Summary: Paul gives us reasons for obey God . . . even when no one else may be looking.
Paul exhorts the Philippians to obey God, even when he wasn’t around. Like parents who hope their kids will behave even when mom or dad aren’t around to check on them, Paul wanted the Philippians to obey, motivated by higher things than just the possibility of being rewarded by Paul or bringing disappointment to Paul.
Maturity isn’t just doing the right things but doing them for the best reasons. So, what are some of the best reasons for obeying God? Notice what Paul says. We should obey God, so that we may . . .
1. Know personal transformation by the newness within us - 12b
Note that Paul doesn’t say we are to work FOR our salvation, but to work OUT our salvation. The idea here is that since we have Christ living within us, we need to allow Him to live His life through us.
Paul just finished speaking about the incarnation of Christ - His deity taking on humanity - in verses 5-11. Now, he applies this to us. Just as Jesus obeyed the Father knowing that “the Son can do nothing by Himself,” (John 5:19); we can only truly obey Christ as we realize that “without Him, we can do nothing,” (John 15:5). So, having made this sober assessment that a life lived out of the will of God is not worth living (hence the “fear and trembling”) we single-mindedly seek daily to commune with Christ and follow the direction He gives so that the salvation within us might be “worked out” through us.
What results is that we experience in our daily walk, the difference that our relationship with Christ has made in our hearts; Because the One who lives within us is freed to live His life through us and guide us in living a life of daily obedience.
We can only truly obey God by depending on the power of the person within us. The key is not focusing on the “stuff” we need to do; but focusing on communing with and depending on our living, loving Savior.
“We’re not focused on the living; we’re focused on the Life!” - Bob George
A. Through the Bible, we focus on learning from Him.
B. Through prayer, we focus on leaning on Him.
C. Through obedience, we focus on living for Him.
But we should also be motivated to obey God so that we may . . .
2. Fulfill our purpose received from the God above us - v. 13
An evidence of genuine salvation is that God has made a difference in us that causes us to want to do His will. By God’s work in me I have become a new person. Now, by God’s work through me, I can live for a His purpose. God has a purpose for each of His children.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” - Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
Now, I can now live for God’s purposes and my life can take on eternal significance. But I must be willing to let God teach me how to do His will. This is what Paul means when he speaks of God being at work in us not just to will but “to act according to His good purpose.” But apart from obeying God, we cannot live a purposeful life.