Thanks for joining me again for our Philippians on Friday devotion. Today’s verse is about a subject of upmost importance – our salvation!
Philippians 2:12 (KJV) – …work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Paul encouraged the Philippians to work out their own salvation. He didn’t say work for salvation. How exactly could anyone work for his or her salvation? How could any of us ever work hard enough, long enough or good enough to earn salvation? At what point could we ever say, “Ok God, look how much I’ve worked, now I deserve salvation. Give it to me”?
Apart from God’s grace, we could never be saved. We can only accept the work of Jesus upon the Cross as payment for our salvation. Only His blood and His sacrifice were sufficient to purchase our salvation. We simply trust and believe that when Jesus said, “It is finished,” the price was paid – in full. Certainly, we must appropriate His work at Calvary by personally identifying with His death, burial and resurrection through repentance from sin (death), baptism in His Name (burial) and being filled with His Spirit (resurrection), but that is not working for our salvation – Only Jesus could work for our salvation.
Working out our salvation is referencing sanctification which is different from justification. Justification happens when we are born again of water and spirit. In that moment of salvation God declares us righteous. In that moment of justification, the work of the Cross is applied to our lives and we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We stand by faith in His righteousness, not ours. We trust in the work that He did, not in what we have done. This is justification. As someone once said, when I’m justified, it’s just-as-if-I’d never sinned – I’m declared righteous.
While justification can happen in a moment of time, sanctification is a process. Sanctification is the on-going process of becoming like Jesus. It is the “working out” our salvation. It is allowing the Spirit of God to transform us into His image. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to mold us and shape us into what God desires for us.
When I believed and obeyed the gospel, I experienced a new birth. I was saved in that moment – justified by the power of the Cross. But I was a baby. I had a lot of growing up to do. I had a lot of things to get “worked out.” I still have things I’m working out! That’s what Paul was telling the Philippians. They were saints who had already been saved, but there were still many things that needed worked out in their lives
We receive the wondrous gift of salvation, but we’ve got to get that salvation worked into all the areas of our lives. We’ve got to apply the Word and Spirit to every facet of life. Like squeezing a sponge until it’s throughly saturated, we’ve got to get salvation worked through the whole of our heart and mind. We’ve got to work on getting God into our marriage, our family and our relationships.
We need to get salvation worked into our wallets and checkbook! We need to get it worked into the way we talk, dress, act and think. We cannot just sit back and rest in our experience of Salvation – we must surrender to the work of sanctification. We must work out our salvation!
Be encouraged – you’re a work in progress!
We do it with fear and trembling. That means the work of sanctification is a grave matter. It’s not to be treated lightly or overlooked. Working out issues in our lives to bring them in alignment with God’s Will is serious business – it’s to be done with deep reverence and thoughtful introspection.
We work out our own salvation. Notice he didn’t say work out your brother’s salvation! Why is it so easy to see what’s ailing in the spiritual lives of others but not our own ailments? Paul is telling the Philippians – work out your own salvation. You have enough to worry about with your own issues. Some people are so quick to see the speck in another’s eye, but fail to acknowledge the beam in their own eye. (Matthew 7:3) Before you concern yourself with fixing all the problems in your brother’s life, work out your own issues! I think you’ve got enough to keep you busy till Jesus comes back!
Don’t forget that we’re still getting things worked out. None of us have arrived yet. None of us are perfect yet. Look what Paul tells the Philippians later in the letter:
Philippians 3:12 – 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Even Paul acknowledged that he wasn’t yet perfect. He hadn’t attained or arrived. He was still undergoing the process of sanctification. So don’t let the devil beat you up. And don’t beat yourself up! Be encouraged – you’re a work in progress. You will still make mistakes and fall short of the mark. Rejoice in the progress you’ve made. Rejoice in the growth that you’ve already experienced. Remember that it won’t be until Christ returns that the work in us will be complete and we will be fully like Him! In the meantime – keep on working out your own salvation with fear and trembling!