Working out our own salvation: the cure for spiritual laziness

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I prefer clear-cut instructions.  I am a rule follower by nature, and if you can give me a sure way for a desirable outcome, like a+b=c, then I am ready to comply.  I think part of what motivates this is that I derive a sense of security from clear cut boundaries as I tend to run a little anxious.  Think of a newborn infant…..they like to be swaddled tightly in a blanket.  It helps them to feel secure; it gives them physical boundaries.  When they aren’t swaddled or held securely, they tend to cry, because they think they are falling and out of control.  The same is true for me with clear cut instructions.  Instructions and rules make me feel safe.  

The Bible is God’s revelation to man, and it contains everything we need for for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).  Not only is the Bible God’s revelation of Himself, but it also gives us His perfect law, and instructions for living a life that is pleasing to the Lord.  Although it contains everything we need, like the verse in 2 Timothy says, it is not always specific to each and every scenario.  Sometimes, I find this frustrating.  Like I have already said, I like clear-cut rules.  Sometimes I have wondered why God chose not to be more specific on things He knew would be issues for us.  This past Monday, Michelle Lesley answered a reader question regarding whether or not it was okay for Christian women to wear bikinis.  She handles the question beautifully, and it will be worth your time to go read the entire response.  What really caught my attention was the paragraph about working out our own salvation.  Philippians 2:12 says “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   Here is what Mrs. Lesley had to say:

As with various other issues, the Bible gives us a general principle (in this case about dressing modestly) and we work out our own salvation in our own cultural context according to all pertinent biblical principles and our own consciences. A law is a fast and easy “yes” or “no” answer to our question- which is often what our flesh wants, because our flesh is lazy. But what God wants Christians to do is study His word about the issue, pray, and ask Him for wisdom to make a godly decision. When we work through this process, it helps us to develop a greater desire to be conformed to the image of Christ and to be obedient to Him.

When I read that explanation from Mrs. Lesley, I had an a-ha! moment.  She points out truth that retrospectively seems obvious, but I had never thought about it that way.  It really makes sense.  Our flesh really does always desire to go the path of least resistance.  The Bible is entirely sufficient, and yet in His wisdom, God has designed it in such a way that we are required to strive and search out the truth; to come to Him seeking His counsel. God’s way really is always the best way.  This insight from Mrs. Lesley was extremely helpful to me, as I have always wondered why God couldn’t have just helped a girl out and given some clear-cut instructions.  There are some things in my life right now that I am needing answers to, and the answers are not spelled out to a T in the Word.  I’ve been lamenting this lack of black and white clarity.  Interestingly, after reading Mrs. Lesley’s article I felt motivated to wrestle with the scriptures and take the issues to the Lord in prayer.  Instead of feeling discouraged and directionless, I now have a plan of action, knowing that the Lord is wanting me to come to Him and put some work into finding His truth.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

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