Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Now Paul challenges the Philippian believers to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Paul is not suggesting that believers must maintain their salvation through good works. What Paul means is that we need to apply our salvation, not earn it. I once heard it said, “You cannot apply salvation unless it has first been worked in.” “Fear and trembling” means that we are to have proper respect for the sanctification process. After all, the next verse reads, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” So, God works out that which He worked in. It is important to note here that we must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit as He works to conform us into the image of Christ. As Pastor Bob often says, “Good works are not the root of salvation but the fruit of salvation.”
Then Paul addresses a very practical issue. He writes, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Why does Paul write this? Complaining and arguing come from selfishness. These are not the actions of someone who is God-centered or others-centered. These are not the actions of someone committed to biblical humility. Then Paul encourages them to be “blameless” and “pure.” This speaks of godly character as it expresses itself through humility and obedience.
The reason that this was so important was because of the condition of the culture. Paul describes the culture as “crooked and depraved.” Some might describe our culture the same way. Our culture has lost its ability to discern between right and wrong. Ethics, standards, and honesty are getting worse. All the more reason we need to “shine like stars” in a culture that has lost its ability to recognize and glorify God. Jesus said that we need to be “the light of the world.” We need to be that godly influence in a culture that has lost its way spiritually. The only way we can be light is by modeling Christ’s life for all to see.
Paul closes out this section on a note of joy and rejoicing. “The mind of Christ in the believer will bring joy and will bring glory to God.” J.V. McGee
Questions to Ponder
How are you cooperating with God in the sanctification process? Do you find yourself complaining and arguing with others often? Why is it important to live holy lives in our culture today? What did Jesus mean when He said we are to be “salt and light.”? How are you modeling Christ’s life today?
- Worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. He is the meekest one, humble, servant of all! Praise the Lord for being faithful and true, consistent in His nature, trustworthy and overflowing with mercy and kindness. Tell Him how much you love Him.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart and mind and reveal to you any offensive way (sin toward the Lord and others). Acknowledge those sins to Him and receive His tender mercies.
- Confess any complaining, slander, gossip, any offensive or bitter root that has gotten in your heart. Be quick to listen, slow to speak.
- Thank the LORD that He is always with us, ready to help us walk the talk, all we have to do is ask Him for help and depend on His strength.
King of Glory, holy and righteous are You. I declare You are powerful, almighty, eternal one, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Thank You Lord for dwelling inside of me by Your Holy Spirit. Father, I need Your help. Help me today to depend upon You, to rely on Your words and not my own. Help me to be holy as You are holy. Remind me like You often do, that I am revealing Your heart to those around me. Set a guard over my mouth oh God and create in me clean hands and a pure heart. Teach me to build up and not tear down. Guide us as we pray and intercede for our Governmental officials, school leaders and church leaders. Father guide me by Your Holy Spirit I ask, in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.