Advancing the Kingdom

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Hebrews 3:7-8

Maybe it’s just me, but the very designation of “Holy Spirit” has always been one of the most enigmatic aspects of the Trinity.  After all, isn’t the Father also Holy?  Is the Father not a Spirit?  Indeed, whereas calling attention to the “Holy Spirit” vis-à-vis Father and Son would seem to imply that these two attributes somehow distinguish the Spirit from His triune counterparts, we know this is not the case.  Thus it has always struck me as doubly redundant to refer to the “Holy Spirit” distinctly, since God is by definition both Holy and Spirit.  So what’s the point?  What is it about the title of “Holy Spirit” that merits stating the obvious? 

Furthermore, when you talk with most Christians about the so-called “third person of the Trinity” it’s easy to get the sense that the Spirit made his official debut at Pentecost and that prior to this event was not particularly active.  In fact, though, nothing could be further from the truth:

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.”
Exodus 31:2-3

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Samson mightily, so that he tore the lion as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand.
Judges 14:6

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. 
1 Samuel 16:13

Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalm 51:11

Then the Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said: “We are yours, David! We are with you, son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you.”
1 Chronicles 12:18

I am filled with power – with the Spirit of the LORD – And with justice and courage To make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin.
Micah 3:8

These verses are just a few of the many passages that testify to the activity of the Holy Spirit under the Old Covenant.  And lest we are tempted to presume that perhaps the “Spirit of the LORD” or the “Spirit of God” actually refers to something besides the Holy Spirit, the New Testament plainly debunks this notion:

And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers.”
Acts 28:25

For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
2 Peter 1:21

David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’
Mark 12:36

So when you contemplate the Holy Spirit, it’s not as if the Spirit has been sitting idly by, waiting for His big scene in the book of Acts; to the contrary, the Spirit of God gets involved right from the opening verses of Genesis and has been working ever since.  And yet as prominent as the Spirit’s activity is throughout the entire Bible, what is perhaps most astonishing is not so much the extent of His work but rather its purpose.  For although God could conceivably enact His will by just “snapping his fingers,” He has consistently chosen to work in and through the agency of secondary participants as He has advanced His Kingdom. 

Bearing Divine Authority

The concept of agency is one that is familiar to almost everyone.  Actors, recording artists, and athletes employ agents who manage their financial and contractual interests, stockbrokers buy and sell securities on behalf of their clients, and real estate agents negotiate offers on prospective properties for both buyers and sellers.  Police are agents of law enforcement, managers are agents of the companies they work for, and governments empower individuals to act in specific capacities as agents of the state.  So while the roles and responsibilities may vary considerably from one agent to the next, there are several criteria which are common to all agents:

  • Agents are intermediaries who have been authorized to act on behalf of other individuals or entities 
  • An agent’s authority is limited to the role being performed
  • The actions of an agent are always supposed to align with the intentions and best interests of the party whom they represent, also known as the principal
  • From a legal perspective, the principal is accountable for the commitments made by the agent

Accordingly, consider the exploits of people like Noah, Joseph, and Moses who served as God’s intermediaries on the earth.  They were chosen by God and given specific assignments, each authorized and empowered to conduct the business of the Kingdom on God’s behalf.  And in the final analysis, their inclusion in the “Hall of Faith” of Hebrews 11 testifies to the manner in which they discharged their duties and faithfully represented their Principal.

Clearly, these men (and a host of others!) meet the qualifications listed above and can therefore be described as “agents” of God, but there are two additional conditions that are peculiar to those who serve God.  First and foremost, God’s agents are uniquely called by Him.  Someone doesn’t just “choose” to become a prophet of God any more than Korah was permitted to aspire to the priesthood.  By comparison, assuming that I do what is necessary to meet the requirements of the position, I can decide to become a real estate agent, a stockbroker, or even an FBI agent…but only God can appoint a prophet, an apostle, or a nation.

Secondly, God will often ask His agents to do things that are beyond their own natural abilities or knowledge.  This is a daunting proposition to be sure, but it should not be particularly surprising since the affairs of God’s Kingdom are supernatural by definition!  That being the case, whenever God calls individuals to serve Him, He doesn’t just assign them an impossible task and then expect them to figure things out for themselves…He also gives them the power to get it done. 

