets all the credit for performing every good work.
The confused Christian asks, “What must I do to be sanctified?” The answer is simple and complex. The simple answer is that you must “do” nothing, in order to be sanctified. Every single imperative for Christian good works is achieved by the indwelling Spirit, bar none. God is already working. Even the faith to believe that He who began this good work in you with the promise to finish that work, is a work of the Spirit manifesting faith in the child of God.
What is your part in being conformed to the image of Christ, dear Christian? It is simply to be the object of His glorious grace. You never chose or decided to be that object. He made you to be that object. Remember, God is the Potter, and you are the salvaged, broken clay pot. What do broken clay pots “do” to fix themselves after they are rescued from the trash heap? Nothing. Christian, what are you doing to fix yourself, as the object of God’s love in salvation? Nothing.
Watch with wonder as the good works prepared by Him beforehand for you are performed by Him, in perfect accord with His will and good pleasure. God is at work accomplishing in you and through you what is impossible for you to do. Are you running the race of faith to win the prize? It is Him in you. Has God told you to work out your salvation with fear and trembling? Fear not, for God is with you, even in you, to accomplish what concerns you. As Isaiah wrote, “Lord, You will establish peace for us. Since You have also performed for us all our works (Is 26:12).”
Christian this is simple. The life you now live is Christ in you (Gal 2:20). Everything you need for life and godliness is already at work in you, that is, the Holy Spirit aligning your life to Christ by means of God’s Word. Stated another way, the Spirit shows you what He alone can do and does, by showing you the Scriptures. He has told you what God requires, and God has told you that He will do what is required. Can you believe that? If you do, then it is Him causing you to believe. This is what it means to rest in Him…yes, He is doing that, too. That is how you work out your salvation, by the Spirit at work within you.
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 14, 2021