“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12
I mean I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there. We’ve packed up an entire home, hauled all of our stuff across town or the country and into a new home. Most of us are relieved to have all the boxes off the truck and in the house. You probably went through a lengthy mortgage process to get into this house so it seems like all the work is done, but its not. It’s now time to make it look like you live here.
In salvation, the Holy Spirit has done a great work in giving us new life so that we might put our faith in Christ’s work. The Bible says we have been adopted, transferred from the Kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus, no longer an enemy but now a son. It seems like just in our adventure to move into a new home, a lot has already been done and seems to be finished, but it is quite the opposite, it is just the beginning.
Paul in the beginning of the verse references their past obedience, and you can infer what he is about to reference is also an act of obedience. He asks them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Paul is saying, with a degree of seriousness, live out this salvation in order for others to see its effects as well. As with our new home analogy, we unpack our boxes to show others that we live in this new home and that it is ours.
According to Paul its not enough for us to live in God’s kingdom with unpacked boxes. We are called to obedience by spiritually unpacking our salvation for all to see. At my church we call this living in light of the Gospel. It means letting our actions and life be informed by Jesus work.
For example, earlier in Chapter 2 Paul says we should be humble and seek the interests of others because Christ, even though he was equal with God, made himself a servant of all. Paul is calling us to be humble and is motivating that behavior by Christ’s work. This is the obedience we are called to, submitting our entire life and it’s decisions to the gospel message.
But brother/sister don’t let this weight fall squarely on your shoulders alone because Paul also says in Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Friends, know that the Spirit is at work to bring about your obedience to the gospel, not only to believe it but also to live in light of it.