The Inside Job: Philippians Series #13

This chapter is focused on humility of life and living a life for others. In Philippians 2:8, Paul states, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.” The keyword is the word “obedience.” Jesus obeyed, and the Bible teaches we are to obey.

Disobedience is a cause of a great deal of sorrow. The Bible tells us about Adam in Romans 5, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” The Bible tells us that we are to be obedient to the Lord. Philippians 2:12-13 have to do with the overall theme of how to live the Christian life, how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians, and how we can grow and mature in the Christian life. Obedience is very crucial to that entire enterprise.

Paul says in verse 12, “As you have obeyed in my presence, much more now in my absence.” The church at Philippi evidently leaned heavily upon the Apostle Paul. Paul was away from them for a period of time. He said, “While I was there you were obedient. Be much more obedient while I am not there.”

“Much more in my absence,” he says, “be obedient.” He uses this word obedience in the context of a very important subject. It is the subject of how we grow and how we develop in the Christian life. I think these two verses are two of the greatest verses in the whole Bible to explain to us how to grow in the Christian life and become everything God is saving us to become.

The Christian life is first an inside job before it is an outside journey. When Christ comes into our life, He places us on the path, but the success of following the path happens first on the inside before the outside. I do not believe in the cliché of, “fake it until you make it.” We are to faith it if we are ever going to make it.

Those in our inner circle will determine the level of our success in life. While we are evaluating our enemies, be sure to observe your closest friends. In other words, be sure to study the inside first before working on the outside. In Philippians 2:12-13, we are going to learn the steps to growing and going in the Christian life.

I. We Have A Grand Possession

Paul says in verse 12, “Work out your own salvation.” A great possession is your salvation. What a great theme is salvation. In Hebrews 2:3, we read, “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” Salvation is a great salvation.

Think about how all-encompassing salvation is. It cares for our past. We have been saved from the penalty of sin. It deals with our present. We are being saved from the practice of sin. It deals with our future. One of these days we are going to be saved from the very presence of sin.

We must understand, of course, that before it becomes our salvation, it is God’s salvation. God gives this salvation to us. We read in Psalm 96:2, “Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” It is God’s salvation before it is our salvation.

God Planned Our Salvation

God is the one who has planned the great plan of salvation. In II, Timothy 1:9, it says, “who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

God planned this great salvation for us. He saw that we were going to be sinners. He saw that we were going to need a Savior. From eternity past, love found a way and God planned our salvation.

God Promised Our Salvation

God promised our salvation. In Titus 1:2, it says, “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.” All the way through the Old Testament like a golden thread through the words and writings of the prophets, God promised this great salvation of ours. God said, “I’m going to send a Savior.”

God Procured Our Salvation

Salvation is the Lord’s because He planned it. It is the Lord’s because He promised it. It is the Lord’s because He procured it on the cross of Calvary by the gift of His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for our salvation. Salvation was procured by the Lord at the cross.

God Presents Our Salvation

It is ours because God presents it to us as a gift. The Bible says, “The wages of sin of death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is His salvation. Salvation is of the Lord.

Let me wrap it up about salvation. God thought it. Jesus brought it. The Holy Spirit wrought it. The devil fought it. But, praise God, you and I got it! It’s God’s salvation.

To receive Jesus Christ is to believe in Jesus Christ. With the arms of faith, we reach out to take the gift of God’s salvation from the nailed, scarred hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. At that moment, whenever it may be, whatever age you may be, under whatever circumstances you may find yourself in, you repent of your sins and by faith receive Jesus Christ into your heart and life, you are born again and you can say, “It is my salvation.”

Do you have salvation? Can you call it your salvation?

II. We Have A Godly Process

Paul says, “As in my presence you have obeyed, now in my absence obey. Work out your own salvation.”

Let’s look at how Paul expresses this salvation. There is a great program, “work out your own salvation.” He’s talking about the here and now. He uses that word “now.” He says, “But now much more in my absence.”

We know that salvation has to do with the great eternal future. The question is what is God doing in your life now? How is your salvation coming along now? How is the great program of working out your own salvation doing in your here and now?

The Activity Of The Process

We are to work out our own salvation. What an activity! The word there carries the idea of continuing onto completion. It means that continuous, sustained, strenuous activity which makes your salvation everything God intends it to be in the here and now. Not only are you saved from sin in your past and not only are you saved to go to heaven when you die, but salvation has to do with the here and now. How are you coming along now in working out your own salvation?

