Empowered to Love

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, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

-Philippians 2:12-13[1]

It is a glorious truth that God is not just simply working “with” believers in their pursuit of sanctification. The very Spirit of God is working “in” believers as they are indwelt with him, and he pursues their sanctification from the inside out. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us that there should be a healthy fear and trembling that takes place as we contemplate this reality. Let it sink in for a moment—the almighty Spirit of God is working in you Christlikeness.

One of the things we have talked about at length in this series is the reality that the Spirit of God is the love of God.[2] The Father eternally loves the Son and the Son eternally loves the Father, and both love one another through the person of the Spirit. What this means is, the spirit of divine love dwells within all believers and is working his love in and through them. This truth may seem to be nothing more than a philosophical or theological pondering without much practical benefit, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As a biblicalcounselor, discouraged people who lack hope frequently approach me believing their situations will never change.

  1. The spouse who has discovered their partner has committed adultery
  2. The porn addict who believes he will never be able to have victory over his lust
  3. The proud saint who is frequently discouraged by how frequently the ugly monster of pride creeps into their thoughts

These are just a few of the many circumstances that can be present within the life of a believer. Regardless of the struggle or sin one faces, the reality remains the same, Christians are frequently discouraged by their sin and can regularly struggle with the hope that things will never change.

I hear the spouse asking, “How could I ever get over what they have done, how could there be any hope for this marriage?”

I hear the young Christian, who for over a decade been enslaved to porn ask, “I have tried for over ten years to stop looking at porn, but I just can’t. Will there ever be a time where this sin will be gone?”

Or again, the saint who struggles with pride, “Why must I always feel resentment when someone else is receiving the credit for something and not me. I hate this; I want to be able to rejoice in other saint’s success, is there any hope?”

All of these things have the same theme in common. Each Christian is fundamentally asking the same question,

“Is there any hope that I can love like Jesus?”

The spouse wants hope that they can love an adulterer the way Jesus loves his Church.[3] The porn addict wants to love women the way Jesus loved the prostitute who wept on his feet (he resisted any lust for her, but, instead, felt compassion for her and a desire for her to be saved).[4] The saint who struggles with pride wants to love like Jesus, who didn’t count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but instead emptied himself.[5]

The reality that that Spirit of God (The Spirit of Love) dwells within believers is one of the greatest encouragements of the Christian life. The indwelling of the Spirit of Love is a great encouragement for the believer because it means that no matter the circumstance, the Christian has the power and grace to love!

What does this love look like and how does a believer lay hold of the grace that fuels it? Join me in in my next post as we begin to break down how we practically apply the doctrine of divine love. I look forward to it!

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[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Php 2:12–13). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[2] https://theologymix.com/bible-study/the-glory-of-divine-love-part-3/

[3] Jeremiah 31:31-32 – “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make

a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the

covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand

to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a

husband to them,” declares the Lord.

 

[4] Luke 7:37-38 – And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she

learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an

alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet

His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His

feet and anointing them with the perfume.

 

[5] Philippians 2:6-8 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality

with God a thing to be grasped,but aemptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,

and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled

Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.[5]