Philippians 2:12-13, “12 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; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”
As I continue to study closely the writings of the Apostle Paul, I discover a common thread in how he says things about himself and how they came about. If I was to use the movie setting to make his overall point, Christ is the main character/cast while he took the supporting role. This is important because the supporting cast have a role to make the main character shine by how they fit in. Apostle Paul took the supporting role depending on God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to empower him to become what God had in store for him.
The tragedy of today, many believers want to be the main character in the movie, the songs are about man, the books stores are filled with “how to be” books. People even have back up plans for running their lives, marriages, churches, leading people to the Lord. In short leaning on self and not on the sufficient power of God to save and keep.
Apostle Paul in the verse above tells us of what is required of believers and then tells us the effectual working of God in believers to be what God requires of them. When I talk of effectual, I’m talking about the ability to produce a desired effect. Other Synonyms for effectual are effective, efficient, fruitful, operative, potent, productive.
I want drive briefly two points, Effectual calling (justification) and Effectual living (sanctification). They are all under the umbrella of the effectual working. Salvation is the effectual calling of God, the power of God unto salvation, 1Corinthians 2, Romans 1:16. This is the action of the Holy Spirit in producing conviction of sin and bestowing the gift of faith in Christ to those being saved, Ephesians 2:8-9. Paul acknowledging the work of God in salvation pens these words, 1Thessalonians 2:13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” This is justification (declared not guilty) something done for us by God, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”, 2Corinthians 5:21.
Effectual living (sanctification) is what God does in us and we live out what He does in us, meanwhile Justification is something God does for us. Paul says “…work out your own salvation…” this is not to be confused with working to be saved but working because your are saved. Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God: “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”, 1Corinthians 1:30.
Here are some thoughts on effectual living (sanctification):-
- I live because He lives, Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”; Acts 17:28, “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring”
- I work because He works in me, Galatians 2:8, “ (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles)”; Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”; Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; 1Corinthians 15:10, “ But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me”
- I know him because I am known of Him, Galatians 4:9, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
- I pray because He prays through me, Romans 8:26, “ Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Paul avows that he has power to “strive” in spirit for his converts only as Christ works in him and by Him , Colossians 1:29, “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” for “13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”, Philippians 2:13.
Even though it’s the Lord who keeps us from falling and present us faultless in His presence with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24), this does not mean that we have no part to play. Paul says the Philippians obeyed and should continue even in Paul’s absence (action on their part). Paul knowing that only through the effectual working of Christ did they have the ability to obey. In our lives, our marriages, family, work place, live holy life, pray, evangelize etc, we need the effectual working of the Holy Spirit to live, work, know, pray and more. Blessings, Ev