Displaying Christ (Philippians 2:12-18)
Sometimes we get caught up in the week and we forget what is most important in life.
For example, we may have lived this past week and as we look back, we really don't have much to show for it; or what we have to show, now, doesn’t seem so important. We went to work or school everyday. We completed our taxes. We did some Spring-cleaning inside. We finally got outside and gathered up leaves and last years deadness so that new life can break through. We exercised and cooked and cleaned and ran the kids all over the county. We’ve been to Lowes, and Walmart, and the Post Office, and the bank, and the doctor’s office... It’s been a week.
While all of these things are good, and we are probably very glad to get them off of our “To Do List,” it’s easy to do all of these things and neglect the most important things, isn’t it? Like worshiping God, serving your spouse, discipling your children, and reaching out to your neighbors.
The answer isn’t to stop doing those things or to do more things. It is to do the most important things and to do the normal everyday things in light of the most important things. This is the essence of Paul’s exhortation to the Christians at Philippi in 2:12-18. In sum, he gives two major commands: (1) WORK OUT your salvation and (2) LIVE OUT your salvation.
His tone is encouraging and exhortive. But before we examine each of these imperatives, it is important that we understand the context in which they are given.
First, this exhortation is given in the context of a passion for the gospel and the glory of Christ (note the connecting word “therefore” in verse 12 that sends us to examine 1:27-2:11).
Second, this exhortation is given in the context of the loving relationship between Paul and these saints (note the relational warmth of the words “my beloved” in verse 12 and all that he has previously said about these saints).
Third, this exhortation is given in the context of his responsibility to shepherd them even from a distance (note the words “much more in my absence” in verse 12).
Fourth, this exhortation is given in the context of his desire to rejoice in the Day of Christ and his desire for them to rejoice as well (note this desire at the end of his exhortation in verses 16-18).
With the context of this exhortation clearly established, let’s examine the specific commands and understand the implications of this text for our lives as Christians.
1. WORK OUT your salvation! (2:12-13)
Four explanations of what it means to “work out your own salvation.”
a. ONE: This is a command to work out a personal, eternal salvation that already exists, but should not be taken for granted.
b. TWO: This is a command based on the magnificent fact that “it is God who works in you!”
i. God is always first
ii. God is always at work.
iii. God is always working for His good pleasure.
c. THREE: This is a command to continue to obey the gospel.
d. FOUR: This is a command that will be obeyed with fear and trembling because we have a proper perspective of the Lordship of Christ.
2. LIVE OUT your salvation! (2:14-18)
Paul explains five ways Christians are to live out your salvation:
a. Live out your salvation in peace with one another. (14)
b. Live out your salvation in purity, as children of God. (15)
c. Live out your salvation as shining lights of Christ in a sinful world. (15)
d. Live out your salvation according to the Word of Life. (16a)
e. Live out your salvation so as to rejoice in the Day of Christ. (16b-18)