Desires You Can Rely On

It is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.
–Philippians 2:13 (PHILLIPS)

One way God communicates His will for us is through our desires. But the Bible says our desires have been corrupted by sin, so how can we rely on them?

Fortunately, the Bible also says corrupt desires don’t have to remain corrupt. Our desires can be transformed by the power of God. Romans 8:7–8 says, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” “The flesh” refers to the part of our lives that is opposed to the will of God. We are all born with evil desires. Paul was saying before you became a Christian, you had no choice but to obey those desires of the flesh.

But look at verse 9: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” When you became a Christian, those evil desires were transformed by the Spirit of God. And the Bible says there is a constant battle within you between the flesh and the Spirit–the old desires and the new ones. As a Christian, you don’t have to follow the old desires of the flesh; you can choose to follow the new desires that have been transformed by the Spirit of God. And God can direct your life through the transformed desires He places in your heart.

Let me point out something about the work God does in our hearts. Philippians 2:12 says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Notice that Paul didn’t say, “Work for your salvation.” There’s nothing we can do to earn salvation; it is a gift of God. No, Paul said, “Work out your salvation.” The word translated as “work out” refers to working a field so it can yield the greatest possible harvest. Clearing vegetation, plowing, sowing–it takes effort to work a field. In the same way, it takes effort to live as a Christian. It means setting your alarm clock early so you have time to read God’s Word. It means staying up later so you can spend time praying. It means saying no to things you know are against God’s will for your life.

If that exhausts you even to think about, there’s some good news in verse 13: “For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose” (PHILLIPS). While you’re working out your spiritual maturity, the Holy Spirit is working in your life, giving you not only the desire to please God but also the supernatural power to fulfill that desire. When your desire is aligned with God’s, He can communicate His plan for your life through the desires He places in your heart.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Knowing God’s Will by Knowing Yours” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org; Scripture quotation marked PHILLIPS taken from The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J. B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. Used by permission.

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