Thus whether you’re talking about craftsmen, prophets, rulers, or even your average disciple, human agents have ostensibly been the vehicle by which the Kingdom of God has advanced under both Old and New Covenants.  Appearances notwithstanding, though, we also know that God’s Spirit has been actively working “behind the scenes” to both guide and empower those participants along the way.  Alternatively referred to as the “Spirit of God,” the “Spirit of the LORD,” the “Holy Spirit,” or simply the “Spirit,” God’s presence and His power always accompany those whom He has called to serve Him.  Because whenever God asks the subjects of the Kingdom to be actively engaged in its affairs, He also leaves nothing to chance.   

In practical terms, this means that anyone acting as God’s agent essentially becomes “God” to those around them.  This notion probably seems counterintuitive and even somewhat blasphemous, but not only is this how an earlier Pharaoh basically describes Joseph…

Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like [Joseph], in whom is a divine spirit?”
Genesis 41:38

…but that’s exactly how God Himself puts it to Moses:

Now it came about on the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.” But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.”
Exodus 6:28-7:2

This declaration isn’t some generic reference to Moses being “godlike” in comparison to Pharaoh; to the contrary, God is telling Moses that He is making him Elohim to Pharaoh.  Of the many words in Hebrew that our English translations render collectively as “God,” Elohim is far and away the word used most often in the Old Testament to refer to Yahweh, the God of Israel.  So when God tells Moses that he will be “as Elohim to Pharaoh,” He means that Moses is effectively becoming the actual presence of God Himself…not only to the Egyptians, but also to the nation of Israel! 

In short, just as there is legally no difference between principals and their agents, anyone who deals with one of God’s agents is essentially dealing with God Himself.  The difference, of course, is that whereas “normal” agents have been authorized to act precisely because their principal cannot be everywhere at once, God’s agents are never alone.  His Spirit always accompanies His agents, which is why God tells Moses that he will be “as God” to Pharaoh.  As such, Moses functions as a kind of “immanuel,” a precursor of Christ who will ultimately be the fullness of God Himself dwelling among us.  Hence Moses’ message conveys the full weight and authority of its Sender…which likewise means that to disobey Moses is literally to disobey God.

You may have never thought about it in this way before, but Scripture is consistent and clear that whenever we defy one of God’s appointed representatives, we thereby defy the One who has sent them.  Thus we are not only obligated to obey God’s agents as we would obey Him, but whenever we resist the God-given authority that His agents have to command us, defiance is not only futile but likely to be disastrous:

  • Pharaoh’s refusal to heed Moses and free the Israelites brought God’s judgment upon all of Egypt
  • Korah’s rejection of Moses’ authority cost him his life and the lives of his entire family
  • Goliath’s mockery of David cost him his life and brought about the subjugation of the Philistines
  • Ahab and Jezebel’s utter rejection of Elijah not only brought a three-and-a-half-year drought upon the nation of Israel, but eventually resulted in their violent deaths
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s refusal to heed Daniel’s warning temporarily cost him his kingdom and his sanity

Bearing False Witness

In spite of the power and authority that God confers upon His agents, it is not theirs to wield however they choose; the bounds of their discretion is both defined and constrained by the parameters of what He has asked them to do.  For instance, just as our real estate agents would not be authorized to also sell our cars, God expects His agents to faithfully represent Him within the limits that He has prescribed.  To deviate even slightly is to misrepresent Him, and one thing God cannot tolerate is a rogue agent:

Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”

As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you.”
1 Samuel 15:24-28

So when it comes to serving as one of God’s representatives, it should come as no surprise that the standard of performance is both extremely high and non-negotiable.  Since God’s agents bear His Holy Name to those around them, their actions reflect directly upon God Himself in one of two ways: they either ascribe glory to His Name through their faithful obedience, or bring shame and dishonor to Him on account of their insubordination.  For in the same way that principals can be held accountable for the actions of their agents, even when an agent acts in a manner that is contrary to the express interest of the principal, when one of God’s agents deviates from His instructions they are basically elevating their own interests above those of God.  Consequently, a holy, righteous God has no choice but to discipline any agent who disobeys or misrepresents Him:

