Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
Jesus has called each of us as his followers to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, not to work for it. This is a reverential fear, with a sense of awe of the Glory, and holiness of God. This working out of our salvation begins after we first trust Christ for deliverance from our sins, and make him the supreme object of our affection. Regeneration (the initial salvation experience) happens in a moment, but spiritual growth is a lifetime process that is called sanctification. The indwelling life of Christ is the power source for a changed life.
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:27-29 ESV)
This spiritual transformation of our lives is worked out in the community of believers, and through private prayer, and devotion to live according to God’s word. Without illumination from the Holy Spirit we are powerless in our attempt to change ourselves morally or to help others in this process. Real transformation comes as we trust and look to Christ and embrace his finished work on the cross.
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 ESV)
Those who pray fervently on a consistent basis will experience positive spiritual transformation in their lives over time. Devotion to Christ is the foundation of prayer. Meditation on Scripture fuels the kind of prayer that leads to the contemplation of God. King David gazed at God in the temple. This gazing at God can only happen as we spend time in silence, focused on his presence.
Contemplation is not something that we can make or will to happen. This experience of God is a gift which only occurs when we make ourselves available to him. David’s experience in the temple is a good biblical example of contemplation.
There is a negative spiritual transformation that is the result of a passive approach to the Christian life. Those that refuse to establish a daily time of Bible reading, prayer, and deep reflection on truth, are neglecting the means of grace that God provides for our spiritual growth. Their formation will be by earthly things, by a world system that is opposed to the holiness of God.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)
It’s important to develop good spiritual habits. Take some time each day to meditate on a small portion of Scripture. Read it out loud to yourself several times, slowly. Then turn the verse or verses into a personalized prayer. It’s good to keep a journal with you during these times of devotion. Seek opportunities during the day, and go back over the chosen passages of Scripture. Be still and quiet your soul as often as possible, and pray. Ask God for the help of his Spirit to stay focused on him. Positive spiritual transformation only happens when we actively pursue the knowledge of God and his presence.