Philippians 2:12-13

Dr. Steve Viars August 20, 1995 Philippians 2:12-13

- The context of the passage, going back to 1:27, is Christian unity.

1. The basis of our unity is the blessings of Jesus Christ vv. 1-2

2. The steps to unity vv. 3-4

- consider others more important than you

3. The example of Christ admonishes you to unity.

This week we'll be studying vv. 12-13

We'll read vv. 12-16 to get the rest of the context.

I. You Must Work to Solve Your Problems. v. 12

"Work out your own salvation"

A. What this refers to

1. Negatively (or what this does NOT refer to)

a. Working for your salvation

INPUT: Why can't it mean this?

Eph. 2:8-9 (quote)

cf. 1:1 Paul calls the Philippian believers "saints."
He wouldn't be telling saved people to work for
something they already had.

cf. 1:19 NASB & NIV translate soteria (SO-TA-REE-UH) as
"deliverance" (here it means Paul's deliverance from
prison) - the word does not always refer to salvation
in an evangelistic sense.

b. Working to become a better Christian in general

- Closer to the point, but still not the specific topic

2. Positively (or what it does mean)

Work out the solution to their problem of disunity.

- Note the word "wherefore" at the beginning of the
verse. This connects it to what immediately
precedes: Christ's example that brings about unity.

Their "salvation" here meant deliverance from the
problem of disunity and divisiveness.

- Just as in 1:19 Paul referred to salvation in the sense
of deliverance from prison, so in 2:12 does salvation
refer deliverance from disunity.

B. Who he is referring to

1. In salvation, God alone was active.

- You believed, but that's all you did.

- He saved you instantaneously and He did a number of

- God regenerated you, justified you, positionally
sanctified you, took you from the kingdom of
darkness and placed you into the marvelous kingdom
of light.


2. In progressive sanctification, man is always active.

"Work out your own salvation"

2nd person, present tense imperative: "You be continually
working out the solution to this problem."

While Paul wrote this to the Philippians concerning
disunity and divisiveness, we can BROADEN THIS PRINCIPLE

- God expects you and me to be busy WORKING to become more
like Jesus Christ. We are part of the progressive
sanctification process. We must be active, we must be
striving to become more godly

I realize most of you are probably familiar with this term,
but some of you may not be. Simply put progressive
sanctification is the process of SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

"Progressive" = gradual, step-by-step, over-a-period-of-

"Sanctification" = holiness, a setting apart from
sinfulness to righteousness

"Progressive sanctification" = gradual holiness

Often say in counseling, "You didn't learn this habit
overnight, and you're not going to change it overnight."

And that's very true, and very hopeful for all of us

BALANCE: Of course, there are some sins that are so
destructive, that they must be radically stopped (e.g.
adultery, homosexuality, stealing, etc. -- never
acceptable to hear "I only committed adultery once
last week as opposed to 2 or 3 times normally, praise
God!" But very acceptable to hear "I only blew up in
sinful anger once last week as opposed to 2 or 3 or 4
or 10 times normally. Thank God for helping me to

*ILLUS. -- Growing up; volleyball parties; arguing over
in or out; storming off court; having to apologize (ask
forgiveness); God has helped me to reduce that greatly
(not conquer); now, set it up to those who don't play
much so they can learn.

It's not easy. cf. 1 Tim. 4:7 Discipline yourself for
the purpose of godliness

cf. Jay Adams' Godliness Through Discipline

Hendrickson: "It is a pursuit, a following after, a
pressing on, a contest, fight, race."

Phil. 3:12 "Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but I follow after, if
that I may apprehend that for which also I am
apprehended of Christ Jesus."

Rom. 14:19 "Let us therefore follow after the things
which make for peace, and things wherewith one may
edify another."

(cont. below)

1 Cor. 9:24-27 "Know ye not that they which run in a
race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run,
that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for
the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do
it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an
incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as
uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the
air: But I keep under my body [to strike under the
eye, buffet, beat it black and blue] and bring it into
subjection: lest that by any means, when I have
preached to others, I myself should be a castaway
[disqualified, put on the shelf]."

