Working Out Our Own Salvation

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An “epiphany is a moment when God unexpectantly and unforgettably invaded the monotony of your life.” Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. I had one this past Sunday morning.

Since leaving the meetings, so many things have changed in my life. Several of those things I’ve already elaborated on. God has been changing me by changing my thinking and helping me create a new life. I love the results but it is a process I’m finding takes years.

Here’s where my epiphany fits in: Right now, I’m living in the reality of the verse about “working out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). It’s finding a new way to live. It’s uncharted territory — wondrous, uncertain, hard work, a bit terrifying and like my friend Sherlene’s husband calls it, “learning to enjoy the free fall.”

I found I knew very little of truly being led by the Holy Spirit. Oh, I wanted to be and prayed for it, but didn’t really need to because I knew all the rules of the group. Ouch. I knew the expectations and where all the boundaries were. To be truly open to the leading of the Holy Spirit would very likely lead me into unfamiliar waters. The group’s mentality was safe and predictable and He was radical and it both terrified and excited me.

Working out my own salvation was forcing me to address the gray areas. Everything before was pretty much black and white. Law oriented. Grace moves into the gray areas and that is very uncomfortable to a legalist; I know from experience. ‘To do’ lists from workers (me included) were neat and tidy but walking with Jesus is not neat and tidy. His life certainly wasn’t.

Beth Moore says this about the gray areas:
“I used to see everything in black and white and I remember when I unwillingly discovered the shade of gray. I’ve concluded that for those who only see gray, God often emphatically and lovingly paints portraits of black and white so they are forced to acknowledge the contrasts. For those who only see black and white, He introduces situations when answers aren’t so easy, when lists ‘A to Z’ cannot be found, and when points 1,2, & 3 don’t work. Gray.”

We are all individuals and so gray areas are different for everyone and how we handle them will vary. Again, I will say it is work to figure this part out. Paul even said so! Working out your own salvation isn’t a license for a free-for-all and might it be why Paul said to do so with fear and trembling? I have literally grown weary in my thinking trying to figure it all out at times. I need to quit forcing the process in this area and trust God. Little by little things are falling into place.

A friend sent me a devotional of Joe Stowell’s and he was touching on this subject. He wrote: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5) He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6). Simply put, each of us should be convinced that what we are doing can be done to please the Lord.” I have found myself at times looking to someone else and trying to adopt their lifestyle as my own but that is not working out my own salvation either. We have been set free, so I don’t ever want to be back in bondage again to anythng or anyone.

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9 thoughts on “Working Out Our Own Salvation

  1. Liberation from the bonds of Law and Tradition is so sweet. Placing our own will in subordination to His will is so liberating, as well. It’s such great freedom not having to constantly worry if we are making the right decisions. His choices are so much better and free us up to just love and rejoice. I love all the comments left here. This is a rich post, Darla.

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  2. All I have to say is “WOW”……
    The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…he restores my soul!
    …..for Thou art with me,Thy rod and staff…they comfort me…

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  3. Your posts are very refreshing, reassuring and reaffirming. Thank you.
    I began to see that our group had planted a flag on a few verses, thus creating the boundary rules that I thought I had to live by.
    I remember well the day I sat down with a new NIV bible and determined to read it from front to back with an open mind to see what God REALLY wanted from people. The light began to come on and the questions began to flow before I even got out of Genesis. It wasn’t long before I realized that my salvation had nothing to do with what I was doing to make myself appear righteous. It wasn’t long, either, that I realized that I did not know what it meant to love Jesus. I was outraged, dismayed and incredulous that what I was and thought I was for so long didn’t amount to a hill of beans.
    I am now joyful to know that I don’t amount to a hill of beans. I don’t have to, because of Jesus. I don’t have to work, work, work at being professing. What a relief. Now I know what it means to love Jesus, and I can’t wait to see him some day. I just want to glorify his name, and that guides my actions (when my own ugly nature doesn’t get in the way).
    I’m glad you are ministering encouragement to people like us. I’m sure that most reading will know what I mean by “people like us”. Those who have come out of the bondage of legalism and crossed the sea to a new land. Only God could part that sea, so all the glory be to Him.

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    • Donna,
      Your comments made my heart sing! I loved what you wrote and shared of your journey. It is such a privilege to write on this blog….and like you said, all the glory be to HIM!

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  4. Love your thoughts, Darla! …Keep on writing & posting! Regarding “working out your own salvation …” : My epiphany moment came when this verse suddently came to mean having works of righteousness evident in my life as a RESULT of my salvation versus striving to have works in order to GAIN salvation. And I’ve found that having those works of righteousness usually are only accomplished through much fear & trembling on my part.

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  5. Wow, Darla, I keep reading your blog and thinking how amazingly you ferret out the unvarnished truths on so many issues! And express it so eloquently! Over and over, I think to myself as I read it, “Yes…that is my experience, too!” We don’t like to leave our “comfort zone” even in the pursuit of “working out our salvation”, and we certainly don’t like the part about doing it “in fear and trembling”! I think I shared earlier that leaving the fellowship was the single most difficult thing we ever did, without a doubt!. Years of that being our comfort zone plus the “safety” of living within the rules of the group enabled us to “measure” ourselves and reassure ourselves. It reminds me of when Peter asked Jesus, “Bid me come to you on the water…” Jesus simply said, “Come.” But get out of a boat in deep water?! How terrifying that would be (for me.) And yet, I am certain Peter’s faith was not only manifest that day, it was strengthened! I try to imagine myself in his situation….no wonder he looked at the waves and began to sink! It was a downright scary step we took when we left the fellowship in pursuit of Christ and Christ alone! We feared the loss of some friendships (it happened), we feared what would be said about us (plenty), and we didn’t look forward to the loneliness of our new situation. But, looking back, it was necessary for us in order to be focused more steadfastly on Jesus. It was not without many moments of “fear and trembling”!! But the freedom was amazing! We felt free from so much that was bondage in our lives, though we didn’t recognize it as such at the time. From where we are today, we look back with thankfulness for the journey, and comfort for today, and courage to continue the journey with Him. Thanks be to God! We love reading what you write, Darla. It’s spot on!

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  6. Two wonderful books on the Holy Spirit:

    The God I Never Knew: How Real Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life – Robert Morris.

    Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit – Frances Chan

    Both books are great and can be found on Amazon.com.

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