God Who Works in You
Read Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, 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.
What is God’s responsibility and what is your responsibility in regards to your salvation and accomplishing His will?
As you read our Scripture for today you may be thinking, “Did I read that right? Did that just say to work for my own salvation?” Today’s verses are a prime example of why we need to read the Bible carefully, in context, and let Scripture interpret Scripture.
Notice that Paul did not say we need to work for our salvation but to work out our salvation. This implies that we already have our salvation but we are working out from that salvation. Scripture clearly states that salvation is a gift from God. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Your works cannot and do not save you!
But Ephesians 2:10 gives us a clue as to the role of good deeds in the Christian life: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We have been created by God to do His good work. When Paul says to “work out our salvation,” I think of “walk out our salvation” or “live out our salvation.” In other words, if we have been saved by God, we should act like it!
Another section of this passage that is often misunderstood is “with fear and trembling”? But what does it mean to fear God? When we consider this passage in light of what we read yesterday, it makes much more sense. Paul had been reminding the Philippians that they should have an attitude of humility because Jesus had been humble and obedient even to the point of death. Because of His great sacrifice for us, God exalted Him and raised Him up to the highest place of honor and authority. Paul said that every created being, dead or alive, will bow to His lordship. Therefore, we should obey Him with deep respect and reverence.
Consider parenting. I don’t want my children to live in fear of me, but they should have a healthy fear of disobeying me. They should have enough respect for me as an authority in their lives that they don’t want to offend me, and they should love me enough that they want to please me. So it is with God. Given the way that He has sacrificially loved us, we should want to obey Him out of love.
Given the fact that He has the ultimate authority over our eternal destiny, we should rightly tremble before His power and might. And yet, because of the work He did for us on the cross, we know that we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).
Paul ends with great encouragement. In verse 13, he says “it is God who works in you.” Thank the Lord! We are not left to our own sinful devices. God is at work in us by the power of His Holy Spirit. He has already worked on our behalf to save us and now He is at work in our lives to sanctify us. He empowers us to live obedient lives that glorify Him.
Friend, you do not have to work for your salvation. But if you have been saved, you should seek to live like it. But don’t worry. You don’t have to do it alone. The God who humbled Himself to die for you, the God who is in the highest place, the God that everyone will fall on their knees before, He is the God who is at work in you.
God, I thank You and praise You for who You are and what You have done for me. Thank You for the gift of my salvation. Work in me so that I may live obediently and my life will bring You glory and honor. Amen.