Work Out Your Salvation

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but so much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

— Philippians 2:12

What exactly does Paul mean here in this verse? We know that the Bible repeatedly teaches that salvation is not something that we work for, but rather it is a gift: “…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It is not something that we obtain by our merit, for the Scripture says that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith, not of works, “so that no one should boast.” (See Ephesians 2:8-9.)

Philippians 2:13 holds the key: “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (nkjv). God plants the desire within our hearts, and then He gives us the strength and the ability to do that which we now desire to do. In the same way that Christ said to Lazarus, “Lazarus, come forth,” Lazarus got up and came out and Jesus made him alive. Lazarus did nothing at all until God worked it in him and made him alive.

I’ve often said that God just put a screwdriver in my “wanter” and turned it upside down, and suddenly to my astonishment, I found myself wanting to do things that I had never wanted to do before, and not wanting to do things which I had always loved to do before. Working out our salvation is not the same as working for our salvation.

Beautiful Savior, give us the strength to work out Your salvation in our lives, knowing that You will one day hold us accountable. Keep us from backsliding or being negligent in our spiritual disciplines…