Work It Out

Key Text: Philippians 2:1-13

When Paul says work out your salvation he is not saying that we can do anything to earn the favour of God because our salvation comes to us by the grace of God, through the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus and His resurrection. Instead what Paul is saying is literally, ‘work it out’, whatever has happened on the inside, live a life that shows it on the outside. Live it on the outside

Matthew 5:16 … let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Paul says the same thing as Jesus only in a different way.

Paul even goes on to say 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, Philippians 2:15 So working out our salvation, does not mean working in our salvation but working out our salvation, so that it becomes the manifestation of what God had done in our hearts

Live in a way that our lives accurately reflect the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

This is what we are doing daily in our Christian lives as we battle against sin, the battle to walk in obedience and applying all the means of grace. Bible study, Christian fellowship, prayer, Worshipping together, sharing the Communion meal together. All of those things are the means of grace by which we work out what God has put or shaped inside us.

We do this because v.13 tells us …for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (what pleases him) He has pleased us by saving us on the inside, now we please Him by working that salvation to the outside.

In Jewish texts fear and trembling were often paired together. Psalm 2:11 Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling or Psalm 55:5 Fear and trembling come upon me and horror overwhelms me. Fear and trembling is part of the dual motivation for holiness. That if you like is the goal. That’s what it means to be spiritually mature.

But the fact of the matter is that in the sanctification process (Being made like Jesus) The remaining sin in us has so much strength, that we need more than just the love for Christ Jesus to motivate us.

 Genesis 4:7 God speaking to Cain right before he murdered his brother Abel If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’

God lovingly presented Cain with a choice: He could surrender his anger, repent of his wrong attitude, and get his heart right with God or he could let sin get the better of him. Cain knew the right thing to do but didn’t do it. Even still, God graciously allowed him the opportunity to make things right and then warned him,

The Hebrew word translated as ‘Crouching’ in Genesis 4:7 can mean lying down, as in resting but also refers to lying in wait like a predator lurking for its prey. We need a healthy sense of fear and of awe.

We need to know and understand that those the Lord loves he ‘disciplines’ We need to listen to commands such as Jude 1:21 … tells us ‘…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

So, there are two emphasis in scripture that take us towards sanctification.

  1. Is the love of God that draws us.
  2. Other is the fear of God, that threatens us.

As we grow in Christian discipleship, the fear factor begins to dissipate and diminish and the love factor increases, multiples and begins to dominate becoming the prominent motivator in our lives.

This is spiritual maturity, when we can join with David Psalm 119:97-104 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

When we have gone beyond the discipline aspect, gone beyond being a spiritual child and we become a spiritual adult we become motivated by love of God not the fear of God. This moves us to work out our salvation by living lives of obedience that brings pleasure to God.