“Paul does not say, [in Philippians 2:12--Ed.] ‘Work out something that will tell for your salvation'; he says, ‘Work out in the expression of your life the salvation God has worked in.’ If we think for a moment we shall soon know how much we are saved—What does our tongue say? what kind of things do our ears like to listen to? what kind of bodily associates do we like to be with? These things will always tell not only other people but ourselves what kind of salvation God has worked in. In regeneration God works us into relation with Himself that by our bodily expression we may prove Whose we are.
If you are trying to be a Christian it is a sure sign you are not one. Fancy trying to be the daughter of your mother! you cannot help being her daughter. But try and be the daughter of someone else’s mother! Unless God has worked in us we shall hinder Him all the time by trying to be His children; we cannot, we have to be born from above by the will of God first, be regenerated; then our working is not working to help God, it is working to let God express through us what He has done in us so that we may prove we are the children of our Father in heaven (see Matthew 5:43-48).
So many of us put prayer and work and consecration in place of the working of God; we make ourselves the workers. God is the Worker, we work out what He works in. Spirituality is what God is after, not religiosity. The great snare in religion without genuine spirituality is that people ape being good when they are absolutely mean [not 'mean' as in 'angry, &c.' But rather, 'mean' as in 'useless to God'--Ed.]. There is no value whatever in religious externals, the only thing that is of value is spiritual reality, and this is spiritual reality—that I allow God to work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, and then work out what He has worked in, being carefully careless about everything saving my relationship to God.”