Sunday, February 24, 2008

Except We Depend

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13).

Rigid. Cold. Self-reliant. Unspiritual. Legalistic. Such adjectives are often cast to describe those who led the Church and spoke the Word of God in times past. Yet, such misnomers are dispelled by one who was no stranger to personal resolutions or self-discipline:
I find by experience, that let me make resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God: for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow; but should languish, and miserably fade away - there is no dependence upon myself. It is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God; for if it were not for his mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next.
- Jonathan Edwards, "Diary", in The Works of Jonathan Edwards.

Striving after holiness, pursuing obedience, far from self-reliance, is the result of the sovereign and sanctifying work of God's Spirit in the life of His saints for His glorious purposes.

When we truly apprehend that it is God who works within us, we will yield ourselves to His energizing work and that looks like serious, sober, militant, and prayerful self-discipline.

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