What does it mean to “work out your salvation”? Many people mistakenly think Paul was telling us to work for our salvation. But the apostle was saying something completely different—that your salvation experience isn’t the end of your spiritual journey. Rather, it’s the catalyst that turned on your “operation mode.”
Once you have trusted Jesus as Savior, you can begin living out what He’s given you, which is His abundant life. If you’ve given your heart to Him, the Holy Spirit now indwells you—He is with you forever. It is God’s Spirit working in and through you that empowers you to live out your salvation. The degree to which you yield to Him impacts the work He’ll achieve through you and the changes He will effect in your life.
Let’s say you start reading the Bible and learning. As your faith and relationship with the Lord develop, you will begin to notice Him moving in your life. When you share your faith and your blessings with others, you’ll notice God working through even more avenues. Keep following Him, and you will see the seeds He’s planted within you flourish (Isaiah 55:10-11). So when Scripture says we’re to “work out [our] salvation,” it means we need to reverently live out what’s already been given to us—and allow the life of Christ to come fully to fruition.
Your salvation should become an expression of Jesus’ life wherever you are. As you work it out among your friends and family, on the job, in school, and even with strangers, God’s Spirit will energize you to make a difference and impact others—in other words, to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).