March 15, 2017
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We have featured this Scripture, Philippians 2:12 and 13, before (see March 13, 2013 blog – A Little Help Here, Please!). But this is such an important Scripture – and it has made such a difference in my own Christian life – that I will feature it again:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed…work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to
will and to do for His good pleasure.
I learned in Bible seminary that “…whenever you see ‘Therefore’ in Scripture, you always ask, ‘What is that Therefore there for?’ ” That Therefore is there for a very good reason! In the first section of Philippians 2, Paul has challenged his readers in verse 2 to “…be…like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” But the Philippian Christians needed – and we need it also – a good example of what that mind should be! And the apostle found no greater example than the Lord Jesus Christ! So in Philippians 2:5 through 8 he wrote:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the
form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made
Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the
likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the point to death, even the death of the
There is no greater example of a servant for us to follow! This Servant, Jesus Christ, gave Himself fully to serve us – delivering us from eternal death (see John 5:24; Romans 6:9) and sin’s dominion (see Romans 6:14) to eternal and abundant life! (See John 10:10). We are called then to serve one another (see Galatians 5:13; 6:2), even laying down our lives for one another! (See I John 3:16). If we would give another brother or sister in Christ our very life, anything else we could do to serve them would be a lesser sacrifice!
That’s a big order! So big, we need help to complete it! So Paul wrote verses 12 and 13, starting with “Therefore….” Because Jesus sacrificed so much for us, therefore we should do the same for one another!
In Monday’s blog, we learned the Love Language of us to our Lord Jesus is obedience! (See John 14:15). No matter how difficult it is to obey, we are to simply do it! That’s why Paul tells these faithful Philippians, “…as you have always obeyed….” But the next part is tough – especially in my earlier Christian experience: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling….” As I said back in March of 2013, “I had the fear and trembling part down pretty well.” But how to work out my salvation, consistently pleasing my God, too often escaped me! If felt more like Paul did as described in Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21 through 24:
…what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do
not practice; but what I hate, that I do….For I know that in me (that is,
in my flesh,) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me; but how
to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do I do
not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice….I find then a law, that
evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the
law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my
members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into cap-
tivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I
am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
But then I found the ‘secret’ of Philippians 2:13: “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Two things stand out here (and we will look at them in reverse order):
• “…for it is God who works in you…to do for His good pleasure.” Yes, He will give us the energy, the capacity to “…work out…our own salvation….” This is the Out part of our title, Out And In!
• “…for it is God who works in you…to will…for His good pleasure.” He gives us the ‘want to’ as well as the ‘do it’! And when we ‘want to’ do something – when we really want to do something – it is quite easy to accomplish it! This is the In part of our title, Out And In!
There is another Scripture that bolsters this idea – II Peter 1:3 (see also the blog from May 30, 2014 – What Am I Yet Lacking?): “…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” We have all we need – already given to us! And that includes God working in us “…both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
Out And In! Think about it, believe it, depend upon it, take it in and live it out!