What Does Philippians 2:12 Mean?

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

Philippians 2:12(NASB)

Verse of the Day

Salvation is ours by faith alone in Christ alone. We cannot be saved by our own effort, and we cannot do anything to add to Christ's finished work on Calvary's Cross, for the sacrificial offering of Himself on the Cross for our salvation was all-sufficient in the eyes of God - and it is finished.

As the sinless Son of Man, Christ's death on the Cross fully met God's redemption price. God accepted Christ's offering of Himself as the full and final payment for the salvation of all who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. His work on the Cross was sufficient, fulfilling all the righteous requirements of the Law demanded by God in order that mankind might be redeemed, saved, and justified in the eyes of a righteous God. Salvation is a finished work for all those who are 'in-Christ'.

But Paul is calling his beloved brethren in the Philippian assembly (and us too), to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This appears to contradict the clear, biblical teaching that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But Paul is not calling us to work FOR our salvation. We are not expected to save ourselves, to justify ourselves, to sanctify ourselves, and glorify ourselves, for it is God Who is working in us and God has promised to finish all the good work that He started in us, when we first trusted Christ as Saviour.

God made a decision before the world began that all who trusted in Christ for salvation were to be conformed into the image of His Son. The Holy Spirit carries out this beautiful transformation in each of His children, but we are to be willing to go through the training programme that God has planned for each of us, which is set out in His holy Word.

We are to live holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, by trusting His unchanging Word and living in utter dependence upon the Lord. We are to walk in spirit and truth, and in the power of His might. We are to acknowledge that His grace is sufficient in every detail of life so that in His strength we may put to death all the sinful deeds of the body, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And when we are confronted with the problems and difficulties of life, we are to work these out in the power of the Spirit, by looking to Jesus and by facing every life-challenge through prayer and praise with thanksgiving. We are to "work out our salvation," in our own lives, by living our life for the Lord.

It is through living our lives for the glory of God and not for our own self-glorification that we work out our own salvation. It is by setting our heart on things above and on spiritual matters. It is by humbling ourselves in the sight of God and fulfilling His call on our life. It is by not being influenced by the enticements of the flesh or being impacted by an unbiblical world-view, that we are enabled by God to work out our own salvation with reverence and fear of the Lord.

And what if we choose not to walk in this way. We know our salvation is eternally secure, so what will we lose? We will lose the inexpressible joy and peace that comes from a life walking in close communion with the Lord, resting in Him, and looking to Him in every circumstance of our lives. And we will lose the heavenly rewards that come from walking in the Spirit to the glory of God.

When we consider the heavens and the work of God's fingers, the moon and the stars which He has made, who are we that God is mindful of us? And yet He desires in this brief span of time (between our justification and our glorification), that we work out our own salvation in humility of heart and to His praise and glory so that in the ages to come, He may show forth the incomparable riches of His grace which He has expressed in His kindness towards us, in Christ Jesus.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for all that Christ has done for me. Thank You that I am eternally secure, having trusted in His finished work on the Cross to pay for my sins and give me eternal life with Him. I pray that I would work out my sanctification in the power of the Holy Spirit, in reverential fear. Help me do this by living my life to Your praise and glory, by trusting You in all the difficulties and dangers of life and by relying on You in all circumstances of life. And I pray that by abiding in Christ, and He in me, I may produce much fruit in the power of the Holy Spirit, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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