There are few things as damaging to the body of Christ as people insisting that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Just because something is in the Bible doesn’t mean you lift it out of context and tell people to do it.
A cursory glance at the context of Phil 2:12 shows that people are not just slightly misunderstanding the passage… they are reading it completely upside down!
Here is the verse in question:
“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;” (Phil 2:12)
Now look at the next verse:
“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)
What is Paul saying? He’s saying if you are working out your own salvation you should be fearful and trembling!!!
Because it is supposed to be God working in you… you are robbing Jesus of His glory!
Welcome to Galatia
You are falling under the Galatian bewitchment. Which says that if you turn your back on the free gift of grace and try to work for your own righteousness then you have fallen from grace. (Gal 5:4)
Having been made righteous in Christ you are going back under the law to obtain something you have already been freely given!
What you have effectively done is embraced the New Covenant, accepted the free gift of righteousness which was made possible by Jesus’ work on the cross and then turned around to trample it under foot by saying you need to add to Jesus’ work.
You say that the work of Christ is not enough! Basically – “thanks Jesus, but I actually think I can do a better job!”
Paul talks about righteousness just a few verses later in Phil 3 where he says we can have one of two types of righteousness:
- 1) The righteousness that comes from our own works through obeying the law
- 2) The righteousness that comes freely, from God, through faith in Jesus
He tells us that the first type is “skybalon” which is the Greek word for “poop”… we often try clean it up and translate it as “rubbish” when in fact if we are going to be truthful it’s actually much stronger than poop it technically should start with an “s”. Just saying. Paul doesn’t think much of self-righteousness.
Here’s my point
You don’t want to work out your salvation.
If you do, you have good cause for fear and trembling because you have rejected the work of Jesus and decided to go back under the old covenant.
A cursory glance of the Old Testament should remind you that this isn’t a great life decision.