Philippians 2:12-18(HCSB)12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. 16 Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me.
The command that Paul gives is to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12c). It is has to be pointed out that Paul does not say “work for your salvation,” or “work toward your salvation,” or even “work at your salvation.” Rather he says “work out your salvation.” However, this observation misses the point. Paul is not talking about one’s individual salvation from hell. Instead, he is commanding the church to corporately “work out” their “salvation” (soteria) or present deliverance by applying the truths Paul elaborated upon in Philippians 2:6–11. Paul is not commanding personal introspection, but that we should look out for each other. Contextually, “salvation” has two distinctions: Positively, salvation refers to achieving a unity based on imitation of the mind of Christ. Negatively, salvation is further defined below as doing “all things without grumbling or disputing”. The Philippians, then, are to produce the fruit of their salvation, that is, peace, love, and harmony in the Spirit. Rather than fighting with each other, Paul commands the Philippians, and us, to work out our salvation by encouraging each other to grow in humility and unity. This is also expressed in the phrase “fear and trembling,” which can best be summed up by the word “humility.” Humility is the basis for sacrificial service and unity. Humility is the attitude Paul has called for (2:3–4) and is illustrated by the example of Jesus (2:5–11).
Christians are distinct from the rest of the world, the religious world, we have the amazing privilege of not only serving our God, but of having our God dwelling within us, of having an intimate relationship with the true God of the universe. He takes up residence with us and in us. We talk with Him. We hear Him speak. We experience the comforts and the encouragement and the guidance and the direction of His presence. Understanding the difference between justification and sanctification can be as important as understanding the difference between salvation and damnation. Rightly dividing between the two is of crucial importance. When you understand what they are, you can then draw a line in the sand and say, “This is what saves. This is not what saves.”
Sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation. To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity
1 Thessalonians 4:7(HCSB)7 For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification, and being such we are called to do good works Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to the sinner, so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law. This righteousness is not earned or retained by any effort of the saved. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence with the result being eternal life. It is based completely and solely upon Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (1 Peter 2:24(HCSB)He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.) and is received by faith alone Ephesians 2:8-9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.. No works are necessary whatsoever to obtain justification. Otherwise, it is not a gift (Romans 11:6(HCSB) Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.). Therefore, we are justified by faith. Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ. This conforming to Christ involves the work of the person, but it is still God working in the believer to produce more of a godly character and life in the person who has already been justified (Philippians 2:13). Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more godly. Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.
Where justification is a legal declaration that is instantaneous, sanctification is a process. Where justification comes from outside of us, from God, sanctification comes from God within us by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the Bible. In other words, we contribute to sanctification through our efforts. In contrast, we do not contribute to our justification through our efforts.
Paul challenges the church to brightly shine Christ’s love to a dark world that desperately needs to see an actual visible expression of Him.
Luke 11:33-36(HCSB)33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in the cellar or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, so that those who come in may see its light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of the body. When your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is bad, your body is also full of darkness. 35 Take care then, that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If, therefore, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be entirely illuminated, as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
There are two points of the lamp in these verses, the first lamp:
Verse 33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in the cellar or under a basket, but on a lamp stand, so that those who come in may see its light.
This refers to what Jesus has just said about his wisdom and resurrection: I am the lamp that must not be hidden or missed.
The second lamp:
Verse 34: “Your eye is the lamp of your body”
The way the lamp of Jesus becomes a lamp for you is that you see it for what it really is. Your eye becomes the lamp of your body when you see the lamp of His greatness in the world.
He elaborates: “When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.” In other words, if your eye sees me for who I really am, then you are full of light; but if you don’t see me for who I am, then you are full of darkness.
Then Jesus says, “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” In other words, there is much that passes for light through the eye that is not light. There are many bright things in the world that keep us from seeing the true light of Christ—just like city lights keep you from seeing the stars.
“Be careful!” This is the only imperative in the text. Be careful what you see! Be careful what you regard as bright and attractive and compelling. If it is not Christ, you will be filled with darkness—no matter how bright it seems for a season. Candles seem bright until the sun comes out. Then they are useless and put away. By “light” of the body, Jesus means “lamp,” “illuminator,” that which sheds light on something [the Greek word is luchnos]. A lamp illuminates where we are going, what we are working on, and so forth. Likewise, the eye shows us where we are going and what we are doing.
