Summary: This sermon looks at two aspects of spiritual growth. God’s part - Your part.
The Joy of Becoming Like Christ
Folks here is a fact: God is in the life change business.
He takes a life that is bent and straightens it out. He takes a life that is shattered and puts it back together. He takes a life that is dirty – filthy – and cleans it up. He takes a life that is broken and fixes it. That is what God does.
I have often heard people say, “Jesus changed my life.” Folks – I can say it – can you? He took my life and turned it around. He pulled me out of the slough of despond. He pulled me out of the cesspool of sin – cleaned me up and set me on solid ground. Has He done the same for you? God is in the life change business – have you allowed Him to change your life?
Philippians chapter two – verses twelve and thirteen is our focal text for today. Please follow along with me as I read:
“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; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV)
How does Jesus change your life? How does He help you “work out your salvation”? Does He do surgery? Does He brain-wash you? Does He zap you with something and all of a sudden you’re changed?
Today there are a lot of opinions on how God changes us.
Some people say, "Just wait on the Lord." This is the “passive approach.”
Other people say, "It’s up to me – to be more like Christ – therefore I will work at it." This is the “activist viewpoint”.
What am I supposed to do in order to grow? Is it all me or is it all up to God? Or perhaps it is a combination of the two.
Paul deals with this very issue in our focal passage of scripture today. When it comes to your spiritual growth, the fact is God has a part and you have a part. Paul uses two phrases to explain this cooperation:
A. The first phrase is:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 (NKJV)
Go ahead and circle the words – “work out”. This is your part. Just like working out a gym – it takes effort and dedication. It takes efforts to maintain a healthy life style – this is true physically as well as spiritually. Let’s look at the next phrase:
B. The Second phrase is:
“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NKJV)
Go ahead and circle the words – “works in”. This is God’s part. God works in you to make you more like Jesus.
There are two more words in these verses that I would like us to look at. In verse twelve circle the word “your” and in verse thirteen circle the word “you”. Your salvation is personal – it is about you and it is your salvation. It does not belong to anyone else but you. You have not inherited your salvation. It is not your father’s salvation. It has not been handed down to you like a plot of ground – or a family heirloom. It is yours and yours alone. You can not blame anyone else – for your salvation. It is your responsibility. You must accept your salvation from Jesus Christ. You and you alone must come to Jesus and accept the sacrifice that He made for you on the cross. Just because your father or mother has been saved – does not mean that you are saved. Just because you live in America does not make you a Christian. Just because one of your relatives may have been a preacher does not make you a Christian. Jesus must be accepted into your heart – by you. You must be “born again”. You are an individual – and you must be born again.
God is not interested in mass produced Christians. He is interested in you as a person. Your salvation – is based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You are saved by the blood of Christ. There is but one hope and one salvation – but how that salvation is expressed in your life – is as unique as you are. You will have various trials and temptations. Some of them may be similar to mine – but not all. Your personality is different. Your experiences are different. God knows that – that is why He has said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” God doesn’t want a bunch of spiritual clones walking around – every-one copying each other. What He does want is for you to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.