Laziness is Incompatible with Being a Christian (Phil 2:12-13)


"I'm not lazy. I'm just tired." This was a catchphrase I used when I preached a sermon on Cain about the secrecy of sin, that sin always starts very, very, very small, since sin in its beginnings is "crouching" (Gen 4:7) almost out of even our own view or awareness.

Misunderstanding Grace
: There is a prevalent idea today that if grace is taught and proclaimed in the church, Christians will think that since they are saved by grace (that has nothing to do with them), then they do not have to do anything. But there is no such suggestion or teaching through out the NT (Heb 13:20-21; 1 Pet 4:11). Paul in particular never had such an idea that "grace" = "I don't have to do anything" in his thought or in any of his writings. In fact, Paul communicates the very opposite thought--that grace ALWAYS results in work (Eph 2:8-10; Rom 6:17; 2 Thess 1:11-12; Gal 5:22-23). Also, because of grace, Paul himself was constantly compelled and motivated to work even harder (1 Cor 15:10), with far greater joy, hope and intensity.

The Pervasiveness of Grace
: Grace is a free gift of God. "The gospel of the grace of God" is what Paul gave his life proclaiming (Acts 20:24, ESV). Grace is "synonymous" with "the gospel" and with "God." It is a theme in all of Paul's 13 epistles. He begins and ends each epistle with the greeting of grace. He is not ashamed of grace (Rom 1:16). Grace is what compelled him to work harder than anyone else (1 Cor 15:10). He never tires of proclaiming grace (1 Cor 9:24-27; 2 Cor 11:23-29). Because of his proclamation of grace, he was misunderstood and hated, even by his own countrymen, and finally he was beheaded and martyred by Nero. Yet he was not defeated, but victorious (2 Tim 4:7-8). Most of all, he gave all the glory to God (1 Cor 10:31).

The Results of Grace: In Phil 1:12-13, Paul spells out the result of the grace of Jesus, which is our sanctification. Briefly, justification is God accepting us, while sanctification is God changing us all the days of our life. Justification requires nothing of us. But sanctification requires that we work and cooperate with what God is doing in us. Paul gives 4 exhortations for our sanctification to those who know the grace of Jesus:

  1. Continue to obey (Phil 2:12a). Obedience is natural and vital to the Christian life.
  2. Work out your salvation (Phil 2:12b). Grace causes us to be active in the Christian life, No one grows in grace or is sanctified passively.
  3. Obey and work with reverence and awe (Phil 2:12c). Grace causes us to be humble and God-fearing.
  4. Obey and work because God is at work in us (Phil 2:13). God works in us for our growth in godliness, therefore we pursue holiness. There is no greater encouragement than the realization that the Holy God is working in me.
In the NT, grace which never depends on what I do NEVER means "I do not have to do anything." Instead, it means the very opposite. Therefore, laziness is incompatible with being a Christian.

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