Philippians 2:12: "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your (AA)salvation with fear and trembling;" raises the following questions. Is the Christian life essentially a matter of passive trust or active obedience? Is it all God's doing, all the believer's doing, or a combination of both? Is it all God's doing, or is there a requirement on man's part in response to the command to believe the gospel? The answers to the questions are found in the following verses. Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. John 6:44: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." Acts 16:31: "They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Everything in life requires energy. It takes energy to walk and to work. It takes energy to think and to meditate. It takes energy to obey and to worship God. The point of the present verse is that it takes spiritual energy to grow as a Christian, to live a life that is holy, fruitful and pleasing to the Lord. The main verb in this verse “work out” specifically calls for the constant energy and effort necessary to finish a task. (In this verse) Paul's words suggest five truths that believers must understand to sustain such energy: (1) their example; (2) their being loved; (3) their obedience; (4) their personal responsibilities and resources; and (5) the consequences of sin.
Their example "So then" Refers back to Philippians 2:5-8: "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Another good verse about what Paul is referring to can be found in 1 John 2:6: "the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
Their being loved "my beloved" It is important that God greatly loves you and that you need to understand that as a Christian no matter your circumstances or situation. You will face opposition in your Christian life. Philippians 3:18-19 is an example of some of the issues that the Philippians where up against "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." Since you are greatly loved by God the follow verse offer some encouragement Philippians 4:1 "Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved." Philippians 3:12-14 "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus"
Their obedience "just as you have have always obeyed" A believer obviously must listen to God's Word if he is to be obedient to it, so this is indirectly an appeal for believers to continue to study and obey Scripture (Matt. 28:19-20). On the Mount of Transfiguration God gives a command to John, Peter, and James that is found in Matthew 17:5 "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" If God tells three disciples to listen to what Jesus has to say, how much more important should we listen to what God says in all of Scripture. Romans 1:5 states that "through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake." The preaching of the gospel is more than merely sharing one's faith and offering an invitation, it is to call sinners to obey God. As a Christian you are not only called to share the gospel to the unbeliever but you are to hold the believer accountable for there walk with Christ and to be obedient to His Word. Ephesians 5:15-16 "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil."
When you are saved you are obeying the gospel of the Lord. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." 1 Peter 1:1-2 "...who are chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Titus 3:8 "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men." Hebrews 4:11 "Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience."
Their Personal Responsibilities and Resources "not as for my presence only, but now much more in my absence" Philippians 1:27 "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel..."
Believers must never be primarily dependent on their pastor, teacher, Christian fellowship, or anyone else for their spiritual strength and growth. Their supreme example is the Lord Jesus Christ, and their true power comes from the Holy Spirit. Believers, gratefully, are never without Christ's example and never without the Spirit's power.
Because believer's are sinful, they are inclined to be self-justifying, blaming circumstances or other people for their problems and failures.
The consequences of sin "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" 1 John 1:8-9: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the a truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The word “fear” describes fright or terror (Matt 14:26; Luke 21:26; 1 Cor. 2:3) as well as reverential awe (Acts 2:43; 9:31; 2 Cor. 5:11; 7:1). Is true that God is a loving God but he is also a God of justice. Some day we will all face God for judgment. There is a judgment for the believer and the unbeliever. And each judgment is different and can be found in Revelation.
Both (“fear” and “trembling”) are proper reactions to the awareness of one's own spiritual weakness and the power of temptation. The Lord seeks such an attitude in His children, as His words in Isaiah 66:2 say "“For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
An important Old Testament truth is “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10). 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.
Such fear involves self-distrust, a sensitive conscience, and being on guard against temptation. It necessitates opposing pride, and being constantly aware of the deceitfulness of one's heart, as well as of the subtlety and strength of one's inner corruption. It is a dread that seeks to avoid anything that would offend and dishonor God.
Believers should have a serous dread of sin and yearning for what is right before God. Aware of their weakness and the power of temptation, they should fear falling into sin and thereby grieving the Lord. Godly fear protects them from wrongfully influencing fellow believers, compromising their ministry and testimony to the unbelieving world, enduring the Lord's chastening, and from sacrificing joy.
This fear and trembling will cause believers to pray earnestly for God's help in avoiding sin, as the Lord taught them: “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). That prayer again reflects the spiritual tension that exists between believers' duty and God's power.
The principle of “working out (your) salvation” has two aspects. The first pertains to personal conduct, to faithful, obedient daily living. Such obedience obviously involves active commitment and personal effort, for which Scripture is replete with injunctions, both negative and positive. Sin in every form is to be renounced and put off and replaced by righteous thinking. 2 Cor. 7:1: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Col. 3:2-3: Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Rom. 6:19: knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Eph. 4:1: Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. 1 Cor. 9:24-27: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. Phil. 3:12-16: Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
The second aspect of “working out (your) salvation” is perseverance, of faithful obedience to the end. Salvation has three time dimensions: past, present, and future. The past dimension is that of justification, when believers placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and were redeemed. The present dimension is sanctification, the time between a believer's justification and his death or the Rapture. The future aspect is glorification, when salvation is completed and believers receive their glorified bodies. Believers therefore have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. They are to pursue sanctification in this life to the time of glorification. Phil. 3:8-14: More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Matt. 24:13: But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Rom. 2:7: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. Rom. 11:22: Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 1 Tim. 4:16: Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. Heb. 3:14: For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.
Believers will persevere because God's power keeps their salvation secure. Jesus repeatedly emphasized that truth. John 6:37-39: All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. John 10:28-29: I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. Phil. 1:6: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 1:5: who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Rom. 8:28-30: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Eph. 2:8-10: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.