Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…
I. WE MUST WORK OUT OUR OWN SALVATION.
1. We must be personally active. Salvation cannot be wrought otherwise.
2. This activity must amount to vigorous, sustained working. No excellence anywhere without it.
3. This activity is to be centred on our own salvation.
II. GOD WORKETH IN US both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
1. As the first clause seems to throw the work wholly on man, this seems to throw it entirely on God
2. He regulates inclination and action — the motive and the deed.
3. This He does benevolently.
III. THE CONSISTENCY OF THESE PROPOSITIONS. Salvation is of God as respects supreme agency, while our part in it is merely instrumental and subordinate. The atonement is the whole ground of our acceptance. God the Holy Spirit works in us, enabling us to believe the gospel, and purifying our heart by faith. He, however, does not work separately from us, nor control and compel. We, too, are occupied. He works by us as well as in us.
IV. THE OBLIGATION RESULTING FROM A COLLECTIVE VIEW OF THE CASE TO PROSECUTE THE UNDERTAKING WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. The propriety of doing so appears —
1. From the importance of the work. In small matters men are at ease. There is not enough to engage fully the mind. But no work in its character and issues can compare with this.
2. From the character of the Agent working in us. In conclusion: this subject is
(1) encouraging to the timid,
(2) stimulating to the torpid.
(D. King, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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.