A fellow preacher and friend has said, we don’t come here because we are perfect people. We come here because we aren’t and God is working in us. If you are in Christ, God is at work helping you overcome sin and imperfection. Right now, He is actively working in your life to make you perfect. Paul said that God predetermined that those who love Him will be conformed to the image of Christ, Romans 8.28-30. If you love God, He has already decreed that you will be transformed to reflect Jesus. He is in the process of doing that right now. Each of us are at some point in that process. Some are farther along than others, but we’re each on the journey to becoming who God wants us to be. This principle is seen throughout the New Testament: Romans 16.25; Ephesians 3.16-17; 1 Thessalonians 5.23; 2 Thessalonians 3.3; 1 Peter 5.10; and Jude 24-25. Please take a few minutes in your personal study time to read all of these passages. Comfort and assurance are found there.
Another great passage that talks about the process we’ve embarked upon is Hebrews 10.12-17. First, Jesus offered a single sacrifice for sin, 10.12. In 10.14a, it is called a single offering. It has powerful effects. By it: he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Note how we have been “perfected for all time,” but we are still in the process of “being sanctified.” Not only is our sanctification an ongoing process, it is something being done to us. We become willing participants with God in His plan for our life, which results in God’s promise that I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more, 10.17. Praise God! As you participate with God in the process, you have room to fail, pick yourself up, and try again. He helps you every step of the way!
This brings us to a passage that we’ll examine in today’s sermon: Philippians 2.12-13. We’re probably most familiar with verse 12: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Paul did not think God’s work on his behalf meant he could sit back, relax, and do nothing on his way to heaven. The thought of God moving in Him moved him to action. For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Our job is progress. God’s job is perfection.
Many times we focus on perfection and actually let that expectation derail our spiritual goals. We get out in the middle of the water and the challenge looks larger than we considered when we began. There’s no way I’ll ever get there. Our efforts are imperfect and sometimes ineffective. In our mind we wonder if it’s worth trying. When these thoughts come, we must resist them and keep on persisting. You don’t have to be perfect like God. Just do your job and trust that God is able to and willing to do His. He will help you reach your spiritual goals.