Philippians 2:12b-13 (NLT)Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Reading Philippians, this verse struck me for some reason. I feel so many believers hold to the misunderstanding that we have to be a certain way, strive to be “good enough” before we can ask God for forgiveness or into our lives at all. (Which is different than the desire to be good enough to enter the kingdom of heaven which is; a) unachievable; and, b) a whole different subject matter.) This misunderstanding is more like feeling the need to achieve a certain moral/righteous standard before we can even knock on the pearly gates.
That is ssooooo backwards. It would be akin to having the already finished pot say to the potter, “Okay, now you can begin to make me.”
God WANTS the raw lump of clay that is your old life!
God WANTS to be the master potter!
A good friend of mine put it this way:
“I think the “I need to get right before getting God” is the Devils way of deceiving folks from the truth of getting right with God by receiving Jesus as Lord and savior. We can’t come to the Lord when we’re good enough and clean enough. Because we will never BE good or clean enough. But when we’re forgiven and given the Holy Spirit, we begin to change out of gratitude . . . “
But let’s go a step further and break down the scripture even more . . .
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation . . . “ –> Salvation clearly comes first: before the works can even begin.
“. . . obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” –> An understanding and adherence to God’s word, and to the teachings of scripture, goes hand in hand with the “Work”.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire . . . “ –> After salvation, after beginning to immerse yourself in the Word, comes the prompting of the Holy Spirit–that little voice inside that begins to add credence to the right and wrong; the “left” and “right” of your moral compass.
“. . . and the power to do what pleases him.” –> The absolute truth of scripture is your guide, your strength; inner strength, for doing what’s right in His eyes.
Not your feelings, not your pastor, or your church, not society (even Christian society). Scripture. The Bible. God’s Word. God breathed. That means YOU read it. YOU learn it. YOU live it. Do not rely on the church or the pastor or the elders to interpret scripture for you–in essence, to tell you how you should live your faith-life, how (and what) you should believe. YOU have a Bible, YOU read it.
I’m sorry, I’m not bashing the church here, or pastors (several of which read my posts on occasion . . . still . . . I hope.) But these are mere humans, subject to human frailty, human shortcomings, human emotion and human opinion. Scripture is God breathed. That means, though the pen was wielded by men, the words were wielded by God himself. Sin is sin. He hates all of it. Love is love. He loves allof us. He is not subject to mere human shortcomings.
Though one may feel He is fickle, stubborn, a despot, or cruel; He is in fact perfection incarnate. His thoughts are not our thoughts (and, by proxy, his emotions are not our emotions and his opinions are not our opinions). It reminds me of a James Coburn line in some old western from years ago, “I taught you everything you know. I didn’t teach you everything I know.”
Seek salvation first, then let God’s Spirit work within you through the unveiling of His Word in scripture to be the Godly person both He and you desire to be. I love the way the Amplified Bible puts this same verse; it couldn’t be more laid out:
Philippians 2:12b-13 (AMP) work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).
13[Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.