Our focus for today is “work.”
One of the more confusing passages and Paul’s letters is found in Philippians 2:12. In that passage Paul says, “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.”
Now, it could be easy for us to read a verse like that and think that Paul is saying something about what we must do in order to make salvation a reality in us. However, the emphasis of what Paul is saying is not that there is something missing in salvation without our activity. He is saying that now that we have been saved, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, there is something that this reality will force us to do. Now that we have been saved, we must begin to implement this reality throughout our lives. We must begin to apply the implications of our salvation to every facet of our being.
The working out of salvation, I consider sometimes to be like working out a cramp. A cramp is not supposed to be there. And in order for me to get relief, I must apply pressure and remove that which is causing the problem. Our sin is a problem, and even though it has been forgiven, we have to deal with it. Paul, in another place, said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15b). The war we have to fight against sin remains with us and within us. But, we are not fighting alone.
What is Paul trying to tell us? He is saying that even Paul, the apostle, who wrote much of the New Testament, was still working out his salvation. And he was doing it in fear and trembling. Not afraid that he would lose what he had been given. But because he recognized that the one who gave salvation to him, the Father, the one who purchased his salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the one who secured his salvation in heaven, the Holy Spirit, required his greatest efforts in this life.
God has never made a mistake in saving anyone who repents, but we have made mistakes in not seeking to become who Christ died for us to be. In this season of Lent, let us work out our salvation by doing everything we can to make every aspect of our lives come into conformity and obedience to Jesus.