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.”
In the verses prior to this, we read that we are to be of one mind and of one love with Christ and with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are also of one mind and one love as that of Christ. We are not to do anything out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility we are to consider others and their legitimate needs as more significant than ourselves and that of our own interests, following the example of Jesus Christ.
Therefore (a cause and effect), we are to do these things, because if we do, then it will result in other (previous) things we were instructed to do.
Thus, if we walk in obedience to our Lord, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, the result will be that we will be of one mind and one love as Christ Jesus, and thus we will be that with others who are of like mind. And, we won’t be ones who naturally do what is selfish. And, conceit will not be part of our normal character. But we will be those who habitually deny our own self-interests to reach out to meet others’ needs.
For, We Know
Now, there is also a correlation here between our obedience to our Lord and our working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. So, we need to understand what that means, for I believe this is a Scripture that might easily be misconstrued and therefore be misunderstood and misapplied.
For, we know that Scripture teaches that it is by God’s grace that we are saved, through faith, and this not of ourselves, but it is a gift of God, not of works lest any of us should boast that we somehow accomplished our own salvation (Eph. 2:8-9).
But it continues by saying, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
So, we don’t work to earn or to deserve our salvation. That is impossible, anyway. But our salvation is not absent of works. We are saved for good works, but not our own works, but the works of God done in the power of the Spirit of God, which God prepared beforehand that we should WALK (in lifestyle) in them, which we do via obedience to our Lord and to his commands, in his power and strength, to the glory of God, and not for our own glory. Do you see the difference?
But… this is not automatic. We do not become marionettes once we profess faith in Jesus Christ, and therefore we no longer have control over what we do or don’t do. And, this isn’t just some status, either. This has to do with work, with works, with doing what God says to do, not just with making some statement of faith in God’s salvation and in his promises.
But it is God working in us to will and to work for his good pleasure. But he can only do that as we cooperate with him in his work, and when we allow him to change us and to transform us to his likeness. Thus, we must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Daily, by the Spirit, we must put to death the misdeeds of the body (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17).
For, remember here that we are to do this with “fear and trembling.” This means this comes about because of us walking in the fear of God. And, to fear God is to show him respect, honor, and obedience. It is to respect his words by doing what they say, not by merely listening to them.
So, this brings me to one more thing on this subject, and that is that this is not optional. We don’t “get saved” and then we can either opt in or opt out of obedience to our Lord. For, we are enslaved to the one we obey, “either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness,” and to sanctification, and its end, eternal life (Rom. 6:16-23).
Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
All of us go through trials and tribulations. Sometimes we all go through the same ones together, although in different ways. And, sometimes they are just our individual trials and difficulties. But, either way, we must always keep in mind that God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made, and that he is allowing these things in our lives to make us more like him.
So, we all need to guard our hearts and minds against grumbling, complaining, and disputing over things over which we have no control, but over which God does have control, and that he is allowing for his purposes. If we grumble and complain, we are truly grumbling against God.
Now, this is not to say that we should not call out wickedness, or call out deception, the lies of the enemy, false gospels, and false teachers. We should! This is not grumbling and complaining. This is making others aware so that they do not fall into the devil’s trap, and so that they will pray.
But we should not fall into the devil’s trap, too, by letting the things of this world get to us. We should not let all the fearmongering make us afraid of everything and everybody so that we hibernate and refuse to be around other people. How can we shine as lights in the world, in person, if we hide from the people of the world out of fear?
We need to be people who shine as lights in the world and who hold fast the word of life by sharing Jesus and his gospel with others in person and in any other way we now can, via notes, cards, emails, text messages, chats, phone calls, social media, Christian discussion sites, blogs, videos or whatever.
Philippians 2:17-18 ESV
“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”
And, when we do shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, in the midst of a crooked, twisted and perverse generation, we are going to be hated, persecuted, abused, falsely accused, called crazy, called of Satan, fought against, and harassed, etc., as Jesus was.
But we are to rejoice that we are worthy to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
And, when we do give our hearts and our lives to the Lord, and we surrender our wills to the will of God for our lives, and we go where he sends us, and we say whatever it is he commands us to say, in order to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ in their walks of faith, it is a sacrifice, for sure.
But it is absolutely worth it all! So, we should rejoice that the Lord called us and that he has chosen to use us in this way to minister his love and grace to the body of Christ and to the people of the world, too. For, we are making a difference in other people’s lives, and for that we rejoice.
For, love is not what we feel, but it is what we do.
By Ann Aschauer
Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So, it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.
And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”
c 1987 Ann Aschauer
Used by permission
Ann just today (7/14/2020) posted a blog post with the full lyrics to her Anniversary Song and with an mp3 of the music behind the lyrics, too. It is a beautiful song with a beautiful love story behind it, so I hope you will check it out. Sue