Luke 11:34-36(KJV)34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
Luke 11:34. in the greek luchnos, the lamp of the body is thine eye. This thought in connection with the earlier one might lead us to expect some remark on the proper placing of the body’s lamp, but the passage proceeds to speak of the single (haplous) and the evil (ponéros) eye. The connection lies in the effects of these qualities. The single eye, like a properly placed lamp, gives light; the evil eye, like a lamp under a bushel, leaves one in darkness.
The word “single” in this passage is the key to understanding Jesus’ point. The Greek word translated “single” is haplous. It literally means without folds. It can be used to mean “not complex,” “simple,” “single as to purpose.” If you were driving at night down a dark road and your headlights suddenly started pointing in different directions—left, right, up, down, straight ahead, right, etc.—you would become confused and might even have an accident. You would say your headlights are bad.
Now imagine your eyes doing the same thing, continually looking right, left, up, down, etc. It would be hard to walk, let alone do your work.
What Jesus is saying is that we should have singleness of vision or purpose. We should set our eyes on the goal and keep them there. Jesus tried to get us to see this point many times through various instructions and illustrations. In Matthew 6, just before telling us about the light of the body, He told us not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth but to lay up treasure in heaven. That’s singleness of purpose and begins to tell us what the goal is. Then, in verse 24, He tells us that no man can serve two masters.
Matthew 6:19-24(HCSB)19 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures[n] on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Jesus considers anything but having the single goal of the kingdom of God to be evil. Allowing ourselves to become distracted from the very purpose for which He called us is wicked. Having double vision—the kingdom of God and something else—is to be full of darkness. This is contrary to what we might naturally think. We might think that it is okay as long as the kingdom of God is one of our goals. The light might be a little dimmed, but it would still be light. But that is not what Jesus says. He says that such a mixed light is really darkness:
“Light” in this verse is from phōs, which literally means “light,” and can metaphorically mean “truth,” “knowledge,” or “reason.” Mixed light, putting other goals beside the goal of the kingdom of God in your life, is really darkness; in fact, it is great darkness or a lack of true knowledge or enlightenment. This is a serious matter.
Colossians 3:1-5(HCSB)So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. 4 When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.
Why is it wrong to have another goal alongside the kingdom of God? Because it is a New Testament form of idolatry. In the Old Covenant God made with Israel, in the Ten Commandments, God told them, Exodus 20:3(HCSB)Do not have other gods besides Me. But Christians should now understand that idolatry includes more than just setting up a graven image. Our hearts are factories of idols.- John Calvin. New Testament idols are no longer wood or stone but heart issues. It is to put anything—job, house, the cares of this world, the pleasures of this world, even family—on a par with wanting the righteousness of God and His rule for ourselves and others. This does not mean we should have nothing to do with these other things. But we must keep all in a godly perspective. Spreading God’s love in our family and teaching our children the Scriptures is part of putting the kingdom of God first. So is being a good, Christian example on the job. Do all to the glory of God, and keep your eyes always fixed on the goal.
Jesus’s true followers have not only been crucified to the world, but also raised to new life and sent back in to free others. We’ve been rescued from the darkness and given the Light not merely to flee the darkness, but to guide our steps as we go back in to rescue others.
1 Peter 2:1-10 HCSB “So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone — rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God — you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected — this One has become the cornerstone, and A stone to stumble over, and a rock to trip over. They stumble because they disobey the message; they were destined for this. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
The darkness does not get darker, it does not get an adjective, only the light gets an adjective. It doesn’t matter how dark the darkness was in your life. It could be sexual darkness, anger darkness, addiction dark, when you shine the light, the wonderful light of Jesus the darkness has to flee. Darkness is just regular darkness we can try to magnify the degree of darkness or celebrate the wonderful light!
The degree of the darkness has no effect on the degree of the light.
No matter how dark a room is the smallest amount of light illuminates it. It can’t be so dark that light doesn’t work. The reason the world is so dark is not the degree of darkness but the absence of the flame in the heart of the believer. When there is an explosion of the flame in the heart of the believer you will see the driving out of darkness.
See the world for what it is: a sin-filled place of desperate need. The darker the world is to us, the more clearly the light of Christ will stand out. It’s not hard to focus on a light in a darkened room.2 Peter 1:19(HCSB)19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Those who stay focused on Christ will find their perspective on worldly things changing.
Christ is the glory we were made to see. His light alone will fill us and give the light of life and meaning to every part of our lives. And when that happens, we ourselves will shine and give off the rays of Christ. “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Hebrews 12:1-2(HCSB)Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.