Paul wants to dispel mediocrity from Christian thought forever. Paul begins Philippians 2:12 with “so then,” introducing a summation from the previous commands: “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27), “make my joy complete by being of the same mind” (2:2), “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition” (2:3aNKJ), “each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself” (2:3b), and “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had” (2:5 ).
Christ exhibited a servant’s heart, and we need to help each other live the same way.
The phrase “just as” introduces a comparison between past obedience and the present command to “[work] out your own salvation.” The plural “you” refers to the church body. Paul remembered that they “always obeyed, not only in [his] presence but more in [his] absence”; this demonstrates the importance of recalling the joy of obeying His commands and being filled with the Spirit as we walk in obedience.
Jesus and Paul emphasized obeying Scripture over knowing Scripture. Salvation is not just something that happened in the past; it is a continuum from the moment we decide to trust Christ’s atoning death on the cross and His word through the instructions for living (sanctification) to our eventual face–to–face encounter with Christ and the transformation of our beings (glorification).
In the meantime, we are to grow in His likeness daily from the inside out through our increasing obedience to His instructions.
The principle of “working out your salvation” demands a personal commitment to obedient living. Salvation is planted within individuals; it is “not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet 1:23).
We must allow this seed of the eternal, regenerated life to gain control of more and more of our lives as He functions within the corporate body, where we work together to encourage, exhort, teach, and admonish one another in an ongoing journey toward spiritual maturity. Whom will you encourage today?
“Dear Father, Thank you for my wonderful salvation, now please guide me as I learn to ‘work out’ my salvation by learning obedience to Your commands. May my daily living please You and show others how to know You as well.”
For a year's daily devotional of these Bible studies, order a copy of the book Walking His Way at Branches Publications or order the Kindle version at Amazon.com. You can also download the App for Android Smartphones.