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, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
I have read this verse many, many times. But this morning as I read it, the last phrase jumped off the page. … for his good pleasure. It made me want to dig deeper into these two verses. I started with the Blue Letter Bible[i] a great research tool.
I wanted to better understand what it means to work out our own salvation…I had come to understand that it meant basically to live it out, not to earn it.
The word work (a Verb, Strong’s 2716) in verse 12 means “to work out, to do that which something results; of man: make every effort to obtain salvation” What does this mean? So I asked God to bring clarity to my heart.
Further digging: “work out: where ‘your own salvation’ refers especially to freedom from strife and vainglory.”[ii]
The problem I was having was that this verse seemed imply that we need to do something to achieve our own salvation which I know contradicts Scripture in numerous places, perhaps the most commonly referenced one is: Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. There are many other Scriptures that teach this truth.
In fact, had I continued to the end of the Philippians 2:12-13 sentence a fuller picture develops right here …for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. The word works in verse 13 is different from the word work in verse 12. In verse 13 – it is God at work, not us. (verb, Strong’s 1754) it means to effect, to put forth power, be operative, to work effectually;[iii] and in Merriam-Webster effectually means with great effect, completely, producing or able to produce a desired effect, an effect is something that inevitably follows an antecedent (i.e. a cause).[iv]
I believe what is vital for us to see here is that while we are working out our salvation, God is in us, empowering us, with great effect, completely, to accomplish His will and His work – FOR HIS GOOD PLEASURE. He delights to respond to our actions of faith in working out the salvation He has given us. He is pleased by our faith response.
For His pleasure – I want that don’t you? Imagine God getting pleasure from empowering us to obey and our faith to believe He is doing what He says.
It inspires me to obey even when it is difficult because God is empowering me to do so in that moment, and He will find pleasure in that. When you are tempted today to not obey – consider these 2 things
- God is working in you – giving you the full measure of power necessary for you to obey
- When in faith, we believe and respond in obedience – it delights God.
How amazing is our God!!
[ii] Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2716&t=ESV accessed 2.25.19
[iv] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effectually accessed 2.25.19
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think About This: “He graces you with good things because he is good, not because you are.” ―