Therefore, my beloved, as you 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; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).
Last week we reviewed Philippians 2:12, where Paul instructs us to “work out [our] own salvation.” Paul is referring not to our eternal salvation but rather to the salvation of our soul. Our eternal salvation is secured in Jesus, and we do not determine our way into heaven or out of it based on performance. The salvation of our soul can be defined as the working out of sin and its issues that can crowd our soul. Our soul includes our mind, emotions, personality, intellect, and since most of us come to the Lord after our mind, emotions, personality, and intellect have been shaped to some degree or another by forces other than God, we must work out those aspects. We must redeem flawed thinking. We must change our unhealthy, ungodly tendencies and rid ourselves of everything that contradicts God’s Word as well as redirect any bent if it is not aligned with God’s ways. We should examine all these “with fear and trembling,” aware that our holy God loves us just like we are but loves us too much to allow us to remain like we were when we first believed! Shall we despair if we do not even know what God’s standards are? The Scripture says that the Lord pulls us out of the miry clay and places our feet upon a Rock-Jesus. If we are fresh out of the mire, or even if, years after our salvation, we still have clumps of mire on us, what shall we do? Philippians 2:13 brings ample comfort “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” When you become saved, God begins a work in you. He begins it. Slowly but surely, as you continue in a life surrendered to Him, He refines you and gives you the grace to work out the salvation of your soul by making godly choices and by living a crucified life.
The salvation of your soul is so critically important that God allowed the writers of the Bible to write in a way that you would think you were going to hell if you did not do right. Let me tell you, God values your soul to the degree that He allowed a little bit of ambiguity. He hid it, as it were, in a cloud, in a mist, a little bit behind the veil, so that you would seek after God and what He wants for you with all of your heart. Commit your entire being to Him; cooperate with Him as He works His will in you. Then do only that which pleases Him!