Get to Work!

by Apr 26, 2010

The Puritan John Owen said, “Our enemy is not only upon us, as it was with Samson, but it is also in us.” Our greatest enemy is our own flesh. That’s why it’s such a great encouragement to know that God is Yahweh Nissi, our Banner of Victory, and he’ll give us the power to win the battle we fight against ourselves.

But there’s a problem. A lot of Christians already know that. And so they’ve started to kick back and just wait for God to give them the victory. Wait for God to make them holy.

Some Christians say to themselves, “I guess I’ll always be this way unless God does something radical in my life.”  …  “Until God intervenes, I’ll always have this short temper, and get annoyed at people for little things.”   …  “I’ll always be jealous and bitter about what other people have and I don’t.”  …  “I’ll always worry about the future.”

You’ve accepted God’s sovereignty, but now you’re using it as an excuse to get out of some hard work that you yourself need to do.

When the Israelites defeated the battle-hardened Amalekites, they did it only through the power of God symbolized by the staff Moses raised in his hands on the hill above the battlefield. When they looked to the staff, they were winning. When they couldn’t see it, they were losing.

But even though the secret to the Israelites’ victory was the power of God, that doesn’t mean they ever stopped fighting! They probably fought even harder when they saw the staff.

It’s true that it’s only God’s power that will give you victory over your sin. But his power will accomplish that through your efforts. There are plenty of passages that talk about the work you yourself need to do:

  • Strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
  • “Everyone who hopes in Christ purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 John 3:3)
  • “Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1)
  • Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Gaining the victory over the enemy within will require effort and discipline. But God will supply the desire and energy to see it through:

  • “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)