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.”
There is a spiritual war going on right now against anything related to our faith which has the word “works” in it. Ephesians 2:8-9 is stressed over again regarding how we are saved by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves, for it is the gift of God, not of works lest we should boast.
But those who are standing in strong opposition to the word “works” conveniently leave out verse 10 which says,
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
True, there is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our own salvation. In our flesh, we can never be good enough. Only through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, which is God’s grace to us, through God-given faith in him, can any of us be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God.
But our salvation and our faith in Jesus Christ are not absent of good works. For, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, God created us in Christ Jesus FOR good works, but they are the works of God, of his workmanship, which God prepared ahead of time that we should walk (live) in them.
So, what kind of works did God create us to walk in (in practice)? And, are they critical to our salvation and to our eternal life with God? And, what does it mean to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”?
In Ephesians 4 we read that, as followers of Jesus, we are to no longer live like the unsaved, like the ungodly. We are not to give ourselves over to sensuality, greed, idolatry, immorality, lying, stealing and every kind of impurity. Such things as these are to no longer be part of our lives.
And, that is because the TRUTH in Christ Jesus instructs us that we are to put off our old sinful self which is corrupt through deceitful desires, that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:17-24).
And, then we read in Romans 6 that, by faith in Jesus Christ, our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but that we would now become slaves of righteousness.
And, what does it mean to be enslaved to sin? It means to be imprisoned to sin, and to be dominated by sin. It means we are not free, but sin still controls us and that we obey its demands on our lives habitually, like a prisoner in shackles.
And, we read in Romans 6, that if we obey sin, as our life course, that we are slaves to sin, and it ends in death, but if we obey obedience, that leads to righteousness, which then leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23).
And, then if we move over to Romans 8, we read that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us, who WALK not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, if we live according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live (with Christ for eternity) (Rom 8:1-17).
Then, in Galatians 5 we read that if we WALK by the Spirit, we will NOT gratify the desires of the flesh, and that the flesh and the Spirit are opposed to each other. And, then it goes on to give us a list of works of the flesh, which are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, etc. And, it warns us that if we practice such things, we will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.
And, then if you flip on over to Galatians 6, we are cautioned against being deceived. It says that God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. If he sows to the flesh, from the flesh he will reap destruction (decay, death). But if he sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit he will reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8).
And, in Titus 2:11-14 we read that God’s grace, which is bringing salvation, is training us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (fleshly lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. For, Jesus gave himself up for us to redeem us from ALL lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for GOOD WORKS.
Then going a little further, we read in 1 John 1:5-9 that if we say we have fellowship with God while we WALK in darkness (sin), we lie and we do not practice the truth. But if we WALK in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (because we are in fellowship with God), and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
And, in 1 John 2:3-6 we read that we know that we have come to know God if we keep (obey) his commandments. If we say, “I know him,” but we do not obey his commandments (under the New Covenant), then we are liars, and the truth is not in us. But, whoever obeys his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.
So, do you see what all this is saying? Yes, it is true that we cannot, in ourselves, work our way into heaven. Totally agree! But God’s grace to us is not free license to continue living in sin as a testament that we aren’t trying to earn our own salvation by good works.
We were saved FOR good works, which are the works of God, which he works in us, but that we have to walk in them in practice. We have to not just be hearers of the word, in other words, but we have to be doers of the word. We have to walk in obedience to our Lord if we want to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God.
But we don’t do any of this in our own flesh or strength or willpower. All this comes from God as we surrender our lives to him, and as we allow him to do his work in our hearts and lives in transforming us away from sin to living holy and godly lives, to the glory and praise of God.
The Lord’s Anointed
An Original Work / December 16, 2011
Based off Isaiah 61
The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me;
Anointed to preach the Good News;
Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
Proclaim freedom for the captives.
He sent me to preach release for pris’ners
Who are walking in sin’s darkness;
Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen;
And tell them about God’s judgments;
Comfort all who mourn;
Give crowns of beauty;
Oil of gladness and thanksgiving.
They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness,
A planting of our Savior, God,
For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and
They will rebuild God’s holy church.
God will renew them, and will restore them,
And you’ll be called priests of the Lord.
You will be ministers of our God, and
You will rejoice in salvation.
The Lord loves justice;
He is faithful to
Reward those who are seeking Him.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my Savior, God.
He has clothed me with His salvation,
And in a robe of His righteousness.
He has given me priestly garments to wear,
As the bride of Jesus Christ.
As the garden of our Lord and Savior,
He causes us to grow in Him.
He makes righteousness,
Praise, and thanksgiving
Spring up before all the nations.