I want to point out the terminology to you very carefully. Notice he says, “Work out your own salvation.” He didn’t say, “Work for your own salvation.” Do you see the difference?

Salvation is not something we work for. Salvation is not something you earn. Ephesians 2:8-10, says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

We do not work for our salvation. We work out our salvation. You can’t work something out until it has first of all been worked in. Salvation is God’s work in us and then we work it out. It’s kind of like a garden. You can’t work out something in your garden that hasn’t been worked in. The seed has to be planted and then you work out that which has been planted.

Salvation is like a math problem. Salvation is like an algebra problem. Your teacher gives you that algebra problem and then you begin to work out the problem. You begin to develop a solution to the problem. You cannot work out an algebra problem that has not first been given to you. You work out your salvation.

Salvation is like a gold mine. In a gold mine, nuggets of gold are deposited there and you work out the gold mine. That’s what you do with salvation. In salvation, I learn to mine what is mine. I learn to work it out. Day by day you are to work out your salvation.

The goal of your salvation is that you be like the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what predestination is all about. Romans 8:29, says that God has predestined us that we should be conformed to the image of His Son.

God saved us in order that we become like the Lord Jesus Christ. One day in eternity, we will be like the Lord Jesus Christ, but from the moment of our salvation here until the moment we are glorified there, God wants us to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Salvation is intended to make you a better person. If being saved doesn’t make you a better person, then what’s it all about? You work it out every day, becoming a better person. Every day of your life as you work on that salvation and as you work out the meaning and the ramifications and the results of what it means to know Christ as your Savior, you should have a kinder disposition.

Being saved should give you kinder deeds. You should be sweeter and kinder to people. Being saved should give you a cleaner life. You should be living a cleaner life than you used to live before you got saved. Being saved, you should have a bolder witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day working out your own salvation.

God does the work for us. That’s salvation. But then God does the work in us. That’s sanctification. Then, God does work through us. But you and I can cooperate with the Lord in this sanctification process. The great program of becoming like the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Attitude Of The Process

Paul tells us to, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” What does he mean by that? Does it mean that we should be afraid of the Lord? Does it mean that you should live your life in fear of the Lord?

Paul uses a similar terminology in I Corinthians 2:3, when he talks about going to the corrupt, godless city of Corinth. Paul describes his ministry there and he says, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” Was he afraid of Corinth? No. He was quite bold. Was Paul afraid that God was going to punish him if he didn’t minister the way he should? What this means is that there is an anxiety to do what is right and to not disappoint the Lord. We should live our Christian life and grow as Christians with fear and trembling, not afraid of the Lord, but with the anxious desire that we please the Lord in our daily life.

III. We Have A Glorious Power

Paul states in Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who worketh in you.” When you come to the Lord and you begin to work out your salvation and you try to become the person you should be, then you realize that you need the power that you do not have.

This verse says that it is God who worketh in you. Here’s the good news! You do not have to live the Christian life in your own strength. You do not have to try to grow as a Christian in your own power. The good news is that it is God who is working in you.

The word “working” is a different word from the word used in verse 12. In verse 12, it is the idea of working to completion to fulfill the task. In verse 13, it is where we get our word energy, which means a manifestation of power. It is God who energizes you.

Our text says, “For it is God who worketh in you.” Look where God works. God works in you. Salvation is an inside job!

Some people when they accept Christ as their Savior, they begin to work on the outside, and they think that they just have to make the changes on the outside. The truth of the matter is God works on the inside and when we let God work on the inside, then He changes the outside.

Some Christians misunderstand it. They just try to change the outside, and the result of that kind of approach is legalism. There are some Christians who become legalists because all they do is change their outside habits. Then, they get proud because of all of the changes they have made in their life.

You may ask, James, do you think the outside should be changed?” Of course, it should be changed. But it’s how the change comes about. God begins to work in you. It is God who works in you. As God changes the inside of your life and gives you a different set of desires, then the outside begins to change.

Let me explain it this way. God is working in your life and you say, “I probably shouldn’t be doing this anymore.” Then God keeps on working in your life and you say, “Maybe I should drop that off.” God keeps working in your life, and you say, “My vocabulary probably needs to change.” God keeps on working in your life, and you say, “Maybe my lifestyle and the way I dress should change.”

