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.—Philippians 2:12
I don’t necessarily like to exercise, but I try to get out and take a walk every day. I also go to the gym a couple of days a week. I know it makes me feel better, and it helps me to actually do what I am called by God to do.
Just as we need to work out to stay in shape physically, we need to work out spiritually as well. Paul told the Christians in Philippi, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13). The phrase work out doesn’t mean work for your salvation. It means that you are to work it out. Another way to translate it would be “carry it to the goal and fully complete your salvation.”
The idea is that we are to work out what God has worked in. That is our part. But it is God who is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. God plays a part, and we play a part.
But we must be careful that we don’t turn our backs on the things of God because we can make a mess of our lives. Hebrews 3:12 says, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” Then we read, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (verse 14). These words were written to believers. So God is saying, “Look, Christian, you make sure that you carry it to the goal.”
God will work in you, but you must work it out in your life as well.