  • Moses is prohibited from entering the Promised Land on account of his disobedience
  • Nadab and Abihu are struck dead for negligence in their duties as priests
  • Saul is not only stripped of the kingdom, but God withdraws His Spirit from Saul:

    Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.
    1 Samuel 16:14

Time and time again we see God disciplining even His most prominent representatives as they fall short of the mark, up to and including “dismissal,” which is why David wrote Psalm 51 in the wake of his affair with Bathsheba.  For not only did David commit adultery with the wife of Uriah, one of his most trusted and loyal companions, but when his desperate attempts to cover it up are frustrated, he abuses his power as Israel’s King by arranging for Uriah’s death!  His sin was spiraling out of control virtually unchecked, and the worst part was that he had blinded himself to it. 

Once he is finally forced to confront the magnitude of what he has done, though, David confesses his sin and pleads with God to forgive and cleanse him.  Unlike Saul, David sincerely admits his failure to faithfully represent the God who has raised him up and sustained him, and in the midst of his prayer David begs God not to utterly cast him aside as He had previously done with Saul:

1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
Psalm 51:1-13

Don’t forget that David had “front row seats” to Saul’s demise, and so he understood that God would not hesitate to pass over him and choose another to be King over Israel; moreover, David acknowledges that God would have every right to do just that! (vs. 1-4)  He laments his utter inability to purge his heart of sin (vs. 5-9) and begs God to help him “clean up his act” rather than withdrawing His Holy Spirit as he had seen God do with his predecessor. (vs. 10-13)  It’s a poignant prayer of penitence that was graciously and mercifully answered by God.

Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ”

So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”
2 Samuel 12:10-14 (NKJV)

To be sure, this judgment upon David and his family is unquestionably severe; even so, it could have been far worse.  For as God’s anointed representative, David’s sin brought ignominy not only upon himself but his Principal by association, thereby giving “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”  Hence if God had allowed David to go unpunished, it would have signified tacit indifference or approval of David’s actions and essentially born false witness to His own character; accordingly, David realized that a Holy God couldn’t just look the other way.  Rather than try to make excuses for his behavior or ask God to grant him a pardon, though, David simply throws himself upon God’s mercy.  His only request was that God would not take away the one thing that was most precious to him: God’s own presence.  Is it any wonder that we know David as a man after God’s own heart? 

Thus in the final analysis, although God’s Spirit has worked through countless individuals to advance His Kingdom, none were ultimately capable of representing Him perfectly.  Each of His agents eventually faltered and stumbled in some way because the standard is simply too high for any fallen human being to attain:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

Then again, the standard has proven to be unattainable from the very beginning…

Casualties of War

When viewed from the standpoint of a Kingdom whose subjects willingly honor and obey their Sovereign, the story of the Bible both opens and closes with the triumph and majesty of God’s Kingdom; unfortunately, everything that happens in between is where the plot gets…messy.  Because we only get two chapters into the story before we are introduced to the Serpent, a mysterious being who is clearly intent upon spoiling God’s Kingdom upon the earth.

To that end, the Serpent sets his sights on God’s first human agents, Adam and Eve, who were placed in the Garden of Eden and given dominion over all of Creation.  There is but a single limit to their authority, and their fateful decision to defy their Creator is tantamount to rebellion against their King, a treasonous act that brings God’s curse upon both themselves as well as the world which God has given them to govern.  As a result, they not only forfeit their citizenship in the Kingdom, but their disobedience effectively puts them under the purview of a lesser, cruel master.  It seems like paradise has in fact been lost…until you get to the middle of chapter three.

Amazingly, in the midst of the damage that Adam and Eve’s actions have wrought, God promises that He is going to fix things.  He doesn’t give us all of the details, He simply reveals that the Serpent will one day be defeated…by a man.  It’s the first promise of the Gospel, the Good News that in spite of how things look to Adam and Eve as they are being evicted from the Garden of Eden, there is still reason to hope: 

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Genesis 3:15

The rest of the Bible recounts the lengths that God goes to in order to bring His promise to fruition, with the Old Testament focusing on the people whom God has chosen to model what His Kingdom is supposed to look like.  He raises up the nation of Israel to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” gives them His Law, and declares that they are destined to be a blessing to the entire world.  Yet as Malachi comes to a close, it is painfully clear that Israel is incapable of living up to their high calling; even their best efforts have utterly failed to restore God’s Kingdom and thus fulfill the promise of God.  And quite frankly, if they are incapable of getting it right, so too is the rest of humanity. 

