Some people rip this sentence out of the context in order to show that God is the one doing everything for you. He believes for you, repents for you and even do the good works for you. If God is the one responsible for doing the good works in us, how come we sometimes mess up and end up in sin, and how come we sometimes don’t show good fruit? If the responsibility is God’s, then he either fails miserably with us at times, or he wants us to be sinning. But I thought God hated sin? If you didn’t become born again until you were 40, does this mean it’s only because God didn’t ”will” for you to be born again earlier? You’re telling me God wants you to be a sinner for a few years before he turns the ship around and makes good fruit in you? Hardly.
Jesus says that we can do nothing without him in John 15, and that a branch must be in the vine. He WARNS us about this (most importantly his own believing disciples) and tells them that THEY must make sure to abide in him. He is not going to do this for them. Paul basically says the same thing in Phil 2:13 – that without Jesus you can do nothing. We must be IN HIM in order to accomplish something. We must seek him and let the Holy Spirit guide us. But this does not mean that God is going to force us to be IN HIM. This is up to YOU. Jesus says ”IF ye abide in me”. He also says ”Continue ye in my love”. He is NOT saying that he is the one responsible for this but that WE are. Read the below and read the many IF:s and warnings:
John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Let’s check the context in Philippians 2. Most importantly the verse right before 2:13 says:
12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING.
Why fear and trembling if you can sit back and relax while God is the one doing the will and the work for you? Why does it say that WE must work if God is doing all the work? That is because YOU must make sure to abide in Jesus so that he can use you for what he has intended. YOU must be eager to know his will. YOU must make sure to OBEY. Check other things in Phil. 2 that is up to YOU to do:
2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.3Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings:15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Notice that Paul says there is a risk that he has run in VAIN and laboured in VAIN. This wouldn’t make sense if GOD is the one fixing the good fruit for us and that we have nothing to do with it. The chapter is filled with Paul’s warnings and suggestions about what WE must do in order to be able to stand blameless. Clearly Paul doesn’t expect God to do this for us, but that WE must be willing servants and perform the work that God hopes we will do. He is not going to force us, and one day we will also be rewarded for our DEEDS. If God is doing the work for us, then he is the only one that should be rewarded since we are just puppets in his hands. WE must abide in him.