Some people feel confused by the portion of scripture in Philippians 2:12 which says; “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Huh? I thought we were saved by grace and not by works. What does this mean?
It is true that salvation comes as a grace gift by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We can never work our way to heaven no matter how hard we try. Once we have salvation, however, there is plenty to work out.
Think of it this way: we are made up of body, soul and spirit. Our spirit is basically dead until we become born-again. Then, in an instant in time, our spirit comes alive; we get the fullness of everything Christ did for us. Now we have salvation but we have to begin applying it to our body and soul. That can take the rest of our lifetime.
Our body is the human temple we live in while on this physical earth and our soul resides within us in the form of our mind and emotions. The body and soul don’t see things from the same perspective as the spirit. The body may be attracted to all kinds of fleshly sinful pleasures. The mind wants to figure out everything logically and the emotions are pretty simple really; they just scream “me, me, me” all the time.
Working out your salvation involves showing the body and soul who is calling the shots. The spirit must put down rebellion over and over until the body and soul finally cry “Uncle.” If your body and soul are anything like mine, you can see what a slow and arduous process this might be. Better get started.