God Is at Work in You
The main problem with our lives is not that we’re unhappy or have made a couple of minor missteps. Our diagnosis isn’t merely that we have some existential gaps that just need to be filled by a new hobby or an outlet for charitable service. It’s not that we’re lost and just need a little bit of direction or that we have low self-esteem and need to think more positively. Biblically speaking, our problem is actually this: we are by nature “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
That’s quite a condition to find ourselves in. The problem goes far deeper and spreads much wider than we like to think. Whether we are three or eighty-three years old when the Lord Jesus Christ breaks into our lives and saves us, our state before God until then is one of utter hopelessness. In His grace, however, God washes us and renews us through the Holy Spirit and causes us to become “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). God’s grace is far greater than we tend to imagine!
But once we are “justified by his grace” (Titus 3:7), what then? God goes to work, progressively and incrementally, to rid us of our foolishness and disobedience. God’s grace comes to us as we are, but it does not leave us as we are, for it teaches us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” (Titus 2:12).
Imagine a new brother in Christ named George. He’s been a Christian for two days. Last week, George was deceived, he was destructive, he was filled with hate, he was lost in idolatry, and he was committed to sensuality. Suddenly, George met Christ. The Spirit of God regenerated him, and now George finds himself in the church. George is saved but he is not yet the finished article. No, he is a work in progress. Of course he still has some messes that need to be cleaned up. Of course he has some confusion in his mind about what following Christ means for his life.
All of us are like George to one degree or another. No matter how many years we’ve believed in Jesus, we are all works in progress. We need the Bible to guide us. We need other members of Christ’s body to help us along. We need to trust that God will do what He has promised and finish the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6).
Progress might seem slow at times, but with His Spirit at work, you will make it all the way home. Until then, reflect on your condition apart from Christ, for it will humble you. Remember what God’s grace did in saving you, for it will encourage you. See the ways in which the Spirit has grown you in godliness, for it will reassure you. And ask the Lord, in His grace, to keep on changing you, bit by bit, as you wait for the appearing of your Savior and the day when you are perfected in glory (Titus 2:13-14).
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
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