The Sanctifying Work Of The Holy Spirit

Philippians 2:12 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.

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

We are taught that to stay connected to God we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. What does it mean, “to work out our salvation”?

Let us examine this for a moment. If this verse is saying to us that we must work out our salvation, then does this mean that I am not saved? But if I am saved, then why do I have to work out my salvation?

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  this says that I am saved by grace through faith.  This has nothing to do with me. Grace was God’s gift to me. Not only is grace a gift from God, but even the faith to receive from Him is a gift.

God is the one who saved you by His love. Saved here is in the aorist sense. It is a Greek term meaning once and for all. It cannot be repeated. When I receive Jesus as Lord and savior it is done. There is nothing I can do to help it along. There is nothing to work out.

What this verse is speaking about is not salvation, in the sense of being saved repeatedly, but sanctification. This is talking about the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit through us.

This scripture is simply saying, you should work out “on the outside” what is already “on the inside”. You are already saved, “on the inside”. You now need to demonstrate the saving power of God “on the outside”. This can be likened to what Paul write to the Ephesians when he told them to put off the old man “put on” the new man – Eph. 4:22-24. There is a new man “on the inside” that can only be seen “on the outside” when we work out our salvation. Notice Paul did not say to “work for” but rather to “work out” our salvation.

And how do we do this? This is where the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit comes in. You cannot do this on your own. The next verse answers that question.

Philippians 12:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. God is the one who works through you to accomplish this. Many of us read the first part of this verse but completely miss the second part.  God is the one who works in and through you. He does this through the process of sanctification.

Sanctification simply means being saved from the POWER of sin. Only the Holy Spirit can do that through you. But you must allow Him to.

When we first believed, we were saved from the PENALTY of sin. God cannot sanctify us unless He first justifies us. This is a process we go through. Justification declares you righteous.  We have been made the righteousness of God – 2 Cor. 5:21. Sanctification makes you manifest that righteousness.

God gave His son to pay the price so that He can justify us by faith. this means that we were saved from the penalty of sin. We no longer have to go to hell because the ultimate price was paid by Jesus Christ Himself. Justification is your legitimate stamp to heaven. It is what qualifies you for Heaven.

 Romans 6:14 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Even though we in the world surrounded by sin, it has no power over us.  We are no longer in bondage to it. We have that choice now. We can choose not to sin. Hallelujah!! This is what it means to be justified. Just as though you never sinned.

Justification is just part of the job done. Now that I am saved from the penalty of sin, I must now demonstrate or manifest that I have been saved from the POWER of sin (we are already saved from the power of sin – Rom. 6:14; Col. 1:12-14, what we need now is to manifest that deliverance). This is where the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit comes in.

Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the regenerated life of the believer. Its delivering the believer “vitally” from the power of sin. Justification delivered us “legally” from the power of sin, while sanctification delivers us vitally from the power of sin. Performing God’s will in the life of the believer is the result of this.

Sanctification is God providing a way for a “saint” to grow in grace and become sanctified and set apart for God. Yes, to be sanctified is to be made a saint. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, He gives us the power to stand up and say NO to sin. This is saying to the Devil, Jesus has already saved me from sin’s penalty and now I have the power to say no to sin’s power over me. This is what Philippians 2:12 is speaking about. A lot of us go through the first process but never allow the Holy Spirit to take us through the second. We are contented to be declared righteous but never allow the Holy Spirit to help us manifest righteousness.

Yes, we are saved but there is more to being saved that just being saved from the penalty of sin. There is a time coming when we shall be saved from the PRESENCE of sin, but that time is not yet. 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. When this happens, we will no longer be in sin’s presence but now we are still in this world where sin is present and is seeking to have dominion over us.

Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. This here is talking about a daily transformation that is supposed to take place in the life of every believer. I used the word suppose because that is not always the case, because many believers do not allow this to take place.

The Holy Spirit is the one who takes us through this transformation. This again is speaking about the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

We do not always allow the Holy Spirit to take us through that process. Remember the Holy Spirit is not going to force us to conform and we cannot do it on our own. We can however choose to do so and must choose to walk in Him to experience this transformation.

Colossians 2:6

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Received here is in the aorist tense. It means once and for all. Not to be repeated. You receive Him and that is it. so, continue walking. Remember that Ephesians 2:8-9 tells you how we received Him. You received Him by faith.

Let us take another look at Philippians 2:12. It says we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

The word Fear in the Greek is phobos – “awe” = respect, reverence. This has nothing to do with being timidly afraid or cowardice. Remember God did not give us the spirit of fear – 2 Tim. 1:6. This is talking about reverence or respect. How many of us live our lives in such a way that people can see Christ through us? If we understood what it means to revere our Heavenly Father, then our lives would show an example of that. Our lives would show outwardly what ‘God had done for us inwardly.

This can only happen when we allow ourselves to be groomed by the Holy Spirit. Paul says in Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Can we say this of ourselves?

Ephesians 2: 10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. we are God’s workmanship. In the Greek workmanship means we are God’s handywork. This has nothing to do with us. This is all God. We are created in Christ. and for a specific purpose. this verse also tells us what this purpose is. It is to do good works. These good works are not a requirement for Christ’s acceptance but because of it. They are actually a demonstration of that acceptance. I say this because a lot of us think we must do good works for God to accept us. NO, WE DO NOT. if we did then all that Christ did for us would be for nothing. Our good works would have automatically qualified us for heaven, but that is not the case. Remember Ephesians say, “not of works less any man should boast”.

Our works are supposed to be the result of what is on the inside. What are these works? Knowing what God’s will for us is and to do what He ask of us. That means not conforming to sin. God also expects us to spend time with Him. This is the only way we are going to understand what He is asking of us. To demonstrate the agape love of God. To be our brother’s keeper. He commands us to be holy as He is Holy.

All of this can only be accomplished by the transformational work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.

Paul says in Romans 12:1 to give ourselves a living sacrifice. He also said it is a reasonable service. God will never ask of you what is unreasonable or impossible.

All scriptures are taken from the King James Version (KJV)


Pastor Karen Bruce









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