What is the Grace-Energized Life?
As we open to Philippians 2:12-15 consider this question, "Did you know that spiritual growth is not automatic--but requires our cooperation with God?"
Grace-energized living means our personal, daily application of the spiritual disciplines. That is what God states in our passage, both His work and ours, side-by-side: "Work out your own salvation, for it is God who works in you" (Phil. 2:12-13).
Paul sent this strong challenge to many who sat to hear his letter back to the church in Philippi as he explained to them that when we were saved by grace through faith, nothing was left undone by God—we were saved to the uttermost.
But in God's plan He left something for us to do. At the instant of salvation we were justified and positionally sanctified (just a big way of saying that we became saints). But that instantaneous justification launched what God describes as a life-long arduous struggle to work out our own salvation.
Is this some type of contradiction in the Bible? Is it a mistake, a mistranslation, or something? No, it is the command God has left to every believer called the doctrine of progressive sanctification.
Where there is life, there is always growth. Our new birth was just the beginning. God gave us all we need to live godly lives, but as His children we must apply ourselves by diligently using the "means of grace" He offers us.
Paul commands each of us to work out our own salvation in Philippians 2:12-14. The word ‘work out' is energein in Greek, and means "energize, work out fervently". We see what God wants us to be in His Word, and we tell Him, "YES, that is what I want, help me to obey." Then we take earnest, active steps to obey—and in doing so we find amazingly that He gives us the spiritual power and strength to change areas of our life that have stubbornly stayed the same for so long!
Whether Peter's list of seven characteristics of the godly life (II Peter 1:5-8) or Paul's list of the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-23) , these qualities grow out of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. But, as Peter clarifies, we don't "let go and let God," as though spiritual growth were God's work alone, but as Peter wrote, "Make every effort...", meaning God the Father and you and me His children must work together to see these qualities grown.
Every part of our spiritual life is through God's grace. Our human works have no place in gaining salvation or in obtaining merit with God. The Christian life is sola gratia, grace alone. Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12b) God works in us; but as children of grace we must work at our Christian walk.
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