Philippians 2:12-13

“12 – 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, 13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13.

This is a verse that many seem to misinterpret.  Those in the “salvation by works” camp point to this verse and say, “SEE!!!  You’re supposed to do good works to gain salvation!”  And those who disagree with them point to the fact that they stop at verse 12 and fail to continue on to verse 13 that puts the verse in the proper context.  So, I’m not trying to say that our salvation is earned if we do good works.  The works that Paul is speaking of here are not works that are done to earn salvation, but works that come AFTER salvation.  I believe this verse goes hand in hand with James 2:26 where James tells the Jewish church, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.”  And this verse, also, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I’ll show you my faith by my deeds” (James 2:18).  If we claim to be in Christ, our life will prove that claim through our works.

In my study on this verse, someone posted a better wording that I think shows the correct meaning of the it.  They broke it down to one simple phrase:  “Work out(wardly) what God is working in you.”  In other words, the work that God is accomplishing in us, we should be showing outwardly.

Some people profess Christ, but their daily lives don’t reflect that.  How we speak around others and how we act around others are a good indication of whether that profession is true.  I’m not saying that we stop sinning.  We sin everyday.  But I believe the amount of time we spend reading His Word or listening to His Word being preached and how much time we spend in prayer, will be reflected in how we live, because it is through the exposure to God’s Word that we can see how He is working in us.  And when He works in us, it will show in how we live.  And as verse 13 says, it is God who works in us, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

And I believe all this is contingent upon how our relationship with Christ is.  The saying “You get out of it what you put into it,” could be used in this situation.  If you’re in a relationship with someone, you can’t grow and deepen that relationship if you spend more of your time away from them than with them.  We can’t expect to grow and deepen our relationship with Christ if we’re unwilling to read His Word and pray.  And I will be the first to say that I am lacking in that department.  I think all of us at some point let other things get in the way of that.  But, I desire to do better.  We can’t be angry with God for not growing us like we think He should if we’re unwilling to put more effort into the relationship.  We can’t put the Bible up to our heads and expect the teachings to infiltrate our brains like osmosis.  It doesn’t work that way.  It takes effort on our part grow and to learn, and in that growth and learning, God works in us and through us to do His will and good pleasure.

Salvation is all of God.  But our growth as Christ’s followers requires work and diligence on our part.  And through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish that knowing that God will work in and through us to accomplish His work.


God Commands Us To Forgive

When King David took Bathsheba into his palace and slept with her, he knew that he had to do something to cover up his sin.  She had become pregnant and he brought her husband, Uriah, home from battle so that he could have time with her, that way people would think the child would be Uriah’s, not David’s.  But, Uriah, being the good soldier that he was, could not think about being with his wife while his fellow soldiers were still out in the battlefield fighting.  This upset David, so he came up with another plan.  He sent Uriah back to the battle and told the commanding officer to put Uriah on the frontline so that he would be killed.  Once the prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin, David prayed to God saying, “Against You, and only You, have I sinned.”  That is the way it is with all of us.  When we sin, our sin is ultimately against God alone.

In Matthew 6:15 Jesus specifically says, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  I’m reminded of the parable where the debtor who owed much money to his master begged him to forgive him of his debt.  The master showed compassion and forgave the man’s debt.  But, then this man turns around and goes to another man who owed him money (which wasn’t as much as what the first man owed his master), and demands to be paid back.  The man who owed the money begs to have more time but is refused and he is thrown into debtor’s prison.  Word gets back to the master of what had transpired and he immediately has the first debtor thrown into prison also.  He reminded him of how he was forgiven because he had owed so much money, but since he was unwilling to forgive the other man what was owed to him, then his debt would not be revoked and he would go to prison.

When someone does wrong to us, we tend to forget that our sins are no better than theirs.  We think that just because we haven’t done something “as bad” as what was done to us, that it’s our right to not forgive them.  But the reality is, our sin(s) are just as bad because God doesn’t see any difference.  It really is very prideful to think that our sins aren’t like someone else’s.

What does it mean to forgive?  Well, it doesn’t mean we can forget the wrong done to us.  Sure, over time, we may not think about it as much as we did at first, but there will be times when something will trigger that memory of what that person did.  Second, it doesn’t mean we have to be friends with that person.  Forgiveness doesn’t obligate us to have any kind of relationship with them.  We don’t have to buy them gifts for their birthday or Christmas; we don’t have to invite them over for coffee or dinner.  What it does mean is that we are not going to be a slave to bitterness for what they did to us.  The more we allow that memory of their action(s) to fester and stew in our brains, the more bitter we become and we find that the very thought of that person affects how we live our life.  Ever known of someone who refuses to go to a family reunion/gathering because someone who hurt them in the past was going to be there?  Oh, they were going to go at first but as soon as they got wind of Uncle Jimmy or Cousin Beth being there, they quickly changed their minds.  Why?  Because they are allowing that person and their past sin to control their life.  They keep hanging on to that bitterness and refusing to forgive.

To withhold forgiveness from someone is like us telling God “I expect You to forgive me, but I don’t have to forgive this person for what they did.”  God don’t play that game.  We’re not above God.  We’re on the same level playing field as the one who wronged us and I’m afraid that many will find out that those sins they thought were wiped clean, aren’t.  We can’t expect God to treat us one way while refusing to do the same to others.