Pondering Paul’s Epistles – Philippians 2:12-18
I’m back. I’ve been on vacation or on mission most of the last 4 weeks so I took a bit of a blogging sabbatical. Being away was a great reminder to me that blogging (aka journaling) really helps me to intentionally think about Scripture. Unless I commit to writing out my thoughts about a passage I run the risk of being too nonchalant about my devotional time. So I’ll pick up where I left off…
What does it mean to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling“? This was written by the same guy who wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith… not as a result of works.” (Eph. 2:8-9) So we know that it does not mean that we are to work as hard as we can in order to gain salvation. The key is found at the beginning of the verse, “as you have always obeyed…” Obedience is the working out of a faith that already exists. It is the exercising of our faith (a faith work-out so to speak).
We do this because God is working in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure.” In other words we intentionally put our faith into practice because we want to please our God who brought about the great work of salvation in our lives.
But what about the part that says “with fear and trembling”? John MacArthur puts it like this:
This is not a fear of being doomed to eternal torment, nor a hopeless dread of judgment that leads to despair. It is rather a reverential fear, a holy concern to give God the honor He deserves and avoid the chastening of His displeasure. Such fear protects against temptation and sin and gives motivation for obedient, righteous living…. To have such godly fear and trembling involves more than merely acknowledging one’s sinfulness and spiritual weakness. It is the solemn, reverential fear that springs from deep adoration and love. It acknowledges that every sin is an offense against holy God and produces a sincere desire not to offend and grieve Him, but to obey, honor, please, and glorify Him in all things.
May the Lord fill us with a longing for obedience to His soul nourishing Word because we know that He is indeed working in us to satisfy our hungry hearts and to glorify His great name.