Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 2

God works in you

Philippians 2:13

In Philippians 2:1-13, Paul is urging Christians not to follow their own selfish desires. Instead, they should choose to help other people, as Christ also did.

We may ask, however, how it is possible to do that. The desire to benefit ourselves is one of the strongest desires that people have. Many people even consider it to be a natural and proper reaction. When we begin to act selfishly, it often seems impossible to stop. This is not merely a matter of our actions, because our inner thoughts become selfish too.

Paul’s answer is that God is working powerfully in the lives of his people (1:6). Therefore, they do not overcome selfish desires by their own efforts, but by the work of God in them. Every good thing is the gift of God (James 1:17). Therefore, God can give to them the desire to do those things that please him. They do not need to try to change themselves; rather, they need to allow God to give them the desire to do the right things. In the same way, God gives them the tasks in life that he wants them to do (1 Corinthians 3:5-8). So they simply need to do the work that God has prepared for them to do (Ephesians 2:10).

In other words, God is asking his people to obey him. He will teach them what he wants them to do, for example from the Bible. In that way, he will create in them a desire to do those things that are right and good. Then God will use the circumstances of their lives to give them opportunities to do these things. In that way, they will develop and become mature in their relationship with him.

Next part: Obey God joyfully and gladly (Philippians 2:14)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.