How to Work Out Your Salvation
Now that you have received the gift of salvation, what’s next? Work it out! That does not mean “work for it.” Nor does it mean “work on it.” Jesus has already done all the work needed to save you and keep you saved. To “work out your salvation” simply means that God wants you to cultivate, express, and put to good use all you received from Him when you got saved. By so doing, you will experience the benefits of your salvation daily and be a shining light in a dark world.
“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 salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12, 13 NASB)
Now, how are you supposed to work it out? “In fear and trembling.” Can this mean God wants you to live in fear and constant worry about how well you are doing in pleasing him and avoiding judgment, as some would suggest? Would that glorify God? Of course not! That would contradict the entire New Covenant and make of no effect the blood of Jesus. Faith, not fear, pleases God.
This expression is an idiom Paul uses here and elsewhere (1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 7:15) that expresses a sense of awe and personal weakness and inadequacy. To work out your salvation with fear and trembling, therefore, means you stand in awe of God’s love and grace (reverential fear) and you have a strong sense of how weak and totally incapable you are of living a life that glorifies God in your own strength (trembling).
So then how are you to work out your salvation if you know you are too weak and incapable of doing it in your own strength? By turning to the only One who can help you! You do so by putting no confidence in your flesh, in your human ability. You do it the only way possible–by placing all your confidence in your union with God through Jesus Christ. You do so by believing and confessing daily that “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Child of God, instead of thinking that God expects you to do His will in your own strength, something that is impossible, or that He is angry with you when you fail, God wants you believe that everyday He is at work in you and He Himself, not you, is the One who will put godly desires in you and give you the ability you need to do the things that please Him.
Remember, Christianity is God working in you, not you working for Him. When you are trusting Him and not yourself, He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all you can ask or think.