Working Out Our Salvation


… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2:12-16) 


St Paul tells us to work out our salvation which means it takes some energy on our part to live out the life in Christ. God works in and with us (synergy), but we have our part to do, and we have to navigate through the world of the fall which challenges us as we have to make moral choices in our daily lives. The work we do here prepares us for life in the world to come as St Nicholas Cabasilas explains: 

The life in Christ originates in this life and arises from it. It is perfected, however, in the life to come, when we shall have reached that last day. It cannot attain perfection in men’s souls in this life, nor even in that which is to come without already having begun here. Since that which is carnal, the mist and corruption which derived from the flesh, cannot inherit incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:50), it casts a shadow over that life in this present time. Therefore Paul thought it to be a great advantage to depart in order to be with Christ, for he says, ‘to depart and to be with Christ is far better‘ (Philippians 1:23).


But if the life to come were to admit those who lack the faculties and senses necessary for it, it would avail nothing for their happiness, but they would be dead and miserable living in that blessed and immortal world. The reason is, that the light would appear and the sunshine with its pure rays with no eye having been formed to see it. The Spirit’s fragrance would be abundantly diffused and pervading all, but one would not know it without already having this sense of smell. (THE LIFE IN CHRIST, p 43)


According to Cabasilas we have to train our eyes and all our senses to see spiritually in this world, so that we can fully enjoy what God reveals to us in the life of the world to come.