“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who is at work in you” (Philippians 2:12).
We have things to do.
Clearly, there are things for us to do. Our efforts are included in God’s plan. However, we are not to place our faith in these things.
Have faith in God (Hebrews 11:6)
We must not depend on (1) our efforts; or (2) the way things look to us; or (3) especially whether we feel like good Christians or not. Have faith in God.
Jesus is all we need.
Salvation is from God, through God and by God—always, whether we are talking conversion, when we come to believe in Jesus Christ, becoming fully sanctified, or eventually glorified. God is our source. Christ is our life (1 John 2:25). He is our reconciliation to God, the basis of our forgiveness. Christ is our righteousness, our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30) and our glorification (Colossians 1:27). We have all this because we are in Him and He is in us, in every believer.
When Saul persecuted Christians he was persecuting Jesus Christ.
When Saul was on the Damascus road and the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, briefly blinding him, Jesus said to him: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 8:4) But wait. Who was Saul persecuting? He was persecuting the church, believers, people like you and me. Yet Jesus plainly declared to Saul that he was persecuting Him, Jesus. That’s how thoroughly we are one with Jesus Christ Himself! Hit a believer, and you hit Jesus!
A gift we can walk
Salvation is a gift, the gift of Jesus Christ. He became ours and we became His, eternally. But we can grow into our experience of all that involves. Think about this: What if I could give you the gift of great artistic talent, but you never had the faith to act on it? Would it really be yours? Sanctification is making the character of Jesus Christ, Who’s within us, our own character in our experience here and now (Galatians 4:19A). It’s becoming Godlike: “You are therefore to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
What then can we do?
When we believe in Jesus Christ we become sons of God, really and actually sons of God. An awesome thought. And that means we have virtually unlimited potential. So what can we do?
(1) Be obedient to what God leads you to do.
(2) Walk with God by faith, that is practice the presence of the Lord just like Brother Lawrence advocated so many years ago (Micah 6:8; Hebrews 12:1-2). That means sharing your daily life with Him, praying to Him, fellowshipping with Him.
(3) Find fellow Christians with whom you can share what God is doing in your life (John 21:15-17; Hebrews 10:24-25).
(4) And by all means have faith, trust God to help you grow. We all have our roles within God’s grand plan, but it is always God Who causes the growth, always. (2 Cor. 5:7).
Our only basis for success
“Success” means pleasing Him, and that comes in one way: relying on Him with a faith that results in obedience.