Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12—13)

I have heard this passage taught so many times and nearly every single time the emphasis has been on the middle part: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

In isolation, that’s a scary verse.  It even has the word “fear” in it.  It can make us feel like we have to earn our salvation somehow and if we screw up, we are screwed.

But did you see the last bit?

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

The reason we can “work out” our salvation is because God is working in us.  And he has a specific reason to do it: he enjoys it.  He gets pleasure out of conforming us into the likeness of his son (Romans 8:29).

How crazy is that?

When you are struggling with a lifelong pattern of sin…God takes pleasure in helping you beat it.

When you slip up with a new sin you never thought you would commit…God takes pleasure in your realization of how far you are from perfect.

When you deal with [INSERT WHATEVER IS HOUNDING YOU HERE]…God takes pleasure in you.


But the Lord was pleased to crush [Jesus], putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,He will see His offspring,He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53:10 NASB)

God was pleased to crush Jesus for the sins you committed.  That sounds terrible!  But it isn’t.  It was God’s pleasure to do it because it secured your rescue from sin.  As you “work out your salvation” and realize this more and more (and realize more and more how much sin you need to be saved from), God gets all the glory and fame.

That brings him pleasure.

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