Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 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.
There was a special bond between Paul and the believers in Philippi. They were in great agony over the fact that Paul was in prison and could not be with them. So Paul was saying, “I don’t want you to lower your guard spiritually, even if I am not around. I don’t want you go into some kind of a spiritual cruise control and not continue to move forward.”
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Paul wanted the believers to stand on their own two feet spiritually. How were they to do this? We see the answer in verse 12: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
This doesn’t say to work for your own salvation. It says to work out your own salvation. This phrase, “work out,” means “to carry it to the goal and fully complete it.” In the original language, the phrase also could be translated to mean working a mine, as in mining for gold.
God wants us to carry on to the goal and fully complete our own salvation. In recognition of what God has done for us, we have to realize that He has placed the mother lode of His grace and forgiveness in our lives. We need to mine it. We need to discover it. We need to appropriate it. We need to carry it to the goal.
That may seem like a tall order. It is. But let’s not forget verse 13: “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
Remember, the calling of God is the enabling of God. If God asks you to do something, then He will give you the power to do it.