Indeed, the endless cycle of failure chronicled by the Old Testament would leave us with a sense of abject despair if that was the end of the story: Israel’s glory has faded, God’s Kingdom remains a distant promise, and the relationship between God and all of humanity is still hopelessly fractured.  For although there have been some moments of triumph along the way, in the final analysis even those individuals who had the closest relationships with God still fell short:

  • Abraham, the “Father of the Faithful,” tried to take matters into his own hands when he fathered Ishmael with Hagar, Sarah’s servant.
  • Aaron, Israel’s first High Priest who had the privilege of talking with God, led the people in fashioning and worshipping a Golden Calf even as Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments.
  • Moses, Israel’s lawgiver and preeminent prophet, was disqualified from entering the Promised Land for disobeying God in the wilderness. 
  • David, Israel’s greatest king and “a man after God’s own heart,” engaged in an adulterous, murderous affair with the wife of one of his closest companions. 

Furthermore, even though the scope of the Holy Spirit’s activity radically expands after Pentecost, the situation doesn’t really improve that much under the New Covenant.  Because in spite of the fact that God’s children are now sealed with and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are just as prone to stray and fall short of the glory of God!

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10

This stark reality underscores the great mystery of the Holy Spirit: what does it really mean to be “led by” the Spirit?  Or to be “in the Spirit”?  After all, it’s not as if God’s agents are reduced to being “divine puppets” by virtue of being under the direction of His Spirit.  They clearly maintain the ability to exercise their own wills apart from the prompting of the Spirit, otherwise Moses would not have disobeyed when he struck the rock.  And Samson would not have divulged his secret.  And Paul would not have lamented our ongoing struggle to crucify our sinful natures… 

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Romans 7:19-23

The problem is that the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not automatically eradicate every trace of sin from our hearts.  For even though God could theoretically make us perfect the instant that we are converted, He chooses instead to purge sin from us gradually as we yield to His Spirit and allow Him to transform us into the likeness of His Son.  And so just like the Canaanites who lingered in the Promised Land as Israel progressively drove them out, our sinful natures persist in spite of the Spirit’s ongoing activity to sanctify us.  Thus our conversion is merely the first step in the long, arduous journey towards glory, and along the way our fallen natures continue to struggle against the leading of the Holy Spirit in the same way that the Canaanites fought against the Israelites…and occasionally led them into grievous sin. 

Consequently, we are engaged in a spiritual battle every moment of every day, which is why Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 6 to diligently equip ourselves with the full armor of God.  Our enemy is always looking for an opportunity to attack us, watching for any sign of weakness that he can potentially exploit, and so we need to be constantly on alert and ensure that we are staying close to our Savior wherever He leads.  Because the moment we get careless or take our standing in Christ for granted, we can quickly become exposed and vulnerable.  And the last thing God wants is to see us fall.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

To be clear, the point is not that our lapses into sin somehow nullify our standing in Christ or otherwise put us at risk of “losing our salvation,” rather, the point is that the Serpent is still doing whatever he can to malign and tarnish the Kingdom of God.  After all, since Christ has already won the critical battle and thereby secured our ultimate pardon from sin, Satan knows that despite his initial “success” in Eden, it’s too late to prevent the Kingdom of God from being established.  Thus the best he can hope to achieve is to keep those who remain in darkness blinded to its majesty, and therefore consigned to judgment. 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

And how does he do this?  How does Satan “veil the Gospel” and prevent others from becoming children of God?  One of his most effective tactics is to first entice those who are God’s children to disobey their Father and fall into sin – just like he did with Adam and Eve – and subsequently to put their actions on full display before a world that is watching Christ’s disciples to see what Christ is truly like.  For as Christ’s representatives, those who claim His name as “Christians,” our sin and its consequences bring shame and dishonor not only upon ourselves, but also upon Jesus’ name and upon His Kingdom. 

