That phrase itself, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" has always puzzled me. If salvation is a free gift of God, then why do we have to work it out with fear and trembling?
The Lord has been teaching me about "flesh cutting", removing from my flesh the things that are not of God, or "crucifying my old man nature" described by Paul in Romans 6:6 (KJV) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
I do not want to serve sin, and this body of mine and its lusts, my eyes and their inherent abilility to desire everything they see, and this awful pride that I have fostered over the years have made me a slave to sin in the past. Praise God that with the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ, He has set me free from sin if I am willing to die to myself and allow His spirit to live in me more and more each day.
I believe it is this very thing that has caused me to be dissatisfied with my growth in the Lord. Many things have been cut out of me...my desire for recognition at work, my desire to make lots of money, my desire to have lots of stuff, my desire to please people, etc., but there are things in my life that are still out of control, i.e., my love of food, my love of clothing and my pride, and which I believe God has been telling me to get under His control.
It's funny how you can ask for something every single day in prayer and yet when that still small voice speaks to you saying ever so quietly, "don't eat breakfast this morning", or "do you really need another coat, Kim", or "why do you need that person to think highly of you, Kim", it's just really too easy to toss it off as not really God's voice.
Just as God is made up of three parts, mankind is made up of three distinct parts: a spirit, a soul, and a body. God, in his wisdom, chooses to regenerate our spirit by the inner workings of His holy spirit. He also, in His love and sense of fairness, gave us the right to choose whether or not we would submit to this inner working. If we choose to submit to this working and accept his gift of salvation, our spirits are saved from eternal destruction, and our spirit will live eternally.
The soul, then, is that part of us of which the Bible speaks about in Matthew 10:28 which states: And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. The soul then is a part of us which can be destroyed just like our body - it is what makes me me...my characteristics, my thoughts, my actions, my beliefs, my wants, my needs and my willingness to surrender all of those parts of me to God.
In my last post, I talked about Sabbath Rest and how we are to live in the Spirit and do only that which we are prompted to do by the spirit. 1 Cor. 3:13-15 talks about how all our soulish work (work done out of our own flesh) will be burned away on the day we stand before the judgement seat of Christ.
But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone's work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames.Therefore, the soul is that part of us, or the surrender thereof, that we must work out with fear and trembling. For if we fail to surrender our soul in this life, it will be surrendered in the one to come. Our soul is that sinful part of us, the one that gives in to the lust of the flesh or the lust of the eyes or the pride of life.
God's Word says that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:) and also that faith without works is dead (James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.) These works, without which our faith is dead, are the parts of our soul that are sinful and which we surrender to God as He works in us and which give life to the Spirit living within us. As we submit to Sabbath Rest, giving up our wants, desires and our own works, and listen to the leading and direction of God's Holy Spirit, we are working out our soul's salvation in fear and trembling.
I say to you, then, my friend, that this is not something to be taken lightly or casually. I feel an urgency within myself that the time allotted to me in getting this work done is short and I must use all of my energy towards laying down those things that God is requiring me to lay down to His authority.
I encourage you to read this entire teaching, To Perish or Not to Perish by Lyn Mize of First Fruits Ministry for a complete explanation of this difficult lesson.