Question: The Bible says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians:2:13). Then why do I so often fail to do His will and to please Him? I more often please myself by doing my own will. Why?
Response: The previous verse says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We don’t “work for salvation,” but we must work out the salvation God has given us. Paul declares that “we are his [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians:2:9-10). It is God’s will that we should do good works—but it is our responsibility to do them.
Created in a beautiful garden, Adam was “to dress it and keep it [and] freely eat” its fruit (Genesis:2:15-16). God gave Adam the ability, but he had to harvest and eat the fruit. God didn’t do it for him. So it is with the life we are to live by faith in God and in obedience to His will. God’s work in us neither overrides our will nor our efforts but guides and empowers us as we obey Him.
Just as Adam failed to do God’s will, we too fail at times. God had a provision for Adam’s sin, and He has one for ours as well: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John:1:9). Why do we so often seek our own will? Whether we live for Christ or for self depends upon our understanding and faith. Christ loves us so much that He paid the full penalty for our sins, a penalty that His justice demanded. When this fact becomes more real to us than this passing world, we become overwhelmed with love for Him and the desire to do His will. When we really believe that this life is brief and eternity is unending, the shortness of time in relation to eternity compels us by logic and even self-interest to live for eternity. The life we live day by day depends upon what we really believe. Paul’s passion was to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” To that end he said, “Whereunto I labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians:1:28,29). Understanding, faith, and love provide the foundation for a partnership in which God is able to work mightily in us as we work diligently and trust Him.