1 Tim. 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on
eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast
professed a good profession before many witnesses."

C. What is to be done.

Notice that Paul says "Not as in my presence only, but now much
more in my absence..."

Paul is saying that they ought to be able to work out the
solution to this one on their own.

They had worked out problems before WHEN PAUL HAD BEEN WITH
THEM. Paul is now instructing them to do so when he is NOT
with them. They were very reliant upon Paul, and while it is
good to be confident in your spiritual leadership, you must be
able to stand when they're not around.

This is not the first time Paul cautioned them not to be
reliant on him in solving the problem of disunity

cf. 1:27 "Only let your conversation [manner of life] be
as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and
see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that
ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together
for the faith of the gospel."

1. INPUT: What are some times you don't have church leadership
present to help you? Some occasions when you must stand

2. INPUT: What are some Biblical examples of people who stood
alone for God?

- Daniel, Abram, Paul, Elijah, Jeremiah in the well

D. How it is to be done?

"With fear and trembling"

- In fact, these words come first in the original (Greek)
indicating that they were meant to be emphasized.
- Work out the solutions to your problem "not [with] slavish
terror, but wholesome, serious caution" (Vincent). It's a
"nervous and trembling anxiety to do right."

- "Paul has no sympathy with a cold and dead orthodoxy or
formalism that knows nothing of struggle and growth. He
exhorts as if he were an Arminian in addressing men. He
prays as if he were a Calvinist in addressing God and feels
no inconsistency in the two attitudes. Paul makes no
attempt to reconcile divine sovereignty and human free
agency, but boldly proclaims both" (Robertson, Word
Pictures, IV, p. 446).

Let me ask you, how's this area of progressive sanctification, or
spiritual growth going for you? What areas has God been pinpointing in
your life?

While man is active, and must be active in progressive sanctification,
the only way you will be able to stand and work out the solutions to
your problems is by God's grace, God's strength, and God's enabling.

v. 13 "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work
for His good pleasure (NASB)"

Our first point:

I. You must work to solve your problems.

The second point is...

II. You Must be Confident in God's Help. v. 13

A. God produces the willingness.

"both to will"

Let's consider an example:

1. INPUT: What is the hardest thing to do in settling

a. Asking forgiveness

cf. Mt. 5:23-24 -- If you are worshipping and
remember that someone has something against you, that
YOU HAVE WRONGED SOMEONE, you must stop worshipping
and go ask their forgiveness

b. Granting forgiveness

cf. Lk. 17:3-4 (If time, have them turn to it)

"Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass
against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive
him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in
a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee,
saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."

Why does it say, "Take heed to yourselves"? or "Be
on your guard! (NASB)"

- Because it's very hard to do what the Lord is about
to require.

- 7X in one day? And you expect me to forgive him??

- *EXAM. Jay Adams uses of getting hit in the nose.
Please forgive me. You do. Boom! He hits you
again, your nose bleeds. Please forgive me. He hits you a third time -- all in the
same day. Please forgive me. You secure a very
firm promise from him and your reluctantly do. It
happens again. 4 times. No way! He doesn't
really mean it! God says you have to forgive him
even if he does it 7 times.

- That's why He says, "Take heed to yourselves."

c. Learn to communicate.

cf. 4 Rules of Communication (Review with them)

2. God by His Word produces the willingness.

B. God produces the ability.

"and to do"

Returning to our example, he produces the ability to forgive.

You see, I'm like the wicked servant in Mt. 18:21-35.
(Recount story briefly). I don't FEEL LIKE forgiving, but
God tells me if I don't, He won't forgive me either.

C. God's goal is to please Him.

"of his good pleasure"

cf. Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 5:9

You Must Work to Solve Your Problems.
You Must be Confident in God's Help.


Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video