Philippians 2:12,13 “. . . 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. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

     The cook can’t eat your dinner for you.  If you want the nutrition and to be sustained by it, you have to move your hand to mouth, chew, swallow and repeat until you’ve finished.  If this makes sense about eating your own dinner then why do we balk so much about ‘working out our own salvation’.  We build churches, install comfortable pews, hire professionals to develop programs to service us and sit with arms folded magically thinking our sanctification is progressing.

     The Forerunner commentary underscores the need to co-operate with God as His Holy Spirit works in us and forms our being ever more into Christ’s likeness; “. . . The purpose of this work is not to earn salvation, but to allow God to do His creative labors in us and test us. He wants us to be prepared for His Kingdom, and at the same time, He wants us to glorify Him through the witness of our lives.”  This works a positive change in a person that others see and are often amazed at.

     When the Holy Spirit is working in us – we’ve got problems.  Deep, irritating soul grinding problems that trouble and perplex us.  There are two ways to deal with these kinds of problems – medicate them or co-operate with God’s cure which is repentance.  The world supplies a myriad of drugs that allows us to numb out to the legitimate pain that calls for a change in ourselves. Sugar, alcohol and dope are drugs of choice for some.  Work, dry stick religion and fake-spirituality provide more ‘pro-social’ drugs to numb out God’s call to change.

     Repentance is God’s cure for you and the Holy Spirit is the One who exposes the problems and administers the curative dose but only if we co-operate with His treatment.  And that’s an even bigger problem – we want to be happy but real change requires sorrow; ” . . . you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, . . . For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you.  . . . ” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

     Happiness is the world’s empty answer to death.  This is a nasty cheating kind of delusion so loved by the enemy of our soul because it robs you of the fruit of the Holy Spirit – notably joy (Galatians 5:22,23)!  So many live their lives dedicated to the pursuit of their own happiness only to come to the end of life impoverished and filled with regret and disappointment or spite – happiness is never enough. 

     And there’s the real difference between joy and happiness; joy fills you up and satisfies while happiness like any drug leaves you empty and wanting more.  For those rebuilding the tattered remnants of their lives, joy is clearly different from mere happiness; “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

     Jesus told us (and continually tells us if we listen to Him); “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:21)