Work Out Your Salvation (Philippians 2) – Part 1
April 30, 2012, 10:47 am
Filed under: Lordship Salvation

by David Bishop

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 work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:12-13

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers.  For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” – Philippians 3:2-3

The word translated “confidence” in Phil. 3:3 is the Greek word, “parasemos”.   It was a word that was used in reference to figureheads mounted to the bows of ships.  The figurehead distinguished the ship from all other ships of similar shape and size.   Parasemos also corresponds closely to the English word, evidence.   That is, the receipt we are given at the end of a purchase, for example, is the evidence that we made our purchase at a particular store should we later want a refund from that store.

Says Paul, in the third chapter of his epistle to the Philippians, we put no parasemos, that is, we put no evidence, in the flesh.  In other words, there is nothing about our flesh that distinguishes us from those who are perishing.

Paul goes on in chapter three to list some of the things about his flesh that he once believed was the evidence that he was not one of those people who were perishing.  Circumcised the eighth day; of the people of Israel; of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zealousness, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.   But now however, he tells us that these things are loss.  That is, like moldy leftovers left to rot in the trash for a week, they not only failed to provide dinner, but they also helped stink up house and home.  He has taken them out to the alley for garbage collection, and now counts himself rid of them forever.  And he does this, not because he has found new evidence in his flesh, but rather because he now understands that the only thing that distinguishes him from those who are perishing is the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.   For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – Philippians 3:7-10

In other words, God’s righteousness imputed to a person is the only evidence that a person is righteous.  There is no other evidence to be had.  God has chosen to reveal His righteousness in the Person and work of Christ.  God has not chosen our flesh as the canvas upon which to reveal His righteousness.

Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, weak as it was in the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The death of the guilty is the righteous requirement of the law (Genesis 2:16-17, Ezekiel 18:20).  This is what God’s law demands.  It demands the death of everyone who is guilty of disobeying it.

Romans 5:12-14 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Because God imputes the guilt of Adam’s transgression to every person being at conception, elect and non-elect alike (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 53:2-3), everyone is born guilty of disobeying God’s law.   Therefore, God’s law demands the death of everyone from the moment of their conception.

It is this righteous requirement of the law that Christ has satisfied on behalf of His elect.  The law could not save me, says Paul, for just like those who came between Adam and Moses, I was born guilty with the guilt of disobeying God’s law.   But now however, God has revealed His righteousness by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh in order to condemn sin in the flesh.  God has saved me.   He did this by imputing my sins to Christ at the cross.  Christ has satisfied the righteous requirement of the law.  The evidence of this is the cross of Christ alone!  There is no evidence of this to be found in my flesh, for I am not the one who satisfied the righteous requirement of the law!

Galatians 3:1-3  O foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you this: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Paul uses a curious expression to convey his message to the Galatians.   It was before your eyes that Christ was portrayed as crucified.  The Galatians were not present at Golgotha though, they did not actually see Christ die.  How then can Paul say that it was before their eyes that Christ was portrayed as crucified?

Actually, it’s not that odd an expression, after all, for we have a very similar expression in English – “in front of your nose.”  It was right in front of their nose, we could say, that Paul preached to them the news that Christ had satisfied the righteous requirement of the law on behalf of His elect.  And if his message was about something that was before their eyes, or in front of their nose, then it was not a message about their eyes or about their nose.  Why then, asks Paul, are you Galatians trying to twist my message to mean something about your nose, when in fact I clearly conveyed to you a message that was about something that Christ did way over there in a place called Golgotha long before some of you were even born?!  Your eyes must be on Him, rather than on the tip of your nose.

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