It is God who works in you. How does God work? Have you ever thought about how God works in your life as a believer? Have you ever thought about the tools that God uses? Let me share with you some of the tools God uses to work in you, to help your salvation become everything God wants it to be. First, I want to mention the Word of God. In I Thessalonians 2:13, we read, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of mere men, but as what it really is, the word of God, which also is at work in you who believe.” God has given you a Bible. As you read your Bible and as you study your Bible, God’s Word begins to work in your life.

You should appreciate your Bible. Are you aware of the fact that you are holding a book in your hand that men gave their lives in order to translate into your language so that you could understand it? Are you aware of the fact that it is within recent church history that average people like you and me could even have a copy of God’s Word? Do you appreciate your Bible?

What a wonderful treasure is the Word of God. What a tragedy not to read your Bible. An unread Bible is like food uneaten. It is like a love letter unread. It is like a sword unsheathed. It is like a gold mine unworked. Read some of your Bible every day. We should appropriate our Bible. We should let it work in us.

Second, God uses prayer in your life. In Ephesians 3:20-21, it says, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” He’s talking about the power of prayer.

It is as we pray that God works in us. He works in our life, and He does a construction job in our hearts. We go to the Lord in prayer.

There is a famous story in the Old Testament about Esther. Esther needed to go before the king on behalf of the Jewish people. But there was a custom in those days that you could not walk into the presence of the king uninvited. Unless he extended his scepter, it could mean death. So, Esther goes, and she stands at the entrance of the palace of the king. The king sees Queen Esther, and he extends the scepter, which meant that he was in a good mood that day and she could come in.

The Bible says that God is a God who gives to all men liberally. That means that He doesn’t scold us. That means that God is always in a good mood. There is never a time when you go to God in prayer that He is not in a good mood and glad to see you. In fact, the Bible says that we can go with boldness into the very throne room of God because of the blood of the Lord Jesus.

praise_the_lord.jpgThat means that every day of your life you can go into the presence of the Lord, and the Lord says to you, “Good morning, son or daughter, how are you doing? I’m so glad to see you. How long are you going to stay? I love to talk with you and I love for you to talk to Me.” God works as we pray.

Third, In II Corinthians 4:17, we read, “For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” Our sorrows and suffering and heartaches are one of the tools God uses to work in us.

The Christian life is like remodeling a house. When we come to the Lord, we know we need some things done in and around our life. When the Lord comes on to the construction project, we expect the Lord to do some things. We probably think or say, “I need a little paint. Paint me up a little, Lord. The roof needs to be repaired. Put a roof on me, Lord.” But when the Lord moves into the house, suddenly, He starts redoing the plumbing. He starts working on the foundation.

The Lord moves in and He starts redoing your plumbing. The next thing you know, He’s working on your electrical system and rewiring it. We become very uncomfortable. When God comes into your life, you thought you wanted just a little cottage. God says, “I’m going to come into your life and I’m going to make you like Jesus. I’m going to make you a palace.”

God uses suffering. Some of you are going through a hard time right now. God’s working on you. God’s working in your life to make you more like the Lord.

In Philippians 2:13, we learn that it is God who works in us both to will, that is, to make us willing, and to do, that is, to give us the power, His good pleasure. God’s purpose is His good pleasure.

Some people live through life and they don’t ever have any purpose in life. Most people don’t even have a clue what life is all about or what they are here for or why they are here. You may be reading this book and you don’t even have a clue. You get up every day. You go to your job. You drive to the same place. You eat the same food. You are just going through the paces of life and you don’t even know what the purpose and the meaning of life is.

I heard about a pilot who talked to the people on the plane via the speaker, and said, “Folks, we’re lost. We don’t know where we are going, but don’t worry. We’re making good time.”

Do you know what you are here for? Do you know the purpose and the meaning of your life? If you are saved, God’s purpose for your life as I have indicated is that you be like Jesus. God will make you willing and He will give you power to do His good will.

The Apostle Paul wrestled with this truth in his life. In Romans 7, he said, “For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For too will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

The Apostle Paul wrestled with this truth in his life. In Romans 7, he said, “For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For too will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

There was a man named F. B. Meyer. I’ve read many of his books. He was a great Christian writer who was at the Keswick Conference in England. He was wrestling and struggling with God’s will for his life. Then, finally, he came to this prayer. He began to pray, “Dear God, I am willing to be made willing.”

When you get to the point in your life that you want to grow as a Christian and be the kind of Christian that God wants you to be, and when you are willing to pray, “Lord, I am willing to be made willing,” then God will give you the power to be what God wants you to be. We have a grand possession, a godly process, and a glorious power. We have all we need to make our present life priceless, purposeful, and powerful.