Last week I ended by asking the question, "If we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, then why do we not see more evidence of it in our lives?" So that is where I would like to begin this week.
(Read Philippians 2:1-18)
The apostle Paul begins with a description of all we possess in Christ (see verse 1) before instructing us on what it means to live in Christ (see verses 2-4). So it is in scripture that the indicative (what is) always precedes the imperative (what should be).
And we continue to see this pattern developed throughout the rest of this chapter.
Our life in Christ is patterned after the Christ's own life, where he "made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (read slave)", "humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross." Then this same Jesus who humbled Himself has been "exalted" by God and given "the name that is above every name". It is the trajectory of Jesus' own life which the pattern for our own.
But if this is true, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit, then why do we not see more evidence of it in our lives today?
Paul identifies the problem as well as the solution very succinctly in verses 12-13. "Therefore my dear friends .... continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
The problem is found in our refusal to neglect our own responsibility in being conformed to Jesus' likeness. Unfortunately, we do not commit ourselves to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling", and that is why we see limited evidence of Christ's life in us.
However, the problem also points to the solution. If we are willing to commit ourselves to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling", God will continue to "work" in us "to will and to act according to His good purpose." In short, God will always do His part, so we must be also be willing to do ours.
So what is our part? How can we "work out our salvation with fear and trembling"?
I think the secret is found in following the pattern of Jesus' own earthly life. It begins with making ourselves "nothing", "taking the very nature of a servant", "humbling ourselves", and "becoming obedient to God" in everything. To state it very simply, working out our own salvation begins with recognizing God (WHO He is) and His authority over our lives. As we choose to submit to Him, He will work in us to will and to act according to His good pleasure.
In submission to God through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit's power we will increasingly be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
So how is God asking you to humble yourself and submit to Him this week? Can you hear His voice? Are you willing to obey?