Summary: This is an exposition of Philippians 2.12-13.

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The Work of Sanctification

Text: Phil 2.12-13


1. There are 3 aspects to salvation: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.

2. This passage deals with Sanctification.

3. Sanctification in a nutshell means that believers become like Christ or “Christlike”.

Ill.: On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: "James Butler Bonham--no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom." No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers.

4. There are two sides to this work of Sanctification; the human side and God’s side.

The Human Side is…

I. Human Responsibility – v.12.

A. Follow Christ as the Lord of Life –

“obey” (hupakuo: hupo – “through”, akuo: “to hear under as a subordinate”) *I Cor 6.20.

ILL.: Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back to drink.

B. Emulate Christ as the Goal of Life –

1. Be like Christ.

“work out your own salvation” (katergazomai: kata – “here used to intensify the action”, ergazomai – “to work fully or to finish). Wuest’s translation;

“Wherefore, my beloved ones, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion your own salvation with fear and trembling”.

2. Be serious about it! “with fear and trembling” (phobos[fear] – “alarm or fright”; tromos[trembling] – lit. “quaking with fear”) 1 Cor 11.30; Heb 12.8; *Heb 10.26-31.

God’s Side is…

II. Divine Enablement – v.13. (energeô: to work in(en); Eng. “energy”)

A. God Gives believers the will to follow Christ.

(thelô – “to choose or prefer”)

B. God gives believers the power to follow


(energeô: as above, in this case “to energize”)


1. This passage is not talking about working to be saved. For 2 reasons: This passage is written to saved people. That would contradict the clear teaching of many other places in the Word of God. The Bible clearly teaches that as Wuest says; “Salvation is not a work of man for God, but a work of God for man.”

2. Sanctification is a process which has 2 essential parts; man’s part and God’s part.

ILL.: During his days as guest lecturer at Calvin Seminary, R.B. Kuiper once used the following illustration of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. "I liken them to two ropes going through two holes in the ceiling and over a pulley above. If I wish to support myself by them, I must cling to them both. If I cling only to one and not the other, I go down."

3. Are you doing your part in the work of Sanctification? Not to do so…

- is a sin.

- is working against God.

- is harmful to the church.

- is harmful to yourself.

- may be a sign that you are not really



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