Working Out Your Salvation

In the journey of faith, believers are called to “work out” their salvation with fear and trembling. This call to spiritual discipline and growth parallels the discipline and effort required in physical exercise. We will explore the similarities between working out our physical bodies and working out our salvation, so that we can recognize the importance of spiritual fitness and growth as we journey through our lives.

Body, Soul & Spirit

The relationship of the brain and the body in the physical is parallel to the relationship of the mind and the heart in the spiritual. The brain controls all motor functions within the body via the central nervous system. So, whenever we perform a physical action, it starts in the brain. The same process occurs for our spiritual actions. Our mind controls the spiritual responses within our soul. This is mainly how we respond to outside stimulus in either a positive or negative way.

Now, think for a moment about how we stay physically healthy. We do two major things: 1. We eat right and 2. We exercise regularly.

The same parallel occurs to stay spiritually healthy. We need to do two major things: 1. Read God’s word and 2. Apply God’s word in our lives.

Just as we work-out our physical bodies with regular exercise, we should be working out our salvation. Paul said to the Philippians “…continue to work out your
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13. When we are obedient to this process, we are growing into spiritual maturity and thus being sanctified by God for His purpose. We can only find our true purpose in life by aligning our will (our mind/thoughts and our heart/emotions) with God’s will.

Physical & Spiritual Discipline

Just as athletes undergo strict training to achieve optimal physical conditioning, believers must also undergo strict spiritual disciplines which include: prayer, fasting, Biblical study, and accountability with other believers so that they grow in their faith.
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable. So, I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Adversity & Determination

Physical exercise requires determination, especially when faced with adversity and hardships. The believers’ journey also requires determination in the face of adversity and hardships. The Apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,…

Growth & Developlment

Working out physically leads to growth of our muscles and development of a healthy body. Working out our salvation leads to growth of our soul and development of a healthy spirit. The Apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 3:18 ESV “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Spiritual growth is an ongoing process that occurs over the course of the believers lifetime. Salvation is when the believer receives Christ as their savior and the process of sanctification is the process of being conformed more and more to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Athletes continually work on conditioning their bodies with the goal of improving their abilities. Believers are called to grow in their understanding of God’s Word and apply God’s word in their lives so that they will obey God’s commands to love others as He has loved them and called them to His purpose.

Accountability & Support

Athletes often train with a coach and/or teammates for accountability and support. Believers also benefit from accountability and support in the community of believers who are also working on their salvation. The book of Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” A community of believers provides encouragement, support, and accountability to help individuals stay committed to their faith and spiritual growth.


In conclusion, the similarities between working out your physical body and working out your salvation give valuable insights into the importance of spiritual discipline, determination, growth, development, and accountability in the believer’s life. Just as physical exercise requires discipline, dedication, and perseverance, so too does the pursuit of salvation require ongoing effort and commitment. By engaging in spiritual disciplines, persevering through trials, growing in maturity, and participating in a community of believers, believers can experience the fullness of life that God desires for them. May we, as believers, embrace the call to “work out” our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 ESV).

by Angela Aberle
Image by Sven Mieke