Philippians 2:12 is one of the most highly misunderstood verses of the scripture. This wouldn’t have been so if we had never mastered the act of lifting scriptures out of context and making it say what it was never meant to.
In a bid to discredit and prove the Truth of eternal salvation wrong, most people have greatly misconstrued this beautiful verse of the scripture.
(Php 2:12) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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.
What was Paul the apostle trying to say here? What does this verse really mean?
First, unlike what is popularly believed out there, this verse isn’t asking you to work for your salvation. It said work it out.
I really need you to understand that to work out your Salvation is not the same as working for it. When people read this verse, they often make the mistake of thinking they are the same. They think the verse is asking you to do something (good things) in order to produce or receive your own salvation.
This is a very wrong notion because as important as our good works are, they count for nothing when it comes to being a criteria for salvation. They cannot merit or provide that wonderful experience for us. That is why Salvation is a gift.
(Eph 2:8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(Eph 2:9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
As a matter of fact when it comes to Salvation, our good works (self righteousness) are counted before God as used or dirty sanitary rag.
(Isa 64:6) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
It is that useless when used as a criteria for receiving Salvation. This is why Salvation is a complete gift of God’s grace received only by Faith. Not merits.
The statement “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” was an apostolic instruction Paul gave to the Philippian church, charging them to live uprightly as those who have received God’s salvation already within their spirits.
He wasn’t asking them to live uprightly in order to receive salvation. That is to work for it. He was asking them to live uprightly because they have been saved already. The next verse to that one throws more light, take a look at it.
(Php 2:12) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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.
(Php 2:13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
God works within you so you let the world see it. Let what God has done within you reflect on the outside. In your words and conducts. Since you are saved, live like it.
The instruction is similar to what Jesus said to His disciples after calling them the Lights of the world.
(Mat 5:14) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
(Mat 5:15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
(Mat 5:16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
So as Christians, the whole of Philippians 2 encourages us to live the life of Christ on the earth. Not so as God would pat us on the back and offer us His salvation as a reward for our good living. It is simply because we have already received that Salvation as a gift, empowering us us to live righteously in this crooked world.
It is like the popular song, “Let the world see Jesus in your eyes….” How can they see Jesus in your eyes or life if you don’t already have Him living within you? How can you work out your salvation if you don’t already have that salvation given to you?
You have received the workings of God within you (Salvation) so you let it reflect in your lifestyle (work it out). That is what Philippians 2:12 is saying, not the other way round.
I hope this blesses you.
Glory to God, our Saviour and King!
-Prince Gabriel Okocha

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