The Difference Between Working a Miracle and Acting a Miracle

In the spirit of John Owen who stated in reference to Romans 8:13, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” John Piper calls us to think about our daily practical divinity (theology). He states,

When it comes to killing my sin I don’t wait for the miracle, I act the miracle.

Acting a miracle is different from working a miracle. If Jesus tells a paralyzed man to get up, and he gets up, Jesus works a miracle. But if I am the paralyzed man and Jesus tells me to get up, and I obey and get up, I act the miracle. If I am dead Lazarus and Jesus commands me to get up, and I obey, Jesus works the miracle, I act the miracle.

So when it comes to killing my sin, I don’t wait passively for the miracle of sin-killing to be worked on me, I act the miracle.

For example, Paul says, “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

So he tells me to put my sin to death. I should not wait for God to kill it while I remain passive. But he tells me to kill it “by the Spirit.” Sin-killing is a miracle of the Spirit. But I do not wait passively, I act the miracle.

Again Paul says, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

So Paul works hard to kill the sins of lethargy and distraction in his ministry. “I worked harder than any of them.” But the decisive animation of that work is the grace of God. It is a miracle. But Paul does not wait passively, he acts the miracle.

Or consider Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12–13).

Paul commands me to work out my salvation, because God is the one who works this in me. My willing and working is God’s willing and working. It is a miracle. But I do not wait passively, I act the miracle.

I spoke to the Bethlehem College and Seminary Chapel about this crucial act of miraculous sin-killing in my own life. These are lessons I learned afresh on my leave of absence. They feel very fresh, very important and very powerful in my life right now. It is a very personal message.

I invite you to listen or watch “I Act the Miracle.”

And I commend to you the same.

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One Response to “The Difference Between Working a Miracle and Acting a Miracle”

  1. david sims Says:

    right on, dead center…. meant both figuratively and literally!

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