"SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD" By Letting God Work In Us (Ph 2:13 ) INTRODUCTION 1. "Shining as lights in the world" is a daunting task, especially living in a world that is becoming increasingly crooked and perverse 2. But the passage which serves as the basis for this series (Ph 2: 12-16) provides both "direction" and "hope" 3. We have already begun to see some things about the "direction" we need to go in... a. We need to "work out our own salvation" first! b. We need to do so "with fear and trembling" 4. But in Ph 2:13 , we see something that should give us great "hope": a. "For it is God who works in you..." b. We are not alone in our efforts to "shine as lights in the world"! 1) Even as Paul wrote in Ph 1:6 - "...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" 2) And again in Ph 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ (Him) who strengthens me." c. Yes, there is "power" from God to aid us! 5. In this lesson, I shall endeavor to accomplish three things: a. Increase our understanding and appreciation for the power God makes available to the Christian b. Suggest the source and purpose of this power c. Propose the means by which we can be sure to allow God's power to work in us [First, then, I suggest we turn to Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians as we strive to learn more about...] I. THE "POWER" AVAILABLE TO THE CHRISTIAN A. THIS "POWER" IS SOMETHING PAUL WANTED US TO KNOW... 1. As mentioned in his prayer to the Ephesians - Ep 1:15-23 2. Along with other things, Paul wanted them to know "what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe" - 19 3. Note that Paul says this "power toward us" is "according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ..." a. "when He raised Him from the dead" b. "and seated Him at His right hand..." c. The power available to Christians is akin to that power used in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus! 4. How is it possible that we have experienced the same sort of power God used in raising Jesus from the dead? a. In that those who "were dead in trespasses and sins" God made "alive together with Christ...and raised us up together"! - cf. Ep 2:1-6 b. The Divine power which raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that is necessary to forgive sin and regenerate the sinner! c. As Jesus illustrated in healing the paralytic, it is no more easier to forgive sins than to heal the lame - both require Divine power! - cf. Mt 9:1-8 B. THIS "POWER" IS DESCRIBED FURTHER BY PAUL... 1. In his second prayer for the Ephesians - Ep 3:14-21 2. The source and purpose of this power is hinted at in Ep 3:16 (which we will return to later) 3. But elaborated upon in his "doxology" in Ep 3:20 a. Note that he describes what God is "able to do...according to the power that works in us" b. Note also the superlatives used to describe this power: 1) "exceedingly" 2) "abundantly" 3) "above all that we ask or think" [Yes, there is power available beyond our imagination that is at work in us, if we will only access it! But what is the source of this power, and what is its purpose?] II. THE SOURCE AND PURPOSE OF THIS "POWER" A. AS SUGGESTED BY EP 3:16 , THE SOURCE IS GOD'S "SPIRIT IN THE INNER MAN"... 1. Even as Paul said in Ph 2:13 , "it is God who works in you" 2. I understand this to relate to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians a. As promised by Jesus, and explained by John - Jn 7:37-39 b. As promised by Peter on the Day of Pentecost - Ac 2:38-39 c. As referred to by Paul - Ro 8:9-11 ; 1 Co 3:16 ; 6:19 3. The Holy Spirit, then, is the "instrumental agent" by which God indwells the Christian - cf. Ep 2:22 a. Christians may not all agree on HOW the Spirit may indwell the Christian b. But that He does, and that He is "source" of power, seems evident from Ep 3:16 B. AS SUGGESTED BY EP 3:16 , THE PURPOSE OF THIS POWER IS TO PROVIDE "STRENGTH"... 1. To be "strengthened with might" 2. For what purpose? a. To "work out your own salvation" - cf. Ph 2:12-13 b. To "put to death the deeds of the body" - Ro 8:12-13 c. To "glorify God in your body" - 1 Co 6:19-20 -- In other words, to "do" what is necessary to "shine as lights in the world"! 3. But notice carefully in our text (Ph 2:13 ), that God "works in you both to will and to do" a. Strength not only to "do" b. But strength to "will" -- I.e., the power is also there to help our motivation, our hope! - cf. Ro 15:13 [As wonderful as this "power" is that God provides through His Holy Spirit for strength and motivation, it does us no good if we don't access it!] III. ACCESSING THE "POWER" AVAILABLE TO CHRISTIANS A. THROUGH PRAYER... 1. In other words, ask for it! 2. This is what Paul was doing for the Ephesians in Ep 3:16 3. Certainly it would be appropriate for us to ask it for ourselves! 4. Those who do "wait on the Lord" (which includes prayer) are promised strength - cf. Isa 40:28-31 B. THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD... 1. In instructing the Ephesians to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might", he tells them to "put on the whole armor of God" - Ep 6:10-13 2. Indispensable to this armor are such elements as: a. Truth - Ep 6:14 b. The gospel - Ep 6:15 c. Faith - Ep 6:16 -- All of which are inseparable from the Word of God 3. But the Word itself is described as "the sword of the Spirit" - Ep 6:17 a. Certainly we should use it as a weapon to reach others b. But does not the Spirit of God use the same word to reach ourselves? 1) Through the Word of truth, we have been born again - 1 Pe 1:23 ; Ja 1:18 2) And through the Word of truth, we will save our souls! - Ja 1:21 4. So allow the Word of God to be an avenue through which God strengthens us in the inner man, and to work in us, both to will and to do for His good pleasure! C. BY JUST DOING IT! 1. We receive a lot of help through the Word of God and prayer (primarily in the area of strengthening the "will") 2. But the ultimate demonstration of God's power is to be seen when we "do" His will a. But it won't be seen until WE decide to do it and then do OUR part b. Isn't this what is implied Ph 2:12-13 ? 1) God is at work in us (through His indwelling Spirit) 2) But only if we are also working out our salvation with fear and trembling! 3. So it is by FAITH that we believe that the power to do God's will is there, and it is by FAITH that we act upon it! CONCLUSION 1. If Christians are NOT "Shining As Lights In The World", perhaps it is because God is not at work in them 2. If such is the case, it would only be through lack of faith on our part... a. Lack of faith to believe in God's Word about the power to do God's will that is available to Christians through the indwelling Holy Spirit b. Lack of faith to access that power through prayer and the Word c. Lack of faith to do simply what God says to do, trusting Him to provide the ability 3. But from our text (Ph 2:13 ), we know that it is in keeping with God's "good pleasure" to empower us to do His will Therefore, let's do all that we can to have "God work in us", so that we can truly "shine as lights in the world"!