Practical Christianity

Bible Book: Philippians  2 : 12-13
Subject: Christian Living

Mark Twain said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

Admiration for a great person can inspire us, but it cannot enable us. Unless the person can enter into our own lives and share his skills, we cannot attain to his heights of accomplishments. It takes more than an example on the outside; it takes power (energy) on the inside.

Paul has just presented Jesus Christ as our great example. We read it, and we agree with it, but how do we go about practicing it? The passage before us displays the divine pattern for believers and the divine power to accomplish what God has commanded. His commands are our enablements. As we respond in obedience to our Lord Jesus, He makes divine provisions available to us.

GREAT TRUTH: It is not by initiation but by incarnation-“Christ liveth in me.”

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

On the basis of these truths, Paul was telling the believers to work out their salvation.

The relationship between the power of God and the responsibility of believers in living the Christian life has always been debated. Is the matter of living the Christian life passive trust or active obedience? It is all God’s doing or is there a requirement on man’s part in regard to believe the gospel. Salvation is not by human works but it is always through personal faith.

Here Paul presents the appropriate resolution between the believer’s part and God’s part in sanctification. Verse 12 speaks as if the sanctification is of the believers, while in v.13 it is of God. Paul seems content with the incomprehensity of these 2 truths.

1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

ALSO NOTE: Colossians 1:28-29: “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”

MY FAVORITE: James 4:7: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Believer’s sanctification requires their diligent effort. Yet it is empowered by God, who, according to His sovereign power, works out His will for and in His children.


“therefore” – because of this; Paul had urged the Philippian believers to put “others” first and then he had explained how Christ put others first, even to the extent of emptying Himself of the glory He had with the Father and dying on the cross (5-8).

The essence of living the Christian life is being obedient like Him.

1 John 2:6: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

A. His Compassion

“my beloved” – Paul first came to Philippi on his second missionary journey. A close bond of fellowship had developed between Paul and the Philippians. The preacher had grown to love the people. Term of endearment and affection.

B. His Concern

“obeyed” – trust and obey are the two feet on which the Christian successfully pursues his pilgrim way. The Apostle James would call it “faith and works” or “a faith that works;” faith being trust and works being obedience.

A compound verb (under-acoustics); placing oneself under what has been heard and, therefore of submitting and obeying. Listen to Scripture, obey it, so study and obey.

Obedience is essential to sanctification which cannot take place without it.

1. Commended For Past Obedience

“as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only.”

Christian consistency shall in no way be dependent upon his presence.

A reminder that their spiritual responsibility was not to Paul but to the Lord.

Philippians 1:27: “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,”

2. Challenged To Present Obedience

“now much more in my absence” – you have been committed in my company, now much more (let your conduct and character be true) in my absence.

A great reminder that a believer is never without Christ’s example and the Spirit’s power.

Ephesians 6:6: “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,”

EXAMPLE: It is not too difficult being a Christian at church.


A. A Personal Challenge

“work out your own salvation”

Not work for, toward, or at.

The Philippians that received this letter were believers. They had already received salvation in Jesus Christ. They understood that the teaching was clear that works have no part in acquiring salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Romans 4:5-6: “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:”

Philippians 1:12 is not referring to a working in order to acquire salvation, rather, it is referring to a working that expresses salvation. They already possessed salvation, but Paul was concerned that they work it out through their lives by expressing it in the activities of daily life.

No one can “work out” what God has not “worked in.”

“Work out”- carries the meaning of work to full completion; to its fullness, work out to the finish; to carry something to its logical conclusion.

This truth presupposes believer’s personal responsibility of obedience. They must choose to live righteously, to work out their salvation in daily living, while at the same time realizing that all the power for that obedience comes from God’s Spirit.


1. In Math

Likened to working out a problem in mathematics to its completion.

2. In Mining

Getting out of the mine all the valuable ore possible. In other words, getting the value out of what is already securely in your possession. I am to mine what is already mine.

Proverbs 2:1-9

“My son, if you receive my words,

And treasure my commands within you,

So that you incline your ear to wisdom,

And apply your heart to understanding;

Yes, if you cry out for discernment,

And lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver,

And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,

And find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;

From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;

He guards the paths of justice,

And preserves the way of His saints.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice,

Equity and every good path.”

3. In Farming

Work the field so as to get the greatest harvest.

Our lives have tremendous potential, like a mine or a field, and He wants to help us fulfill that potential. This refers to the believer’s responsibility for active pursuit of obedience in the process of sanctification.

B. A Passionate Commitment

“with fear and trembling” – a nervous anxiety to do the right thing; the idea behind it is of a passion to please. Believers should have a passion to please the Lord Jesus Christ in all that he does.

1 Corinthians 2:3: I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.”

Speaks of a healthy fear of offending God and a righteous awe and respect for Him.

Serves as the proper reactions to the awareness of one’s own spiritual weakness and the power of temptation. It’s a holy concern to give God the honor He deserves and avoid the chastening of His displeasure. Such fear protects against temptation and sin and gives motivation for obedience; righteous living.

“fear” – involves self-distrust, a sensitive conscience, and being on guard against temptation. It’s the dread that seeks to avoid anything that would offend and dishonor God.


A. God’s Principle 13a

The reason the Philippian believers were to work out their salvation was that God was working in them.

“worketh” – means to work effectively; our English word “energy.” It is God energizing you.

v.12 and v.13 ties together human responsibility and divine sovereignty.

Before salvation, God worked on you, now God works in you. It is the Spirit Who enables you to live for Christ.

Jesus is actively within every Christian that is surrendered to Him, that lets Him work in them. The believer has to respond to the working of God in his life if he is going to express characteristics that glorify God.

“God who is at work” – He empowers their obedience; His power enables their sanctification. Believers can do nothing holy or righteous in their own power and resources.

Romans 7:18: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,”

Colossians 1:29: “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”

“in you” – God’s divine presence

1 Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

QUESTION: Galatians 3:3: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

B. God’s Pleasure 13b

“both to will and to do for His good pleasure”

God gives the man the will and energizes the work. As a result of God’s work within us, there is a desire for us to let God do His work. If we do not desire to do the work of God, we have not allowed the Spirit of God to move in us.

When the Spirit of God has free rein in us, He works in us to cause us to desire and to do what is His will and His purpose.

He energizes your will.

He mobilizes your doing.

It was God energizing your desiring mechanism and your deciding mechanism so that you desired new desires and were willing to follow His will.

God changes our “want-to’s.”

God energizes both the believer’s desires and his actions.

A genuine desire to do God’s will, as well as the power to obey, it originates with Him

“both to will and to work” – this belongs to the believer, the will to do what is right before God must precede any effective work.

“To will” – refers to thoughtful, purposeful choice, not to mere emotional desires.

Psalms 119:36

“Incline my heart to Your testimonies,

And not to covetousness.”

Holy resolve leads to holy living. A godly will produces a godly work.

Only God can produce in the believers the will or the works that He commands.

Hebrews 13:20-21: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

“good pleasure” –God wants Christians to do what satisfies Him.

Ephesians 1:9; “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,”


Only one thing is necessary for us to leap from the realm of the theologically possible into the light of the practically experiential. And that one thing is obedience.