Philippians 2:12-18 “Holding Fast The Word Of Life.”
With another ‘therefore’ Paul rolls along. The humility encouraged, and the example given of Christ Himself, leads Paul to urge his readers to obey his teaching-whether he is present or absent. Not surprisingly, some people behave differently when a teacher is present then when they are absent. Paul wanted his readers to be consistent. It was Christ who he was calling them to follow. This then leads to some of the most oft quoted verses of scripture, because they beautifully describe the sanctifying process of the believer as we “work out” our “own salvation with fear and trembling” (v. 12). The first thing to note is that progressive sanctification does involve work on our part. Secondly, we can only “work out” what God works in (v. 13a). Thirdly, it is our own salvation, which this progressive sanctification is a part of-others do not work this out for us, nor are we the ones to work out another’s salvation. Fourthly, the willingness to do this is part of what God works in-even the will to do this comes from God. Finally, willing to work out one’s salvation is evidenced by doing “for His good pleasure” (v. 13b).
However, to “do all things” is not in isolation, and much of it involves the entire body and society at large. First of all, we should “do all things without complaining and disputing” (v. 14). It is not just what we do but how we do it. Having the right attitude is as important as the will to do and what we do. If we have all three of these, then we will be “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault” (v. 15a). By implication, those who consistently lack any of these three ought to have their confession questioned. Those who lack these three give evidence that God is not at work in them and they are not in fact born of Him as His adopted children. Not following all three is the “crooked and perverse generation.” The result ought to be that we, by way of contrast, “shine as lights in the world” (v. 15b). Paul then arrives at what is the foundation of all of this-“holding fast the word of life” (v. 16a). This must be our first axiom of all thought and existence. If his readers did not hold fast the word then Paul’s labour was all in vain, and so it remains with us. This is service and sacrifice we should rejoice in together (vv. 17-18).