Summary: Are you aware of what you can do, if God works in you both to will and to act?
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed -- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence -- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain” (Philippians 2:12-16, ESV).
When I was thinking for the introduction of this topic, I remembered my picture when I celebrated my first birthday. You could see in it that I was standing on one of the steps of the wooden stairs of our house then. What an accomplishment for a one-year-old boy! However, when I grew up to appreciate the picture, my mother told me that my father, hiding and covered by the plants at my back, was behind the stairs and actually holding me, so that I could stand firmly and not fall.
Just think what we can do or accomplish, if our Heavenly Father is behind us.
So, this time we will deal on the topic, WHEN GOD WORKS IN YOU, as we focus on our text (Philippians 2:12-16).
What happens when God works in you both to will and to work for His good purpose?
Paul wrote Philippians, while he was imprisoned in Rome. The City of Philippi was named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great.
The church in Philippi was largely Gentile. The Christians there faced persecutions (1:27-30) and felt the pressures exerted on them by false teachings (3:2-21). And there were conflicts in the church that jeopardized the believer’s witness to the world and their ability to withstand its assaults (1:27-2:18; 4:2-3).
Some important themes are shown in the letter.
First, Paul’s affection for his readers. This epistle attest to the special bond of love Paul felt for the Philippians. The church at Philippi had faithfully supported Paul’s ministry, and their willingness to suffer with him for Christ was a source of encouragement for Paul.
Second, joy. Even though Paul was in jail, his letters resounds with the theme of joy. Forms of the word “joy” occur sixteen times in the letter. Paul’s joy is grounded in the peace of God, the antidote to all anxiety (4:4-7).
Now, as we come to our passage, we could see the brilliance of what Christians can do, when God works in them. What are those?
First, the person would be able to…
I – DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT GRUMBLING (vv. 14-15).
We read verses 14-15, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,..”
Before that verses, the previous two declared, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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 work for his good pleasure” (vv. 12-13).
There are those who quoted part of verse 12, neglecting verse 13, and taught that we need to do good works to be saved. But the Bible says, “work out,” not “work for” your salvation. The New Living Translation renders the last portion of verse 12:
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”
Actually, Paul was saying that his presence encouraged the Philippians to obey, but their basic motivation ought to be from God who works in them.
And in verse 14, the Apostle pointed out that because God Himself works in them to have the desire and the strength, they could do all things without grumbling or questioning, without complaining or arguing.
The tendency of ordinary people, as Paul described them as “crooked and twisted,” would be motivated to obey only when someone, especially when their superior is watching. And even if they would obey, they would complain, they would argue.
Complaining, arguing, grumbling, or questioning is so common in this world. It is just like the air that we breathe in and out.
Human beings tend to complain in whatever situation they could be. Remember the Israelites during the time of Moses? When they were slave in Egypt, they complained. When they were delivered from slavery and pursued by the Egyptians, they complained. When food from heaven were provided for them, still they complained. They complained about the leadership of Moses and etc.