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Improbable Joy – Philippians 2:12-13

Feb 18, 2024
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Remember, each Sunday we will read a portion of the letter that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi. This week’s portion begins with “therefore”. Paul had just made a case that oneness comes through humility, and we see the ultimate example of that through Jesus (Ch. 2:5-11). With that in mind, Paul says, “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”.

He does NOT say, “work for” or “work at” your salvation. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. Remember, Paul is writing to Christians here. You work FROM your salvation (Phil 3:8-9). To “work out” is like working out a math problem. As the progression of the work is shown, we can see how we get to participate in God’s big picture. We see this in salvation:

Justification – We were saved

Sanctification – We are being saved

Glorification – We will be saved

You are not the same person that you were when you first became a Christ-follower. You see things differently, and you are convicted differently. We are transformed into His image more each day. This is what sanctification is all about.

How does this happen? It happens because God has already worked IN us. He has already put into us that which needs to be worked out. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit allows us to live by working out our salvation.

Living the Christian life is not willpower, it is the power of God working in us. The desire to do God’s will, as well as the power to obey it comes from Him. Remember, justification was a supernatural work of God. Sanctification is too!

We live in a microwave culture, but sanctification is a slow process. Our responsibility is our response to God’s ability. And as we do this, we do it in community. Paul is reminding us that yes, we each have a responsibility to work our our salvation, but when we all do our part, the church is sanctified too.

Remember, wherever you are in the journey, keep facing the right direction. Stay pointed towards Jesus Christ.

Questions to discuss:

  1. How do you feel knowing that God is the one doing the work in you? When or where do you forget that reality?
  2. Do you look at justification and sanctification differently when it comes to God working in you? Why?
  3. Read the article from the Gospel Coalition linked above? What season are you in right now?
  4. What do you need to do to make sure you “keep facing the right direction?”
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