We need to remember that since we bear the name of Jesus to the world around us, everything we do either glorifies Christ or discredits Him.  Whether we do something explicitly in His name or not, any failure to faithfully represent Him essentially bears false witness to His character and thereby pushes people away from Him.  Hence we need to constantly remind ourselves that becoming a child of God makes us an agent of Christ who stands ready and willing, if not altogether able, to do His will.  He becomes our Principal and our Lord, such that our primary concern is to always act in accordance with His will and His character.  He both calls and empowers us to do the things that He would do if He were here Himself, such that whenever we act in His name it glorifies our master and draws others to Him. 

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16

Moreover, not only do our failures to faithfully represent Christ effectively hide the Kingdom from a watching world, but they also elicit our Father’s discipline as He endeavors to make us truer reflections of His Son!  In practical terms, this means that God visits the consequences of our sin upon us and those around us, at least in part, so that we learn wisdom and obedience.  His intent is therefore not to afflict us as a heartless Overseer, but to correct us as a loving Father who is teaching His wayward children in the way they ought to go…next time. 

Do not be fooled!  The effects of our sin not only impact us directly, but they have ripple effects on those around us whether we perceive them or not.  Thus the reason why every sin of a believer grieves God is due to the fact that disobedience not only comes with a cost, but that our resulting wounds are ultimately self-inflicted.  It breaks our Father’s heart to watch us make choices that He knows are self-destructive, especially since every child of God now has access to the same Spirit of power that parted the Red Sea and raised Christ from the grave:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19

Unfinished Business

As children of God who have indeed been given new hearts, we need to remember that sanctification – becoming transformed into the likeness of Christ – is nevertheless an ongoing process.  The fact that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit does not automatically guarantee mastery over sin in our lives any more than the Ark of the Covenant ensured victory over Israel’s enemies, because just as Israel suffered defeat whenever they strayed from God and took His blessing for granted, if we do not walk closely with our Savior and rely upon the Holy Spirit to strengthen and defend us in the midst of our own spiritual battles, we will likewise fall.  For even though our ultimate triumph over sin is not in question, until we are glorified in Christ’s presence, the struggle with our sinful nature continues.  

Again, think about sanctification in terms of how the Israelites had to claim the land of Canaan in stages, a little at a time.  Each battle was won on the basis of God’s strength, rather than their own, yet the Israelites still had to faithfully follow God’s battle plan even if they didn’t understand how it could conceivably work.  Consider how they took Jericho.  They were clearly powerless to conquer Jericho unless God intervened, but do you think anyone would have guessed that marching around the city in silence for a week was the way to make it happen?  Nevertheless, as long as Israel sought God’s will and obeyed, the battle always went in their favor.  Whenever they ignored Him or tried to do things their own way, though, disaster inevitably followed. 

So in the same manner that God’s Spirit advanced the Kingdom under the Old Covenant as He prepared the way for Christ, the Holy Spirit is still working today to build His Kingdom in anticipation of Christ’s return.  Sometimes the Spirit acts in spectacular fashion, other times in subtle, small ways, but regardless of the task at hand our Father expects us to be active – and obedient – participants in that process as He both leads and empowers us to do His will.  Because every time that God’s children respond in obedient faith to His call, it glorifies Him and manifests His Kingdom:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.
Philippians 2:12-15

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-17

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Thus whether we’re talking about Moses, David, the Apostle Paul, or the countless believers whose names are known only to God, whenever one of His subjects submits to the leading of the Spirit and allows Him to work in and through them, it glorifies Him precisely because it represents a confluence of wills…not an imposition.  Indeed, whenever we genuinely offer ourselves as willing servants to our Father – rather than resentfully or grudgingly – even the smallest acts of humble service provide glimpses of His Kingdom and glorify its King.  Our faithful obedience honors our Father and our Lord, providing a foretaste of what it will be like when the King finally returns in triumph to usher in the Kingdom in all of its glory. 

And so it is in this knowledge, that Jesus will one day return in power, majesty, and glory, that we find the strength to persevere.  Because although the fullness of the Kingdom of God remains a future reality even today, we can rest assured that one day God’s will is going to be forever done on earth as it is in Heaven.  One day, God’s Kingdom will come, and the Serpent will be eternally punished for all of the misery he set into motion.  One day, God’s name will be lifted up and hallowed for all eternity.  For in spite of the countless failures of God’s imperfect children, there is One Son who never failed. 

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